ver since I set my eyes on this species,
and the only time, was at a fish show that I was judging
at in the North of England in about 1998. It was small,
about 10ins in length and didn't gain an award, but
I have never forgotten it and my memory was jogged
once again by an article that was contributed to ScotCat
10 years later in 2008 by German aquarist and author,
Wolfgang Ros, which you can read here
family in my opinion always seem to have the species
that somehow look what catfish should look like ,
if you get my drift, and the "Vulture Catfish"
is no exception with its sleek look and long barbels
and of course its large mouth.
Wolfgang in his
article likened Calophysus macropterus to
any shark species in the way it moves in the water
and its eating habits. The common name of the "Vulture
Catfish" complies with the bird species also,
in that it will scavenge everything and anything,
is very voracious, and has been known to attack the
lines and nets of local Fishermen to get at there
catches. It also has the repugnant reputation of eating
human faeces alongside villages in the rivers where
there is a human population.
- head view
I must admit that
in the "Large Catfish" world this is probably
one of the nicest looking and comparatively easy to
keep species if you are a big cat enthusiast, and
if you are able to give it a large tank to cruise
that they can be kept with congeners, better with
two or three and introduced together in the Aquarium
as youngsters. This would precipitate having a larger
tank of over 6ft (180cm) in length 2' 6" (75cm)
depth and a width of 3' 0" (90cm) so you see
this is a fish for the serious catfish keeper.
This species is
monotypic (only species in the genus) and as such
the fins are different and there are differences in
the teeth structure and a reduction in the swim bladder
to other members of the Pimelodidae family. There
has been calls to place this catfish in its own family
but at the moment it is classed in the Pimelodidae.
The body shape is elongate
and the head broad, its surface covered in skin.
A wedge shaped fontanel extends
from about the posterior nasal openings to the the
posterior margins of the eyes and another circular
one is present at the base of the occipital process.
The eyes are superior in position. The barbels are
flattened, the maxillary pair long, extending to at
least to the end of the adipose fin and often extending
beyond the end of the caudal fin. The first dorsal
ray in the dorsal fin ray is not spinous, although
in some individuals the base is about half as stiff
as some spines of other species and longer than the
succeeding rays. The adipose fin is long and the caudal
fin is deeply emarginate.
Silver/grey body with bluish
undertones. The body down to the insertion of the
pectoral fins has an irregular spotted
pattern and there can be different
patterns in different populations of this species.
The belly is white.
Care & Compatibility
An out and out predator so
should only be kept with larger species such as South
American cichlids, Oscars etc. and the larger L-number
The males will
be slimmer than the females.
Shrimps, fish fillets and live
foods such as Earthworms. Will gladly take tablet,
pellet foods and foodsticks.
Fin:The fin forward from
the anal cavity. Caudal fin: Defined as the tail fin. Dorsal fin: Defined as the medial fin
on top of back. Fontanel:The
space(s) between the bones on top of the skull covered
by skin. Occipital process: A median bone on
the upper surface of the back of the head; pertaining
to the occiput. Pectoral fins: Defined as paired lateral
fins. Pelvic fins: Defined as paired ventral
fins between the pectoral and anal fins.
Greek, kalos, kallos = beautiful
+ Greek, physa = tube. mactopterus: Large wing,
(referring to the fins).