are only two species in the genus Dianema,
the other being longibarbis, the Porthole cat.
This is of course the Flagtail cat as looking at the
image you can see this trait in the caudal fin, it
shares these unusual markings along with Corydoras
robineae, it is also placed in the same family,
body shape it looks like an elongated Corydoras
with quite large eyes placed laterally, and possessing
four pairs of barbels and a deeply forked caudal fin.
To tell the males
from females is not easy but the hard rays in the
males pectoral fins tend to be a little thicker than
the females. As a show fish they tend to fold their
caudal fin when placed in a show tank and they
never seem too happy in the confined quarters.
On my collecting
trip to Iquitos, Peru in 2000 I collected the other
Dianema (longibarbis) so these only
two species from the same genus are very many miles
apart and so I find it strange that they are so alike,
apart from the caudal fin, where longibarbis
has no markings at all.
River basin. Type locality: Manáos,
Head depressed, width much
less than the depth of the body. The fontanel is elongate
and the supraoccipital does not form a backward projection.
The suborbital is very narrow and naked and the nuchal
plates fuse along the midline between the supraoccipital
and the dorsal. The abdomen between the pectoral fin
bases is usually completely covered by the expansion
of the coracoids. There is no azygous predorsal plate.
The eyes are large and lateral in position. The lower
lip has two to four pairs of short barbel-like flaps
in addition to the rictal barbels; the rictal barbels
extend to the pectoral fin origin or beyond. The dorsal
fin has a spine and 7 or 8 soft rays, its base length
contained 1 to 1½ times in its distance from
the adipose fin. The caudal fin is forked.
Ground colour of head and
body grey/brown, upper half of body covered with
small black spots, which can vary in number. Lower
half of body silvery grey. Caudal fin is strikingly
marked with black and white stripes. Remaining fins
Care & Compatibility
This is a peaceful midwater
to bottom swimmer that will do better if kept in a
group of at least 4 as individuals on their own tend
to sulk and never seem to progress too well. Try to
resist placing them in an aquarium with aggressive
species such as some Cichlids, they will do better
with the usual community type fish and of course along
with Corydoras sp.
This fish has
proved a challenge for quite a few catfish enthusiasts,
including myself, over the years. There has been unconfirmed
reports of breeding triumphs but no documentation
as yet to prove this theory. It is reported to be
a bubblenest breeder just like its cousins in the
Males have marginally
thicker pectoral spines and are more slender then
Omnivorous, taking most foods
but preferring live and frozen such as daphnia, worms,
white and grindal, and bloodworms. Will also accept
good quality flake and tablet foods.
through; nema = thread. The gender
of this name is neuter, not feminine as usually thought.
R. and H.A. Baensch 1987 Aquarien Atlas.
Band. 1. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und
Heimtierkunde, Germany. 992 p. Burgess, W.E. 1989 An atlas of freshwater
and marine catfishes. A preliminary survey of the
Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City,
New Jersey (USA). 784 p.