month of October 2012 we welcome back catfish author
Steven Grant tolook
at a member of the Doradidae family, the monotypic,
Up until recently
I had only seen pictures of preserved specimens and
drawings of this catfish. Pier Aquatics, Wigan, (UK)
first imported this fish into the UK in 2011 and I
now own 2 specimens and we can see what it looks like
in life. It has quickly become one of my favourites
and as a result I thought I would provide some details
on and share my recent experiences in keeping this
Eigenmann 1925 is a member of the Doradidae; subfamily
Astrodoradinae. Its closest relative is Astrodoras
Bleeker 1862 (Sousa 2010). It can be easily told apart
from other astrodoradins by the presence of dermal
ossifications (small bony skin plates) immediately
in front of the adipose fin.
There is only
one species in Hypodoras (monotypic) so once
you have identified your fish to genus level you know
you have H. forficulatus.
When this fish
appeared in the trade for the first time in the UK
it was imported with the name trade name ‘Amblydoras
Robocop’. It has also been captioned as ‘Banjo
Ciber – Acanthodoras sp’ (I can
see why it has been named Banjo as the shape does
resemble a banjo catfish). I prefer to call it the
Battleship Dora. This is because of its grey colouration,
its broad body base and tapered upper body, and how
it slowly cruises along the bottom of the substrate.
It is peaceful
to other fish though I have noticed that when the
two specimens meet they sometimes have a little nip
to scare the other off. They do not appear to do any
damage to each other though. They prefer to hide under
the sand with just their mouth, eyes, and dorsal fin
spine showing. They will stay like this until food
is added to the tank and then they emerge from the
sand like mini submarines and cruise around for food.
Although they will eat with ambient light they do
seem to prefer nocturnal feeding. They can be a little
shy sometimes if there are bigger and boisterous fish
in the tank so please keep them with fish of similar
size and temperament.
My specimens have
done well in slightly acidic water at a temperature
of around 78 °C. They should be provided with
a substrate of sand, with enough depth to enable them
to bury themselves. Mine have been provided with an
overhanging piece of mopani wood which they position
themselves under when burying in the sand. This overhead
shelter seems to make them more at ease.
They are not fussy
feeders and mine eat frozen bloodworms, Tetra Variety
Wafers and Tetra Prima.
To summarise, this is
a peaceful, rare, and unique fish and would advise
anyone interested in catfish to obtain some while
they have chance. You won’t be disappointed.
Itaya River and lower Nanay River around Iquitos in
10.4cm. (approx 4ins)
D 1/6; A 7-9; P 1/6. Head depressed,
and heavily armoured. Strong and long, curved pectoral
fin spines. Adipose fin with bony plates.
Base colour is greyish white
to light. Brown patches on body and on fins.
Care & Compatibility
An extremely peaceful and
lethargic species. Should be kept with peaceful tankmates.
It is likely that the sexes
can be externally differentiated by females having a
proportionately wider and deeper body than the males.
There may also be differences in the vent area.
As yet unknown.
They also relish earthworms.
Pellet or granular foods. Frozen or live bloodworm,
Fleshy finlike projection without rays, behind the rayed
dorsal fin. Dermal ossifications:Small
bony skin plates. Pectoral
fin: The paired fins after head
and before anal fin.
Derived from the Ancient Greek ?p?- (‘hypo’)
meaning “under”. The etymology of the
name ‘doras’ is “skin” in
Greek, with reference to the armour plates. forficulatus:Is from the classical Latin word forficula, which
is derived from the Latin word forfex, meaning a pair
of shears or scissors. This is probably with reference
to the long and serrated pectoral fin spines.
C. H., 1925. A
review of the Doradidae, a family of South American
Nematognathi, or catfishes. Transactions of the
American Philosophical Society (New Series) v.
22 (pt 5): 280-365, Pls. 1-27. Grant, S,
2012. Hypodoras forficulatus Eigenmann 1925
– The Battleship Dora. Cat Chat – Journal
of The Catfish Study Group. Sousa, L. M.,
2010. Revisão taxonômica e filogenia de
Astrodoradinae (Siluriformes, Doradidae). Tese de doutorado.
Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo,