The month of October 2012 welcomes back
catfish author Steven Grant to look
at a member of the Doradidae family, the monotypic, Hypodoras
p 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
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.
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.
An extremely peaceful and lethargic species.
Should be kept with peaceful tankmates.
As yet unknown.
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.
They also relish earthworms. Pellet or
granular foods. Frozen or live bloodworm, earthworms.
derived from the Ancient Greek ?p?- (‘hypo’)
meaning “under”. The etymology of the name ‘doras’
is “skin” in Greek, with reference to the armour
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
Sousa, L. M., 2010.
Revisão taxonômica e filogenia de Astrodoradinae
(Siluriformes, Doradidae). Tese de doutorado. Universidade
de São Paulo, São Paulo, p. 276
Fleshy finlike projection without rays, behind the rayed
The paired fins after head and before anal fin.
Dermal ossifications: Small
bony skin plates.