Your internet guide to
all things catfish

Hypodoras forficulatus Eigenmann 1925

The month of October 2012 welcomes back catfish author Steven Grant to look at a member of the Doradidae family, the monotypic, Hypodoras forficulatus.


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 wonderful fish.

Hypodoras forficulatus = adult



Hypodoras 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.



Hypodoras forficulatus = dorsal view




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.



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.

Sexual differences

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.


Hypodoras: 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.


Eigenmann, 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, p. 276


Glossary of Terms

Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin.
Pectoral fin
: The paired fins after head and before anal fin.

Dermal ossifications: Small bony skin plates.

Photo Credits

 © Steven Grant

Factsheet 196

Common Name:
Battleship Dora, Amblydoras Robocop, Banjo Ciber – Acanthodoras sp.
South America: Itaya River and lower Nanay River around Iquitos in Peru.
10.4cm. (approx 4ins)
23-26°C (74-78°F) 
6.5 - 7.6.
If you found this page helpful you can help keep ScotCat running by making a small donation, Thanks. 

Donate towards my web hosting bill!


Print Friendly and PDF






















































                                                                                                                                                      Factsheet 196 = © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top