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Lepthoplosternum pectorale   (Boulenger, 1895) 

ne look at the photograph of this species and you will realise that this is, or used to be, Hoplosternum pectorale. The above has been moved into a new genus along with Hoplosternum thoracatum ( now Megalechis thoracata) with Hoplosternum littorale staying put. The Brazilian ichthyologist Roberto E.Reis completely revised this family in 1996 and erected a new genus for pectorale. There are also three other newly described species in this new genus being namely, L.altamazonicum, L.beni and L.tordilho.

Lepthoplosternum pectorale

Unlike all other genera of subfamily Callichthyinae, the species of Lepthoplosternum are absent in the northern portion of the South American continent, north of the Rio Amazonas. The species are found in the upper Rio Amazonas in Peru (L. altamazonicum), middle Rio Madeira (L. beni), Rio Paraguay (L. pectorale), and in the laguna dos Patos drainage (L. tordilho) in southern Brazil (Roberto E.Reis).

Now to get away from the scientific bit L. pectorale is a dwarf species (8.5cm.) and as such is a good addition to any community tank which doesn't house any aggressive species. It is a hardy fish and  the only time that you will get any hint of aggression from this species is from the males when they come into breeding condition, and can get quite territorial. 

Colour-wise this is quite a drab species having a brown body colouration with darker spots scattered over the body. The males can be identified as having a thicker leading ray to the pectoral fins and the rest of the fin can be a milky opaque colour while the females is clear. You can identify this species from M.thoracata and H.littorale by the shape of its caudal fin, it being slightly rounded while M.thoracata is truncate (square) and H.littorale's caudal fin is forked.


Megalechis thoracata=Square Caudal
Lepthoplosternum pectorale=Round Caudal
Hoplosternum littorale=Forked Caudal

Two pairs of well developed barbels and apair of thread-like processes on the upper jaw and apair of fleshy flaps on the lower. Body comparatively narrow (cleithral width 26.3-28.6% of SL); 25-26 scutes in upper lateral series; 22-23 in lower.

Body dark brown with small blackish spots. Fin rays dark brown, those in the caudal with black spots. On some specimens lighter bands are visible on the head.

They can be quite easily housed in your planted community tank as they don't grow as large as thoracata or littorale and don't show any aggressive tendencies. Will attempt to spawn in a community setup, but if they do it would be a good idea to move the pair to their own breeding tank to make sure that the spawning is successful, in that the fry will survive the attentions of the rest of the tank inmates. Being from the southern parts of the South American continent it prefers tempertures to be on the lower side of tropical i.e: under 75°f.

This is a bubble-nester, where the female deposits her eggs in floating plant material or a floating polystyrene lid. To read a report on breeding this species you can go to the breeding article section for an indepth look at "how to do it".

As with most "Hoplo's" a good varied diet of frozen, live and a good quality flake food. It will eat most things given and of course keep up the water changes.

Lepthoplosternum: A thin sternum, (breast)
pectorale: Referring to the thicker pectoral fins in adult male fish.

Baench, Aquarium Atlas 2, 1993.

Relevant Articles
Hoplosternum pectorale 
Photo Credits
© Danny Blundell @ The Danny Blundell Photo Gallery   

Factsheet 030

Hoplosternum pectorale, Hoplosternum magdalenae, Callichthys pectoralis, Hoplosternum pectoralis
Common Name:
Dwarf Hoplo
Brazil  Brazil, Rio Magdalena.
Paraguay Paraguay, Presidente Hayes.
Argentina Argentina 
8.5cm (3½ins)
20-23°C (67-73°F)
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                                                                                                   Factsheet 030 = updated June 6, 2005 © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top