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Megalodoras uranoscopus   Eigenmann, 1925   

his month our guest writer is Chris Ralph, who is the resident catfish expert on the questions and answers page of "Practical Fishkeeping" the well known U.K. aquatic monthly magazine. Chris is a fan of the bigger "cats" and also keeps a few of the "biggies" himself, he will now compile a factsheet on one of his favourites, "The Giant Raphael Catfish" or by its more interesting handle "The Mother of Snails Catfish". I will now hand you over to Chris.

Megalodoras uranoscopus

This particular catfish is perhaps one of the more colourful of the members of the family Doradidae, and is also one of the larger species hence the common names. This catfish is quite often described as being one of the "Tank Busters" due to the fact that it can grow up to 610mm or 24" standard length (from the tip of the snout to the base of the caudal peduncle). The local name given to this fascinating catfish is "Key-way-mamma" which refers to the common name of "mother of the snails". The reason for this common name being due to the fact that when a specimen was examined the intestine was lined with large aquatic snails along its length. Some of you reading this information may be wondering why the scientific name for this fish is not Megalodoras irwini, the reason being that the name has been recently changed and that the old name is now a synonym.


The lateral scutes increasing to size towards the caudal fin

The lateral scutes increasing to size towards the caudal fin

Author holding Megalodoras urunoscopus

Author holding Megalodoras uranoscopus

This species of catfish despite the size that it can attain is really a "Gentle Giant" and can be kept with other large or medium sized fish. They are not commonly available, if you have the space for one or more as they do tend to like their own company, they are well worth obtaining.

15-18 lateral scutes that increase in size towards the caudal fin. There are many caudal fulcra or bony plates. There are no plates above or below the caudal peduncle. The adipose is described as continuing forward in the form of a hard keel. This catfish has two pairs of barbels, one pair maxillary and one pair mandibular.

It has an interesting colour pattern with dark brown markings on a light brown background. The body and head are covered in dark brown to black blotches. The ventral (underneath) region of this catfish has a mottled pattern, which is dark brown in colour. The fins are mottled or spotted irregularly with black coloured markings. The pectoral fins tend to be lighter in colour towards the base and darker towards the edge. The adipose fin is light brown at the top edge of the keel and darker towards the base.

Keeping Megalodoras uranoscopus is relatively easy assuming that you have the available tank space in which to keep them at their optimum. Ideally they are best housed in an aquarium which is at least 72" x 24" x 24". The preferred substrate is sand such as BD Aquarium sand, although rounded gravel can also be used. They tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but do like to be able to hide away. Aquarium décor should include bogwood and if you don't mind the appearance large diameter pieces of drainage pipe.

There are no known documented aquarium spawnings to date, although there may be some breeding-taking place in the Czech Republic using hormone inducement.

Their natural diet includes crustaceans such as aquatic snails, which should be included as part of their captive diet. In the aquarium they will feed on sinking catfish pellets, floating food sticks, whole prawns, earthworms, chopped and whole mussel. They also relish sinking tablet foods.

Megalodoras: With a large helmet (cuirass).

Glossary of Terms
Synonym - Different name for the same fish.
Scutes - Bony covering.

Catfish Association of Great Britain, Volume 1.
, Aquarium Atlas 3 

Photo Credits
Top & Middle:  Danny Blundell
Bottom:         Chris Ralph  
Factsheet 066

Doras uranoscopus, Hoplodoras uranoscopus, Megalodoras laevigatulus, Doras laevigatulus, D.libertatis, Pseudodoras huberi, Oxydoras huberi, Megalodoras libertatis, Megalodorus irwini
Common Name:
Mother of Snails Catfish, Giant Raphael Catfish, Giant Talking Catfish
South America: Amazon, Tocantins and Essequibo River basins
61cm (24ins)
22-26ºC (72-79ºF)
6.5 - 7.5
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                                                                                                     Factsheet 66 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top