hese catfish commonly known
as 'African Whiptails' tends to ratify the theory that the two great
continents of the America's and Africa where at one time, one great
mass of land as they look on first glance to be superficially like
South American Whiptails, such as from the Rineloricaria/Hemiloricaria
Of course a look at the long barbels (3 pairs)
and the long nose gives the game away ( plus no sucker mouth) but
for unsuspecting aquarists coming into the catfish side of the hobby
for the first time, it is easy to see why there would be confusion.
The one strange thing that captivated me was the role reversal of
the sexes as the female is actually the most striking of the pair
( see picture above) even though they are not the most colourful
of fish. The bars or bands on her body get a quite dark brown texture
when in good condition. The males have no bars at all ( picture
below) and are quite a pale looking fish even when its water conditions
are met. Its when they get into their breeding attire that the males
come into their own as they take on a reddish colour to the whole
of their body.
They swim in a most curious manner just like
a sidewinder snake that you see on one of these T.V. wildlife documentories,
moving across the sand, and they find their food this way.
Origin of dorsal fin
in front of base of ventral fins; no spine preceeding pectoral or
adipose fins. Slender elongate body. Barbels, short, thick and papillose
not reaching the pectoral fin origin.
Females with dark brown bars and males without
this feature taking on a red lustre to their body when in breeding
These catfish inhabit fast flowing waters
and spend a lot of their time clinging to aquatic leaves and if
you provide long stemmed plants, such as Vallisneria for instance,
you will see this habit. To keep this species and other members
of this African hillstream family you will have to provide a well
oxygenated planted aquarium and keep up your water changes as they
are not as hardy as the South American equivalents. What I found
to my disappointment is they do not like a low p.H. as I had let
a tank, which I had placed 2 pairs of this species, drop below 6
and I lost one pair before I realised my predicament, and over the
next 48 hrs gradually raised the p.H.to a more respectable 7 which
suited them just fine.
A report on the breeding of this species is
documented in the Baench Aquarium Atlas 3 and was carried out by
Dr. Walter Foersch as far back as the late 50's. Chirping noises
could be heard in the aquarium. The male curved his body like a
U over the female and this position was maintained for several seconds.
The female produced 100 eggs that had a thick gelatinous cuticle
and were similar in appearance to amphibian eggs. The fry hatched
after 2-3 days and accepted food after an additional 5-6 days. He
lost many of the young as he couldn't determine what the fry were
eating but managed to raise the rest which resembled newt larvae
when they were 12 mm in length.
It has been documented that they will eat
algae but I found that they were not interested in it and preferred
frozen bloodworm which they eat as if it was going out of style.
They will also take tablet food and other worm foods such as grindle
and white worm. You can try vegetable foods such as corgette (zucchini)
and also lettuce and monitor to see if they do eat them.
Baensch, H.A. and R. Riehl;
1991 Aquariam atlas. 3.
In honour of Dr. W.J. Ansorge,
the English collector.
Burgess, W.E. 1989 An atlas of freshwater and marine
catfishes. A preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications,
Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey (USA). 784 p.
|African Whiptailed Catfish
Lower Niger River. Type locality: Agberi ,Nigeria.
| 6.5 - 7.2
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