Update: January 2009. When this factsheet
was first compiled in April 2006 we had captioned
this Dorad as Platydoras costatus, as this
was the name that we knew this catfish as for a great
number of years. Due to the work carried out in the
paper by Piorski, N.M., J.C. Garavello, M.
Arce & M.H. Sabaj Pérez in 2008
we came to realise that the real P. costatus
was indeed indigenous to the coastal drainages of
Suriname and French Guiana and what we had called
for years, P. costatus, was in fact Platydoras
armatulus. I will carry on with the original
text with references to this. As a footnote there
are four species of recognised species of Platydoras:
P. armatulus (Paraguay-Paraná and
portions of Amazon and Orinoco basins), P. costatus
(Corantijn and Maroni basins), P. brachylecis
(Rio Mearim, rio Pindaré, rio Itapecuru
and rio Parnaíba basins in northeastern Brazil)
and P. hancockii (Negro, Essequibo, Demerara,
and upper Orinoco basins).
is now 56 factsheets ago (no
17) since I ventured
into an in-depth look at this months lookalike Dorid
partner, Orinocodorus eigenmanni, so basically
for this months no 73 effort, Platydoras armatulus,
most of the criteria works both ways concerning water
parameters and basic husbandry. For a start the common
names are alike with eigenmanni having the
longer nose hence the Long Nosed Raphael whereas our
subject this month is the Raphael Catfish a common
name used in North America, however in the U.K. you
will hear Humbug or Chocolate Talking
Catfish for this species. In its native Peru
it is called in the local Spanish dialogue "Rego
rego" meaning something to do with water which
maybe our Spanish friends can enlarge upon. The first
image below shows the true P. costatus.
armatulus is one of the nonindigenous catfishes
that have been released from the home aquarium into
the waters of Florida in the U.S.A. and had been collected
in the early 1980s but not as yet established, which
must be a relief to the local wildlife authorities
but must also anger them to the irresponsible actions
of the persons concerned.
is in my opinion an easy catfish to keep even for
the catfish novice as long as you don't intend to
show this fish off to your friends as it will just
disappear when introduced to your tank and will be
forgotten until maybe 'spied' one evening a few months
later. It can be extremely nocturnal but strangely
enough can be 'trained' when older to come out of
its retreat at feeding time as can be seen in the
top picture, he/she gets fed around 7.30 every night
and as soon as the cover glass is moved it swims out
of its pipe and up to the water surface for its rations
of either frozen bloodworm, tablets or pellets. When
this fish is younger and not often seen it is a good
idea to feed after lights out.
You will have to be aware of the pectoral spines in
P. armatulus as they are extremely strong and
powerful and you will get a nasty shock, not too mention
the pain if you get on the wrong side of these fins.
If you have to catch this fish for any means such
as moving to another tank or even showing this fish
at a show you will have to catch it by either maneuvering
it into a glass vessel or the method I use is just
to pick the pipe up where it resides and move it (quickly!)
to your chosen destination. When young you can even
net this fish but when it gets bigger it can get caught
in the mesh of the net and apart from having to cut
the net to release it you can stress the fish greatly.
In common with
most of the Doradidae family it can create a sound
by grating its fin bones in each socket and amplifying
the noise via the swim bladder which is one reason
why it got its common name of the Chocolate
As a footnote
this is a fairly easy catfish to keep as long as you
can provide it with shelter such as pipes or cave
work. It will even jam itself into the pipe with its
pectoral spines and will be unremovable.
and portions of Amazon and Orinoco basins.
Dorsal 1/6; Anal; 10-11; Body;
28-31 large scute bearing plates leaving small naked
area along the back. Dorsal Spine; serrated on both
sides, those on the posterior edge smaller, sometimes
disappearing with age. Caudal Peduncle; covered above
and below with modified caudal fulcra. Maxillary barbels;
Extending to tip of humeral process. Eyes; large and
Upper part of the body dark
brown/black with conspicuous white lateral band which
meets its opposite number on the head, just above
the eye and extends through the hooks on the scutes
into the caudal fin. Snout and lower part of head,
white. Dorsal white to cream at base and tip of dorsal
spine, remainder of fin dark. Upper and lower margins
of caudal are white or cream. Pectoral ray white/cream,
remainder of pectoral fin dark.
Care & Compatibility
If keeping more then one you
will certainly need many 'nooks and cranies' as they
will tustle with each other for the best hideing places
and could do damage with these pectorals. Not to be
trusted with smaller fish such as the small tetras
as they will be picked of at night but will do well
with Cichlids and the middle of the range South American
Characins which grow over the 6-8cm range.
Not reported in
Easy to feed on frozen food
such as bloodworm, tablet food where I find the Tetra
variety to be a favourite, and pellet foods. In youngsters
it is better to feed at night after lights out, the
older they get they will get bolder and come out at
Fulcra:Bony plates. Caudal Peduncle: The area between
the dorsal fin and the tail. Humeral Process: Bony extension of
the pectoral girdle. Scutes: Bony covering.
Platys = broad; doras = cuirass.
Area Catfish Group
Information Sheet no. 09. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors.
2002. FishBase.World Wide Web electronic publication.
www.fishbase.org, 20th August 2002. Sabaj, M. and C.J. Ferraris Jr.,
2001. Doradidae.. pp. In [Editorial list.]. Checklist
of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America.
In preparation. Piorski, N.M., J.C. Garavello, M. Arce &
M.H. Sabaj Pérez (2008): Platydoras
brachylecis, a new species of thorny catfish (Siluriformes:
Doradidae) from northeastern Brazil. Neotropical Ichthyology
6 (3): 481-494.