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Hemiloricaria parva  (Boulenger, 1895)  

ne of the earliest kept Loracariids (pleco's) along with the various Ancistrus species and the common Plecostomus was this slim-like fish and its compatriots in the Rineloricaria genus such as R.filamentosa, R.lanceolata and R.microlepidogaster, and in Gunther Sterba's two volumes of the "Freshwater Fishes of the World (1973)" there is line drawings of all four of these species showing tail filament's and an excellent drawing of the ventral plates on each of them. The fish we once knew for many years as Rineloricaria parva has now undergone a name change to this months factsheet title, Hemiloricaria parva.

Hemiloricaria parva

This in my opinion is one of the most difficult whiptail species to identify with any great certainty as being easy to breed they are abundant in show and club auctions and are just sold as Rineloricaria, they could be anyone of half a dozen species or even crosses between two close species as a few of them have the cross banding on the body area but in the main H. parva should have double extensions to the caudal lobes.

There are plenty of articles in the various aquatic magazines on the breeding of this species and Scotcat has also an in-depth piece from the late and much missed Helen Burns titled appropriately enough
"Rineloricaria parva, The Whiptail Catfish".

A member of our club, Greenock & D.A.S., has also bred this species but the unusual aspect of this spawning was that the female laid her eggs in a pipe that was floating on the water surface. Below is a thumbnail gallery of this spawning. Click on the thumbnail for a larger picture.


Note: This species is still listed in Fishbase and the Catalog of Fishes as Rineloricaria parva but the name is currently accepted in some quarters as Hemiloricaria parva. Issbrücker (Issbrücker in Issbrücker et al, 2001) declared the synonymity of Rineloricaria and Hemiloricaria as no longer valid, and the latter again as an independent genus. The differences between the two genera are based on the positions of the males bristles and the top caudal filament on adult Hemiloricaria which is absent on Rinelolricaria.

Male guarding eggs in plastic pipe on surface of water Male guarding eggs in plastic pipe on surface of water (1)
Male guarding eggs in plastic pipe on surface of water. Male guarding eggs in plastic pipe on surface of water (2)
Fry at the age of one week Fry at the age of one week
Fry at the age of two weeks Fry at the age of two weeks
Individual fry at two weeks Individual fry at two weeks
Fry feeding at two weeks Fry feeding at two weeks

Ventral Views

H.parva, R.microlepidogaster, R.lanceolata, R.filamentosa

  H. parva, R. microlepidogaster, R. lanceolata, R. filamentosa


Dorsal: 1/7, Anal: 1/5, Pectorals: 1/5, Ventrals: 1/4 29 bony scutes in a lateral series. The pectoral fin-spine reaches to the second quarter of the ventral fin-spine when both are laid back. Upper and lower rays of caudal fin have long filaments. On the hinder part of the belly there are 3-4 rows of ventral scutes between the lateral ones; on the anterior part are numerous small scutes.

Upperside is olive-grey to grey-yellow with numerous black blotches which are often united into transverse bars. Underside clay-yellow to whitish. An irregular dark line runs obliquely forward from the eye to the tip of the mouth. Fins transparent, with dark blotches or rows of blotches on the fin-rays.

They are easy to keep and breed and do well in a community tank as long as there is species that are not too aggressive kept alongside them.

Provide caves or pipework where the females will lay their eggs as in the wild they are laid in hollow logs or branches. The male takes over the guarding of the green coloured eggs and they hatch, depending on water temperature, between 3 and 10 days.

Provide a good vegetable diet for the adults such as cucumber, courgette (zucchini) and also sinking tablet food. Fry can be reared on the same foods after a start on brine shrimp and blanched lettuce leaves.


Catfish Association of Great Britain; Vol 1
Gunther Sterba; Freshwater Fishes of the World (1973) Vol 2

Evers, H.-G. & I.Seidel: Mergus, Baensch Catfish Atlas Volume 1, 1st English edn., 2005. Pp.944


Factsheet Request

Tonni Hesselberg

Photo Credits
Allan James @ ScotCat

Bottom Drawing: Gunther Sterba; Freshwater Fishes of the World (1973) Vol 2
Factsheet 069

Loricaria parva, Rineloricaria parva
Common Name:
Common Whiptail Catfish
Argentina Argentina
Brazil  Brazil
Paraguay Paraguay

Type locality: Descalvados, Matto Grosso Brazil.
12.5cm. (5ins)
20-25ºC ( 67-77°f)
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                                                                                                           Factsheet 069 = updated October 20, 2004, © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top