his month (August 2011) we welcome back
Adrian Taylor, member of the Catfish
Study Group. He takes a look at the
"Grass Cutter Catfish", Schilbe marmoratus.
Schilbe marmoratus is a medium
size catfish of around 20cm in length and on rare occasions
this mid-sized and somewhat attractive species can be found
in our local fish stores. It originates from in the drainage
of the Congo river in Africa and out side this area is only
found in the Cabinda province of Angola. These are not a bottom
feeding Catfish but are a mid-water to surface open water active
swimmers; that although normally are found in small groups,
can from time to time be found schooling together in quite considerable
Schilbe marmoratus has no adipose
fin, which distinguishes them from other similar coloured Schilbe
species. It has a small head; large eyes and a long anal fin
that can have anywhere between forty three and fifty nine branched
Care for these mid-water catfish is relatively
easy. Keep with a group of four or more in a medium to large
size aquarium that is well-filtered having a pH ranging between
6 and 7.2; a temperature of between 22 and 25°C,
with wide open spaces with
long grass like plants and a few pieces of bogwood positioned
around its margins would make an ideal habitat for a small group
of Schilbe marmoratus.
Never has an adipose fin, whereas some
of this family may or may not have. Also akin to this family
is the drooped down caudal fin. Small head;
large eyes and a long anal fin that can have anywhere between
forty three and fifty nine branched rays. Similar to S.yangambianus
and S.brevianalis which also have a marbled pattern
but these two species possess an adipose fin.
The body and head have a light brown to
tan base colour, marbled with brown to sooty black spots, and
with a large sooty black spot on the lateral line between the
dorsal and pectoral fin base. The ventral surface is coloured
Tank mates however should be chosen with
care, as anything that Schilbe marmoratus can fit into
its mouth will be predated upon.
There are no reports of this catfish breeding
behaviour in the wild or of any captive spawning successes. It
may well be that when these African catfishes congregate in large
schools it is a precursor to spawning activity?
Feeding is un-problematic as this is
a catfish that readily accepts commercial prepared foods such
as pellets and granules. Frozen foods, whitebait, prawns and
slivers of white fish such as haddock should be given as part
of a weekly balanced diet.
schérifié (noble). It probably announces the
superiority of this species for its taste".
marmoratus: Marbled; mottled.
Adipose fin: Fleshy
finlike projection without rays, behind the rayed dorsal
Dorsal fin: The
primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body
The paired fins after head and before anal fin.
Lateral line: A sensory line, along the
sides of the body.
Allan James @