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Scleromystax barbatus  (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)

f this factsheet ( Nov.2006) had been penned a couple of years ago in 2004, we would be talking about Corydoras barbatus but in the callichthyid genus, Scleromystax was resurrected by taxonomists during an ongoing study of Corydoras, Aspidoras and Brochis in 2004. The main criteria for resurrecting the genera was the cheek bristles on the males of this species, you can just see them below the eye in the green area of the snout in the image below.

Scleromystax barbatus  = male

Scleromystax barbatus = male


There are 4 other species in this genera namely S. kronei, S. lacerdai, S. macropterus, S. prionotos, and the most up to date species Scleromystax salmacis Britto & Reis, 2005 which is similar to macropterus but but lacks the black spot common at the base of the tail on this species. The spots along the flanks of salmacis are also said to be more irregular than those of macropterus. This species has not been seen in the hobby as of this factsheet. The males of S. barbatus and S. kronei are similar but have different body patterns with the middle band in S. kronei being solid wheras in S. barbatus it is broken up somewhat.

Back to our factsheet of the month and how best to keep this large, in Corydoradinae terms anyway as this species can get upwards to 4 inches in total length, Callichthyidae. First of all the males can become quite territorial and as such if keeping more than one male they would have to be housed in a 36ins (90cm) long tank and if one male you can scale it down to a 24ins (60cm) aquarium.

Scleromystax barbatus = female

Scleromystax barbatus = female

Scleromystax barbatus is found in flowing water in the coastal areas of Southern Brazil on either a sand or pebble substrate. The temperatures are low in these areas, we are even talking about temperatures as low as 60°f (16.5°c) here and as such you would be better keeping this species in an unheated aquarium

This is of course a most beautiful catfish, especially the males with their black and gold markings, and when the males are in breeding condition there are not too many tropical fish of any species that can hold a candle to the "Bearded Cory".



D 1/7-8; A 1/6-7; 24-27 bony scutes in the upper lateral series, 22-23 in the lower. Body, greatly elongated.

Male: Underside delicate yellowish to white. Blackish to lovely yellow-brown markings on the flanks, leaving clear two large golden blotches on the upper side of the caudal peduncle. Large, gleaming brassy spots on the upper surface of the head and on the cheeks. Vertical fins with rows of brownish spots.
Female: Body colour dark brown with irregular lighter blotches, belly cream to white, head dark brown with irregular light spots and blotches. Some light brown pigment forming light indistinct baring in all fins.

As with most members of the Callichthyidae they are peaceful and good additions to the larger "cool water" aquarium set up with maybe other cool water fish such as White Cloud Mountain Minnows and other fish that are comfortable with a temperature around the 70°f (21.5°c)

Will lay up to 60 adhesive eggs high up on the aquarium glass. Best to have the p.H. on the acid side for breeding as it helps to break down the membrane and is easier for the fry to exit their egg cases. Will need feeding after three days as the fry use up their yolk sac, and can be fed on newly hatched brine shrimp.

Sexual differences
The males are more ornate and have extended pectoral fins. The second and third rays of the dorsal fin are often extended and of course the male has the cheek bristles that the female doesn't.

As with other members of the Corydoradinae they relish tablet and good quality flake food with frozen bloodworm a firm favourite. They are also keen on chopped earthworms and other worm foods such as white worm used sparingly, and grindal worm.

Related Articles
Breeding Corydoras Barbatus (Qouy & Gainard 1824)
Observations of Three Species of the Genus Corydoras 
Collecting Cats 

barbatus: Bearded, alluding to the bristles on the cheeks of adult males.

Günther; Sterba, Freshwater Fishes of the World 1, t.f.h. 1973.
Catfish Study Group; Information Sheet no.52.

Photo Credits
Top:       Allan James @
Bottom: Danny Blundell @ Catfish Study Group
Factsheet 125

Callichthys barbatus, Corydoras kronei, Corydoras eigenmanni. Corydoras barbatus
Common Name:
Bearded Cory
South America: Brazil; Coastal drainages from Rio de Janeiro to Santa Catarina
9cm ( 3½ins)
19-24°C (65-75°F)   
6.5 -7.2.
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                                                                                                                                                   Factsheet 125 = updated December 16, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top