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Tatia galaxias Mees, 1974

he genus Tatia contains around about 14 species distributed throughout South America east of the Andes from Venezuela and Colombia to Southern Brazil. They don't grow big and the largest size recorded is 12cm. ( 5ins).

Tatia galaxias


Tatia tend to be kept by catfish fanatics (for the want of a better word!) as you will not see them from one week to another as they are nocturnal (active at night) and you have to feed at lights out or as I do, put food into the pipe or crevice that you will find them jammed into.


Tatia galaxias is a nicely marked catfish, as most of this genus are, and sometimes difficult to identify to species. Tatia aulopygia and Tatia intermedia are the two species that come to mind in this I.D. category and it is not beyond the realms of fantasy that we could be looking at wrongly names species in the numerous catfish books and on the internet, and if buying from your local shop a catfish named T.galaxias may be T.intermedia instead, but looking after this catfish in the aquarium are the same for all three. Mees (1974) described T. galaxias on the basis of its diagnostic colour pattern of small white spots evenly spaced over a dark body. Mees, (1974: 88) considered its coloration reminiscent of that of T. intermedia, except in T. galaxias the body is darker, the spots smaller, and the tail dark with white spots (vs. pale with dark spots and cross-bars in T. intermedia).


The first thing you must look out for is a well fitting lid for the tank as this cat can jump out of an aquarium, but it is mostly when you disturb them, especially when water changing or rearranging the tank layout. I have found that they are happiest when kept together in a small group but they are also fine individually, as this is a very hardy species.


The eyes of Tatia are large with a skin over them and a few non catfish aquarists tend to think that they have cloudy eye's and it is a disease, but this is normal for the Auchenipteridae family. The barbels are moderate in length reaching to the end of the dorsal fin and they tend to bend them upwards when looking for food on the water surface. They can also tuck their barbels alongside their cheeks making them nearly invisible. I tend to think that there is a groove in this area where they can lay their barbels in. They possess two pairs of barbels, one pair of mandibular and one pair of maxillary.


They have quite a chunky body with a broad based caudal peduncle (between the dorsal and caudal) which is unusual in itself as in most fish it slopes down to the caudal fin. Tatia possess a very small adipose fin and a moderately sized ventral and anal.




The anal fin is the key to the sexual dimorphism of this genus, if you think of the male and female of most livebearer fish (Goodeidae family) and you wil not be too far away with this assumption. As you can see above the female has a normal anal fin but the males are modified into a copulatory organ with the first and second ray thickened and longer, it is thought that the male uses this to clasp the female during the spawning embrace.

Dorsal spines (total): 1; Dorsal soft rays (total): 5; Anal soft rays: 9 - 10; Vertebrae: 32 - 33. The following unique characters separate this species from all other species of Tatia: postcleithral process well developed, reaching almost to a vertical through the dorsal-fin origin; orbital diameter 37.0-42.9% HL; and snout length 23.1-28.9% HL . Can be further distinguished by the following features: narrow elliptical cranial fontanel; ribs 7; nasal ossified with wide medial flanges partially sutured to lateral margin of mesethmoid.

Colour pattern of small white spots evenly spaced over a dark body. Colouration variable, sides of body usually dark with light, rounded spots or dots, or sometimes uniformly pale brown; toothed prevomer in examined large adult specimens.

Give them small pipes, and they do seem to like to hide in the crevices of bogwood as well. They appear to be happier if they can jam themselves in with the use of their pectoral fins. Community tanks are fine for this species although you may find that they will predate on fry from other species, but apart from that they come well recommended but don't expect to see them too often.

First bred in 1988 in Germany, 200 non-adhesive 3mm eggs are released and sink to the substrate. They hatch in 3 to 3½ days and the fry are free swimming 5 days later. They should only be fed at night with finely ground TetraMin as well as frozen rotifers and baby brine shrimp.

In its native habitat they feed on small invertebrates and crustaceans and in the aquarium they will eat anything given such as frozen bloodworm inserted in to their hideaway, catfish tablets, white worm (sparingly) and prawns and shrimp. They do like their food and you can see them shooting out of their hideouts and swimming in a frenzied manner to try and take all for themselves, especially when you feed them their favourite food, frozen bloodworm. Another food that they love is Fish Farm pellets but you have to watch the water quality with this food as it can quickly foul the water, so feed sparingly.

Tatia: In honour of Mr. C. Tate Regan.

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.
Baensch, H.A. and R. Riehl 1991 Aquarien atlas. Bd. 3. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und Heimtierkunde, Germany. 1104 p.
Catfish Association Great Britain. Volume1.
Sterba, Gunther; Freshwater Fishes of the World 1
Sarmento-Soares, L.M. and R.F. Martins-Pinheiro 2008 A systematic revision of Tatia (Siluriformes: Auchenipteridae: Centromochlinae). Neotrop. Ichthyol. 6(3):495-542.

Photo Credits
Paul E. Turley
Factsheet 120

Common Name:
Milky Way Woodcat
South America: Middle Orinoco River basin. Type locality: Caño de Quiribana into Río Orinoco, Venezuela.
10cm (4ins)
21-24c (69-75f )
6.5 - 7.2.
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                                                                                                                                         Factsheet 120= updated December 16, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top