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Zebra Shovelnose

(Brachyplatystoma tigrinum)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 24"
• Minimum Tank Size: 180 gallons   • Water Conditions: 75-82° F, KH 5-12, pH 6.8-7.8
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: South America, Peru, Colombia, Brazil   • Family: Pimelodidae
• Species: Large Catfish   • Aquarium Type: Large-Bottom-Dweller

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Species Information

Zebra Shovelnose native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

Zebra Shovelnose (Brachyplatystoma tigrinum) inhabit the fast flowing rivers found in the northern mountainous regions of South America, primarily in Colombia, Peru and Brazil. The Zebra Shovelnose has a flat nose and stream lined body, both of which are advantageous the fast flowing river habitats in which they live.

Their native river habitat has very pristine water conditions and high levels of dissolved oxygen due to the fast flowing mountain waters. It is important to provide high levels of dissolved oxygen and brisk water currents in the aquarium in order to simulate this species natural habitat.

Like most river species, Zebra Shovelnose Catfish are less tolerant of poor water conditions than fish species originating from lakes, ponds or flood plains. The Zebra Shovelnose is best suited for hobbyists with at least a few years experience keeping larger tropical fish species.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Zebra Shovelnose in the home aquarium.

A proper aquarium setup for housing Zebra Shovelnose should be based around a large aquarium of 180 gallons or more with plenty of open swimming area, some submerged root, smooth river rocks and a sand, fine gravel or mixed substrate. Water flow is also important as the Zebra Shovelnose (Brachyplatystoma tigrinum) is a native river species.

In order to maintain the high water quality required by the Zebra Shovelnose, hobbyists should employ excellent mechanical and biological filtration along with frequent partial water changes. These partial water changes will export nitrates and other chemical buildups that occur in closed loop aquarium systems.

Zebra Shovelnose are not overly aggressive, but will consume anything that will fit in their mouths. They do best when housed with mid to top level swimming fish species that will not compete with the Zebra Shovelnose for territory along the aquarium bottom.

Lastly they should generally not be housed with other large Catfish due to the inevitable territorial battles that will occur. However, they can be kept with other catfish in very large aquariums (300 gallons or more) that are capable of providing enough territory for multiple catfish specimens.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Zebra Shovelnose and provide a healthy diet.

In the wild the Zebra Shovelnose feeds mostly on insects and amphibians that it takes from the river surface or near areas of overhanging or submerged tree roots. They are not picky eaters and will quickly adjust to feeding on a variety of commercial or prepared food sources.

Hobbyists should feed a varied diet that consists of foods like commercial pellets/sticks, earthworms, lancefish, prawns, cockle, mussels, crickets and other similar meaty foods. It is best to feed a variety of foods in order to provide the fish a complete diet in terms of vitamins and minerals.

A varied diet also helps to keep the Catfish from becoming too attached to a single food source and being reluctant to feed on other items. This of course leads to nutritional deficiencies which can lead to a weakened immune system and disease.

Feed your specimens daily and as they mature begin to decrease their feedings to a few times per week based on the overall girth of the fish. Many Catfish kept in home aquariums overfeed and develop health problems due to their obesity.

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