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Zebra Shovelnose
(Brachyplatystoma tigrinum) Moderate Semi-aggressive 24" 180 gallons 75-82° F, KH 5-12, pH 6.8-7.8 Omnivore South America, Peru, Colombia, Brazil Pimelodidae Large Catfish Large-Bottom-Dweller 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. 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. 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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Giant Raphael Catfish
(Megalodoras uranoscopus) Moderate Semi-aggressive 18" 180 gallons 72-79° F, KH 0-25, pH 5.8-7.5 Omnivore Amazon, South America Doradidae Large Catfish Large-Bottom-Dweller Giant Raphael Catfish (Megalodoras uranoscopus) are a popular northern Amazonian catfish species that are found in a variety of slow moving streams and tributaries throughout Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. They are found within the aquarium hobby under a variety of common names including: Giant Raphael Catfish, Mother of Snails, Giant Talking Catfish, Megalodoras Catfish and Megalodoras uranoscopus. The Giant Raphael Catfish is also known for its ability to produce sounds by locking its spiny pectoral fins into their sockets and grinding them against the inner portion of the socket; as well as, resonating their swim bladder through the use of a muscle attached to the back of their skull which produces a deep clicking tone. Giant Raphael Catfish are well suited for hobbyists with large aquariums, as their docile nature makes them a good tank mate for a wide variety of larger tropical fish species and Cichlid species. As with other large Catfish and Cichlid species a large aquarium is needed to properly house Giant Raphael Catfish. With an adult size of around 18 inches and a preference for schooling with other Giant Raphael Catfish, a hobbyist will need an aquarium with at least an 8 foot length and 2 foot width in order to properly house adult fish of this size. Larger fish eat larger meals and produce more waste, which means that excellent biological and mechanical filtration is required to maintain good water quality. High end canister filters or wet/dry filters are recommended for aquariums housing large Catfish and Cichlid specimens. Due to the large size and strength of the Giant Raphael Catfish, aquarium decor like plants, driftwood and root structures should be well rooted or secured to prevent them from being moved or disturbed as the Giant Raphael Cat moves about the aquarium. A sand or mix sand/gravel substrate is recommended for this species; however, an all gravel substrate or no substrate at will work as well. With its large size and protective suit of armor the Giant Raphael Catfish is capable of being housed with even the most aggressive Cichlid species. Despite this fact, the Giant Raphael Catfish is actually a very peaceful species that will not bother tank mates unless they are extremely small and seen as a food item. They prefer to live in groups and prefer an aquarium habitat with a mix of submerged root and hardy plants. Dimly lit and moderate to low water currents will further replicate their native jungle stream habitat. Overall, they are a great addition to most any tropical Amazon aquarium setup whether with Cichlids, Rays, Cichla or even larger community fish species. The Giant Raphael Catfish is both an interesting looking specimen and provides a functional addition to the aquarium environment as a substrate scavenger. An omnivorous species, the Giant Raphael Catfish requires both meaty and plant based foods in its diet in order to maintain a healthy immune system. In their natural habitat they eat mostly snails and palm fruits that fall into the water ways in which they live. However, they will quickly and easily adjust to eating a wide variety of commercial aquarium foods and foods commonly fed to other aquarium fish. It is best to provide them a mix of sinking commercial pellet foods, worms, prawns, snails, blanched vegetables and vegetable wafer foods. They will scavenge the aquarium substrate and will take food directly during feedings. Hobbyists should watch the overall girth of the fish and feed accordingly. Begin by providing direct feedings 2 to 4 times per week, then adjust the frequency of feedings based on the growth rate and girth of the fish.
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Large Spot Stingray
(Potamotrygon falkneri) Moderate Semi-aggressive 18" 180 gallons 75 - 84° F, pH 6.0-7.0, KH 2-10 Carnivore Amazon, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina Potamotrygonidae Stingrays Large-Bottom-Dweller The Large Spot Stingray (Potamotrygon falkneri) is a very attractive species of South American Stingray that is found in the Rio Parana and Rio Paraguay basins and surrounding flood plains. Their territory stretches from Paraguay and Brazil in the north down to Argentina in the south. Their habitat is similar to that of other Potamotrygonidae as it inhabits the sand and mud river banks, shallows, slower moving river tributaries and nearby forest flood plains during the annual wet season. It is not uncommon for the Large Spot Stingray to end up in lakes and ponds that are formed by the receding flood waters. The Large Spot Stingray is considered a peaceful species towards other large predatory fish; however, they are top level predators in their native ecosystems who will prey on any fish, invertebrate or crustacean that is small enough to be consumed as food. Large Spot Stingray are moderately difficult to keep in the home aquarium; however, if some standard rules for caring for rays are closely adhered to the Large Spot Stingray should be reasonably easy to keep. Aquariums containing rays need to have very clean water that is low in dissolved solids and allows for consistent stable water parameters with minimal fluctuations in pH & nitrates, along with ammonia and nitrite that are kept at non-detectable levels. Strong mechanical, biological and chemical filtration will need to be supplemented by regular water changes in order to keep nitrate levels consistently low. Rays eat quite a bit and are a large bodied fish that will put out a size able amount of waste for the filtration system to keep up with. Therefore, a properly running filtration system will generate a good amount of nitrates in response to the heavy bio-load. Typically frequent water changes are used to keep nitrates low, but other methods like nitrate removing aquatic vegetation within a sump can also be used in conjunction with water changes to keep nitrates low. The aquarium decor should be designed with the ray in mind, which means a soft sandy substrate and a large amount of swimming room with minimal rock, wood and plant decor. Large Spot Stingrays can sometimes be difficult to begin eating when introduced into the aquarium. In this case it is best to substantial dim or turnoff the aquarium lights, then offer earthworms or black worms to help stimulate feeding. Once feeding, Large Spot Stingrays are known to be very aggressive feeders that will consume a large variety of meaty offerings. Part of successful ray husbandry is to house them with compatible tank mates that will not harm the ray or become an unwanted food source. Any fish species small enough to be consumed by the ray will at some point be eaten. Rays generally prey on fish while they sleep, enveloping and swallowing them while they are in a semi-conscious state. Good tank mates for Rays include larger Cichlid and Central/South American fish species that are semi-aggressive in nature and large enough to not become food for the Ray. Top water fish species like Arowana and Cichla are a natural fit to be housed with Rays as they inhabit a different area of the aquarium. In their native habitat Large Spot Stingray feed mostly on small fish, worms, crustaceans and aquatic invertebrates. They are adept at rooting prey out of the substrate and at using their large oval disc to capture small fish and crustaceans. The Large Spot Stingray has a very active metabolic rate that requires they be fed multiple times per day. It is especially important to get newly added aquariums specimens eating right away to ensure that they do not suffer from lack of nutrition. Live foods work best to get newly added or picky specimens eating right away. Live worms and feeder shrimp work best to stimulate the Rays appetite. Once they are settled into the aquarium environment and feeding on earth worms and feeder shrimp, they can then be weaned onto a diet of fresh or frozen dead alternatives. Hobbyists should ideally feed Large Spot Stingray 2 to 3 small meals per day, comprised of a variety of meaty foods including: earth worms, blood worms, glass shrimp, krill, mussels, cockles, prawns, squid, chopped fresh fish and other similar items. Rays should not be fed mammal flesh like chicken livers or beef heart as they have a difficult time metabolizing these types of food and they will develop unhealthy fat buildup and possible organ degeneration.
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Mottled Bichir
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(Polypterus weeksii) Moderate Semi-aggressive 22" 90 gallons 76-84° F, KH 1-12, pH 6.5-7.5 Carnivore West Africa Polypteridae Bichirs Large-Bottom-Dweller The Mottled Bichir (Polypterus weeksii) is a popular western African Bichir species known for its mild temperament and large head. While they are not aggressive towards other large fish species, their large head and corresponding mouth make them capable of eating surprising large fish. Tank mates should be carefully selected to make sure that they are large enough to not fit into the Mottled Bichirs mouth. Within the aquarium trade the Mottled Bichir is often sold under a variety of names including: Weeks Bichir, Fat-headed Bichir, Fathead Bichir and of course Mottled Bichir. They exhibit a distinctive color pattern of dark grey bands over a light grey body, with a whitish under belly. In the wild the Mottled Bichir can be found living in the rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes of western Africa, where they forage amongst the substrate for small fish, worms, crustaceans and similar meaty foods. They can grow upwards of 2 feet in length in the wild, but generally only grow to about 16 inches in the home aquarium. They are considered a semi-aggressive species since they will eat fish small enough to fit in their large mouths, but will not bother larger fish species. The majority of Mottled Bichirs available within the aquarium hobby are wild caught specimens; however, they do very well in the aquarium environment when provided proper water conditions and aquarium size. An ideal aquarium setup for an adult Mottled Bichir will have a foot print of 6 x 2 feet or larger, a soft sandy substrate and a mixture of smooth rocks, plants and driftwood. Due to the shape of the Mottled Bichir and its swimming habits it is important to provide an aquarium with plenty of depth and length; however, the height of the aquarium can vary quite a bit as it is less important. Being a nocturnal species, the Mottled Bichir will appreciate areas of the aquarium that are either not brightly lit or are shaded by vegetation or driftwood. Proper tank mates for the Mottled Bichir should be large enough to not be considered food (anything small enough to fit in their mouth), but not so aggressive that they will harass the Bichir. Most larger semi-aggressive African Cichlids and New World Cichlids to quite well with Bichir, along with large Knife fish, other Bichir species, Synodontis and Datnoides species. Moderate to advanced hobbyists should have no trouble keeping Bichir in their home aquarium, as they are a very hardy species that has been successful in nature for millions of years. The Mottled Bichir is a carnivorous species that will consume a variety of meaty foods both in the wild and the aquarium environment. Essentially the Mottled Bichir will see any other fish or invertebrate species in the aquarium that are small enough to fit in its mouth as food. However, in order to provide them the vitamins and minerals that they need to support a healthy immune system they should not be fed a diet solely of feeder fish. A good diet for the Mottled Bichir will have a variety of meaty foods including: earthworms, prawns, mussels, raw shrimp and various types of feeder fish like silver sides and lance fish. Some Bichir have been known to accept commercial meaty pellets and wafers, but generally they do best with live or frozen foods. They should generally be fed 1 to 2 times per day an amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes. When first added to the aquarium, Bichir are more likely to feed with the aquarium lights off or dimmed as they are a nocturnal species. Being a nocturnal species with poor vision, the Mottled Bichir has developed an excellent sense of smell which they use to locate food in low lighting conditions. Feeding them with the aquarium lights off gives them an advantage over tank mates who use eyesight as a primary method of detecting food.
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Albino Senegal Bichir
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(Polypterus senegalus) Easy Semi-aggressive 18" 90 gallons 75-82° F, KH 5-12, pH 6.5-7.5 Carnivore Africa Polypteridae Bichirs Large-Bottom-Dweller Albino Senegal Bichir are selectively bred variants of the common Senegal Bichir. Senegal Bichir are widely distributed across Africa, where they can be found living in a variety of slow moving shallow waters including: swamps, marshes, lakes, estuaries and small tributaries. They can grow upwards of 18 inches in length in the wild, but generally only grow to about 12 inches in the home aquarium. They are considered a semi-aggressive species since they will eat fish small enough to fit in their mouths, but will not bother larger fish species. Albino Senegal Bichir are available within the aquarium hobby as farm raised specimens that do very well in the aquarium environment when provided proper water conditions and aquarium size. Bichir have several interesting adaptations, which include a divided swim bladder and primitive lung. These adaptations the fish to take in oxygen from the air, allowing it to survive out of water for some time, provided it is kept moist. Like other Ananbantoid species, they will actually drown if it is denied access to atmospheric air. Young bichirs even have amphibian-like external gills which are lost as the fish matures into adulthood. These adaptations along with their amphibian like behaviors of hiding during the day and hunting at night, exhibit a clear link between the modern bichir and amphibians. An ideal aquarium setup for an adult Albino Senegal Bichir will have a foot print of 6 x 2 feet or larger, a soft sandy substrate and a mixture of smooth rocks, plants and driftwood. Due to the shape of the Albino Senegal Bichir and its swimming habits it is important to provide an aquarium with plenty of depth and length, with the height of the aquarium being less important. As a nocturnal species, the Albino Senegal Bichir will appreciate areas of the aquarium that are either not brightly lit or are shaded by vegetation or driftwood. Proper tank mates for the Albino Senegal Bichir should be large enough to not be considered food (anything small enough to fit in their mouth), but not so aggressive that they will harass the Bichir. Albino Senegal Bichir are adept at finding their way out of aquariums and onto the floor, thus a tight-fitting aquarium cover is needed. They do well with other large semi-aggressive tank mates including larger South American and African Cichlids. They will not do well with aggressive Cichlids or Cichlid large enough to view the Bichir as a food item. In general, hobbyists should have no trouble keeping Bichir in their home aquarium, as they are a very hardy species that has been successful in nature for millions of years. The Albino Senegal Bichir is a carnivorous species that will consume a variety of meaty foods both in the wild and the aquarium environment. Essentially the it will see any other fish or invertebrate species in the aquarium that are small enough to fit in its mouth as food. However, in order to provide them the vitamins and minerals that they need to support a healthy immune system they should not be fed a diet solely of feeder fish. A good diet for the Albino Senegal Bichir will have a variety of meaty foods including: earthworms, prawns, mussels, raw shrimp and various types of feeder fish like silver sides and lance fish. Some Bichir have been known to accept commercial meaty pellets and wafers, but generally they do best with live or frozen foods. They should generally be fed 1 to 2 times per day an amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes. When first added to the aquarium, Bichir are more likely to feed with the aquarium lights off or dimmed as they are a nocturnal species. Being a nocturnal species with poor vision, the Albino Senegal Bichir has developed an excellent sense of smell which they use to locate food in low lighting conditions. Feeding them with the aquarium lights off gives them an advantage over tank mates who use eyesight as a primary method of detecting food.
Senegal Bichir
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(Polypterus senegalus) Easy Semi-aggressive 18" 90 gallons 75-82° F, KH 5-12, pH 6.5-7.5 Carnivore Africa Polypteridae Bichirs Large-Bottom-Dweller Senegal Bichir are widely distributed across Africa, where they can be found living in a variety of slow moving shallow waters including: swamps, marshes, lakes, estuaries and small tributaries. They can grow upwards of 18 inches in length in the wild, but generally only grow to about 12 inches in the home aquarium. They are considered a semi-aggressive species since they will eat fish small enough to fit in their mouths, but will not bother larger fish species. The majority of Senegal Bichir available within the aquarium hobby are farm raised specimens that do very well in the aquarium environment when provided proper water conditions and aquarium size. Bichir have several interesting adaptations, which include a divided swim bladder and primitive lung. These adaptations the fish to take in oxygen from the air, allowing it to survive out of water for some time, provided it is kept moist. Like Ananbantoid species, they will actually drown if denied access to atmospheric air. Young bichirs even have amphibian-like external gills which are lost as the fish matures into adulthood. These adaptations along with their amphibian like behaviors of hiding during the day and hunting at night, exhibit a clear link between the modern bichir and amphibians. An ideal aquarium setup for an adult Senegal Bichir will have a foot print of 6 x 2 feet or larger, a soft sandy substrate and a mixture of smooth rocks, plants and driftwood. Due to the shape of the Senegal Bichir and its swimming habits it is important to provide an aquarium with plenty of depth and length, with the height of the aquarium being less important. As a nocturnal species, the Senegal Bichir will appreciate areas of the aquarium that are either not brightly lit or are shaded by vegetation or driftwood. Proper tank mates for the Senegal Bichir should be large enough to not be considered food (anything small enough to fit in their mouth), but not so aggressive that they will harass the Bichir. Senegal Bichir are adept at finding their way out of aquariums and onto the floor, thus a tight-fitting aquarium cover is needed. Senegal Bichir do well with other large semi-aggressive tank mates including larger South American and African Cichlids. They do not do well with aggressive Cichlids or Cichlid large enough to view the Bichir as a food item. In general, hobbyists should have no trouble keeping Bichir in their home aquarium, as they are a very hardy species that has been successful in nature for millions of years. The Senegal Bichir is a carnivorous species that will consume a variety of meaty foods both in the wild and the aquarium environment. Essentially the Senegal Bichir will see any other fish or invertebrate species in the aquarium that are small enough to fit in its mouth as food. However, in order to provide them the vitamins and minerals that they need to support a healthy immune system they should not be fed a diet solely of feeder fish. A good diet for the Senegal Bichir will have a variety of meaty foods including: earthworms, prawns, mussels, raw shrimp and various types of feeder fish like silver sides and lance fish. Some Bichir have been known to accept commercial meaty pellets and wafers, but generally they do best with live or frozen foods. They should generally be fed 1 to 2 times per day an amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes. When first added to the aquarium, Bichir are more likely to feed with the aquarium lights off or dimmed as they are a nocturnal species. Being a nocturnal species with poor vision, the Senegal Bichir has developed an excellent sense of smell which they use to locate food in low lighting conditions. Feeding them with the aquarium lights off gives them an advantage over tank mates who use eyesight as a primary method of detecting food.
Ornate Bichir
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(Polypterus ornatipinnis) Moderate Semi-aggressive 24" 90 gallons 75-84° F, KH 1-12, pH 6.5-7.5 Carnivore Central Africa Polypteridae Bichirs Large-Bottom-Dweller Ornate Bichirs are arguable one of the most attractive species of Bichir available within the aquarium hobby. An adult specimen with its unique color pattern and large size can become the center piece of the aquarium. In the wild the Ornate Bichir can be found living in the rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes of Central Africa, where they forage amongst the substrate for small fish, worms, crustaceans and similar meaty foods. They can grow upwards of 2 feet in length in the wild, but generally only grow to about 18 inches in the home aquarium. They are considered a semi-aggressive species since they will eat fish small enough to fit in their mouths, but will not bother larger fish species. The majority of Ornate Bichirs available within the aquarium hobby are wild caught specimens; however, they do very well in the aquarium environment when provided proper water conditions and aquarium size. An ideal aquarium setup for an adult Ornate Bichir will have a foot print of 6 x 2 feet or larger, a soft sandy substrate and a mixture of smooth rocks, plants and driftwood. Due to the shape of the Ornate Bichir and its swimming habits it is important to provide an aquarium with plenty of depth and length; however, the height of the aquarium can vary quite a bit as it is less important. Being a nocturnal species, the Ornate Bichir will appreciate areas of the aquarium that are either not brightly lit or are shaded by vegetation or driftwood. Proper tank mates for the Ornate Bichir should be large enough to not be considered food (anything small enough to fit in their mouth), but not so aggressive that they will harass the Bichir. Most larger semi-aggressive African Cichlids and New World Cichlids to quite well with Bichir, along with large Knife fish, other Bichir species, Synodontis and Datnoides species. Moderate to advanced hobbyists should have no trouble keeping Bichir in their home aquarium, as they are a very hardy species that has been successful in nature for millions of years. The Ornate Bichir is a carnivorous species that will consume a variety of meaty foods both in the wild and the aquarium environment. Essentially the Ornate Bichir will see any other fish or invertebrate species in the aquarium that are small enough to fit in its mouth as food. However, in order to provide them the vitamins and minerals that they need to support a healthy immune system they should not be fed a diet solely of feeder fish. A good diet for the Ornate Bichir will have a variety of meaty foods including: earthworms, prawns, mussels, raw shrimp and various types of feeder fish like silver sides and lance fish. Some Bichir have been known to accept commercial meaty pellets and wafers, but generally they do best with live or frozen foods. They should generally be fed one or two times per day an amount of food that they will consume within 5 minutes. When first added to the aquarium, Bichir are more likely to feed with the aquarium lights off or dimmed as they are a nocturnal species. Being a nocturnal species with poor vision, the Ornate Bichir has developed an excellent sense of smell which they use to locate food in low lighting conditions. Feeding them with the aquarium lights off gives them an advantage over tank mates who use eyesight as a primary method of detecting food.
Giraffe Nosed Catfish
(Auchenoglanis occidentalis) Easy Peaceful 28" 220 gallons 72-80° F, KH 5-15, pH 6.0-7.8 Omnivore Africa Bagridae Large Catfish Large-Bottom-Dweller The Giraffe Nosed Catfish is a large African catfish species that is known as a "gentle giant" because of its peaceful disposition. While their peaceful nature makes them suitable tank mates for a wide variety of other fish, their large size means they are better suited to be housed with other large peaceful to semi-aggressive tank mates. They can grow upwards of 36 inches long in the wild, but tend to reach sizes between 20 to 28 inches in length within the aquarium environment. Their natural habitat extends throughout a massive range that includes much of Africa, which means that they have learned to adapt to a variety of water conditions. This adaptability also makes the Giraffe Nosed Catfish a good aquarium species for hobbyists with very large aquariums. At over 2 feet in length and with a large body mass, the Giraffe Nosed Catfish is still a very large fish that produces a lot of bio-load for aquarium filters to process. In the wild they are found living in very large rift lakes and large river systems whose large volume of water is able to properly support large fish species. In the home aquarium it is vitally important to provide a strong filter system capable of processing both the mechanical and biological filtration needs of such a large fish. Simply put the Giraffe Nosed Catfish is a very large fish that has all of the same needs as other large bottom dwelling species. First off they need to be housed in a large aquarium that will provide them with adequate swimming areas, places to seek cover when threatened and with a sufficiently large water volume to support their filtration needs. Giraffe Nosed Catfish prefers aquarium decors with a soft sandy substrate, areas with rock piles, large pieces of drift or bog wood and plenty of open swimming areas. Their large size makes plants and tall pieces of wood or other similar aquarium decor items impractical, as the Giraffe Nosed Catfish will knock them down or move them about the aquarium with its sheer bulk. Their natural habitat tends to be in murky waters that do not have bright lighting, thus they prefer similar conditions in the home aquarium with medium to low lighting conditions and moderate to low water flow. Filtration needs to be excellent in order to keep up with the bio-load produced by such a large specimen. The aquarium should be turned over approximately 6 to 10 times per hour with a filter containing excellent mechanical and biological performance. Large canister, bead, sand or wet/dry filters are ideal filtration options as they are well suited for breaking down large amounts of fish waste. While canister, sand and wet/dry filters are efficient biological filters, they produce large amounts of nitrates that will need to be removed from the closed aquarium system. The easiest way to lower nitrate levels is to perform partial water changes, where between 20 to 30 percent of the water is changed every 2 to 4 weeks depending on the overall biological load on the aquarium. The Giraffe Nosed Catfish is not a fussy eater and will readily consume a wide variety of meaty and vegetable based foods. They should be offered a varied diet to ensure that they receive a balanced diet of vitamins and minerals needed to support a healthy immune system. They can be fed a variety of commercial foods designed for large freshwater fish species, bottom dwellers and catfish, which typically include large pellets, wafers and frozen or freeze-dried pieces. Meaty foods like shrimp, krill, feeder fish and small crustaceans will also make ideal foodstuffs for this and other large bottom dwellers. The Giraffe Nosed Catfish should typically be fed twice a day an amount that they will consume within a few minutes. While they will accept many more feedings per day, this will cause them to grow rapidly and may also adversely effect the aquarium water quality unless the filtration system is up to the task.
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Crystal Eyed Catfish
(Hemibagrus wyckii) Moderate Aggressive 28" 350 gallons 72-79° F, KH 5-20, pH 6.0-7.5 Omnivore South East Asia, Indonesia & Thailand Bagridae Large Catfish Large-Bottom-Dweller Crystal Eyed Catfish (Hemibagrus wyckii) originate from the rivers and streams of South East Asia, ranging from Thailand to Indonesia. They are both an admired and feared species of catfish due to their attractive appearance and ferocious demeanor. Crystal Eyed Catfish are well known for their aggressive behavior which includes attacking and eating fish similar in size to themselves and their lack of fear towards larger predators and even human beings. Currently, Crystal Eyed Catfish are being aqua-cultured in South East Asia for both the food and aquarium markets. While they are certainly both rare and exotic within the aquarium hobby, they are available from time to time and are popular with who enjoy keeping truly "monster" fish. They are a truly beautiful species of large catfish, with their sleek stream-lined bodies and dark charcoal and white coloration. However, it can not be stated enough that this species is incredibly aggressive toward other fish species and even their owners. This species is not recommended for beginning hobbyists and should usually be maintained in an aquarium by themselves unless kept by an advanced hobbyist with a very large aquarium and suitably large and aggressive tank mates. Crystal Eyed Catfish are very interesting, have strong personalities and have a definite "cool" factor to them, but with that said they are only suitable for a very select group of hobbyists with both the experience and resources to house a large hyper aggressive species as this. Hobbyists looking to keep a Crystal Eyed Catfish need to have experience dealing with large aggressive species, with this particular fish being truly the domain of the "monster" fish keeper. Best kept in a single specimen aquarium, the Crystal Eyed Catfish can reach sizes over 2 feet in length, and will need and aquarium that measures at least 8 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet or larger for an adult specimen. They prefer aquariums that are more dimly lit than the standard aquarium, with a few shaded areas of driftwood, vegetation or rocky tunnel like areas to retreat to when not swimming about the aquarium. Crystal Eyed Cats are very difficult to keep with other tank mates as smaller species will be eaten, similar sized species will be attacked and most likely eaten and even larger fish species can be attacked and killed depending on the particular specimen and aquarium setup. Advanced hobbyists with very large aquariums have succeeded in housing this species with other very large aggressive species by raising them up with larger tank mates in a very large aquarium that provides plenty of territory for all species housed. It should also be noted that Crystal Eyed Catfish (Hemibagrus wyckii) have shown aggression towards their owners and need to be watched carefully while performing tank maintenance or other times when hands and arms are placed inside the aquarium. Without a doubt, Crystal Eyed Catfish are aggressive eaters that will essentially consume any meaty food that fits in their mouths. However, not all foods contain the same level of nutrition, thus it is important to feed them a balanced diet of nutritional foods. Crystal Eyed Catfish living in the wild will make up the vast majority of their diet from eating insects, prawns, crustaceans and fish. In the home aquarium they can be fed live fish, crustaceans, worms, meaty based frozen or pellet foods ranging from krill and fish flesh to pellets specifically made for large Catfish and other large freshwater carnivores. They will also readily accept uncooked table foods like market shrimp, clams, mussels, fish fillets, chicken livers and similar meaty items.
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Lima Shovelnose Catfish
(Sorubim lima) Moderate Aggressive 18" 180 gallons 73-84° F, KH 10-12, pH 6.2-7.3 Omnivore Amazon, South America Pimelodidae Large Catfish Large-Bottom-Dweller The Lima shovelnose catfish (Sorubim lima) is a species of shovelnose catfish that is common throughout the Amazon and parts of South America. Their name originates from their flat rounded heads, which they use like a shovel to dig in the substrate for various food items. In the wild, the Lima shovelnose catfish spends much of its time moving about the bottom of rivers and tributaries looking for small crustaceans and fish species to consume. Lima shovelnose also position themselves vertically near tree roots and similar structures waiting for unsuspecting fish to swim nearby. While they are an aggressive predatory species, the Lima shovelnose is one of the smaller Pimelodidae family species reaching between 14 to 18 inches within the aquarium environment. While this is still a large sized fish, it is much smaller than the 36 to 48 inches of length that other members of the Pimelodidae family reach. Hobbyists looking to keep Lima shovelnose Catfish will need to have a large aquarium of 180 gallons or more, as an adult specimen can reach up to 18 inches in length; however, juveniles can be raised in smaller aquariums ranging from 55 to 125 gallons. They are an active fish species that is known to jump out of uncovered aquariums, thus well covered aquariums are highly recommended. Lima shovelnose will do best in aquariums that resemble their natural surroundings as close as possible, thus a sand/gravel mix substrate, driftwood or tree root and Amazonian plant species will all be highly desirable additions to a Lima shovelnose tank. While not overly sensitive to overall water quality the Lima shovelnose does put out a large bio-load, which means aquariums housing this species should have strong biological filtration and good water movement in order to keep high quality water conditions. Lastly the Lima shovelnose should be housed with other large aggressive fish species that it cannot fit in its mouth, as smaller fish species, shrimp, crayfish, etc. will all be seen as food items. In their native habitat, Lima shovelnose catfish consume a wide variety of small crustaceans, fish, insects and worms. They will readily accept these same foods within the aquarium environment, or they can be fairly easily weaned from these foods to more economical pellet foods, crickets and earthworms. An added benefit of pellet foods, crickets, earthworms and similar foods is that they do not spread diseases like feeder fish can and provide a more nutritious and balanced diet for the Lima shovelnose.
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Tiger Shovelnose Catfish
(Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) Moderate Aggressive 40" 180 gallons 75-82° F, KH 6-20, pH 6.0-8.0 Omnivore South America Pimelodidae Large Catfish Large-Bottom-Dweller Tiger Shovelnose Catfish (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) or as they are often affectionately known as TSN's are found throughout the larger rivers and tributaries of South America. As adults they typically stay in the larger deeper rivers where they spend much of their time along the river bottom looking for meaty foods to consume. Their attractive appearance, large size and overall interesting personality have made the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish a very popular aquarium species with hobbyist who keep larger (monster) fish species. The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is a large catfish species that can attain a length of over 3 feet within the aquarium environment, thus require a very large aquarium as an adult. They have a long and slender body with a beautiful silver coloration along with black stripes and spots covering the entirety of the body, which gives them a tiger-like appearance. Their mouth is adorned with very long whiskers in order to seek out prey in dark or dimly lit areas, along with a long, large, flat shaped mouth which they use to inhale unsuspecting prey. While the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is readily available within the aquarium hobby, it is not suitable for the beginner or casual aquarium hobbyist. This species gets very large and aggressive and will require a very large aquarium as an adult in order to properly housed and cared for. Therefore, the Tiger Shovelnose is only recommended for intermediate to advanced aquarium hobbyists who have larger aquariums and powerful filtration systems rated to handle larger (monster) fish species like the Tiger Shovelnose. Along with a very large aquarium and solid filtration, the Tiger Shovelnose will appreciate plenty of water flow along with some driftwood or rock formations to provide it some cover within the aquarium. The aquarium should be tightly covered with a strong weighted top, as the Tiger Shovelnose is a powerful jumper that can easily escape from an uncovered or poorly covered aquarium. Lastly, the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish needs to be kept with other large aggressive fish species that are not small enough to fit in the mouth of the TSN and have a strong enough personality to not be bullied by an adult Tiger Shovelnose Catfish. Like most larger catfish species, the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is an opportunistic feeder that will consume a wide variety of meaty items including both fish and invertebrates. In the wild the TSN is a nocturnal hunter that preys on a variety of native fish species found throughout South America, along with any crustacean that will fit in their mouths. In the aquarium environment the Tiger Shovelnose will readily accept a wide variety of foods including: worms, catfish pellets, pellet, frozen or freeze-dried meaty food preparations, fish that will fit in their mouths and a variety of shrimp, crab or other crustaceans found in fresh water aquariums. It is best to feed them a variety of meaty foods so that they receive a wide ranging diet which helps insure that they receive a range of nutrients to promote a healthy immune system. Hobbyists should feed them daily and adjust the amount of food and frequency of feedings based on the girth of the fish and the desired growth rate.
Jaguar Ray
(Potamotrygon Otorongo) Moderate Semi-Aggressive 24" 180 gallons 74-82° F, KH 8-12, pH 6.0-7.5 Carnivore South America Potamotrygonidae Stingrays Large-Bottom-Dweller Jaguar Rays (Potamotrygon Otorongo) inhabit the many river basins of South America and the Amazon. They are a bottom dwelling species that spend much of their time hunting along the riverbed for worms, crustaceans and small fish on which to prey. When not searching for food, Jaguar Rays will often partially bury themselves in the sandy substrate of the riverbed to provide them camouflage and provide a sense of protection from potential predators. As with other species of freshwater stingrays, it is often difficult to make positive identifications based on pattern and coloration alone. When attempting to positively identify a Jaguar Ray it is important to look for a powerfully built tail which is noticeably longer than the body. The upper surface of the tail should have either irregularly light spots or a dark background covered in dark lines on a lighter background. The lower half of the tail appears striped or barred when viewed laterally. The body disc has a fine light edge which is not always noticeable. Jaguar Rays are fairly common within the aquarium hobby, especially with specialized dealers that deal in the more exotic rays and cichlids of South America. Jaguar Rays are considered moderately difficult to keep; however, if some standard rules for caring for rays are adhered to, the Jaguar Ray should be reasonably easy to keep. Aquariums containing rays need to have very clean water that allows for consistent stable water parameters with minimal fluctuations in pH & nitrates, along with ammonia and nitrite that are kept at non-detectable levels. Strong mechanical, biological and chemical filtration will need to be supplemented by regular water changes or some form of nitrate/nutrient export, in order to keep nitrate levels consistently low. Rays eat quite a bit and are a large bodied fish that will put out a sizable amount of waste for the filtration system to keep up with. Therefore, a properly running filtration system will generate a good amount of nitrates in response to the heavy bio-load. Typically frequent water changes are used to keep nitrates low, but other methods like nitrate removing aquatic vegetation within a sump can also be used in conjunction with water changes to keep nitrates low. The aquarium decor should be designed with the ray in mind, which means a soft sandy substrate and a large amount of swimming room with minimal rock, wood and plant decor. Jaguar Rays can sometimes be difficult feeders when first introduced into the aquarium. In this case it is best to substantial dim or turnoff the aquarium lights, then offer earthworms or black worms to help stimulate feeding. Once feeding, Jaguar Rays are known to be very aggressive feeders that will consume a large variety of meaty offerings. Jaguar Rays can be fed a wide variety of different meaty foods including: beef heart, fish flesh, earth worms, krill, blood worms, table shrimp, clams and small fish like minnows, silversides or similar feeder fish. Earthworms black worms and invertebrates rank up very high on the Jaguar's favorite foods list and is a good food choice to get them eating when first introduced to the aquarium. They can then be fed a more varied diet as they become settled within the aquarium and become more accustomed to accepting food from their owner. Any crustaceans present in the aquarium will be treated as a prey item and should only be present within a ray aquarium if intended as a food source. They are aggressive feeders once they become fully acclimated to the aquarium environment and have begun accepting foods.
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Tire Track Eel
1 like Eels
(Mastacembelus armatus) Moderate Semi-Aggressive 30" 75 gallons 72-82° F, KH 10-16, pH 6.8-7.2 Carnivore Southeast Asia Mastacembelidae Eels Large-Bottom-Dweller The Tire Track Eel (Mastacembelus armatus) is a species of ray-finned spiny eel that is native to many parts of Southeast Asia ranging from India and Pakistan to Thailand and Vietnam. Like many other fish species the Tire Track Eel goes by a variety of common names including: spiny eel, Zigzag Eel, White-spotted Spiny Eel and Leopard Eel. Like many freshwater eel species the Tire Track Eel is not a true "Eel" but rather a species of elongated freshwater fish that closely resemble the appearance of a true eel. Many freshwater aquarium hobbyists prize this species for their size, coloration and snake like appearance that many find very interesting. Their appearance includes anal and dorsal fins that are elongated and connected to the caudal fin. Their eyes have brown stripes running laterally through them, with their backs having a dark tan color and a head that is a light beige color. Their body color is a dull brown with the brown coloration fading to a tan on their belly. The body also has one to three darker longitudinal zigzag lines that connect to form a distinct reticulated pattern that is restricted to the rear two-thirds of the body. Due to their large adult size of nearly 30 inches in length, Tire Track Eels need a larger aquarium to be housed properly. While smaller tanks can be used during the grow out phase, the Tire Track Eel will eventually need a 75 gallon or preferably larger aquarium to comfortably house an adult specimen. Tire Track Eels also need an aquarium setup with a deep soft substrate consisting of sand or a sand gravel mix that will allow them to burrow and forage in the substrate. As this species is known to both forage in the substrate and bury itself within the substrate, the aquarium decor should be designed with this in mind. Tire Track Eels should be housed with medium to large semi-aggressive species like large loaches, Gouramis, Knifefish, Geophagus, Acara or similar species that will both not harm the Eel or be seen as food to the Eel. They will see smaller fish species as prey items, thus are not suitable for aquariums with small tropical community fish like barbs and tetras. They are territorial towards their own kind, thus should not be kept with other Tire Track Eels unless within a very large aquarium capable of supporting multiple territories within the tank. Being a substrate dweller, the Tire Track Eel should have plenty of space to roam about the bottom of the aquarium and should be provided with caves, tunnels, rock crevices or similar aquarium decor to provide them shelter. Tire Track Eels do well in both freshwater and brackish water conditions; therefore, 2 teaspoons of sea salt can be added per 3 gallons of water to create brackish conditions if desired. Tire Track Eels are nocturnal carnivores in nature, where they forage for insects, insect larvae, various species of worms and other similar meaty fare. In the aquarium the Tire Track Eel will adjust to eating during periods with full aquarium lighting or in partial lighting conditions after some acclimation to the aquarium environment. They should be fed a varied diet of foods ranging from live earthworms or black worms to frozen or pellet foods ranging from krill, plankton, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, frozen bloodworms, cyclopeeze or krill. They are also likely to forage in the substrate for plant roots or in search of insect larvae, so this should be taken into consideration when designing an appropriate aquarium setup. Ideally you will want to feed the Tire Track Eel at least once a day as much as they will consume within a few minutes or multiple times if an increased growth rate is desired. They can easily go a few days without eating from time to time if necessary.
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Redtail Catfish
(Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) Moderate Aggressive 48" 300 gallons 70-78° F, KH 9-10, pH 5.5-6.8 Omnivore South America Pimelodidae Large Catfish Large-Bottom-Dweller The Redtail Catfish is arguably one of the most popular and recognizable species of large freshwater bottom dwelling species found within the aquarium trade. Despite their very large adult size, Redtail Cats have been imported from South America into the aquarium trade for some time and have reached an almost iconic position among "monster fish keeping" aquarists. The overall popularity of the Redtail Catfish is due to a combination of its unique appearance and active disposition within the aquarium. Redtail Catfish have a broad head that gracefully tapers back towards its brightly colored red tail. Their body is a dark gray / black coloration with a white underbelly and white stripe on the middle and rear portions of its body. Redtail Catfish also buck the trend of many aquarium catfish species in that they are active swimmers that will patrol the aquarium looking for a meal or just investigating their surroundings. The first thing to consider when keeping a Redtail Catfish in an aquarium is the ultimate size of the fish. That cute little catfish is going to grow into a monster 4 foot long catfish that is both an active swimmer and feeder. Secondly, the Redtail Catfish is an aggressive species and it is important to keep it with appropriate tank mates. Redtail Cats should be kept with other large (1 foot or more) fish species that can hold their own sharing a tank with a large aggressive catfish. Keep in mind that Redtail Catfish see other fish that can fit into their mouth as food and not a tank mate. It is also important to remember that Redtail Catfish are active swimmers and will need a very large aquarium with plenty of swimming room. While a 300 gallon aquarium is an absolute minimum for this species, they will do much better in an aquarium that has a 4 foot width and 8 foot plus length, usually around 450+ gallons. Redtail Cats will appreciate the presence of some driftwood, some rock formations and a few plants within the aquarium decor in order to provide them with an aquarium setup that is similar to their native environment. Lastly, Redtail Catfish should always be housed in tightly covered aquariums as they are well known for their ability to escape an open top aquarium or an aquarium with a loose or partial cover. Redtail Catfish are not picky eaters and will essentially consume any meaty food that fits in their mouths. However, not all foods contain the same level of nutrition, thus it is important to feed the Redtail Cat a balanced diet of nutritional foods. Redtail Catfish living in the wild will make up the vast majority of their diet from eating fish and crustaceans. In the home aquarium they can be live fish & crustaceans, worms, meaty based frozen or pellet foods ranging from krill and fish flesh to pellets specifically made for large Catfish and other large freshwater carnivores.
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Fire Eel
1 like Eels
(Mastacembelus erythrotaenia) Moderate Semi-Aggressive 24" 55 gallons 75-82° F, KH 10-15, pH 6.8-7.2 Carnivore Southeast Asia Mastacembelidae Eels Large-Bottom-Dweller The Fire Eel is a larger freshwater eel species that originates from warm flood plains and streams of southeast Asia including: Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos. Throughout their evolution, Fire Eels have developed very long laterally compressed bodies that have enabled them to better survive in their native habitat. Fire Eels are often found in streams with lots of vegetation and deep sediment filled riverbeds. The long slender snout and elongated body that particularly the rear third of which flattens into a broad caudal fin. Their shape allows them to easily bury themselves in the substrate and maneuver amongst thick vegetation while searching for food items. While Fire Eels spend much of their time on and buried in the substrate, they will swim at any water level if they detect food. In fact Fire Eels are often sought after by aquarium enthusiasts as they are easily trained to hand feed and will actively interact with the aquarium keeper once they have settled into the aquarium environment. The Fire Eel is actually a large freshwater fish and not a true eel, its name is a common name that references the fishes body shape and overall appearance. Fire Eels should be housed in larger aquariums that are capable of comfortably supporting their adult size of approximately 2 feet in length. This species can be kept in smaller aquariums as a juvenile and moved to larger enclosures as they grow and mature. It is best to keep this species in an aquarium with a fine sandy substrate, as the Fire Eel prefers to burrow into the substrate. Fire Eels will also prone to scratches and abrasions on their underside with course or rough substrate, which can cause infections and threaten the overall health of the fish. The aquarium should also contain plants or driftwood in order to provide the Fire Eel with places to seek shelter and provide them with a comfortable habitat. Fire Eels are not overly aggressive, but they should be kept with similarly sized semi-aggressive fish species as they will consume smaller fish species that will fit into their mouths. Lastly, it is very important for an aquarium housing a Fire Eel to have a fully covered and secured top as the Fire Eel is very prone to escaping from an uncovered aquarium. In the wild the Fire Eel consumes mostly insect larvae, insects, worms, small fish and some plant material. In the aquarium it is best to feed them bloodworms, tubifex worms and chopped fish or mussel as a juvenile. Adult specimens will need larger meaty food consisting of large worms, tablet foods, krill and other large fresh, freeze-dried or frozen meaty preparations.
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Motoro Stingray
(Potamotrygon Motoro) Moderate Semi-aggressive 36" 180 Gallons 75-82° F, KH 8-14, pH 5.0-6.5 Carnivore South America, Amazon River basins Potamotrygonidae Stingrays New World Cichlid Aquarium Motoro Stingray's are found living throughout South America including Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, Paran-Paraguay, Orinoco, and Amazon River basins. In the wild they spend the majority of their time along the river beds in search of worms or invertebrates on which to prey. As they spend much of their time on the river or pond bottom, they have adjusted to lower light levels and will prefer lower lighting levels in their aquarium home as well. Motoro Stingray's like other rays will bury themselves within the substrate of their environment as a form of protection when they feel threatened. Therefore a substantial soft substrate should be provided to them in the aquarium in order to simulate their wild habitat. Like other stingrays, the Motoro is a high-metabolic fish that is in near constant movement and feeds many times throughout the day. This high metabolism also means that they produce a lot of waste, which requires a strong biological and chemical filtration system in order to provide them the very high quality water they need to survive and thrive within the aquarium environment. Motoro Stingray's are considered moderately difficult to keep; however, if some standard rules for caring for rays are closely adhered to the Motoro Stingray should be reasonably easy to keep. Aquariums containing rays need to have very clean water that allows for consistent stable water parameters with minimal fluctuations in pH & nitrates, along with ammonia and nitrite that are kept at non-detectable levels. Strong mechanical, biological and chemical filtration will need to be supplemented by regular water changes in order to keep nitrate levels consistently low. Rays eat quite a bit and are a large bodied fish that will put out a sizable amount of waste for the filtration system to keep up with. Therefore, a properly running filtration system will generate a good amount of nitrates in response to the heavy bio-load. Typically frequent water changes are used to keep nitrates low, but other methods like nitrate removing aquatic vegetation within a sump can also be used in conjunction with water changes to keep nitrates low. The aquarium decor should be designed with the ray in mind, which means a soft sandy substrate and a large amount of swimming room with minimal rock, wood and plant decor. Motoro Stingray's can be feed a variety of different meaty foods including: beef heart, fish flesh, earth worms, krill, blood worms, table shrimp, clams and small fish like minnows, silversides or similar feeder fish. Earthworms and invertebrates rank up very high on the Motoro's favorite foods list and is a good food choice to get them eating when first introduced to the aquarium. They can then be fed a more varied diet as they become settled within the aquarium. Any crustaceans present in the aquarium will be treated as a prey item and should only be present within a ray aquarium if intended as a food source.
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