Featherfin Squeaker Catfish
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(Synodontis eupterus) Moderate Semi-aggressive 8" 55 gallons 72-82° F, KH 4-15, pH 6.0-8.0 Omnivore Africa, Zaire, Chad, Cameroon Mochokidae Catfish Community / African Cichlid The Featherfin Squeaker Catfish (Synodontis eupterus) originates from the White Nile, Volta and Chad river basins and surrounding feeder rivers and tributaries. They live in areas where the bottom of the river has an abundance of rocks and wood and relatively sparse vegetation. The Featherfin Squeaker patrols inside every rocky cave and crevice and around submerged logs and roots for any type of edible plant, algae or meaty item that it can find. They received their common name of Featherfin Squeaker Catfish due to their ability to communicate with one another via a squeaking sound. This aids them in communicating with others in their groups when they are down in dark caves, in between rocky crevices and in and around submerged logs and tree roots. While this is less needed in the brightly lit home aquarium, it does make for an enjoyable quirk that many hobbyists find quite enjoyable and does set the Featherfin Squeaker apart from other similar catfish species. While in their native river habitats it is not unusually for this species to grow upwards of 12 to 13 inches (31 cm) in length, aquarium specimens rarely exceed 10 inches in length with a max size of 8 inches (21 cm) being much more common. The Featherfin Squeaker Catfish is considered a moderately difficult species to keep in the home aquarium due to its relative large size and the need for the aquarium hobbyist to at least partially replicate their native river habitat within the aquarium environment. While they only reach about 8 to 10 inches in length in the aquarium, the Featherfin Squeaker Catfish is a thick bodied fish who between their size and semi-aggressive temperament are not suitable for community aquarium environments with smaller fish species, delicate fish species or small ornamental shrimp. Featherfin Squeaker Catfish do best when kept with African Cichlids, New World Cichlids or moderately sized community fish. They will often become territorial towards other Catfish when kept in smaller aquariums; however, when kept in larger aquariums (125 gallons or more) they are generally pretty easy going towards their tank mates. While it is not necessary to keep this species in a river biotope, it is important to provide them an aquarium environment that has plenty of water flow, quality water conditions and lower levels of dissolved nitrate. Hobbyists will want to employ a powerhead or high-end canister filter in order to provide adequate additional water flow. Synodontis eupterus will appreciate a soft substrate like sand or rounded, small gravel as they enjoy rooting around and digging in the substrate in search of food items. They also need plenty of rocks and submerged wood or tree root in which swim in and about and search for leftover food items. They will see larger rocks and submerged wood as a major part of their territory, thus the more of this type of decor will afford them a suitable amount of territory without trying to claim the entire aquarium. This is especially important if one plans to keep the Featherfin Squeaker Catfish with other Syndontis or similar sized Catfish species. As this species originates from the river systems connected to Lake Malawi, they make excellent additions to African Cichlid aquariums. They enjoy the same water parameters and aquarium design as African Cichlids and they are robust enough to easily handle the somewhat aggressive nature of many of African Cichlid species. Featherfin Squeaker Catfish are robust feeders who will readily consume a wide range of food items. They are an omnivore, thus they will consume both plant and animal based foods. While they may consume floating foods like flake or freeze-dried items from the waters surface, they should really be provided sinking foods that will make it down to the aquarium substrate, which will give them a much more natural feeding experience. Provide a mix of sinking foods like pellets and wafers designed for omnivores, along with some plant based foods like algae wafers or foods with spirulina algae included in them. Additionally, the Featherfin Squeaker will be more than happy to scavenge for any flake, freeze-dried or frozen foods that make their way down the substrate of the aquarium. Provide daily direct feedings, with additional feedings being determined by the amount of food they are able to scavenge and supplement their diet and the overall girth of the fish. Synodontis eupterus are not known to be bred naturally within captivity. Specimens found within the aquarium hobby are wild caught from their native African rivers and river basins.
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Flagtail Catfish
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(Dianema urostriatum) Easy Peaceful 5" 30 gallons 75-84° F, pH 6.0-7.5, KH 5-20 Omnivore Brazil, Amazon Callichthyidae Catfish Community Originating from the creeks, tributaries and floodplains of the Brazilian Amazon basin, the Flagtail Catfish (Dianema urostriatum) is a catfish species well suited for aquarium life. Flagtail Catfish stay fairly small with a maximum length of about 5 inches, combined with their peaceful temperament and ease of care make them well suited for even beginning hobbyists. Hobbyists in general are attracted to this species for their flexibility in feeding and ease of care. Flagtail Catfish will readily consume a wide variety of foods and can exist happily in a wide variety of aquarium setups ranging from simple community aquariums to fully planted or Amazon biotope aquariums. While tolerant to a wide variety of water conditions, the Flagtail Catfish is used to very warm tropical waters in its native water ways, thus they do best in aquariums with water temperatures between 75° F to 82° F. While very capable of adapting to a wide variety of aquarium setups, the Flagtail Catfish will do best in aquariums that are designed to mimic their natural Amazonian habitat. Good tank design options for this species include a sandy or smooth pepple substrate, plenty of plants, wood root and open swimming areas. Flagtail Catfish do best with moderate water currents and do not have specific lighting requirements. Like most smaller fish species the Flagtail will be much more comfortable in an aquarium with plenty of cover, which will give it a strong sense of security should it feel threatened. Any peaceful to semi-aggressive tropical fish species make suitable tank mates for the Flagtail Catfish. They can also peacefully co-exist with other similarly shaped and sized catfish species. Flagtail Catfish do not have special filtration requirements and can generally be well kept with high-end power filters, canister filters or wet/dry filters without issue. Flagtail Catfish are easy to feed as they will eat an extremely wide variety of foods. They are also eager feeders that will quickly adjust to their aquarium surroundings and will begin to take food both at the waters surface and from the substrate. It is best to feed them a varied diet consisting mostly of meaty foods like bloodworms, chopped earth worms, brineshrimp, quality flake, frozen or freeze-dried foods and other similar meaty fare. They should also be fed some vegetable matter, typically a staple flake or sinking pellet food should suffice. Best to feed them a few times per day what they will consume within a few minutes and then monitor their overall girth and growth rate to determine the best long term feeding frequency.
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Columbian Shark
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(Arius jordani) Easy Peaceful 10" 75 gallons 76-82° F, KH 10-12, pH 7.0-7.5 Omnivore Central & South America Ariidae Catfish Community The Columbian Shark has been a popular aquarium species for a long time because of it's interesting appearance and peaceful disposition. Like many aquarium fish, the Columbian Shark is sold under a variety of names including: Colombian Shark, Black Fin Shark, Silver Fin Shark and Jordani Shark. Catfish like the Columbian Shark who exhibit a "shark like" appearance have always been popular with tropical freshwater aquarium hobbyists. Despite their common name, Columbian Sharks are a species of tropical catfish and act as a typical catfish does. They will generally consume a large variety of foodstuffs and spend much of their time in the middle to lower areas of the aquarium searching for leftover foods or plant matter on which to feed upon. An interesting fact about the Columbian Shark is it's ability to live in freshwater, brackish and saltwater environments if transitioned slowly. In the wild they live in each of these environments at different times of their lives and can live in each type of aquarium setup if acclimated slowly. Columbian Sharks are a peaceful species of catfish, but they do grow to about 10 inches in size and can become dangerous to very small fish and invertebrate species. It is best to keep them in larger community aquariums with plenty of room to accommodate the large size of fish and with tank mates that are not too small as to be confused as food. Their natural environment ranges from freshwater to brackish water with some time spent in saltwater as well. It is best to keep them in either freshwater with added aquarium salt of 1 tablespoon per 5 to 10 gallons of fresh water or in brackish water with a specific gravity of around 1.005 to 1.010. It is also important to maintain constant warm water conditions (above 76° F) as the Columbian Shark does not tolerate cooler water conditions very well, which can lower it's immune system and make it more susceptible to disease. In their native habitat they have plenty of areas with dense vegetation and rocky outcrops, thus it is best to replicate this in the aquarium as well. Plants and rocks should be spaced out enough to account for the size of adult specimens, leaving them plenty of room to swim about. The Columbian Shark like other catfish species is a scavenger and will eat a variety of foods from both the water column and aquarium substrate. While they will consume leftover foodstuffs that reach the bottom of the aquarium during feeding, Columbian Sharks should also be fed sinking foods like pellets. They should be fed a variety of foods that include both meaty and plant materials in order to provide all the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a healthy immune system. It is best to feed them 1 to 2 times per day the amount of food that they will consume within about 5 minutes time. As they mature and grow in size, the Columbian Shark will also consume small fish species like Neon Tetras and other similarly sized species.
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Ashley Gilbert
Pictus Catfish
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(Pimelodus pictus) Easy Peaceful 10" 75 gallons 75-81° F, pH 7.0-7.5 Omnivore South America Pimelodidae Catfish Community The Pictus cat is a most popular member of the large Pimelodidae family of catfish that originate from the warm waters throughout South America. They have been present within the aquarium hobby for decades and proven themselves to build both a very interesting species to keep, but one that does very well within the aquarium environment. They have become quite popular due to their bright silver coloration on their bodies combined with black spots and reticulations on their head, body and fins. Pictus Cats are best kept in small groups of 3 or more specimens in large soft water community aquariums with medium to large sized tank mates or with in New World Cichlid aquariums. Pictus Cats are considered a community species, as they are very peaceful towards other fish species as long as they are not too small in size (Ex. Neon Tetra). While the Pictus Cat will not show aggression towards other fish species, it will eat very small fishes like the Neon Tetra. Pictus Cats are active at night scavenging for food on or near the substrate and will readily consume very small fishes like Neon Tetra while they sleep. Therefore it is important to consider the adult size of 10" and keep this species with other suitably sized fish species. Pictus Cats are also very active swimmers that should be provided plenty of swimming room within the aquarium, along with some shaded areas like plants, driftwood or rock caves in which to escape the bright aquarium lighting. The ideal setup for the Pictus Cat would be a heavily planted soft water aquarium with filtered light creating shaded areas of the aquarium, along with natural caves formed by driftwood or rocks. In the wild they prefer to stay in small groups and would due very well in an aquarium of 125 gallons or more in size that could support a small group of 3 or 4 specimens. Pictus Cats also prefer a sandy substrate and moderate water currents that closely simulate their natural living conditions in forest covered streams throughout South America. Like most tropical catfish species, the Pictus Catfish is not a picky eater and will readily consume a wide variety of meaty foods. They will forage about the lower areas of the aquarium looking for any foodstuffs that have made their way to the aquarium substrate. Pictus Cats will also feed directly from the water column on a variety of foodstuffs including flake, frozen, pellets and small live foods. While they make good scavengers, the Pictus Cat should also be fed some sinking pellet type foods to make sure that they receive a complete nutritional diet. Pictus Catfish are an egg-laying species in which under suitable conditions the female will lay eggs that are then fertilized by the male. Breeders have found that obtaining the correct environment and conditions to induce breeding in the Pictus Catfish has been very difficult to reproduce, thus this species is considered very difficult to breed in an aquarium setting.