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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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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.
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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