The Callichthyidae or Armored Catfish Family includes, among others, the genera Aspidoras, Brochis, Corydoras, Callichthys,
Dianema, and Hoplosternum. They are found throughout central and
South America. The fish of this family are generally peaceful, scavengers that can be combined (depending
on the size of the species) with small fish to large South American Cichlids. Estimates exceeding 200 species have
been made. This family is made up of two sub-families: Corydoradinae and Callichthyinae.
The Callichthyinae sub-family consists of, among others, the genera Callichthys, Dianema, and Hoplosternum.
Armored Catfish Callichthys callichthys
coelatus, Cataphractus callichthys, Silurus callichthys
PD: An elongated catfish with straight belly profile. Its head is broad and flattened and
has small eyes. The body has two sets of plates. The upper has 26-29, while the lower 25-28. The body color is
brown to flesh colored with each plate having its own unique color. In reflected light the body has a green to
violet sheen, especially if good water conditions are maintained. The back and head are spotted with small black
spots. The upper jaw has two pair of barbels-one set is long and points straight out, while the other is shorter
and pointing downwards.
SIZE: To 7" (18 cm)
speciessuch as the Porthole Catfish are somewhat
H: Widely distributed throughout South America; Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru,
Bolivia. Often found in brackish rivers that are affected by the tide.
TANK: 24" (61 cm) or 15 gallons (56 L) is sufficient for fish to 5" (13 cm). The
tank should be well-planted with large, robust plants and have a fine gravel substrate for burrowing. Provide
hiding places with roots, wood, and rocks.
Like many other catfish, the Armored Catfish prefers large, shallow
WATER: pH 5.8-8.2 (7.0), 2-25 dH (10), 66-82°F (19-28°C). A 0.5 to 1% addition of salt is welcomed. This
can be accomplished by adding 4 to 7.5 TSP. of salt for every 10 gallons (5-10 g salt/10 L).
SB: A nocturnal, calm, peaceful fish that likes to school. Recommended for community tanks
with fish that are over 2.5" (6.4 cm) in length for it may eat fish smaller than this.
Anostomus, Colossoma, Metynnis, Leporinus
FOOD: Live; fish, insects, worms; tablets; plant matter; vegetables. This catfish should be fed after the
tank lights are turned off.
SC: The male is larger, more colorful, and has a thicker first pectoral fin. The
front rays of the male's pectoral fins are red.
B: Keeping the water cool (68°F) may help induce spawning. A bubble nest is built on
the underside of plant leaves by the male.
100-200 eggs are laid in the nest. The male guards the nest aggressively
from all other fish and emits grunting noises. Remove other fish from tank. The fry hatch in 4-6 days and live
on the contents of their egg-sacs for 2-3 days. Start feeding hard-boiled egg yolk and small live foods. The young
are free swimming after 6-8 days.
BP: 7. Breeding the Armored Catfish is moderately difficult.
R: This fish often takes atmospheric air from the water surface via the mouth to the intestine.
This fish has been known to leave the water and move across land during the dry season. The Armored Catfish grows
slowly. It comes out at dusk to search the bottom for fallen food and often hides during the day. The Armored Catfish is the only member
of the genus Callichthys. Wild-caught specimen have a difficult time acclimating.
DC: 3. A hardy fish ideal for community tanks with larger fish.
Porthole Catfish Dianema longibarbus
adspersus, Decapogon adspersus
PD: An elongated, stout species with a flat belly profile. The back is light brown as are the flanks,
and the belly is brownish white. The body is marked irregularly with dark brown spots. The rays of the fins are light brown.
SIZE: To 4" (10 cm)
SS: Flagtail Porthole Catfish (D. urostriatum) of the Rio Negro near Manaus,
is seasonally imported. This species has yet to be bred in captivity and reaches 4.7" (12 cm) in length. This
species requires soft, acidic water.
H: South America; widespread in still and slow-moving waters of the Peruvian Amazon.
A: bottom, middle
TANK: A 30" (76 cm) or 25-30 gallon (98-114 L) tank is sufficient. The tank should have strong filtration
that creates little or no current.
The tank should have a sand or fine gravel substrate. Provide hiding places among rocks, roots,
and plants. A cover of floating plants make this species more comfortable.
WATER: pH 5.5-7.5 (6.7), 2-20 dH (8), 72-81°F (22-27°C)
SB: This mild-mannered, schooling species should be kept in groups exceeding four. An ideal
candidate for a community tank containing fish that are not too aggressive. Usually nocturnal, although after acclimation,
may become day-active.
SB: Discus, Angelfish, Apistogramma , tetras, gouramis
FOOD: Live; worms, insect larvae, crustaceans; tablets.
SC: Difficult to distinguish.
Gravid females are plumper and mature males have more elongated pectoral
B: One male and two to three females should be placed in a spawning tank. The spawning tank should have no water
current and a cover of floating plants.
Condition the fish with insect larvae and crustaceans. An
increase in water temperature may help initiate spawning. After the male constructs a bubble nest at the
surface, he begins courtship. Each ripe female lays 200-500 yellow eggs. After spawning, the females should be
removed. The nest is guarded by the male until the fry hatch. Start feeding with Artemia nauplii and other small live foods.
BP: 9. The Porthole Catfish is a challenge to breed.
R: This species frequently surfaces to gulp air.
DC: 4. This peaceful species can live over ten years in a well-maintained tank.