Physical description: An elongated catfish with a heavily forked tail. The dorsal fin stands tall when erect. A long pair of barbels extends from the upper jaw and two smaller pairs are located on the lower jaw. The body color is made up of dark brown, round splotches with thin, light brown markings between. The flanks have the same pattern.
Size/Length: To 24" (60 cm)
Similar species: The False Perrunichthys ( Leiarius marmoratus) is very similar, but easily distinguishable by its lesser amount of dorsal rays and rounded head.
Habitat: South America; tributaries of, and in the Rio Negro (Southern Venezuela and Brazil).
Aquarium: 72" (183 cm) or 100 or more gallons (378 L). Leave large open swimming areas. Use a powerful filter that provides a moderate current and is able to handle the waste of this fish. Provide large rock shelters and caves that will not collapse when bumped by this catfish. If plants are used, they should be large, robust, and well-rooted ones. Use a cover of floating plants to diffuse the lighting.
Water chemistry: pH 5.8-7.5 (6.5), 1-15 dH (7), 72-79°F (22-26°C)
Social behavior: A large, nocturnal predator that will eat any swallow able tank mates. Combine with larger fish.
Suggested companions: Large cichlids, large characins, Arawana, large loricarids
FOOD: Live; fish, earthworms, crabs; occasionally tablets; chopped meat. Like other large, predatory catfish, once mature, this fish should be fed only two or three times a week.
SEX: Unknown-possibly males are more slender than females.
Breeding techniques: Unknown
Breeding potential: 10. Spawning has not been recorded in captivity.
Remarks: Frequent water changes are necessary because of the large volume of waste this fish will produce. This fish can attain a length of over 12" (30 cm) in its first year.
Difficulty of care: 7. A large, predatory catfish that must be fed live foods.
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