Armored catfish

The armored catfish is one of the most popular ornamental fish for the aquarium. With its antennas, which can be found on the jaws and head depending on the species, it bears a strong resemblance to an alien. But not only its appearance makes it interesting. In nature they live in large streams, brooks and also lakes. Many species are loners, but there are also group animals. In nature, depending on the species, they feed on plants, algae or fish, crabs, invertebrates and large specimens even eat monkeys.

armored catfish fact sheet

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To make the wanted poster for the armored catfish turns out to be very difficult this time, because the many species also have very different characteristics.

A further difficulty factor is that there are for example species like the blue armored catfish, which do not belong to the family of armored catfish (Pimelodidae), but to the loricariid catfish.

The fact sheet serves as a rough orientation and the information must be checked separately for each species.

A red fin armored catfish for example eats meat and is difficult to keep in company with smaller other fish.

A yellow-finned armored catfish eats a purely vegetable diet and gets along with other fish as well as shrimp.

Life expectancy: many years
Size: 13 – 135 cm
Weight: up to 50 Kg
Colours: yellow, gold, blue, brown, black, red, white (albino)
Water: soft to hard, oxygen-rich with light current
pH value: 5,5 – 8,0
Water hardness: 2 – 30° dGH
Temperature: 22 – 28° C
Behavior: calm to aggressive
Origin: South America
Posture: Society, couple, group
Nutrition: Plants, algae, vegetables, green fodder, wood, meat
Aquarium size: 50 – 400 litres
Facility: Caves, roots, woods
Ground: Sand, fine gravel
Swimming zone: Ground – Disc
Family: armored catfish (Pimelodidae)

armored catfish Attitude and appearance

Depending on which type of antenna-catfish one decides for, the attitude-conditions also change. For example there are nocturnal armored catfish, which of course have special needs.

armored catfish are available in many color variations:

  • yellow
  • gold
  • blue
  • brown
  • black
  • red
  • white (albino)
]Also exciting are the adaptive eyes of the fish, which have a small spot during the day. This is a light protection spot, which protects and darkens the eyes. In the night this spot disappears, so the eyes seem to be much bigger. If you are the first time to see these strange looking ornamental fish, you will notice that they partly lie on their backs without having sucked themselves in. They also like to swim into openings in the aquarium filter or suck on them. This behaviour is quite normal.

armored catfish size

There are extreme differences in the size of the mostly friendly aquarium inhabitants. The red fin armored catfish can grow up to 1.35 meters long. Here you need of course also a huge aquarium. Other species remain with 15 cm clearly smaller.

Antennae catfish Food

Most catfish of this family eat only green food, which can be given as tablets. There are even special catfish tablets, which are exactly adapted to the needs. But also the fresh variant is appreciated by the armored catfish. By the way, most species need wood for digestion. For this purpose you can also take bamboo from the garden, but it should be boiled beforehand. The wood must not go mouldy.

The following ingredients are on the menu of most species:

  • Plants and parts of plants - especially wooden parts
  • Algae
  • Vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, paprika, zucchini
  • Meat like live or frozen food and also fillet pieces (caution only with a few species)

armored catfish Sex and reproduction

The sex is difficult to determine in most species up to medium size. This becomes apparent only later on the appearance. The characteristic antennae are predominantly and particularly pronounced in the male. After spawning the male also takes over the care of the brood, for this purpose a cave is gladly accepted. The popular catfish does not form permanent partnerships. It is taken care of with changing partners for offspring.

>> Read more: armored catfish - Breeding and rearing

Collared Ancestral Catfish

The brown antenna-catfish comes from South America (Amazon) and is one of the most popular and often sold of its family. Its scientific name is Ancristus sp. You can recognize it by its brown colour with many yellow spots. It is often sold as blue armored catfish in DIY stores and aquaristic shops, but this is not correct. This very robust and nocturnal fish lives mainly on the bottom. He loves to clean the tank from algae. If it does not find enough of this, then it must be fed. Here you can provide the following food sources:

  • Algae
  • Green fodder tablets
  • Salad
  • Spinach (scalded)
  • Courgette
  • Cucumber
  • Peas
]With the size of the aquarium one should take into account some space and plan a minimum length of 80 cm.

It likes to gnaw on the wood of roots to stimulate its digestion with the cellulose. This impressive fish needs its retreat places during the day, for this it uses caves and roots. It is very easy to socialize, but you should make sure that each armored catfish has its own refuge and enough space. It should also have a partner. At its own place it chases away especially male conspecifics and in the beginning also the female, until it opens the entrance for reproduction. The catfish freely chooses its partner and cannot eat cherries with everyone. The males fight for territory, where the fish can injure themselves severely.

Brown armored catfish fact sheet

  • Size: up to 15 cm
  • Soil: Sand, fine gravel
  • Temperature: 22 - 28° C
  • pH value: 6 - 7.5
  • Water hardness: 5 - 20° dGH
  • Age: up to 19 years

Blue catfish

The blue antenna-catfish is called with scientific name as Ancistrus dolichopterus or Hypostoma punctatum. You can easily distinguish it from the brown namesake. This one has no yellow but white spots. The dorsal and also caudal fin has a white hem. Although the German name is identical, this catfish species does not belong to the same family. In 1911 it appeared for the first time by an import in Germany. Here it is also traded under the name with the L-number L 183.

At the beginning of the growth phase the catfish develops the first antlers near its mouth. In the later course it will grow up to the forehead. In the female it does not grow up to the forehead and remains significantly smaller. When searching for food and eating, it does not differ from its brown colleague. Especially the reproduction is a small spectacle like the brown catfish the male does the brood care in a cave. The eggs of the female are extremely orange. In the beginning the female may lay only a few eggs, in later life there are up to 90. These hatch after about 5 days. The female can spawn about every 21 days.

Brown armored catfish fact sheet

  • Size: up to 15 cm (females smaller)
  • Soil: Sand, fine gravel
  • Temperature: 26 - 29° C
  • pH value: 6 - 7.5
  • Water hardness: 5 - 20° dGH
  • Age: up to 15 years
]If you have any questions, a mistake has crept in or we have forgotten something, then leave a comment. We are happy about feedback!

Antennae species

The biodiversity of the armored catfish is incredibly large with over 300 species and many not yet described. Some species of armored catfish can crossbreed, but such crossbreeding is undesirable among lovers, as the original species disappears more and more.

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