There are 15 species of sturgeon catfish ( Sturisoma ) proven, whereby the Golden Bearded Catfish is kept in the aquarium the most. The natural habitat of the catfish is in tropical South America, Panama and the Amazon region. There they colonize the running waters and live during the day on the ground under dead wood or stones. They belong to the herbivores. The keeping is to be estimated as moderately difficult.

What are the characteristics of the sturgeon catfish?

It differs from other fish by its striking physique. It can also change colour. Thus the still young, adolescent fish become grey in the meantime. This happens when they don’t feel comfortable in their environment or are frightened.

The appearance of the sturgeon catfish

Haplochromis, Sturisoma panamense 2, CC BY-SA 2.5

The fish is most easily recognized by its strikingly slender body with the long tail stem. The rostrum is strongly elongated and points slightly upwards. The mouth runs underneath.

The dorsal and pectoral fins are large and sickle-shaped. They appear transparent and are covered with numerous dark brown spots. The caudal fin sits on a long tail shaft. It ends in an extensively bifurcated form, which is covered with fine elongated individual fibres.

The basic colouring of the sturgeon catfish is brownish. On the respective body flanks there is a dark brown longitudinal band. It runs from the tip of the rostrum, over the eyes to the tail. The shape of the band dissolves in the tail stem into individual spots.

The total size of all Sturisoma species is 12 to 28cm.

Housing conditions

  • Keeping in the species tank is recommended
  • At least 100 cm edge length
  • Group housing of 5 to 6 animals
  • Constant water values with a temperature of 24 to 27° C
  • Food mainly plants and dead wood
  • Problem-free socialization with other peaceful fish. Suitable for example are cichlids from South America or collectors.

Gender differences

Sexually mature sturgeon catfish males possess a sideburns. Females have none.

Water values for the striped pike

  • Temperature: 24 to 27° C
  • pH value: 6 to 7, 5
  • Total hardness: 5 dgH
  • Carbonate hardness: up to 12 dgH

Sturgeon catfish react sensitively to changes, which is why the water values must be kept constant. When changing water, the fresh water must have the same temperature and pH-values as the aquarium water. Since in nature catfish live in flowing waters, they are used to a good oxygen supply.

Food and nutrition for sturgeon catfish

Sturisoma are predominantly herbivores. They prefer to eat green fodder. The less they get of it, the more they gnaw on the plants, preferably on Echinodorus. The suitable food:

  • Vegetable food like spinach, potatoes, lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, peppers, avocados, Chinese cabbage
  • Frozen peas
  • Feeding stones with algae growth to eat
  • Moorland Root
  • Food tablets
  • Possibly frosted water fleas
The catfish species does not tolerate long periods of hunger. It should always be able to get some food.

The ideal aquarium for the sturgeon catfish

Sturgeon catfish are calm fish and not particularly keen to swim. Nevertheless they are sociable and like to live in groups. The correct tank length from the aquarium is from 100 cm edge length. The suitable ground should be covered with sand or not sharp-edged gravel.

The ideal planting and furnishing offers the animals sufficient retreat possibilities. These consist of large-leaved plants such as sword plants, Amazonas and floating plants. In addition, roots, stone structures, upturned fragments of clay or open clay tubes must be available. Equally important are bogwood roots, as these contain cellulose as a food component and are readily gnawed off by the catfish.

Sturgeon catfish prefer moderate to fast flowing waters with dead wood. In a not too bright aquarium with a cover made of a floating plant cover they emerge from their hiding places even during the day.

It is important that the conditions in the aquarium remain constant, as they perceive changes as stress and react sensitively.

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