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March 7, 2014

Laetacara araguaiae “Buckelkopf” has only been in the hobby for a short time compared to many staple hobby fish, but it has quickly become very popular with fans of dwarf cichlids. With a full grown adult size of just under an inch and a half and a reputation for being peaceful with other species of fish, it’s really no surprise. Pairing this with the amazing colors of a nuptial male offers a nearly ideal dwarf cichlid for a small South American community tank. The little Buckelkopf is an oval fish with a rounded snout and caudal fin. Males show an absolutely dazzling coloration – a steel-grey face and dorsal edge fade towards the rear and belly of the fish to bright electric blue. This is overlain by vivid golden stripes and spots along the lateral line and a golden colored eye. Their fins are marked brilliantly with electric blue spots and blotches over gilded yellow with thick black outlines. Females are much paler with significantly less color, but their presence prompts the males to show their loveliest colors.

Laetacara araguaiae

Corydoras kanei would make an excellent addition to a South American community aquarium as well, including one housing Buckelkopf. C. kanei is a fairly average Corydoras at about 2 ¼” and enjoys water temperatures from about 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Its unique features are an incredibly stubby, round snout and body shape and a beautiful patterning of miniscule black dots over a pale, creamy white body. As with many Corydoras, a face mask is present – in C. kanei, it is a lovely chocolate brown. Keep these adorable little Cory cats in groups of six or more over fine, sandy substrates.

Corydoras kanei

We’ve just got in some amazing new and unique fish to us: Acestrorhynchus isalineae “Freshwater Red Tail Barracuda”. This species is quite rare in the hobby, more so than its close relation A. falcirostris, and is only officially known from the Rio dos Marmelos in Western Brazil. These torpedo-shaped Characins are a nice golden color with two dark lateral bands and a brilliant, cherry red spot at the upper base of their forked caudal fins. While these are carnivorous, predatory fish, with wicked-looking teeth in their large mouths, they will not predate any fish that is too big to swallow. This would be much more of a concern if the adult size of these unusual fish wasn’t just around four inches – nano fish such as Boraras species and small tetras should be avoided, but anything over an inch in length should be fine, with an inch and a half will guarantee the fish is too large for the Freshwater Barracuda to eat. The quick-swimming A. isalineae should be given plenty of horizontal swimming space and a snug lid to prevent jumping.

Acestrorhynchus isalinae

Platystacus cotylephorus “Whiptail Banjo Cat” won’t fit in a 20 gallon aquarium like the Buckelkopf or Corydoras kanei but would do well in a larger home. As a community aquarium inhabitant, the Whiptail Banjo is rather lacking – it is a largely nocturnal and sedate species that will often hide or just remain still during the day. As a unique and curious specimen for the catfish enthusiast, however, this fish is astounding. Its natural camouflage is some of the best I’ve seen with their entire body shape and coloration dedicated to imitating decaying leaves – their flat, broad head and body, are perfectly shaped as a leaf, wide and somewhat rounded in front and tapering to their tails. Their dorsal surface is marked by raised ridges, notably a thick ridge down the center of the back with a few branching ridges radiating towards their lateral edges, creating a veined texture. The foremost pectoral rays are extended and paler than the rest of the fin, shaped like the seed pods of a maple. These fish feature tiny eyes and a set of six distinct whiskers – a thick, hefty pair above the upper lip and four small whiskers, one at each corner of the mouth and a pair further back from the chin. The Whiptail Banjo Cat’s tail is quite elongate and fairly tubular; their anal fin extends upon the length, much like a knife or spiny eel. Their coloration varies widely between individuals. Some are a dark, chocolate brown with a tan upper surface, others mottled tan and warm cream, and still others nearly black with white blotches. Males, in general, are darker than females by comparison. While spawning these fish has not been completed in the aquarium, occasionally egg-bearing females are found in imports. The bizarre method of caring for these eggs is one of the most unique I’ve seen – females grow cotylephores, a type of fleshy stalk, from their bellies. The eggs are attached to these stalks and this likely supplies them with oxygen and nutrients. It looks as though we have, in fact, received one egg-bearing female! Finally, it is interesting to note how this bizarre catfish gets around – the fish will take in a mouthful of water and push it through their gills to propel themselves forward. Wow!

Platystacus cotylephorus

Whether you are interested in housing the beautiful Buckelkopf, bizarre Whiptail Banjo Cat, looking for a small predator like the Freshwater Red Tail Barracuda or merely read the articles to glean some interesting information, I do hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s feature. For now, you can always check out our old newsletters on our webpage, view some pictures on Pinterest, or connect with us via Facebook. Thank you for reading and we’ll see you next week!

Jessica Supalla