Spotlight Fish Blog
Janaury 22, 2016
Bridging (metaphorical) gaps with fish...
You may think that mammal lovers, bug lovers, and most importantly, fish lovers share very little common ground with one another. Think again my friends! Fresh water tanks hosting the charming Zebra Kutu, affable Shovelnose Bee Catfish, or the lovely Butterfly Catfish will be exciting to share with your friends or acquaintances that prefer whiskery or spiny pets and wildlife. All members of the Catfish order, Siluriformes, these fish are popular in the freshwater aquarium hobby due to their unique natures within their kind. Many may not be aware of the vast array involved in this order, which contains 3,000 species. Today, we are taking this opportunity to outline these few that we are proud to offer our wonderful clients!
Synodontis nigriventris, more commonly referred to as the Zebra Kutu, hails from the densely vegetated rivers of the Congo, where they have developed an incredibly unique and interesting predator avoidance behavior. While we may be familiar with fish being lighter on their bellies than their dorsals to be more difficult to spot by lurking predators above, the Zebra Kutu evolved to be lighter on their dorsals than their bellies for the same reason. How, you may ask does this coloration reversal have the same effect? It will all make sense when I fill in this crucial bit of information: they spend 90% of their time upside down. How this fish manages its lifestyle without any other known anatomical differences between other fish species has baffled ichthyologists for years, who affectionately (though somewhat obviously) refer to them as “upside down catfish”.
In addition to the fun of watching these fellas do backstroke, they Zebra Kutus are exceptionally wonderful fish to keep due to their interesting stripy patterns, general un-fussiness, and peaceful demeanors. Zebra Kutus can be kept in nearly any community tank that does not house aggressive species. They do best in waters between 75 and 82°F with pH of 6.0 to 7.5, and hardness of 5-20 dH. Their aquariums should have soft light, with sandy or rocky substrate, with plants and driftwood to hide in. Their overly peaceful nature tends to manifest in a general shyness, which seems to be mitigated by keeping them in groups of 3 or 4. As unfussy omnivores, these fish will happily accept most live, frozen, and dried foods, while greedily coveting vegetal foods like peas or cucumbers. For those of us who love oddballs, offering these foods to a surfaced and inverted Zebra Kutu can be the highlight of any day!
Leiocassis sp., also known as the Shovelnose Bee Catfish, is a member of the Bagrid Catfish family. This family is sometimes referred to as naked catfish due to their lack of scales, and each species in the family exhibit elongated faces and prominent snouts. While many fish from this family are known to humans as delicious meals, this particular species reaches 3.3 inches and has a lovely black and yellow pattern on its body, making them more interesting to observe in freshwater tanks than on our plates. Much like the insect for which they are named, these fish tend to be territorial with conspecifics, so while they are great community fish, they should have plenty of space and hiding spots to soften any aggression. Shovelnose Bee Catfish should be kept in waters between 68 and 79°F, pH between 6.0 and 7.4, with strong current and oxygenation. They can be fed most live, frozen or dried foods, though they prefer the former two to the latter. Have any beekeepers for friends? Show them these interesting catfish to win them over to your side!
Friends not into bees? How about butterflies, or cats for that matter? Erethistes pusillus, also known as the Butterfly Catfish or the Giant Moth Catfish, is a beautifully graceful fish from the southern Asian waters of Bengal and Myanmar. With swooping mottled fins that fan out like butterfly wings, these fish spend their time burrowing and gliding across the sandy bottoms in harmony with all others in the tank. This tranquility can actually be a fault when kept with fast moving fish like danios, barbs, cichlids, and tetras, who will outcompete their slow moving friends. They do best in very clean waters between 68 and 73°F with pH of 6.2 to 6.8. It is also suggested that air stones be added to their tanks, since they are very sensitive to oxygen dips that results in skin shedding. Need to decompress at the end of the day? Watching these Butterfly Catfish glide across your tank is the perfect complement to a glass of wine and listening to John Mayer.