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October 05, 2012

My friends at the Potomac Valley Aquarium Society are sponsoring the All-American Catfish Convention in Herndon, Virginia October 18th-21st. As much as I would love to be there, I will not be able to make it. Instead, I’ll be here at home doing my own talk for the Greater Portland Aquarium Society on the 18th (which is an open invitation to all those who wish to attend. Feel free to find the details on our Facebook page). If you are near Virginia and have nothing planned for that weekend, I really suggest going to check it out. Conventions are always fun and informative!

The world of catfish belongs to the family Silurformes and has intrigued me since I was young. The animals have diversity in shapes and sizes; yet all of them seem to share the same common trait - whiskers! The animals, of course, use these barbels basically as an extension to their nose smelling for food and feeling around their environments. Last week, we received several new cats from Asia that exhibit just how unique every one of them can be, but what’s even better is that all of these catfish stay around 2” in size.

Members of the genus Pseudomystus, commonly known as the bumblebee cats, occur throughout Southeast Asia. Recently Ng described a new species from the Rungan River drainage in Borneo that for much time was thought to be P. heokhuii. In Feb. 2010, he found several differences that would allow enough material to place Pseudomystus funebris “Borneo Hornet Cat” into its own species. This little cat is most likely to grow to 2”, but because it’s still new to the hobby it could outgrow this hypothesis. This small size would definitely be okay for keeping small rasboras like Trigonostigma hengeli “Narrow Wedge Rasbora” or similar sized fish. They also seem to be tolerable to low pH as they are collected in flooded swamp plains where the pH seems to be an average of 5.0!

 Pseudomystus funebris

Often this next little cat is called the “Asian Cory” with its broad shaped head and dorsal fin that stands straight up. It was originally placed under the name Chandramara chandramara, but in 2001 was changed to Rama chandramara “Hovering Cat”. The Hovering Cat is not really a rarity in the hobby, but is seldom imported from the Ganges River of India. Of course, the fish is like most catfish that it accepts a wide range of foods, but it seems to favor tubifex or glassworms the most. The pH should be kept in the 6-7 perimeters to ensure a long life for our quaint friend.

Rama chandramara

Moving on to a personal favorite of mine, I fell in love with Hyalobragus flavus “Malayan Yellow Pygmy Cat” as soon as they arrived in the shop. I was expecting the catfish to be a nocturnal species that I would never see. But to my surprise, I found them schooling with my Puntius rhombocellatus “Rhombo/Snakeskin Barbs” during the daytime and searching for food almost all of the day. They were quite happy in my 20-gallon aquarium that I had set up as an Asian biotope. The fish was originally described as Pelteobagrus ornatus, but a study done by Ng and Kottelat has revealed there are three species within the family Hyalobagrus. Unfortunately, without knowing the collection points they are rather hard to tell apart. They can also be very sensitive to water quality. I would recommend weekly water changes and a pH of kept in the 6-7 range for long term care.

Hyalobagrus flavus

I hope this gave a few of you ideas if you were looking for a catfish to add to your Southeast Asian or community tank but were afraid of getting something that would destroy your beautiful biotope.

As always you’ll find the list under the products link below, or by visiting www.wetspottropicalfish.com. Feel free to contact me or the Potomac Valley Aquarium Society about either upcoming event. Thanks for reading!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager