Scientific Name: Platydoras Costatus
Common Name: Striped Raphael Catfish
Also Known As: Humbug Catfish, Thorny Catfish, and Striped Talking Catfish.
Found by: Carl Linnaeus, 1758
Type Locality: Indiis (South America).
(The place where the Holotype specimen used to describe a species was found.)
Etymology: Platydoras: From the Greek platys, meaning flat, and doras, meaning skin (also a word commonly used in forming generic names for doradids); in reference to the depressed head.
Often Confused with: Orinocodoras eigenmanni can sometimes be offered for sale labeled as a Striped Raphael Cat or suchlike. This contaminant is most easily distinguished by its longer, more elongate snout and longer adipose fin. Both have the same temperment, and require the same care.
Natural Habitat: Widespread throughout Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Amazon, Lower Amazon, Tocantins, Piaui Rivers, Parnaiba, Orinoco and the Coastal Rivers of Guyanas.
Description: The Striped Raphael Catfish is an attractive catfish, having a black body and horizontal white stripes. A stripe passes from the middle of the tail forward on each side of the body to the center of the forehead where they meet. Another stripe passes from the tip of each pectoral fin forward to join at the tip of the snout, and a fifth stripe lines the base of the dorsal fin. These catfish come from South America, and are found in lakes and rivers. They have the ability to make clearly audible noises mostly at night, by grinding their pectoral fin bone in its “socket." Raphaels grunt fairly loud. When I'm cleaning my tank I can feel the vibration in the water. They are nocturnal, and may not be seen during the day. They have rigid pectoral fin spines. The striped raphael catfish also has tiny and curved protective spines running along its body. Do not catch them with a net! Their rows of spines easily become entangled. Their spines also can give a nasty cut, so it’s best not to handle them. The stripe pattern in the young may serve as a signal that allows for its recognition as a cleaner. It is noted that the striping pattern is not as strong in adults, and so the cleaning behavior is probably only seen in juveniles.
Size: Up to 9 inches. Average size for an adult is 6.3".
Life Span: Up to 13 years with proper care.
Suggested Care Level: Easy, as long as proper care is provided. Stable water quality is best.
Diet/Feeding: All aquarium fish foods, sinking catfish pellets, fresh algae, zucchini and spinach. Prefers small live foods such as brine shrimp, blood worms, and tubifex worms. Try delivering foods at night.
Housing: An ideal size aquarium is at least 29 gallons, or 30" long. Provide plenty of space for swimming and hiding. Caves and pipes are a requirement if the fish is to avoid long-term stress or the possibility of mistaking a heater as a safe refuge. Floating plants help to dim the light, making them more comfortable. Provide proper filtration and a cycled aquarium to maintain health. Stable water quality is best. Striped Raphael catfishes are top, middle and bottom dwellers but normally swims in the bottom of the aquarium.
Temperature: 74-85 Degrees F.
Other Parameters: Slighty softer water is beneficial but not essential. They prefer soft water ranging from 1-25 dH.
Compatible Tankmates: This fish is a peaceful, hardy addition to the community tank, but should not be kept with fish small enough to fit in its mouth or they may be eaten. Ideal for a community tank with fish over 2". Anything from tetras to cichlids, preferably South American, but will mix with all community fish. These catfish are rugged, and if pushed, they are not afraid to push back. With age they might be territorial towards catfish of the same species. In territorial disputes, no harm is done, but simply a display of pectoral and dorsal spines is performed. A tank that is 36" in length is good for two raphael catfish, as long as there are many hiding spots provided. If you wish to see these catfish more, stick to smaller non aggressive fish. Sometimes large catfish make them want to hide more.
Sexing/Breeding: Although known as a spawning fish, sexual differences are unknown and there have been no reports of being successfully bred in captivity. The catfish found in pet stores have been wild-caught. Females may be larger.
Signs of a healthy fish
Eats vigorously, has clear eyes, and swims at the bottom or sides of the aquarium.
Signs of an illness
Loss of appetite, spots of fungus on body or mouth, frayed or discolored fins, listlessness.
Water quality has to be ruled out first. Always check levels when there are any signs of illness.
Common Diseases: None other than those common to all other tropical fish.
Threats: Malachite Green, Rid Ich, Copper
Treating Ich: White spots appear on fins and body, and looks like they have been sprinkled with salt. Fish might rub up against hard objects. The best method of riding your catfish of ich is to slowly raise temperatures to 86 degrees F, and add aquarium salt up to .3%. This is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of salt per US gallon of water (or 3 teaspoons per gallon.). It is easiest on your biological filters, and catfish to gradually, over a 24 hour period, to add the salt. To do this first divide the amount of salt into 3 equal parts. Salt should be diluted in water first, or use a net to slowly dissolve the salt. For example: For a 30 gallon tank, you will need 30 tablespoons of salt. Take the first 10 tablespoons and add it to a fish net and allow it to slowly dissolve into your tank. Wait 12 hours and repeat, and 12 hours after that add the last 10 tablespoons to the net. Keep it salted and heated for atleast two weeks. Syphon gravel out every other day. When doing water changes during ich treatment, remember to put back in the right amount of salt for the amount of water you removed. Sometimes treatment needs to be repeated until is doesn’t come back.
Adult phase - it is embedded in the skin or gills of the fish, causing irritation (with the fish showing signs of irritation) and the appearance of small white nodules. As the parasite grows it feeds on red blood cells and skin cells. After a few days it bores itself out of the fish and falls to the bottom of the aquarium.
Cyst phase - after falling to the bottom, the adult parasite forms into a cyst with rapid cell divisions occurring. Free swimming phase - after the cyst phase, about 1000 free swimming young swim upwards looking for a host. If a host is not found within 2 to 3 days, the parasite dies. Once a host is found the whole cycle begins a new.
Bacterial Infection: If "blisters" appear on your fish, this is really a bacterial infection eating away the flesh of the fish. Treat with Nitrofuranace after you do a 30% water change and serviced the filter.
Internal Parasites: I use Prazi Q for disease conditions caused by flukes, tapeworm, flatworm, and internal parasites. Some say for catfish, only half the dose, treat for twice the length of time is better for them. Some feel it isn't needed at all, but I have used it with success.
Preventing Common Health Issues/Maintenance: Avoid overcrowding your aquarium with fish. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes. Check your levels at least once a week. Drop style test kits are more accurate. Change 20-30% of the water once a week, keeping nitrates under 40ppm. Never change all the water at one time. Always quarantine new fish in a seperate tank.
Availability: These catfish are pretty easy to find. Most pet stores carry them now and again. They can also be found at Walmart stores.
Acclimation: Traveling from the pet store to your home and then into a new tank can be stressful, even traumatic for a catfish. Follow these steps while acclimating your catfish to make this transition as gentle as possible.
Dim the lights in your home before bringing them out of the bag.
Float the bag in the aquarium/quarantine.
Let the bag float for 15 minutes to adjust the temperature.
Add a little bit of aquarium water to the bag. Repeat until the bag is mostly aquarium water.
Try to use a little container to scoop the catfish out of the bag. No nets. It's best to not poor all the pet store water into your tank.
If you lower your water level in the tank before floating the bag, then you can use a clothes pin to secure the bag to the side of the aquarium while adding aquarium water to the bag.
29 or more gallon aquarium.
Decor such as caves, pipes for hiding in.
Substrate, sand or fine gravel for burrowing in.
Water Conditioner (amquel, prime etc.)
Drop style water test kit.
Floating plants is a good way to dim the lighting in your tank.
Personal Observations, Advice: These guys are eating machines, and they don't know when to stop!!! Make sure you spread the food throughout the tank, giving the other tankmates a chance for food. My catfish "Hoops" would eat up all the food in seconds, but he has calmed down with age. They can be sensitive to salt, so add the salt concentration slowly. Never add any medication to his water, unless you know he has something. They don't do well with medications. I got my catfish when he was just a little guy of about 1". I used a net to get him out of quarantine. I didn't realize he had all those "thorns." He didn't get stuck, but if he had it would of been awful. His thorns are sharp. I've read on the internet that if you try to handle them, and you get in range of their mouth, it takes a while before they let go! These catfish like to dissapear. Sometimes I won't see him for a while. Make sure your ornaments have big enough holes, so that he won't get stuck. They start out small, but grow pretty fast. I arrange my ornaments so that he is hidden, but if I start to miss him, I can get a look at him through the sides, or top. You can also lean items up against the glass in the front. Invest in a moon light fixture for the night time, so you can see them more. These catfish are very hardy, peaceful fish. Hoops is housed with a pleco, a pimelodus catfish, and gouramis.
The best tip for beginner aquarium keepers: Some people think you can just fill a tank with water and add some fish, and you are done, but there is more to it than that. It is vitally important to understand the chemistry and parameters of your aquarium water. Some call it the biological cycle, the nitrification process, new tank syndrome or even the start-up cycle. They are referring the Nitrogen Cycle. This is a very important cycle. This is the establishment of beneficial bacteria in the aquarium and in the filter media that will help in the conversion of ammonia to nitrite and then the conversion of nitrite to nitrates. This process can take from 2 weeks to 2 months or longer to complete. It is vital for anyone planning on keeping an aquarium with fish to understand this process. First thing to do after buying a new aquarium, is to buy a drop style test kit to check your levels. It will also give you information on ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and ph. There are 3 methods for cycling a new aquarium.
1. Cycling using ammonia:
1. Introduce pure ammonia to cycle the aquarium. You can buy unscented ammonia with no additives from a supermarket or a bottle of ammonium chloride.
2. Add ammonia from a dropper, 3 - 5 drops per 10 gallons of water per day to get and maintain a reading of 5 ppm.
3. Initially there will be no nitrites. Monitor nitrites daily and continue the daily ammonia dose until you get a nitrite reading. At this point you can reduce the daily amount of ammonia to 2 - 3 drops per 10 gallons. Continue this until both the ammonia test and the nitrite test reads 0 ppm.
4. This method can take as little as three weeks or up to six weeks to complete the nitrification cycle, but adding a starter culture as described above can speed the time up considerably.
5.When the cycle is complete reduce the temperature slowly back to 74° to 80° F(26° - 28° C). Reducing it quickly can stress the bacteria.
6. Do a major water change, about 90%, and add activated carbon to remove any possible additives which might have been in the ammonia.
2. Cycling using fish food:
1. You simply feed the tank with a fish food, presumable daily to keep an ongoing decomposing process. As the food decays it will to produce ammonia and get the biological filter started.
2. This method takes about the same amount of time as the fish method above.
3. The main drawback to this method is that it is difficult to get a large enough initial bacteria colony. So when you introduce the fish, they may add a larger ammonia load than the colony can handle. Consequently you may get some additional ammonia and then nitrite spikes, though they should be less dramatic and shorter lived than the initial cycling spikes.
4. Another drawback is that the decaying food, besides producing ammonia, can add other by-products such as phosphates.
3. Cycling with fish: I prefer not to use this method.
1. Have the temperature stablized at 74° to 80° F(26° - 28° C).
2. Place 1 hardy, inexpensive fish for each 2-3 gallons of aquarium water. Inexpensive fish include danios, platys, barbs, mollies, etc. These fish will provide the initial ammonia to get the biological filter started. This should take about thirty days to six weeks.
3. This can be stressful to the fish, especially if you add large numbers of fish. Fewer fish will be less stress as changing water parameters go slower and they have a chance to adjust.
4. After about six weeks, when the aquarium has "cycled", you can add additional fish.
Edited by Sarajute, 14 August 2008 - 12:34 PM.