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FAQs on Chacid Cats

Related Articles: Chacid Catfishes

Related Catfish FAQs:  Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

Sick Chaca  1/1/13
Dear Neale,
Happy New Year to you and to all of the Wet Web Media Crew.
<Thank you, Dennis.>
I should have really emailed days ago, but now I'm sure I need your expert advice. I brought home another young Chaca Bankanensis, even though I knew he wasn't really looking very well at all in his display tank.
I couldn't bear the thought that his health might deteriorate even more or worse. The guys at the aquatics shop are great, but I simply had to take the Chaca home and try to give him the attention and care he deserves.
<Let's hope he recovers so you can enjoy him!>
He has 3 small but noticeable holes, revealing white flesh inside, above the pectoral fins. On his head, it looks like there might be one or two more appearing, though so far not as severe as the other ones on his body. More worryingly, he is also very swollen on the body and face, that his eyes are almost undetectable on top of the head. I'm not sure he is just bloated, but I know for sure this rounded, swollen appearance is not normal for this species.
<I agree. Without seeing the fish, it's very hard to be sure what's going on here. But since you're in the UK, let me recommend eSHa 2000 as a good "first" medication in cases like this. It treats Finrot and Fungus very effectively, and can help against Dropsy. It's an inexpensive medication and seems to be tolerated well by sensitive fish like catfish and even pufferfish.>
His behaviour otherwise normal and colouration is very nice for a juvenile.
<Good signs; if he's feeding normally, then chances are you can help him get better.>
As you might remember, I am using a 50/50 ratio RO/tapwater mix in my system, 25% changed weekly. To try to stimulate blackwater conditions, I have added one JBL NanoCatappa almond leaf and a Peat Ball from Tyne Valley Aquatics. Water parameters using JBL EasyTest test strips are:
pH 6.5 - 7
KH 6 - 10 degrees d
GH >6 degrees d
Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 25mg/l
The temperature in my tank is 26 degrees Celsius…
<All sounds ideal.>
The other Chaca I have already is doing well. I would really like to think I could bring this new one back to full health, but what do you think is wrong with him exactly?
<Very hard to say, but the commonest problems in aquarium shops are physical damage (e.g., nipping by tankmates) and simple starvation. These are easily fixed if caught early on. Since yours is active and I assume feeding, then you may be "just in time".>
I have some Chloramine T on standby, but am a bit nervous about dosing so haven't even attempted to use it. I was thinking of using eSHa 2000, but do you think it will work and do you know if it stains clear silicone?
<eSHa 2000 does not stain silicone. It is an alarming green colour, but doesn't seem to last for long. Don't forget to remove carbon from the filter, if used.>
Please help Neale....
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Sick Chaca images  1/1/13

Dear Neale,
Thank you so much for coming to the rescue! I'm sorry for not attaching any before, but I hope that these images of my fish will help...Please tell me what you think
<Hello again Dennis. Does look like physical damage and the catfish itself seems very underweight. "Tender loving care" will be the thing here! Get this fish feeding regularly, provide good water quality, and medicate as per Finrot. Cheers, Neale.>

Chaca bankanensis "Chocolate" Frogmouth Catfish    11/27/12
Hello guys,
 I hope you are all doing well. I am currently keeping a juvenile Chaca in a 25 litre aquarium. I haven't had him long but he is doing okay. I am aware that Chaca inhabit dark, peaty conditions in the wild. However, he is currently being kept in dechlorinated London tap water with Waterlife's 7.2 Buffer product. The parameters are pH 7.2, GH 14 (approx.) and KH 15 (approx.). I seriously want to start using a either an RO/tap water mix or just pure RO with Tropic Marin Tropic Re-mineraliser as soon as possible. How best can I achieve the right balance and optimum conditions, avoiding PH crashes in particular, as I am planning to use Almond Leaves and Blackwater Extract in order to provide trace elements?
Please help. Thank you
Dennis Ramirez
<This species isn't demanding in terms of water chemistry, something typical of catfish generally. Diet is usually the problem with these stealth predators. Anyway, the 50/50 tap water/RO water mix your suggest should work very well. There should be enough remaining carbonate hardness (around 7-8 degrees KH) to ensure a stable pH, particularly if you provide regular water changes and avoid overstocking/overfeeding. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Chaca "Chocolate" Frogmouth Catfish
Dear Neale,
Thank you for your reply. First of all can i say what an honour it is to hear from you.
<Aw, shucks...>
I have read and heard many similar and somewhat confusing articles/advice regarding giving the best care for this species. Helpful to some extent, however, I must say that getting help from someone such as yourself with your standing in our hobby is a real pleasure.  I really cannot thank you enough, Neale...best wishes to you and the rest of the team!
<Thanks for the very kind words. Best of luck with this fascinating catfish. Do visit (and join!) the PlanetCatfish.com forum -- there are some really good people there who'll help you a lot. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Chaca Bankanensis "Chocolate" Frogmouth Catfish     11/27/12

Hello again Neale,
I am very glad that you share in the opinion that Chakas are a fascinating species of catfish!
<For sure!>
As I mentioned, I am very lucky to have a juvenile (2.5 inches) and his water temperature is 27C. I also agree that there is a bit of an issue regarding the feeding of these fish.
<They do have a reputation for "live food only" but that doesn't necessarily mean live fish. So if you're able to supply things like earthworms and river shrimps, you can do okay with them. There are problems with Chaca spp. that they only eat food that comes down to the bottom, which means the most easily bred "feeders" like Guppies aren't an option.
As you may know, I'm not wild about the use of feeder fish generally, though home-bred feeders of certain sorts of Thiaminase-free species (like Poeciliidae) may be justified in cases like yours where the fish is very difficult to feed.>
Currently, I am providing Brine shrimps and small river shrimps alternately once a week.
<Sounds about right. The fact yours is taking invertebrates is extremely promising, and augurs well for the future.>
Would you regard this as too little, not often enough or varied as a regimen in your opinion, for a juvenile Chaca?
<They hardly move at all, so a decent-sized meal that fills their mouth once or twice a week is going to be ample.>
I am equally fascinated with the idea of feeding from tongs at some point as well so wish me luck with that!
<Would start this sooner rather than later. Juveniles of most fish snap at all sorts of things, but adults are dumber and try out new foods more slowly. So, if you can offer something like a small earthworm now, using forceps (easily bought on eBay and the like for a couple of quid) you should find your catfish goes for the movement. In time, if he learns to associate you with dinner, he'll take dead food, things like chunks of prawn. That's the theory, anyway.>
I hope to hear from you again. Best wishes, Dennis
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Chaca Bankanensis "Chocolate" Frogmouth Catfish       11/28/12

Your opinions and advice mean very much and have also served to reinforce my own knowledge about Chaca spp. Thanks again Neale, my Chaca and I feel a lot more confident about the future, thanks to you! All the best, Dennis
<All the best to you, too! Neale.>

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