Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Doradid Catfishes

Related Articles: Doradid Catfishes, Catfishes

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

Help with sick Raphael striped cat     7/3/16
Hello You guys have been an invaluable resource in the past and I was hoping you might be able to help me again!
<Me too>
My wife has a 28 gallon fish tank and her livestock *was* 3 juvenile turquoise rainbows, a black skirt tetra, and three of the genetically engineered GloFish skirts. Along with her favorite fish of all time, "Bumble," her striped Raphael cat. She got him when he was about an inch long and has had him six years now.
Over the course of the last few months, starting with the Glo-fish, I've been experiencing a slow-paced die-off.
<Mmmm; environmental>

Each of the Glo-fish would, at some
point, appear to be unable to close their operculum on one side. They appear to breathe rapidly and eventually die. Each time it started, we would do a water change.
<You do these regularly? As part of weekly maintenance I hope/trust
When all the Glo-fish passed, the largest turquoise started to show the symptoms. Exasperated, we treated the tank
with Praziquantel, in case it was gill flukes.
<? Where would these come from?>

The specific med was API General Cure (Prazi/Metro combo). It seemed to stabilize the fish.
<Metronidazole kills fish kidneys; NOT to be used casually>
Unfortunately, due to severe work stress, we got behind on water changes and the tank went about a month without a change.
<... bad>

I don't have a freshwater test kit anymore (reagents went bad), so I can't tell you what happened to the parameters. I know my tap water seems incredibly susceptible to pH crashes.
<Search, read on WWM re bolstering alkaline reserve... easy to do when folks have too-soft water>

I keep a small amount of seashells in each tank, because I've dropped from pH ~8 to pH 5 over the course of 3 days before. The shells seem to slow pH drops so that regular water changes aren't as shocking.
<I'd be using a level tsp. of baking soda per ten gallons of changed out water...>

I'm getting to the point, I promise. The large turquoise took a sudden turn three days ago, showing a few small, white "fungus" patches (Dunno if it was columnaris, Saprolegnia, or something else white and tufty).
<Really; the root cause: poor environment>
He was swimming irregularly, corkscrewed, jammed himself into a decoration and died shortly after, with all his chromatophores ceasing to function, leaving him "dead rainbow-white."
My wife took it on herself to do a massive "serial dilution" water change (Several 50%'s in a row) that was long overdue. And now we find ourselves at the crux of the issue. The very next day (yesterday; the thirtieth) her striped Raphael was showing small, white dots. He also appeared to be losing some mucus coat. I've been reading and looking at pictures and I honestly can't figure out if it's ich, velvet, columnaris, or something else.
<Most likely Ich>

I suspect it may even be a secondary infection to the unseen primary. I don't want to antibiotic-bomb this tank, because it
would likely cause stress. So, I wanted to seek out your advice before settling on a treatment. I was also curious how often we should do water changes during the treatment period. (Normal schedule is 20% change per week or 40/50% every two when things get rough).
<I'd simply elevate temperature... to the mid 80's F.>

If this is predicated on me getting a test kit in order to give you parameters, I will be happy to do so. pH is right around 7, but it's only been a few days since the water change, so that's not surprising.
<Plus the household sodium bicarbonate mentioned>

It is intensely difficult to take pictures of a fish, but I was able to get some video, so I've uploaded it to you tube: https://youtu.be/9GulEDwTkZU
<Ah yes; almost assuredly Whitespot... again, the treatment mentioned above; perhaps reading on WWM Re>
Thank you so much for any/all help you can provide!
Jonathan Heckmann
<Be of good life (anima bona fac). Bob Fenner>

A compatibility question: red-eared slider + Platydoras armatulus?      4/22/16
Greetings to The Crew,
I hope this message finds you all enjoying some sunny springtime weather, and in the best of health!
<I thank you>
I have a bit of a tricky question, and I'm hoping that you can shed some insight that will help me in keeping my wet pets in the best of health - as you have never disappointing in the past. n_n
<Will do my usual best>
A bit of background. . . I am a lover of freshwater fish in naturally planted aquariums, this is a passion for me, and has led to what is known as "Multiple Tank Syndrome" in my own home - a thing I'm sure you're all very familiar with!
<Heeeee! Oh yes>
I've done fairly well thus far, barring a few bizarre illnesses (thanks again for your help with these!). An unfortunate side-effect of this is that people tend to come to me for advice regarding their own, generally terrible, set-ups, and in a few cases, I've 'rescued' and rehabilitated fish that had previously been poorly cared for, or had owners who could no longer care for them. In addition, I work very closely with my children's school, having helped several classrooms set up and maintain (with proper research!) their own classroom community tanks. It's a lot of work on both sides, but a joy to work with the children, and help them to learn the right way to take care of their own wet pets at home.
<I salute your efforts at sharing>
I wouldn't consider myself a fish expert at all - I only know the animals I've kept! Unfortunately, in the eyes of the school. . . I'm the "aquarium expert," and so it came to pass that a sweet-tempered female red-eared slider was put into my care. The turtle, Crystal, lives in the Kindergarten classroom (we are VERY conscious of the fact that she may carry the dread salmonella, and take great pains to ensure the safety of the children -as well as the turtle WITH the children!).
<Mmm; much more likely the children may deal w/ this bacterium from other sources>
When Crystal was first brought to my attention 2 years ago, I knew nothing about turtles, but it was obvious even to me that she was suffering, and in dire need of some help. Since I seem to be the only one in the school who is willing, I took her under my care. She is around 7-years old (give or take), and her carapace measures about 10
inches front to back. She was then living in a 30-gallon 'turtle tank,' barely able to move, and unable to fully pull herself out of the water to bask.
She was suffering from a fungal infection, malnutrition, and a whole host of other problems caused by living in filthy water in a poor environment. Since then, I've donated a 125 gallon tank to the school for her care, along with the filter it came with (which is not sufficient for her bioload), and do weekly water-changes. She's come a long way, and at this point, she's much happier and healthier. Though her scutes may take years to recover from the damage, the fungus is gone, and she is living in as close to a natural environment as I could create, with a proper basking area built up with river rocks and driftwood, and the proper lighting over her basking area. After so much time and research, I STILL feel that I know nothing about turtles - but we manage!
<We have Darrel Lantera>
During this period, a friend of mine was no longer able to keep his 9-year old(ish) Platydoras armatulus (Raphael/Humbug/Armored/Croaking catfish), and with nobody else to turn to, Mr. 'Scutes ended up in my
care. Unfortunately, s/he is a bit over 6 inches long, and not compatible with any of my other tanks, which are densely planted, and have smaller/nano fish, so he has been given a 75 gallon tank, and has been thriving under my care for nearly 2 years now.
All this rambling. . . but the question is exactly as stated in the subject!
<Yes; and the answer is unfortunately; no; not compatible w/ this or any other temperate Emydid turtle
The turtle needs more filtration in her tank, unfortunately, I can't afford to donate another filter to the school, and they are unwilling/unable to afford a second filter for her. Though I've committed, and am more than willing, to keep this beauty of a catfish for the rest of his natural life (which hopefully will be a VERY long one!), I could surely do with one less large water-change on my home water bill.
So I've gotten the (slightly mad) idea in my head that perhaps, since the catfish is large and well armored, and there are plenty of natural hides in the turtle's 125 gallon tank that he could get into, but the turtle could not, perhaps I could combine the two tanks, and put ol' Scutes the catfish - along with his filter (a nice Fluval G6 Hydrotech rated for 80-160 gallons) in with Crystal the Red-Eared Slider? This would more than double the turtle's filtration, and nothing seems to bother ol' 'Scutes the catfish. Both the catfish and the turtle's tank are currently unheated, and remain at a fairly stable temperature of about 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
I've read accounts on forums online of these two species dwelling peacefully together, but I trust those people's accounts about as much as I trust my 5-year old when she says she's flossed her teeth, and so I come to you for your advice and input on this situation. Is this a terrible idea? Or a possibility?
<A poor idea... turtles as you've noted are "really dirty" and "clumsy" animals. Better to place this catfish elsewhere
I do realize that some of
this will depend on the unique temperaments of both animals, and so would be VERY vigilant as to the stress level of the catfish, and the curiosity of the turtle, who has never had a tank-mate before. I'm quite fond of both animals, and want what is best for both. I DO feel that both animals would be best suited to be in their own environments -
apart from one-another, but if it's possible that they could co-habitate, it would make my life in caring for theirs much easier!
I am in the school every day at least twice a day checking on all of the tanks there, do weekly water changes (sometimes bi-weekly for the turtle's tank) and also have access during holidays and summer vacation, so I will be tending to their care throughout the summer months. I have two children who will be in this school system (barring unforeseen life changes), through to high-school graduation. As the youngest is in Kindergarten now, this will be many years to come!
I truly appreciate any feedback you can offer on this idea, YOU'RE the experts, not me! I still know nothing about turtles, and even Mr. Scutes the catfish is a whole new type of fish to me, though I've been caring for both for two years now, I feel very unsure...
Thanks in advance for your time and advice!
- Jes (aka Chesh)
<Thank you for your well-written essay; and caring! Bob Fenner>

Odd gill use in Hamburg catfish     1/19/15
Hi there my name is Louise.
I've been reading round everywhere to find a reason for how my cat fish acts but keep coming up trumps.
We have had him for over a year now, nearly 18 months. I think he's a Hamburg catfish
<? Don't know what this is species-wise>
as he resembles the Hamburg sweet but every time I talk to a shop owner they give me a different name.
His problem is he has curly gill flaps, they seem to curl out and make the gill slit exposed a little.
<Ahh; perhaps evidence of early/developmental physical challenge. Catfishes, cichlids and more get "bent gill covers" from poor water conditions as young; and other causes... genetic, nutritional>
We thought it could have been disease related, went to talk to a pet shop and was given bacterial and fungal treatment.
Treated tank, no change. He's always been like this though. The tank has been treated a few times when we had guppies as they had a tendency to fin rot (usually after addition of a new fish this happened so I think more of a bad pet shop issue.)
His second problem which I have only noticed recently as he's out more due to house wars with the upside down catfish, and this is when he's flapping his gills to breath he only flaps 1. Is this normal as all my other fish do both together.
<If I understand you, yes; normal/natural>
We have to keep getting new pots for him as he out grows them and didn't take to the while driftwood thing, he likes an enclosed pot as his house.
He's currently in the submarine but the 2 upside down cats seem to be hogging it and he's out more especially in the day when the sun is on the tank which is rather strange to me as we rarely saw him out at night.
Some useful information on tank:
Occupants; 1 4 yo gold fish
<Mmm; likely not compatible. See WWM re Goldfish compatibility>

about 6 inch not including tail, 1 rainbow shark, 3 coulis loaches, 1 leopard and 1 zebra Danio, 2 upside down cats 2 inch long, 1 remaining guppy 3yo, 2 bristle noses 1 2 inch 1 4 inch, and 2 fish of unknown breed (there like the upside down cats but much more active and about 4 inch long they do full square laps of the tank.
Yank is 40 UK gallon, temp at 22^C, not got ware test kit but Danio's are lovely and blue, sting ray xl filter, 8 inch aerator stone with O2 supply.
2 plants to keep gold fish and shark happy eating.
Filter cleaned weekly (bi weekly if they have had broccoli or peas) 30% water change weekly plus 4% addition due to evaporation.
Lighted on timer with jewel lighting system that came with the tank.
Hope that helps
<Do please send along an image of the catfish in question. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Odd gill use in Hamburg catfish    1/20/15
Hi Bob Fennel,
<Close enough Louis>
I have attached 2 images one of the cat fish and a close up of his gills.
<A bit deformed; about par for the course>
When we got the cat fish he was around an inch in size, and the biggest of the ones the shop had.
<... ah yes; a Doradid; likely Platydoras costatus>

I'm not sure on his species other than catfish I am afraid.
The gold fish was the first 1 we had and he gets alone well with everything big enough. We tried to have tetras but he ate them within a few days.

He spends alot
<No such word>
of time doing a figure of 8 around the 2 plants. What reasons make him a bad tank mate?
<... see WWM re. We're not a chat board>

As he doesn't attack any fish unless there dying, dead or really small.
I'm not sure on breed of gold fish other than he was 99p and a darks red/orange when we got him as a sprat, now he's orange along his back and tail base and whiter on his belly and fins.
The only stressful situation I can think of was when we moved house and he spent about 16 hours in a transporter we have 4 ransom tees for the fish in total, but they fish traveled in the car with me as there tank was in the van.
Hope this information helps.
<Cheers, BobF>

Spotted Rafael missing its' tail...      1/6/13
Your msg. has been deleted... 15 megs of pix? We only can accept hundreds of Kbytes... re-do and re-send. B
Spotted Rafael missing its' tail...
I searched FAQ’s but found nothing really close. I have a 125gallon take with Frontosas, Brichardi’s , Tropheus, Plecos and other Raphaels.  The PH is 8.0, 80 degrees F. We haven’t had any deaths in more than a year and keep the water quality pristine -- vacuum and 30% water changes every 2 weeks or so. We have Lava rocks with crushed coral as substrate. We went to clean it out today and discovered that one of the spotted Raff's was missing its’ tail entirely! I can’t tell if the rectum is still intact or not. I have no reason to suspect that it was eaten off... I believe that he might have been stuck in between the lava rocks and lost it attempting to escape. They are all very well fed... See the photos attached. He is still getting around and eating just fine, but I come to you with questions. Can he survive without the tail? Is it possible that it will grow back in time? Should we put him in a nursing tank and attempt to treat him with a broad spectrum antibiotic so that he doesn’t get sick?
 The photos are cloudy as we’re vacuuming it out but I wanted to get them to you ASAP!
 Thank you for any assistance that you can offer, in advance.
 Alison St. Clair
<Hi Alison, I'll consolidate the answers to the three emails in this one.  I really couldn't make out what you are talking about from the photos, but I'll offer this: If the caudal peduncle is intact,
<<It's way past gone... RMF>>
the tail should grow back. If the damage has gone into the peduncle, talking muscle tissue and so forth, this fish is permanently damaged.
<<A goner. RMF>>
  I won't speculate on how the damage was done,
<<I will... the pix show an incompatible mix... the water quality is off for this mix... in favor of the African Cichlids... RMF>>
but isolating until the wounds are healed over is wise, as is treating with an antibiotic.  Even after the wound is healed over, this fish must learn to live within its abilities, which are now diminished.  If it can successfully compete for food in the big tank, then eventually put the fish back. If the fish cannot compete, then it will need to be kept in a situation where it will not be starved out. - Rick>

Re: 55 gallon tank with catfish... Doradid comp.     4/24/12
Dear Neale
My 55 UK gallon tank is running very well, and all the occupants seem happy.
<Good to hear.>
I have not removed any fish, but have since added another striped talking catfish, and one spotted.  The new additions are about 2", whilst the original is now nearing 4" (don't they grow fast!)  The fish store people seemed to be surprised I am keeping curies with a Raphael Talking Catfish, and suggested to me that I should be careful as the curies may get eaten (??) and that an attempt may result in the death of either the eater, or the eaten (!!) - I wonder what your thoughts on this are?
<Not much of a risk to be honest. None of the Doradidae, even the giant species, are much given to eating other fish. They prefer snails, worms, insect larvae, etc. While I wouldn't keep any fish with tankmates small enough to feed in their mouths, adult Striped Raphael catfish should be perfectly safe with adult (non-dwarf) Corydoras.>
(Although I have seen a clip on U tube of striped talking cats living with Corydoras Julii, which I assume are about the same size as my orange Venezuela curies.)  The fish with the biggest mouth at the moment is the 7" Featherfin squeaker, and I have no problems with him/her at all, and even had one baby Cory survive from egg to adult when an egg must have slipped through the 'cage' I had the fry in a few months ago, before adding any talking cats at all.
I was told to be wary of placing 2 young talking cats in with an established one, but have had no problems.  In fact quite the reverse:  I have a long narrow vase-like ornament with only one entrance, and a small jagged window, too small for exit by.  This used to be the chosen house of the upside-down cats, but now the 4" striped catfish has taken up residence.
<They are very social, and thoroughly enjoy being kept in groups. As you've seen, they will happily wedge themselves as a group into a favoured cave or crevice.>
At first it was shared with the upside-down catfishes, who were able to exit out the 'window', but as the striped cat has got bigger, the others have found new homes.  I have been concerned that one day he may get stuck in it, as there doesn't seem a lot of turning space.  When I added the 2 new talking cats, I was surprised to find they almost immediately took up residence in the same vase, very squashed in with the 1st talking cat. 
Should I be concerned?
<Not really, no.>
Will a fish go into a space it may have difficulty getting out of?  And as they all grow to adult size there is no way they will all fit into it, and maybe not even through the entrance which is about 2" wide.
<Just as people can do stupid things, so can catfish. But generally they don't go into spaces they can't escape from. The best approach is to offer caves much larger than the catfish, so the risk goes away, or else use a cave open at both ends (like a pipe) so the fish can swim straight through.
Flowerpots and other terracotta items are often the easiest and cheapest sources of catfish caves, and once they have a bit of algae on them, they can look really nice.>
Your advice is much appreciated.
<Cheers, Neale.>

11th Pramong Nomjai Thai Tuala   4/2/12
Another prize winner in the Catfish short body category. The Thais like their fish to have stunted growth.
<Unusual designation for a group, and tweaked body... B>

night light?    2/22/12
Hi Neale, how are you?
<Well, thanks!>
I bought a 50W moonlight lamp from Exo-terra, its for desert and tropical terrariums, I was planning to put it in a lamp and turn it on sometimes for night-watching so I get to see my Catfish more, but if its for reptiles can it harm my fish?
<Nope. So long as it doesn't produce UV or heat, it's fine.>
I've read that getting a moonlight fixture is a good idea,
<Can be. Moonlight tubes were all the rage in the 80s when I started keeping fish seriously. Not all catfish fall for this ruse, which is why they largely fell out of fashion. But they're fun toys if you use them for an hour or two after normal daytime lighting, and might possibly encourage your catfish to swim a bit when you can see them.>
can you please elaborate a bit on having night lights or not for my aquarium, quick reminder I have:
- 4 Angelfish
- 2 Striped Raphael Catfish
<These are among the most completely nocturnal fish sold. They're almost never seen by their owners. Do suspect one problem is they're social fish, so when we keep one or two, they become very shy. But even so, this family of catfish is extremely nocturnal and favours deep, murky rivers where very little light penetrates.
That said, you can train them to come out during the day (at least in very shady aquaria) if you tempt them with appropriate foods dropped near to their favoured cave. For this trick to work all overhead light needs to be filtered out with floating plants or leaves, because they simply won't come out into brightly lit spots.>
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: night light?
Hi Neale, thanks as always for your great help!
I will keep asking, ha ha!
<Go ahead.>
so when I grow my aquarium would you recommend to get 2 more Catfish so they are happier, given that they are social? I would love to, since I like them a lot.
Question about the Striped Raphael Catfish, I got them Pleco algae food, algae wafers that go to the bottom, is this ok, or they would prefer carnivorous food?
<Either. They will eat algae wafers as readily as anything else. My catfish (including Corydoras and Synodontis species) feed almost entirely on algae wafers, with occasional meaty treats like bloodworms and mussel used once or twice a week.>
Then, I returned the Chinese algae eater, but now my aquarium has tiny dots of algae all over the plants and rocks, I guess the algae eater was doing a good job, you had suggested a Bristlenose Pleco, will this fish clean the algae as much as the algae eater did?
<Much much better. For best results, allow one Ancistrus per 20 gallons on so.>
Is it a good addition for my 2 Catfish?
<Cheers, Neale.> 

2 Striped Raphael Catfish & 5 Angelfish, sys.  1/17/12
Hello there,  (hope my English is Ok, I am writing from Mexico)
<Certainly better than my Spanish!>
I just started my fresh water aquarium, I decided to adopt a very neglected Betta, owned by a friend because I couldn't take anymore witnessing the conditions he was living in, unfortunately the poor Betta died the day I was going to adopt him :-(
So I ended up with a new and empty 24 gallon tank, with live plants and gravel.
That's when I started my aquarium, that was 3 weeks ago, I did some research, and ended up with 2 striped Raphael catfish and a Chinese algae eater (the 3 above were going to be my adopted Betta's tank-mates, but as I said the Betta died the day I was going to bring him to his new home)
<Ah, now, the Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) is not going to work in a tank this small. It is very aggressive when mature and gets far too large, around 30 cm/12 inches. Actually, the Raphael Catfish (Platydoras armatulus) is too big as well. It gets to about 20 cm/8 inches.
But it grows slowly and isn't aggressive. It is predatory though and will eat very small fish (like Neon Tetras).>
The man I bought the aquarium kit to, suggested I should have up to 15 fish!
<Depends on the size of the fish. 15 Guppies? Yes. 15 Great White Sharks? No.>
I had read the recommended rule was one inch of fish per gallon of water, <This rule works for very small fish, like Guppies and Neons, that are only an inch or so in length. But once you start looking at fish that are bigger than 2 inches long, the rule doesn't work.>
and I certainly didn't want to overcrowd, so I said -no thanks-, the day he came to my house to supervise the aquarium installation he brought 5 young Angelfish though,
<Five Angelfish in 24 gallons! Oh no. This won't work.>
and my husband couldn't resist, so now we have: the 2 Raphael, the algae eater and 5 Angelfish, I believe that's a lot for a 24 gallon tank, today they look fine because they are young and small but obviously I want them to thrive.
<By all means keep the 5 juveniles, but as they grow you'll see them pair off. One pair will be happy in 24 gallons. You will need to remove the rest. Alternatively, keep one Angelfish and keep it with some other fish of appropriate size. Angelfish are aggressive and territorial when sexually mature.>
I have read in your site about the needed circulation of water at the bottom of the tank for the Catfish, I am not sure my tank complies, actually its an Elite Aquarium Canopy with the Elite Hush Power Filter which hangs on the tank, is this enough? or do I need an extra air pump?
<You need a water turnover rate of around 6 times the volume of the tank per hour. 6 x 24 = 144, so your filter needs to have a turnover rate of 144 gallons/hour or more.>
Unfortunately I haven't found a serious aquarist in Mexico that can help me with all of these, I've been doing research though, and sometimes I find one theory, then another. I just want to do the best for my fish, all of them, but especially the Catfish since they got here first, should I stay with the 5 Angels? do I need a larger tank,
<Oh my yes! 55 gallons would be good, so long as you get rid of the Chinese Algae Eater which will cause you real problems. If you want an algae eating fish, buy a Bristlenose Plec (Ancistrus sp.). Don't buy a "Pleco" (which are usually Pterygoplichthys sp.) as these get far too large for an aquarium this size.>
are my Catfish ok being only 2 (btw today they got into a big fight for a rock, to hide in, they wanted the same), do I need a pump for the bottom of the tank?
<A good idea.>
I would really appreciate your guidance!
best and cheers from Mexico,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 2 Striped Raphael Catfish & 5 Angelfish   1/19/12

thanks a lot for your quick reply, I will do as you suggest, will definitely get a larger tank. Fortunately I contacted a person that seems like a serious aquarist, he will take my algae eater and supervise the
water conditions.
One quick question! can I feed spinach to the Raphaels?
<If he eats it, sure. They may eat some algae and plant material, but mostly eat worms, small snails, and other meaty foods. They like catfish pellets too.>
I read it somewhere, but don't want to pollute the water for the rest of the community,
<Used in moderation, green foods like cooked spinach, cooked peas, blanched lettuce are all fine foods.>
-Muchas gracias-!!!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Striped Raphael Catfish, beh., hlth... sys.    9/6/2010
I recently decided to add a catfish to my cichlid tank and it has been behaving very oddly. I know that it's normal for a catfish to be nocturnal, but I never seem to see him out of a small plastic log in my tank, and when he does emerge, he swims in a spiral. Unless he is close to the bottom of the tank, then he seems to be able to control his movements. Is this normal? If not, what can I do? Thank you for your help!
<Hello Rachel. No, it's not normal for catfish to swim in this way. Let's recap on the basic needs of the Striped Raphael (Platydoras armatulus).
It's a gregarious, predatory species that is best kept in a group of at least two specimens and away from very small tankmates like Neons or Cherry Shrimps. Although quite hardy and well-armoured, they should not be kept with aggressive tankmates such as large cichlids. Medium-sized South American soft water cichlids such as Blue Acara and Keyhole Acara make good companions, as do Angelfish. They get to about 20 cm/8 inches long, so a 30 gallon tank is the absolute minimum and realistically you want a tank around 55 gallons. Water chemistry should be soft to moderately hard, acidic to slightly basic; aim for pH 6.0-7.5, 3-15 degrees dH. They will not do well in very hard or basic water, and because of this, cannot be added to tanks with Mbuna and other Malawian cichlids, Central American cichlids such as convicts, or Tanganyikan cichlids. Water quality needs to be good; 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Water temperature should be middling, 25 C/77 F is ideal. The aquarium needs to have a good water current along the bottom of the tank to ensure adequate oxygenation; a filter rated at 6 times the volume of the tank per hour is recommended, i.e., for a 30 gallon tank, the filter should be 6 x 30 = 180 gallons/hour. Like all catfish they're sensitive to certain medications, particularly those containing copper, formalin or malachite green. One of the commonest sources of physical damage is burning: make sure the heater is safely behind a heater guard so that these catfish cannot touch the glass part of the heater with their bodies. Because they feed at night they can be difficult to feed, but they do enjoy prepared catfish foods such as Tetra sinking pellets and Hikari algae wafers. They also eat small snails, bloodworms, etc., and finely chopped seafood and white fish fillet will make good treats. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Desperately trying to save our Raphael Catfish 4/21/10
Hi, I came across your website while searching for tips on saving my 7 year old son's beloved Raphael Catfish, Lazy Bones.
<Welcome to WWM!>
Lazy Bones has been our pet for almost 4 years and he is about 6 inches long. He was in a 10 gallon tank,
<Too small for this species.>
but he had long outgrown it and we moved him to a 29 gallon tank about a month ago.
<Better. But he is a gregarious species, and would do better with a couple of tankmates of his own species.>
He had 3 Ghost (i.e.. Glass) catfish, 3 Zebra Danio, and 2 Black Tetra's in the tank with him. About a week ago we bought an Albino Pleco to help with eating the algae and that's when our problems began.
<Albino Plecs, i.e., Pterygoplichthys pardalis, are MUCH too big for this aquarium, and your mistake was buying him at all! Plecs get to about 45 cm/18 inches in length, and do within 1-2 years. A Bristlenose Plec, Ancistrus sp., would be a much better choice.>
We ended up with a terrible outbreak of Ich on all of the fish that I noticed on April 16th (but had been there for about 3 days--my husband usually feeds the fish and he didn't know what Ich was).
<Oh dear. Well, there's huge value to owning and reading at least one aquarium book. Fish are surprisingly easy to keep, and they generally don't get sick when properly maintained. Tropical fish come from all around the world and each species has its own requirements, and in many cases two species sold in the same shop aren't compatible in the same aquarium. So conditions that work for some of your fish can be stressful, even lethal, to others. Reading prepares you for all of this. If you don't understand that fish have different social, temperature, water chemistry and in some cases salinity requirements, you're going to have problems eventually. As teachers like to say, "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance".
What we mean in this context is that buying fish without really understanding the fundamentals will, eventually, lead to disaster.>
I went to the petstore and under the advice of the employee purchased Kordon Rid Ich Plus. It says that it is safe for catfish even though it contains Malachite Green.
<Hmm... generally it's best to avoid using medications in tanks with catfish, though there aren't any hard and fast rules about this. One approach is to stick with using just salt and heat when treating catfish, since this is unlikely to have any negative side-effects. But if you do use commercial medications, you must watch the catfish carefully, and be prepared to remove the catfish if necessary.>
I followed the instructions doing a partial water change and added distilled water along with the medication.
<Why distilled water? Was that your idea? Distilled water is very bad for fish. Think about it: fish don't live in distilled water; there's always some hardness in the water they're swimming about in. Almost always, the aim in fishkeeping is to keep water chemistry as steady as possible. If you've been using tap water (not tap water from a domestic water softener though) then that's fine, even if it's a little on the hard side. Most South American catfish will adapt just fine. But the main thing is you keep them exposed to the same water chemistry, week-in, week-out.>
I also added API Stress Zyme and tested my water. Everything looked fine other than the Ph being a little low (6), so I raised the Ph using Ph increase. We started treatment on April 17th.
<Now, again with the water chemistry changes. You must understand that changing water chemistry is risky. If you change pH without thinking at all about water hardness, you've already failed the first hurdle in understanding water chemistry.>
The Albino Pleco died the next day.
<No real surprise.>
The Raphael Catfish that we are so attached to was showing signs of stress and the Ich got worse within the first 24 hours. With the second treatment the Ich got better, but his stress got worse and his skin started to show signs that he was too sensitive to the medication. By this time he was swimming in a front corner of the tank (very unusual for fish who usually stays hidden for days on end), breathing rapidly, and has a red tinge to his skin like he's either bleeding internally or is chemical burned.
<Possibly either, though opportunistic Finrot would seem more probable.>
Even though you are supposed to continue the Ich treatment for 3 days past the last sign of it I have stopped treatment because it seems to be killing my fish.
Today he started rapidly swimming all over the tank and the redness is worse. I went back to the petstore and bought some Melaluca that is supposed to help with skin blisters, but the Catfish really didn't like that and his frantic swimming increased along with coming to the top of the tank for air. So, I took him out and put him back into the 10 gallon tank where the water is normal and I felt like his skin could just rest. The Ghost Catfish died within a few hours of the Melaluca being added to the tank.
<Tea-tree Oil medications are at best unreliable and at worst pointless. Whether they're actually toxic is debatable, but at this point adding anything to an already bad situation could make things worse.>
I admit to having had general good luck with our fish in the past and it doesn't have a lot to do with an advanced knowledge of aquariums. Now our luck seems to have run out and my son is just distraught over the catfish who looks like he is just miserably suffering.
<Your analysis is a sound one. Luck is useful of course, but understanding is more critical. The basics are incredibly straightforward, and I'd encourage you to spend some time reading.>
I feel like we've probably got to empty the 29 gallon tank and start over, but I need to do everything I can to save Lazy Bones.
Is there anything I can do to help him? In all of my internet research I have not found anything that mentions the redness that he has.
Many thanks, Jennifer
<At this point I'd be doing two things. The first is to gradual restore normal water chemistry. I'd do a series of four 20% water changes across the day, each about 2 hours apart. That should flush out the medication while also restoring the hardness. I'd then check ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero, just to be sure the filter is working properly.
Finally, after the last water change, I'd add about 1-2 grammes of tonic salt per litre of water whilst turning the heater up to 28 C/82 F, possibly even 30 C/86 F if the fish will tolerate it and you have a decent amount of water circulation. This combination of heat and salt should suppress the Whitespot whilst also providing a bit of support to the fish's immune system whilst its skin is broken. With luck, if it can get better, it will.
Cheers, Neale.>

Raphael catfish's barbels -- 02/22/10
<Hello! Melinda with you here tonight.>
My striped Raphael catfish's barbels have been bitten at the petstore where I got him from and I'm wondering if they grow back or any medication to help him speed up in the process of growing.
<Okay, so it's not a good idea to purchase fish which already have something wrong with them. I'm letting you know this, because I absolutely know it to be true, but I'm also going to admit that I purchased a one-eyed Florida Gar which was brought in to the store, so at least I'm being honest about my own faults, as well! My fish is now happy and healthy with his Gar buddies, so it worked out just fine. I think your case will, as well.
Barbels can grow back, but it really depends on where they're broken at.
Is the barbel broken at the base, or is broken further up (this would look like it's missing the tip)? If it's the former, they may not grow back, but if it's the latter, especially the further to the tip of the barbel that is broken, there's a good chance you'll see recovery. There aren't any medications I would recommend here, but instead, would recommend that you test regularly and ensure that Ammonia and Nitrite are zero, and Nitrate is below 20. That's really the best medicine for any fish: the ability to heal on his own, and that starts with good water quality. Do keep an eye on the stubblies, and make sure that they're not becoming infected. Evidence of infection would be redness or swelling.>
He's in a 20 gallon tank with 3 Cory catfish and I might get 3 more he has a diet of blood worms flakes and a earthworm for a treat sometime.
<These are good foods. For more information on care, please read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/doradidfaqs.htm. Do you mean three more Raphaels or three more Corys? Both would be appreciated here, and I'm not sure you have the room. Please think, and stock, carefully.>
He is one of my favourite fish I have and he doesn't look right or like a catfish please help Ralf.
<Okay, so without knowing where the barbels are broken, it's really a toss-up as to whether they will grow back. Even if they don't, rest assured that Ralf will be okay -- even without his barbels, in a captive system, such as yours, he'll have no trouble finding food! I saw great big Red-Tailed Catfish in D.C. not too long ago which had no barbels at all!
If that guy grew to three feet or more without whiskers, Ralf will make it!
Please let me know if you have any questions.>
Thank you so very much!
<You're welcome.
Tank stocking
Hi sorry to bother again...
<No problem... have you gotten my response yet re: the Raphael?>
But I love the WWM and it's Amazing
<I'm glad you like it, and I find your capitalization habits intriguing!>
but Melinda you're on a roll so I need 1 more answer.
In a 20 gallon tank with Ralf, striped Raphael catfish, 3 peppered Cory cats and 1 Hoplo catfish I was thinking about adding 3 more Corys but a different species and some mid water fish that flow I don't like fish that have sharp turns and fast movement do you have Any suggestions?
<I think you're going to have to make some choices here. The problem is that, yes, you do need at least two or three more Corys, but you also need a couple more Raphaels, and as I said in my last response, I'm not even sure that this wouldn't overload the tank. Then, add in the Hoplo and some other fish, no matter whether they have sharp turns or not, and you're overstocked. I don't even know anything about filtration on this system, but the stocking list you're thinking about is way over the line when it comes to what's safe and what's not. I'd love to give you an example, and since I've got the time, I will! A few years ago, my husband and I began a saltwater system. True to form (until finding WWM, of course!) we overstocked. Everything was fine (ominous words, no doubt) until ich was introduced. It wiped out half of our stock. We have since upgraded from 75 gallons to 180 gallons, and still don't keep half of the fish we kept in that 75 gallon tank! What I'm saying is that the more risks you take, the more you set yourself, as well as your fish, up for disaster. Water quality deteriorates, fish health deteriorates, social problems (fish-wise, I mean) begin to crop up, and so on, until you've got a real problem on your hands. Obviously, we call this a hobby, (though I fear it becomes much, much more for some of us!), and we're supposed to be having fun here.
The way to do that is to stock lightly and carefully in order to avoid problems in our glass boxes. So, I'd stock carefully here, if this is the tank you really want. If you want to go larger, then do it, for sure, and stock accordingly then, as well. Going up to a 40, or even better, 55 gallon would give you plenty of room to add both Corys and Raphaels, as well as a couple nice-sized schools of compatible fish, and still give you room to "move," stocking-wise.>
I know you people at WWM are super trustworthy and very knowledgeable (sorry for bad spelling)
<The spelling is one thing; run-on sentences are the worst, though! Please complete a thought, signal that with punctuation, and move on to the next thought. I feel like I'm stuck in some sort of train-of-thought poem from the 60's, and I wasn't even alive then!>
Thank you and good night:) Ralf is happy he eats blood worms happily <Yes, I'm sure -- not many fish turn them down! Like I said earlier, as long as you're offering the pellets as well as the bloodworms, and he's still eating all of it, you should be fine. I have plenty of fish who would rather just eat the wet-frozen foods -- obviously, more delicious! I manage to vary their diets by not only adding a freshwater vitamin to their foods (such as Seachem Nourish), but also feeding pellets from time to time, the better-quality ones of which explain what's in the pellet on the back of the package -- just like humans get in their food! This ensures the fish receives what he needs, and isn't limited to just one food source.
Please write back if you have any more questions.
Re... Raphael cat, loaches...   2/25/10

Hi again! After school I am going to go to PetSmart and vet one of those expensive test sets and give you the results, if that'll work.
Have a nice morning!
<Sounds good.... it is better to own your own tests, but if you can't afford it right now, you can always get the store associate to test it for you. Just be sure and have them tell you numbers, and write them down so you can refer back to them. Talk to you soon!

Striped Raphael catfish, beh.  8/1/09
My striped Raphael catfish is about 8 inches long. Eating well, etc. He isn't under his rock anymore and just rubs his tummy on the glass of the aquarium.
<How odd!>
I'm wondering if he's okay.
<Difficult to say. Fish will sometimes rub themselves against solid objects, most often rocks or leaves, if they are feeling irritated, for example by Ick parasites. So if you've added any new fish recently, that's something to consider, since new fish often bring parasites into the tank if you don't quarantine them first. Catfish are also vulnerable to poor quality water circulation at the bottom of the tank. Hang-on-the-back filters especially don't always have the suction at the lower level of the aquarium to really get good circulation, and the bottom can end up oxygen-poor and sometimes the gravel houses patches of decaying organic material that promote the growth of bacteria. So, have a look to see if there is a good flow of water at the bottom of the tank. One way to do this is let a small pinch of flake go at the bottom of the tank furthest away from the filter inlet. Does the flake just sit there, or is it quickly whisked away? If the former, water circulation could well be an issue.
Finally, although it's a long shot, these fish are gregarious, and yours is now full size. If it's a female, without a male companion, it might be egg-bound, or at least gravid, and what you're seeing are signs of discomfort. Platydoras armatulus (formerly identified as P. costatus, a different species) is a gregarious species, so adding a couple more specimens might help here. Females can usually be distinguished by their larger size and very round bellies (almost like they've swallowed a ball!).>
Any help would be appreciated thanks!
<Good luck, Neale.>

Platydoras armatulus (health; maintenance)  06/03/09
I just bought a striped Raphael catfish two days ago , and it was good until this morning when i looked before work. I noticed it was up side down.
<Many catfish will rest upside down, usually with their bellies pressed hard against the roof of a cave.>
I disturbed it with the net to test life and it swam away. It also was swimming in spirals like a foot ball .
<That is unusual.>
No one attacked him as far as I know. I watch them often because i am fairly new. My water ph is 6.8 , I was told close to 7.0 was good because i have a community tank with all types of inhabitants .
<pH 7 is certainly good for barbs, tetras and indeed South American catfish; on the other hand, it's too low for livebearers (Guppies, etc.), rainbowfish, and other fish that need hard, alkaline water.>
I check and adjust the ammonia once a day, and the water temperature is 78 degrees.
<For this species, Platydoras armatulus (often Platydoras costatus in older books) you need 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 25 C/77 F, pH around 6.5 to 7.5, and a hardness around 5-15 degrees dH. Basically very hardy and adaptable; only water quality is likely to be an issue in a "new" aquarium.>
I have seen him eat a wounded guppy and a piece of algae wafer.
<Algae wafers are certainly excellent food, as are catfish pellets. Augment with wet frozen things like krill and bloodworms too (these are great for tempting catfish out in the evening). Now, eating live fish is never good in the aquarium, and it is possible -- though unlikely -- parasites can get between small fish and predatory catfish, which is why you shouldn't allow this. Instead, try to keep this species with fish a bit too big to swallow: anything the size of Bleed Heart Tetras or X-ray Tetras should be fine.
Neons, Guppies, etc. are on the small side (not that you should be keeping Guppies at pH 6.8).>
Any help would be highly appreciated.-Chris. n.y
<For now, observe, and take care water quality is good and water chemistry
is stable. These catfish are gregarious, so also plan on buying a couple more. Less likely to hide and less likely to become stressed. Do watch your heater is covered with a heater guard! This species is notorious for burning itself. Cheers, Neale.>

Raphael Catfish - can they be mixed with aggressive cichlids like......  11/30/08 Can you please tell me if you think that Raphael catfish can be mixed with Texas Cichlids, Flowerhorn Cichlids, Jack Dempseys and Red Jewels in a 150 gallon tank? All of the cichlids are about 5 inches and the Raphael's are about 6 inches. Thanks. Chelle <Well this is easy! No. Platydoras costatus is a peaceful, gregarious catfish that should be kept in groups of its own kind (at least three specimens) in a quiet, planted tank with midwater characins, barbs and the like. Cheers, Neale.>

Pleco with Columnaris or Fungus or ???-- 09/17/07 Hello Bob-- This is Anna ... again ;--) Everything is okay with my 25-gallon tank except for my PLECO and red sword. Ca. 3 weeks ago I noticed that both fish looked unusual. Red sword had a white "dot" sticking from its side and PLECO exhibited whitish "web" on its neck. Based on materials found on web media and in Dr. Dieter Untergasser's book I diagnosed that my fish had been affected by COLUMNARIS. <... doubtful> I separated PLECO and red sword and placed both of them in a hospital tank. For 5 days I treated them with "Maracyn." I lowered the water temperature to 74 degrees, used only daylight, provide dissolved vitamins and "Tetra" food. After week red sword did not display that white "dot," but PLECO has been still showing a "web" on its neck. For the next 2 weeks I kept both fish in the hospital tank. I changed more than 1/2 of the tank's water every 3 days and filtered the water with carbon. Today I moved both fish back to the display tank. The red sword looks okay for now, though I think it is an "elderly" fish prone to infections and it might get sick again ;--( But. PLECO still has that "web" on its neck.... I have attached a zipped picture of my Pleco's appearances for your reference. <... this isn't a Pleco... but a Raphael Catfish...> Do you think my PLECO is really sick? My tank is a small - 25-gallon- community tank with 8 tetras + 1albinos (bottom dweller) + red sword and Pleco. I keep superior filtration, aeration, water condition (zero ammonia, pH ranges from 7.0 to 6.6., temp. 76-78 degrees). I do partial water changes every 3 days; add 2 spoons of salt. I keep freshwater plants (Cabomba + banana plant). Nothing fancy.... ;--) But, it is clear to me that if my fish gets sick, then -- most likely -- I do something wrong... Will you be able to help me figure out what is going on with my PLECO? Should I keep him in the hospital tank? Thank you so very much for your feedback. ANNA Bob's follower <Anna, please place the above correct name in your search tools and read re this species needs... BobF>

Re: Raphael catfish poisoned  11/9/05 Thank you for your quick response. However, my Raphael catfish died this morning. I only wish I noticed it sooner. <Sorry to read of your loss> I'm sorry to bother you one more time, but I have one more problem. I have another question. I've had this rainbow platy in my Q/T for a couple of weeks.  Her fins were down, laying at the bottom, swimming a little off, not much, eating ok. Was told to use MelaFix for 7 days. She got better. Put her back in the 25 gallon tank. Wasn't in the tank when everyone got ich. Then about 2 weeks later she started looking sick again. I put her back in the Q. tank.  She didn't like the MelaFix this time. <Is not a cure-all...> Started darting around. I did a water change and she was better so I quit giving it to her. Put salt in the tank, it's a 5 gallon tank. However tonight when I got off work I noticed her as she swam away from me she has this hump on the top right side of her body, right behind her head. It isn't that noticeable until she swims away from you. Her balance is off. And she is breathing rapidly. She wouldn't eat anything.  I'm trying to do everything to make her comfortable. I even took her in to the pet store the first time she was ill.  He said she was ok to him. Made me kinda mad. I don't think he really cared. I've been reading so much stuff on fish diseases, but I can't find just the hump or balance being off.  <More environmental, developmental in origin usually... in a word: stress> Could you please help me figure it out. I don't want to lose another fish. I really do want to learn how to help my fish. I can't find any red spots or lesions or anything else on her. Do you know what it might be? I hope you could understand what I'm trying to say.  frustrated, Peetsi <Hard to state (please do include previous correspondence), but your removing the fish, use of salt is good... I would add a bit of floating "grass" type plant (e.g. Elodea), test your water quality in the isolation tank daily, and keep trying to offer foods daily. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Raphael catfish poisoned  11/9/05
I'm sorry I forgot to tell you that the pH, nitrates, nitrites and ammonia are all good. The temperature is between 77 and 78 degrees. I just looked at my platy again and her left side is swelling. I'm afraid she won't make it till morning either. Working from 3pm till 11 pm is not good for my fish. If you could you tell me what medicines I should have on hand just in case something like this happens again, I will be forever grateful. Peetsi  <A good general cathartic is Epsom Salt... I would use this in place of aquarium salt here... at half a teaspoon per five gallons. Bob Fenner>

Rid-Ich Affecting Catfish  11/7/05 The guy at the pet store told me it was ok to put Rid-Ich in the tank with my Raphael catfish. He started staying up at the top of the tank gasping for air. I took him out and put him in another tank. He is on the bottom breathing very hard. Looking swollen. I checked the water and others. Ok. I have a horrible feeling my baby is going to die before you get this. I wanted to know if it was to late for him or is there something I can buy to make him better.  Peetsi <Rid-Ich is a very good medication. Rid-Ich is an older form of a malachite green and formalin combination that was found to be very toxic to scaleless fish such as catfish and loaches. It is to be used at half the recommended dosage and says so on the bottle. A new formulation came out a couple of years ago called Rid-Ich+.  This is suppose to be a safer medication than its earlier formula. The clerk may have confused between the two different bottles, especially if both were on the shelf. They still look almost identical. You did the right thing by removing him from the tank. Place him in a net in a quiet corner of the tank with plenty of aeration and hope for the best. There is no antidote for you fish and it will try and purge the copper from its system over time.-Chuck> 

Spotted Raphael blistered Hi- I have a Spotted Raphael Catfish that has blisters. I had it for a few month before the blisters started to appear. I read several things on it, but nothing that tells me what is good to get rid of the blisters. The catfish seems healthy, he eats and swims around just find. He still getting more blisters. I can see if there are worms on the blisters - this was something I read in one of the cases. I would like to know if anyone with this problem has had any success getting read of the blisters. < The blisters are really bacterial infections eating away the flesh of the fish. Treat with Nitrofuranace after you do a 30% water change and serviced the filter.-Chuck> Thanks Jose

Catfish Information My name is Brad Walker <Hi! MikeD here> I'm looking for information on the Raphael catfish.<These are extremely interesting animals, but their retiring nature and nocturnal habits make them less than popular with many. They are extremely undemanding and so do best if provided a quiet tank with non-competitive tank-mates and plenty of hiding places. Flake foods often suffice, but the addition of Tubifex worms, bloodworms or any other meaty frozen foods is highly beneficial.> I have one in my tank. But to further my knowledge it's tough to find info. Could you please point me in the right direction <Here's just one : http://home.1asphost.com/jonashansel/site/other_species/platydoras_costatus.asp Additional searches under "talking catfish" may yield more results as well. There are several different species of Platydoras catfish, striped, spotted, giant, etc. with all behaving in a similar fashion.> If you have anything please e-mail XXXX.ca It's a great fish<There are many unusual, secretive FW catfish a group with a surprisingly large list of candidates. A tank set up with several of these and equipped with a red light bulb for nighttime viewing can be an experience unto itself.>   Thanks for you help  

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: