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FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central American Suckermouth Cats: Twig Cats; Farlowella, Loricaria, Sturisoma, Rhineloricaria

Related Articles: Loricariids, OtocinclusFrom Pan-ack-ay to Pan-ack-zee, A Detailed Look at the Bizarre But Beautiful Panaque Catfishes by Neale Monks

Related Catfish FAQs: Loricariids 1, Otocinclus
Other Loricariid Genera: FAQs on: Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Genera Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus, Pterygoplichthys, Sailfin Giants among the Loricariids, The Zebra Pleco, Hypancistrus zebra, Hypostomus, Peckoltia: Clown Plecostomus, Lasiancistrus, Panaque, Pseudacanthicus, Scobanancistrus, L-number catfish,
Loricariid Identification, Loricariid Behavior, Loricariid Compatibility, Loricariid Selection, Loricariid Systems, Loricariid Feeding, Loricariid Reproduction, Loricariid Disease, Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction Algae Eaters

Questions on Royal whiptails/stocking and temperature.     8/3/13
HI Neal its Alex again.
<He's out till 8/6. Will fwd. your msg., and respond here myself>
 I got my 50 gallon. plan to set it up early in September. The rams ( Bolivian) and angel seem to be doing well in the 20, the angel is really growing big, i do water changes to help with the heavy bioload and everyone seems great,. I'll move them to the 50 before long. I was wondering if a royal whiptail would outgrow a 50 gallon. I plan on getting the following fish
<Mmm, this Loricariid will outgrow a 50 in time; needs habitat as well as space>
2 more rams Bolivian - would this be pushing it
<Likely fine; unless they or others are territorial, breeding here>
about a dozen tetras- not sure if I want glow light or Rummynose. maybe i should up the tetras to 17 and leave out a second ram pair
<Fine; though these may be targeted by the cichlids as they get larger>
8 warm water Corys
<Good number>
a royal whiptail the singleton angel and the 2 rams I have now
I kept the water at 80- 82 is this to <too> warm for a royal whiptail?
<Not too warm>
 I lowered the temp to around 80- 78.
Royal whip tails how big do they get/ longevity
<Most likely 6-8 inches... a bit longer if you count the tail fin: http://www.fishbase.org/summary/50531
and price range please, also what to feed them.
Thanks have a great day.
<Let's have you just use the Net: for Sturisoma panamense
Bob Fenner>
Re: Questions on Royal whiptails/stocking and temperature.     8/4/13

I was wondering if a royal whiptail would outgrow a 50 gallon?
<<Not much to add to what Bob states, except that these are fabulous catfish if you have the space! Do visit the Planet Catfish website in particular; it's an excellent resource for identifying catfish and summarising their needs. Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Questions on Royal whiptails/stocking and temperature. Catfish stkg.      8/4/13
My new tanks dimension are 20 high, 36 inches long by 15 inches wide. I was wondering besides the Corys what types of catfish would go well with rams, angel, tetras. that sort of thing. The water is kept at 80- 82, ph is 7,
<Apart from Corydoras, and assuming you want to stay with the South American theme, look at Brochis, Dianema (if water quality is excellent), Lepthoplosternum pectorale, perhaps Megalechis (bit boisterous), Centromochlus perugiae if you can keep a group of 5+, Peckoltia spp., Agamyxis pectinifrons with nothing bite-sized... the list is a long one.
Basically anything from families Doradidae, Loricariidae, Auchenipteridae and Callichthyidae that doesn't have specific environmental requirements you can't provide, isn't too aggressive or retiring, and isn't likely to eat its tankmates.>
I really like that planet catfish site, thanks Neal, tried to log in but becoming a member was too difficult so I'll just look through..
<Difficult? Curious. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Questions on Royal whiptails/stocking and temperature.      8/4/13

I think what I'll do is set up the 50 gallon, and get some oil catfish if a world of fish can get them in. Do they need to be kept in groups?
<Absolutely, yes. Five at minimum.>
Would they take fruit flies at night, when/ time wise should I feed them?
<Frozen foods (bloodworms, brine shrimps, krill, glassworms, etc.) offered when the lights are out will be readily taken. They prefer to feed in the dark, so a canopy of floating plants may be of great help trapping foods where you can watch the fish feed as they would in the wild. I find this works great with the ecologically similar Synodontis nigriventris. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Questions on catfishes.     8/7/13

I was told that the oil catfish like current so they are out, all i plan on using in this tank will be powerful sponge filters just in case any fish breeds ( rams etc.) so I found some new catfish I'd like you to tell me about.
Chocolate talking catfish- Acanthodoras spinosissimus
<A lovely fish. Good with Angels, Bolivian Rams and deep-bodied and medium sized tetras (e.g., Lemon Tetras, Bleeding Heart Tetras, etc.). Slightly risky with small, narrow-bodied fish like Neons. Unusually for a thorny catfish it seems to be territorial and does well kept singly. Extremely nocturnal though, so you won't see it much/ever.>
jaguar catfish - Liosomadoras oncinus
<A beautiful catfish for reasonably advanced aquarists, in fact one of the classic species kept by catfish enthusiasts. Not difficult to keep, assuming you have soft to medium-hard water (won't do well in hard water).
But extremely nocturnal, so needs a shady aquarium. Predatory, though peaceful. Good with Angels, Silver Dollars and similar-sized tankmates.
Bear in mind it gets to about 20 cm/8 inches, and is able to consume fish up to the size of a Dwarf Gourami.>
White Cross Woodcat
<Trachelyopterus albicrux; not much traded, but basic care presumably similar to the Starry (or Common) Woodcat, Trachelyopterus galeatus, which makes a reasonably good aquarium fish if you have the space. Decent current, low to middling temperatures, deep aquarium with lots of shade.
Adult size around 20 cm/8 inches. Predatory, not aggressive as such but boisterous and given to prowling the tank at night swallowing anything bite-sized, so Starry Woodcats at least are kept with tankmates of similar size, like Severums. May be kept singly or in groups. Not really viable in your set up, though.>
I was wondering if any of these would be okay in a 50 gallon with rams, tetras, Corys and an angelfish- would they outgrow the tank- eat the tank mates.
<See above. Do review the list sent previously; I do suspect you'd get the same kind of weird catfish vibe from one of the medium-sized Callichthyidae, in particular Lepthoplosternum pectorale (Hoplosternum pectorale in older aquarium books). Not too big, not too small, can be kept singly, active by day, not predatory, quite outgoing, very adaptable re:
water chemistry and temperature. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Questions on Acanthodoras spinosissimus     8/7/13
I really like the chocolate talking catfish, Acanthodoras spinosissimus.
<Is a nice fish, but all thorny catfish are strictly nocturnal, and hardly ever come out by day.>
The other species you gave me  Lepthoplosternum pectoral is too drab for my taste.
<But at least you'll see it! Try keeping it away from the food at feeding time. Do have a read here:
This species is lively, hardy and breedable!>
But I have a few questions on chocolate talking catfish . Do they like to be kept in groups or singly- I was told by planet catfish that they could poison each other if kept together.
<Not likely. They seem to be solitary fish in small aquaria and certainly do well kept singly, but most of these thorny catfish are gregarious in the wild. More than likely they "fight" only insofar as they squabble over hiding places. As for poisoning each other, there's little/no evidence for this. Some thorny catfish have venom glands on their pectoral fins, but
then so do a great variety of other catfish including species we don't think of as venomous, such as the Callichthyidae (the Corydoras family).
I'd urge you to peruse the scientific literature if you're interested, starting here:
But these are strictly defensive weapons and never used offensively, and provided the catfish isn't swallowed or otherwise placed in a life-threatening situation, they generally don't use these venom glands under aquarium conditions, and certainly don't have a mechanism for squirting venom into the faces of other fish. These venom delivery systems all work in the same way, puncturing the skin (typically in the mouth) of a predator, and then allowing the venom to seep into the resulting wound. Put another way, those Corydoras and Synodontis catfish studied appear to have venom glands, yet no one is paranoid about putting them in community tanks!
So basically think of their venom as an interesting curiosity but that's all. Territorial catfish are more likely to damage each other through physical attacks and/or social stress than mutual envenomation.>
How dangerous is the toxin created by these fish?
<Not. You have probably already kept venomous fish without worrying.
There's a slight risk handling any/all catfish because their spines can create puncture wounds that become infected secondarily, and at least some catfish produce enough venom to cause a painful sting (including Corydoras) but most species produce so little venom they're no risk to humans. The only exceptions would be those who react badly to animal stings generally, such as bee stings, in which case soliciting advice from a medical practitioner would be wise. At the very least, tell such people not to man-handle your catfish!>
I don't want to put myself or my housemates in danger if they are really bad/toxic. but at the same time they are really interesting.  would emperor tetras be okay with them as a tetra species too large to swallow in my tank.
<Emperor Tetras would be find with both Acanthodoras spinosissimus and Lepthoplosternum pectorale. Cheers, Neale.>

Twig Catfish Not Eating     4/22/13
Hi, I bought a twig catfish 3 days ago and so far doesn't seem to be eating. Last night I blanched a piece of cucumber and put it in the tank and he didn't even go near it. Any suggestions on getting him to eat?
<Mmm, what re your water chemistry/quality? Water should be tropical, acidic, soft/er...
Try the purposeful algae wafers? Bob Fenner>

Sick Whiptail Hello, First I'd like to thank you for the advice you've already provided on this topic, unfortunately I haven't been successful in treating my catfish and I'm hoping you can shed some more light on the problem.  Here are the specs on the tank and its maintenance:  I have a 45 gallon freshwater aquarium that houses 5 calico platies (2 male, 3 female), 1 female pineapple swordtail, 2 'skunk' Corydoras catfish, 3 Oto catfish, 3 Serpae tetras, and 1 magnificent 6" female whiptail catfish (She's an import; Loricaria sp. 'Columbia').   The tank is planted with many plastic plants, with a medium sized piece of driftwood, and two pieces of bogwood. I use an Aquaclear 200 power filter (with 2 bio sponges; never changed, only rinsed, carbon; changed every two weeks, and floss; changed weekly), a Penguin 170 Bio-Wheel filter, a UGF (bubbles, not powerhead) and a smallish Fluval power filter with an Aquaclear sponge instead of the regular insert. The tank is cleaned with a diatom filter every two weeks (to 'polish' the water and reduce the population of parasites). I do a 20% water change every week. The pH is a very steady 7.3 and has 0 ammonia and nitrites, nitrates are <20ppm (the lowest level measurable with the kit I have). The temperature is a steady 80F.The whiptail has been growing steadily fatter for about two months. At first I thought she (I'm pretty sure she's a female, no whiskers / bristles on her cheeks or pectoral fins) was egg-bound. After I wrote you my first email you (thank goodness!) let me know she was more likely sick-either with parasites or constipated with bacteria bloating her up.  Our Oto cats have also become bloated, but don't seem constipated; they're pooping. I do not see typical 'Pleco poop' from the whiptail, but never really have since buying her; there is always some waste in the gravel, it's tough to tell if a particular fish is pooping unless I actually see them in the act.  I medicated the tank (we don't have a qt tank but believe me we're getting one as soon as we can) with 1 tsp Epsom salts / 5 gallons, and 'General Cure' (Each capsule contains 125 mg Metronidazole, 13 mg Copper Sulfate and 8 mg Trichlorofon and treats 10 gallons of water) because it was the ONLY medication I could find at any of the 9 stores I visited that contained Metro, which is what you suggested I medicate her with. I medicated the tank for the recommended 3 doses, and noticed no improvement.  I visited a specialty aquarium store (Big Al's) and asked their resident disease guru about my catfish's condition. He suggested that since she's a wild import she would certainly be infested with intestinal parasites /worms, and suggested a course of 'Disco-Worm' (a metal based medication; I don't know how this works, but they told me it would). I cleaned the aquarium, filtered through carbon, and then began a course of Disco-Worm.  Again, there was no improvement.  I am now trying the General Cure again, with 50% water changes between treatments (every 48 hours), vacuuming the gravel thoroughly each time.  Today I applied the third dose of this medication (the package says this is a full course of medication) and there is no improvement. In fact, she's actually larger.  The whiptail is active, eats well (I initially fasted her for 4 days, since then have fed her only Spirulina pellets (Hikari) and the occasional thawed frozen pea) and her colour is normal. She does not look like a fish with dropsy. For two days now she has been more active in the daytime than usual, swimming around and landing on the plants resting head down. She looks uncomfortable; I can understand if she doesn't want to rest on her bloated belly, it looks about to burst. My questions are:  Have you any idea what could be wrong?  Should I continue with the Epsom salts?  Should I discontinue the General Cure or continue? The package says "treatment may be repeated if necessary" but one of our Serpae tetras recently died (with no signs of disease / stress) and now the other three look unhappy; they're listless and not eating eagerly, a little pale. I assume this is because the treatment is very hard on them and / or they are experiencing the same illness that the catfish are.  I appreciate your input more than you can know. I have asked staff at aquarium stores, searched high and low for info on the internet, and I've come up with almost nothing. I have Dieter Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases, but I can't seem to find anything within that quite meets the criteria of what's happening to my girl. I absolutely adore my fish, and will do anything within my means to make them feel better. I look forward to hearing from you, Amy <<Amy, sorry for taking so long to get to this email. My apologies. Is she still doing the same things? Bloated? Your best bet is to double check your water values, bring a sample to Big Al's and have them test it, then compare their test results to yours. Easy enough. While you are there, buy a ten gallon (or 15g) tank for a hospital. One thing you must realize is that many times the infections our fish have need a great deal of time in order to cure them. I have treated some fish for up to a month in order to rid them of their problems. Please do not give up. Metronidazole is not a strong medication, and the levels in these prepared medications could be way too low to help in your fishes advanced situation. Metro can also possibly affect your biofiltration, it depends on how well established your bacteria colonies are. Old, well established tanks suffer much less. Always treat fish in hospital tanks if possible, I know you already are trying to do this. Please do :) Make sure to test your hospital tank as often as possible for ammonia and nitrites. I would switch to a stronger dose of Metronidazole. Levamisole and Piperazine will also help kill internal parasites. However, the problem could be an internal bacterial infection that has already damaged internal organs due to pressure inside the body cavity. Feeding with metro is your best bet. You must feed and treat for a few more weeks, I'm afraid. Crush a half tablet of Metronidazole into a couple teaspoons of tank water, add food, let it absorb the medication, then feed to the fish. A long shot, as it's hard to say what the fish is actually eating, and I hope the fish survives this lengthy treatment. As I mentioned, the situation is advanced, so there is no guarantee, it is possible you started to notice when the fish was already beyond hope. This is often the case with internal problems. Please update me on your fishes status ASAP. Again, I apologize for the delay in responding. -Gwen>>
Re: sick whiptail - Follow-up
Hi Gwen, Just a quick note to say thanks, I'll leave her where she is, feed her peas once a week, and give her Metro-soaked algae wafers each day for a few weeks (or longer) until she feels better.  Her tank is planted with _plastic_ plants, should have said that! It has a light; I was curious about hospital tanks needing a light in case I needed to go out and purchase a special hospital tank (and, therefore, possibly a new fluorescent fixture) for her.  I'm so thankful you guys are out there watching out for us amateurs!  I'll keep you updated on her progress :)  Amy <<Amy, you are most welcome, and good luck! And do keep us posted :) -Gwen>>

Sick Whiptail Catfish-Update Hi Gwen, Thank you so much for your help! A few days ago I moved the whiptail into our 10g (established - both tanks have been up and running for years). It usually houses a Betta and two Otos, which I've moved into the 45g community tank. All the water parameters are steady (no ammonia or nitrates, nitrates below 30ppm, and are identical for both tanks, including temperature (80F) and pH (7.3).  I will double check this by taking a sample to the store when I go to buy *fingers crossed* the Metro.  I hope using this tank is okay, it has plants, wood, gravel, algae, an established bio filter... not exactly a hospital tank. If getting her a bare, 'sterile' tank is better, I will try my best to come up with the funds to purchase another tank, a heater and a sponge filter (I have a Fluval 2 with sponge media inside, would that work?). Does a hospital tank require lighting? (Our bedroom has large windows and gets a fair amount of natural light, would this be sufficient for her during her stay in the hospital?)  For the last two days I have fed her only thawed, shelled frozen peas (1 each night). I have added 1 tsp Epsom salts/5g to the water (she has been in Epsom salted water now for quite some time, hope that won't cause problems). We have had a bit of a breakthrough since moving her: SHE'S POOPING! Sorry to shout, I never thought a fish pooping would make me happy *grin* but it does. I have a feeling she hasn't pooped in ages (hard to tell, but never found any 6" fish sized poop in the big community tank), it's good to see something finally happening.  What is coming out looks pretty abnormal to me, LONG (up to 3") stringy clear things that catch on the plants and wave in the current like fine hairs, some rice-sized bright green/white pods, and some semi normal 1/2 inch long bumpy (not long smooth ropes like Pleco poop) brown poos (all alternating; this morning she's back to the white stringy stuff).  Sorry to be graphic, but I know that you can tell a lot of things by looking at a fish's waste.   Should I use antibiotics as well as the Metro? I never considered that she might have a bacterial infection. I have some Kanacyn, this is what the LFS suggested once when I thought my fish had fin rot (turns out they were just being nipped by the serapes), is this a good medicine to use when you're not sure what kind of infection you're trying to tackle?  Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Don't worry, I'm not ready to give up, I adore this prehistoric looking fishy of mine.   Thanks again for your help, Amy P.S. I've been trying to send pictures, but the messages are returned as 'undeliverable' without explanation. The files are digital camera pix, VERY small (~15 Kb), JPGs. Just wondering if maybe you're not accepting mail with attachments right now? <<Dear Amy; Congratulations on the POOP! LOL, also, the ten gallon she is in sounds fine. The reason hospital tanks are usually kept more "sterile" is because treating with medications can be hard on fish, plants and biological bacteria. Plus, you don't want the added trouble of siphoning dirty gravel when half the battle is in keeping water parameters perfect...At any rate, the treatment you are using now will not harm your plants, and since you seem to take care of your water quality, the gravel shouldn't be a problem either. Light doesn't matter, except that you have live plants? Keep the lights on only long enough to ensure the plants don't suffer. Probably this tank will help her heal faster, given she has places to hide and therefore will be less stressed. Adding Metronidazole to her food will not affect biofiltration, since you are only adding the treated food. Adding metro directly to tank water should not affect anything, since your biofiltration is well established. Metro IS an antibiotic, so you should test the ammonia etc anyways, but I don't foresee any trouble in that area. Just make sure she ONLY gets medicated food, no other foods from now on because she must eat the treated food. You may give her the peas once a week for now, it will help keep her intestinal tract clear. You can go back to her regular diet after the treatment ends. The white, stringy feces is a sure sign of internal infection, therefore the medication must be taken internally. As I mentioned, this will take some time, do not stop treating her even if her feces return to normal in a few days. Keep going for a couple of weeks. I once fed a pricey Asian Arowana some metro-treated food for three entire weeks before his eye infection went away...:P Kanacyn, by the way, may harm your biofiltration, again, be careful using it. I doubt you need it at this time. It is an excellent antibiotic, though. -Gwen

Re: Sick Whiptail-Update *smile* Hi Gwen, I'm happy to report that my girl looks like she's getting better!  I've been feeding her Metro-soaked Hikari algae wafers and also medicating the tank water with Metro.  I do daily 50% water changes, vacuuming the gravel well (not touching the filter media in the outside power filter though) and I've been using Cycle to support the filter bacteria since I'm stirring up the UGF every day. I'm also still using Epsom salts, replacing after each water change. She still looks quite bloated, but nothing like she did a few days ago; she could have balanced on her belly and had her chin and tail off the gravel at one point, now she just looks pudgy. She's also more active today than she's been in ages; a couple days ago she wouldn't even move for the siphon, today she jumped out of the way and then stared that Python down until I was done cleaning under the driftwood, at which point she immediately swam back over to her favourite resting spot and glared at the siphon while I cleaned the rest of the tank.  Her poops look more normal every time I see one (and she's going every day, yay!), but yesterday she had another bout of the white stringies. I saw what looked like very tiny white dots in the cloud of white uh'¦ excreta'¦ about ¼ 'Ich' sized. I wondered, could these be the parasites? Are they visible to the naked eye? I'll continue to keep you posted, Amy <<Hey Amy, that sounds great! You are doing a wonderful job :) My only concern is the UGF, when it is disturbed a lot of nasty build-up can be released into the water. Perhaps you might want to run some good quality carbon for a few hours in between medicating just to add to the safety margin, and keep doing those water changes :P Carbon removes meds, so I normally would not suggest it, but I am unsure about what might be lingering after the UGF cleanup....The white dots in her poop could be anything, but yes, parasites are possible, most likely small worms. A good microscope might help you see them easily. Doesn't matter if you don't actually manage to figure out what they are, the Metronidazole should clear them up. Keep up the good work! I can't recall offhand how long the treatment has been going on at this point, but a few weeks is not too long, so keep treating her until the poop becomes normal. Even three weeks, if necessary. Keep us posted! :) -Gwen>>

Egg bound Whiptail Catfish? Hello, I've been reading your site for some time now, it is absolutely amazing! I have a 45 gallon freshwater aquarium that houses 5 calico platies (2 male, 3 female), 1 female pineapple swordtail, 2 'skunk' Corydoras catfish, 3 Oto catfish, 4 Serpae tetras, 1 nickel-sized blushing angelfish and 1 magnificent 6" female whiptail catfish (I've been trying to find out exactly what kind, I'm reasonably sure she's a 'Loricariid parva'). Tank and water specs: The tank is planted with many plastic plants, with a medium sized piece of driftwood in the centre. I use an Aquaclear 200 power filter (with 2 bio sponges; never changed, only rinsed, carbon; changed every two weeks, and floss; changed weekly), a Penguin 170 Bio-Wheel filter, a UGF (bubbles, not powerhead) and a smallish Fluval internal filter with an Aquaclear sponge instead of the regular insert.  The tank is cleaned with a diatom filter every two weeks (to 'polish' the water and reduce the population of parasites like Ich). I do a 20% water change every week.  The pH is a very steady 7.3 (a little high, but I don't want to alter it with chemicals and none of our fish have objected so far) and has 0 ammonia and nitrites, nitrates are <20ppm.  The temperature is a steady 80F. I feed a varied diet of veggie and regular flakes, bottom feeder algae and regular pellets, freeze-dried krill and occasional freeze-dried Tubifex and bloodworms. And now that you know all that, here's my question: Our whiptail seems very healthy, has a voracious appetite for almost everything I put in front of her (although I've never seen her eat in a traditional 'Pleco' way from the glass or on the driftwood, she just puts entire pellets into her mouth and 'gums' them until they're gone), but has been growing fatter and fatter over the last four weeks.  At first I thought she was just settling in, growing up and filling out, but now I'm worried she may be egg bound. I have been looking high and low at all our local (and not-so-local) fish stores for a male of the same species, without success.   Is there anything I should do, or can do, to encourage her to let go of her eggs? Her poor belly is very distended; she looks horribly uncomfortable, and a little bit like she's going to explode! < Unfortunately I don't think she is egg bound. Females are typically wider that males and have fewer whiskers around the head. You little whiptail probably has eaten some left over rotting food and now has a case of bloat/dropsy. In the wild they eat mostly algae. They have a very long intestinal track and the fiber in the plant matter takes a long time to digest. When they are fed lots of animal protein, then it is quickly utilized in the gut but still has a long way to go before it gets excreted. This indigestible material starts to be broken down by the bacteria in the gut. As the bacteria eat this matter then they multiply and grow and give off gas. As the fish continues to eat, then the bacteria continue to grow and blocks off the intestine. Your fish is in real trouble. Isolate the fish in a quarantine tank. Treat with 250 mg of Metronidazole per 10 gallons of water. Treat every other day and do a 30% water change too. A good sign would be to see some long stringy fecal matter. Do not feed until the swelling has been reduced. In the wild these fish do not get this much animal protein and really can't handle a constant diet of it.-Chuck> Amy

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