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What is a Banjo Catfish?
Banjo Catfish belongs to the Aspredinidae family of fishes. It has been reported to have originated from native Peru, where it is known as Guitarrita. It is a kind of timid species though not the prettiest but surprisingly this species is still a favorite among catfish keepers.
It is a hardy fish and can grow reasonably large. The reason for the unique name of this creature is mainly because of their flat rounded head and narrow tail fin that look very similar to a banjo instrument. The body of this fish is marked by absence of scales. Both sexes look almost similar. However, when looked at properly, female Banjo Catfishes appear to be slightly plumper and larger than the males. This species can be spotted in two colors – dark and brown. Males are slightly darker that the females. Some members of this species can produce sound by moving their pectoral fin spines back and forth.
The average size of a Banjo Catfish is 4.5” – 5” thought at times it can grow up to 8” -9” longer.
This species is originally found in rivers and streams throughout South America, most notably in Amazon and Orinoco. In the wild they like to stay on sandy and muddy river bottoms and prefer to stay motionless so that it can camouflage itself perfectly. At times it can also be seen in backwaters or lakes. Several different species of Banjo Catfish can be found in the tributaries of Amazon. It can tolerate most kinds of water conditions in wild environment.
Banjo Catfish are Omnivorous. In the aquarium they eat almost everything like worms, flakes, tablet foods or any type of meaty food. In the wild, Banjo Catfish eat live bloodworms, earthworms and tubules. While feeding at night it also loves to loiter in packs, at time with other Banjo Catfishes.
This species generally lives for around 6 – 8 years but the lifespan can go up to 10 – 12 years.
In the wild, Banjo Catfish are known to breed in packs. It can lay around 4000– 5000 eggs in a clutch. After that the female attach the clutch to her belly and carry them to swallow water to make the eggs hatch. They breed in pairs in captivity. Some do not like to breed this species in captivity as it produces thousands of eggs at a time.
Banjo Catfish in the Aquarium
It can be kept in a large aquarium along with most other fishes. Like other South American fishes, it prefers slightly acidic water maintained at 22 – 25 degree C and the recommended pH is 6.0 – 8.0. Since these species are Nocturnal burrowers, sand bottom with small twigs or leaves is preferred in the aquarium so that they can hide during the daytime by burrowing the sand and forage in at night. It prefers to swim around the bottom of the aquarium or the pool. Dark aquarium is preferred and the size of the aquarium needs to be around 50 – 55 gallons. Once kept in aquarium, the bottom half of the aquarium tends to be clean as it feed on organic debris.
This species does not carry any specific virus of any particular disease.
- This fish is known to have 13 genera.
- Just like other armored catfishes, this species will try to pinch you if you pick it up.
- It can stay in the water so calm that it often mistaken for dead.
- Just because the differences are so subtle among its species, there are many related species known as Banjo Catfish.
- Some people call it “invisible fish”, due to their knack of hiding during the day time.
- There is another species of Banjo Catfish known as Asian Banjo Catfish (Acrochordonichthys rugosus), primarily ranges around Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
- This creature can be easily spotted in an aquarium with the help of a low powered flash light. If any bright light is used, it would immediately itself into the sand at the bottom.
Though the natural habitat of this species primarily ranges around South America, it is not hard to find this creature in community fish markets around the world in direct selling markets the price depends on its size. Apart from the direct selling markets, one can buy this fish from any other owners if they want to sell.