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Sturisoma aureum - Royal Whiptail Catfish


  • Sturisoma aureum - Royal Whiptail Catfish

    Photo thanks to watfish

    Country of origin: Columbia

    Males: Have "whiskers" or barbels on the side of the face when adult, most clearly seen from below when the fish is hanging on the glass.

    (This eg is my Sturisoma aureum - Royal Whiptail)

    Females: Smooth on the side of the face, as in:

    Photo of Sturisoma panamense - Royal Twig Catfish, with thanks to Samtheman12

    Breeding: Pairs or trios (1M 2F)
    The pair will choose a surface, which they will clean & hang around on briefly, then lay eggs, with the female swimming up to deposit eggs, then the male to fertilise. There will be a few lines of eggs together in a cluster, 20 - 100. The female will then leave, and the male will stay over the eggs, using his body to shield them, and his fins to keep water and therefore oxygen circulating over them.

    (Pic is my Sturisoma aureum - Royal Whiptail)

    Once the eggs hatch as miniature whiptails, the egg sack will sustain them for 2-3 days then they must seek enough food to keep themselves alive and growing. The adults will not predate on the fry, but the female will not assist in their rearing, and the male's role is over. The fry prefer relatively high flow (although not enough to blow them around the tank).
    As he will often not feed for over 2 weeks until the eggs hatch, it is not a good idea to allow them to spawn continually.

    They prefer soft water. Although the fry prefer high flow, the adults will seek out low flow areas of the tank.
    Temp: 24 - 32c
    pH: 6.8 - 7

    Diet: primarily vegetarian, sinking algae wafers, slices of vegetables, will also take bloodworms, brine shrimp, have been seen to feed on dead shrimp - but only if any of these sink to the bottom of the tank & lie still.

    They are a peaceful tank companion. I have kept these with discus - they never showed any inclination to sucker on to them. They have been kept with the smallest microfish and shrimp when the whiptails were full grown, and never harrassed or hunted them. They are not overly active unless startled by being touched (particularly when I've stuck my hand in the tank to clean and the male's been on eggs).

    They are usually sold at 10cm fish, which is too small to sex.

    (Photo of my Sturisoma panamense)
    Mine have grown to over 20cm, not including the whip.

    I'm not sure what the lifespan should be, but I bought my male as a breeding adult, and he is still spawning in my tank 8 years later.

    They are effective algae eaters, regardless of how much they are fed.

    As they are primarily nocturnal fish, most of their algae eating is done at night, but unlike many other catfish they do not seem to hide, and are on display the majority of the time. Which is a good thing, as they are a very attractive fish. They spend most of their time on the bottom of the tank or sitting on a low branch, rock or plant during the day.

    They are harmless to plants, although they will eat green algae from them. They will not touch black beard algae. They are very good at cleaning algae from glass.

    They are scaleless, as are most catfish. Please adjust medications accordingly.

    Sturisoma aureum are NOT legal imports to Australia as of 20/10/2013:
    however they may have been on previous import lists, have entered Australia prior to the implementation of import lists, or been misidentified on importation.

    The IUCN Red List reports Sturisoma aureum as a species which has not yet been assessed at 20/10/2013:

    It is very important not to release any aquarium specimens into our waterways. Any that are not sold or re-homed/ given away, can often be re-sold to aquarium stores. If they are homed in ponds, care should be taken that they cannot escape in run-off into our waterways. Even if fish are native & local they should not be moved from one waterway to another, as this can transfer disease. If they are not local fish, they can both spread disease and either out-compete or eat local fish, shrimp & plants, causing their demise.

    They are a good fish for people with some experience.
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