#GrumpyCatfish

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The influence of the technological revolution has a wide reach from free-trade, education, networking, and the general spreading of ideas to a global audience. Reaching across geographic and cultural boundaries since 2012, reigns Tarder Sauce, the supreme being more commonly known as “Grumpy Cat”. Every day, thousands of pictures and videos of cute and silly cats are featured across social media platforms contesting this first place position to no avail. Maybe what we really need is contenders with similar hallmark features, that are just different enough, perhaps even from a different taxonomic class altogether, to give Grumpy Cat a run for her money. Here at The Wet Spot, we feel oddball catfish may provide the opposition this cultural phenomenon needs. Some of our favorites include Neosilurus hyrtlii, Tandanus tandanus, and Silurichthys phaiosoma.

Sporting a wide and flattened head, whisker-like barbels, dark and light mottled bodies, and laterally flattened eel-like tails is our first opponent, N. hyrtlii. More commonly known as “Yellow Eel-tailed Catfish”, these benthic predators are found predominantly in the rivers of northern, western, and central Australia. Averaging 4 to 8 inches in length in captivity, these fish are peaceful when kept in groups and in tanks with ample swimming space. Particularly precocious at feeding time, these catfish are not terribly picky in captivity, and will accept a variety of dried sinking pellets. They should, however, be fed regular live and frozen meals. Preferring large waterholes and river habitats, tanks should include sandy or muddy bottoms with plants, root tangles, and mild current. Spending most of their time on river bottoms, these catfish move into shallow waters to hunt mollusks, crustaceans, and insect larvae. Waters should be maintained with temperatures between 71 and 82°F, pH of 6.8 to 8.0, and hardness of up to 215 ppm.

Surly in attitude, T. tandanus is a loner catfish found in the slow-moving rivers and streams with fringe vegetation of eastern Australia. Reaching up to 20 inches in length, these “Marble Tandanus Catfish” have large heads with fleshy lips, 4 curly whiskers, large tubular nostrils, gray and tan marbled bodies, and tapered eel-like caudal fins. Swimming closely to sandy or gravelly river bottoms, tanks should be equipped with similar substrate, plentiful vegetation, roots, and tangles, driftwood, and PVC refuges. Peaceful with large species that can inhabit similar conditions, these catfish should be kept solo in tanks absent of small high energy fish that would be more suitable as meals. Carnivorous by nature, Tandanus Catfish eat mollusks, crustaceans, invertebrates, and small fishes, and will accept most live, frozen, and prepared meaty meals. Tank waters should be maintained with temperatures between 50 and 78°F and pH of 6.4 to 8.0. 

Born in Borneo, S. phaiosoma, sports long whiskers and a frank face that make them the perfect adversary for Tardar Sauce. Reaching about 6 inches in length, the “Borneo Featherfin Catfish” have elongated and forked caudal fins, and feathery extending fins on their ventral region. Nocturnal foragers, these catfish greedily gulp aquatic invertebrates, insect larvae, and small fishes; captive diets should include a large meaty component. Found in acidic blackwater peat streams of Borneo, these catfish require Asian forest-stream biotope tank set ups with sandy or gravelly substrate and dense vegetation and woody hiding places. Waters should be maintained with temperatures between 79 and 84°F, and pH of 4.0 to 5.0.

Is the 5 year cultural phenomenon Grumpy Cat about to meet its end? Invite some of these contenders into your tanks and your hearts, and grab some award winning photos for your meme generators!