Everyone knows someone whose hard exterior they’ve cracked to reveal a soft inner core. Some fish take this to a whole new level. Hailing from large rivers of South America are many species of armoured catfish from the families Loricariidae and Callichthyidae. Most aquarists know them fondly as “Plecos” or “Cories”. “Corydoras” directly translates to “helmet skin”, though you’d never guess these bottom-dwelling fellows would be suited with bony plates along their flanks from their peaceful temperaments and wide behavioral compatibility in community tanks. Some of our favorite guarded species include Corydoras sp. “C091″, Corydoras sp. “CW049″, and Peckoltia bachi.
Found grazing the shady depths of the Rio Huallaga of Peru, is C091. More commonly known as “Peru Bondi”, these cuirassed-swimmers reach about 2 inches in length and exhibit black bands over their eyes and near their caudal fins, and light black polka-dots covering their silvery bodies. Peaceful and shoaling, they are best kept in groups of at least 6 conspecifics, and can be kept alongside many other fish species tolerant to the same water conditions who may not consider them a deliciously crunchy snack. Prime cohort candidates include Tetras, Rasboras, and Danios. Digging and sifting through substrate with sensitive barbels in search of micro-invertebrates to chow down on, these catfish require soft sandy substrate, or fine-rounded gravel that will not damage these whisker-like organs. In captivity, they happily accept most commercial foods including tablets, granules, and flakes, though for best health, adults should be offered regular live and frozen meals. Spending their remaining non-foraging time in shady refuges, cracks, and crevices, tanks should be equipped with plentiful furnishings made from overhanging rock, bogwood, and tall or floating plants. Water conditions should be maintained with temperatures between 71 and 77°F and pH of 6.0 to 7.2.
Shining like the precious gems of their common namesake, CW049, otherwise known as “Diamond Cories”, are most commonly found in and are exported from Leticia on the border of Brazil and Colombia. Reaching just over 2 inches in length, Diamond Cories have flesh-tones bodies with dark black diamonds on their backs, and black masks over their eyes. A fine representation of their genus, this species is peaceful and shoaling, and should be kept in large conspecific groups alongside small to medium-sized tank mates. Like our previous armored cat spotlight, their exposed and fleshy food-seeking barbels need to be protected, and tanks must include soft substrate. Typical Corydoras dietary guidelines should be followed, and shady hiding spots are also greatly appreciated. Optimal water temperatures are 75 to 79°F, and pH should be maintained between 6.0 and 7.2.
Representing the Loricariidae family is P. bachi. Known as “Bola Plecos” these armored and sucker-mouthed catfish reach 5 inches in length in captivity and sport flattened bodies with elongated noses, golden brown and yellow marbled patterns, and sail-like fins. Widespread throughout the upper Amazon in Peru and Colombia, these compact catfish are mostly peaceful, though often territorial with conspecifics. Each individual should have about 12 square inches of defined tank space demarcated by furnishings made from rock piles, branches, root tangles, or PVC pipe. Plants are non-essential in the tank set up for these “suckers”. Ideal for South American community tanks, they are easily kept alongside characins, peaceful cichlids, and other catfish. Omnivorous by nature, they have a preference for meaty morsels, and should not be expected to control tank algae. They will only nibble plants when they are poorly fed. In captivity, they happily consume offerings like bloodworm, Daphnia, prepared and gelatin-bound meaty bits including fresh fruit and some vegetal component. Waters should be maintained with temperatures between 71 and 81°F, and pH of 6.5 to 7.2.
Wouldn’t it be nice to feel the comfort and protection of a hard shell to allow our softer personality traits to truly shine? Observe and take notes from experts in these matters, and call the Wet Spot today to seek the right armoured catfish for your tanks.