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Catfish of the Month Right Arrow August 2003 • Article © Heok Hee Ng, uploaded August 01, 2003



Dwarf Giraffe Catfish, Afrikanischer Tigerwels (Germany) - Notoglanidium macrostoma   (Pellegrin, 1909)

Hopping continents from last months South American feature, and taking a break from his accustomed stomping ground of Asian catfish, Heok Hee returns with insight into a catfish straight out of Africa.

Catfishes encountered in the aquarium trade are generally either attractively coloured with a bold pattern of stripes and/or spots (such as many L-number loricariids) or an exceedingly dull uniform brown or grey. However, there are a number of catfishes with a colour pattern that can be described as neither of very dull nor very attractive, and one such catfish, the dwarf giraffe catfish (Anaspidoglanis macrostoma), is the subject of this month's write-up.

The dwarf giraffe catfish was formerly placed in the genus Parauchenoglanis, but was placed in a separate genus on the basis of distinct (mostly osteological) morphological differences. Because of the taxonomic history, the dwarf giraffe catfish has often been confused with Parauchenoglanis guttatus (which is very rarely imported for the aquarium trade, if at all).

Like many other catfishes, dwarf giraffe cats are very shy and will spend most of the daylight hours hiding (although they can be coaxed out by food). The dwarf giraffe cat enjoys digging the substrate in search of food, like its bigger cousin, the giraffe catfish (Auchenoglanis occidentalis), so it is a good idea to make sure that any plants in the tank are potted (or otherwise well secured). Like many other catfishes, they are greedy eaters and have little trouble with most foods (including smaller tankmates if possible). They are not too particular about water conditions and will do well in mildly acid to mildly alkaline conditions.

Although dwarf giraffe cats are reportedly territorial in small groups, they have been successfully maintained so in aquaria. The secret to maintaining them happy and harmonious is to provide enough hiding spaces for all so that they can mark out enough territory. Of course, the sizes that the fish can grow to usually means that it is practical to keep only one or two fish in the average home aquarium. Apart from fishes small enough to be eaten, they get along well with other fish (provided that there aren't too many bottom dwellers competing for hiding spaces in the tank). They feel right at home in a west African concept tank, together with fishes such as Synodontis, Alestes, Barbus, Ctenopoma, and Pelvicachrormis.

Many catfishes featured as CoTMs usually have one (or more) of these features: attractive coloration, unusual shape, or an engaging personality. The dwarf giraffe cat can be said to have none of these, but continues to maintain a quiet, unassuming appeal among aquarists.


Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Notoglanidium macrostoma  (Pellegrin, 1909)
Common Name(s) Dwarf Giraffe Catfish
Afrikanischer Tigerwels (Germany)
Type Locality Ogooue River
Synonym(s) Anaspidoglanis macrostoma, Auchenoglanis macrostoma, Parauchenoglanis ansorgei, Parauchenoglanis ansorgii, Parauchenoglanis macrostoma
Pronunciation mak row stow mah
Etymology From the Greek makros, meaning long (often mistakenly used to mean big) and stoma, meaning mouth; in reference to the size of the mouth.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 200mm (7.9") SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification An uncommon import but the most commonly imported member of the genus.
Sexing Males are smaller than females and may be darker.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
Distribution West Central Africa: Chiloango basin in Angola, central basin of the Congo Loémé basin in Congo, Ogooué basin in Gabon and the basins of the Nyong, Sanaga and Dja in Cameroon.
African Waters, Chiloango (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Congo (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Loémé (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Gabon Waters, Ogowe (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Cameroon waters, Sanaga (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Cameroon waters, Nyong (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Congo, Dja (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
IUCN Red List Status Least Concern
pH 6.4 - 8.0
Temperature 22.0-27.0°C or 71.6-80.6°F (Show others within this range)
Other Parameters Prefers soft, mildly acid to neutral (pH 6.5-7.2) water, but can usually be maintained in mildly alkaline systems up to pH 8.0.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Their diet includes catfish pellets, prawns, earthworms, catfish tablets and frozen bloodworm, as well as smaller fishes.
Furniture Medium sized rock work and bogwood. This species likes to root around in the substrate so make sure rocks and stones are well placed and plants will require to be potted.
Compatibility Tends to be territorial and with it's predatory nature, not suited for the general community tank. Fares much better in an African concept tank with other robust fish. Not suitable with small fish.
Suggested Tankmates Provide enough tank and hiding spaces if more than one individual is to be kept in the same tank. Ideal tankmates include riverine Synodontis, large African tetras (such as Brycinus or Alestes spp.), African barbs such as Barbus camptacanthus, riverine African cichlids such as Pelvicachromis, and African labyrinth fishes (Ctenopoma). Its territorial nature means that it is should not be kept with too many bottom-dwelling fish.
Breeding This species has been accidentally spawned in the aquarium, and as such, the spawning trigger is unknown. The fish nests in shelter (e.g. under rocks), and the parents (especially the male) exhibit brood care. The fry are free-swimming in approximately two weeks.
Jump to next section Further Information
References Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Série 1) v. 15 (no. 2), pp 67
Registered Keepers (1) TP, (2) CFC (k: 2), (3) Silurus, (4) Dave Rinaldo, (5) amiidae, (6) Junttis (k: 2), (7) RickieH, (8) jippo, (9) MatsP (p: 2, k: 2), who also notes: "Impulse buy, based on LFS mentioning that 'Did you see the Dwarf Giraffe Cats?'", (10) malawiman1, (11) jscoggs27, (12) JamieH, (13) maynard1982, (14) Pcpolo111, (15) ScottishFish, who also notes: "A mostly nocturnal catfish. Best viewed in the aquarium with the use of a moonlight. This catfish appreciates sand in the aquaria as it can have a tendency to bury itself. Lots of retreats should be available preferably ones where the fish can just squeeze into. This fish can be housed with other fish as long as it is kept well fed. I have successfully kept it with larger schooling fish with no issues.", (16) november, who also notes: "Shy one,comes out to feed only, sometimes...", (17) dmcat (k: 3), (18) CatfishPownage63.

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Last Update 2014 Mar 16 15:56 (species record created: 2003 Aug 01 11:22)

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