My experiences with Pseudomystus heokhuii

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My experiences with Pseudomystus heokhuii

Post by Narelle » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:14 pm


I obtained these fish from the 2016 All-Aquarium Catfish Convention Auction. They were among the fishes donated to the auction by Wetspot. My group is 6 fish, 4 female and 2 male. I flew them home from D.C. to Florida, and now have driven them from Florida with me to my new home in Pennsylvania.

Following the convention, the fish initially went into a 55g tank by themselves, with pieces of slate stacked into a series of somewhat elaborate caves, and fake plants. I had prepared this tank as a QT for any fish I potentially brought back from the convention, but didn't expect blackwater specialists. There was a lot of last minute scrambling for RO water. Initially the tank was just a tap/RO mix with a couple IAL and some peat granules thrown in to gradually drop the pH. I don't believe I thought to measure those parameters at that point, if I did I don't remember them.

They stayed in that tank for awhile waiting for me to finish getting together things to set up a new display just for them. I'm very proud of the tank I built them - its a 60g tank with a roughly 15g sump (one of the old marineland tidepool models). The substrate is a mix of ADA Malaya in powder form and play sand. I've got two pieces of malaysian driftwood that have lots of nice holes to form caves, some big round rocks, some Cryptocoryne pontederifolia, and assorted leaf litter items from Tannin Aquatics (that all could be naturally found in their native Sumatra). The cats' favorite hiding spots are little lean-tos formed by the leaves, the "jungle pods" from Tannin, and the caves in the driftwood. I aimed for a Sumatra biotope, and am currently maintaining the tank as a species tank.
I don't yet own a pH probe, so I'm not sure of the exact pH in this tank. It is too low for my liquid test kit to read, which goes to 6.0 at the lowest.
Below is a picture of the tank set up before my recent move. The fish and I have been in Pennsylvania for less than a week now, so the tank is a little messy and cloudy at the moment.


My cats have grown since I brought them home. I took pictures in my specimen container/acclimation box and they seem to be larger than the Cat-E-Log's listed 2" SL. Fishbase lists 2.5" SL, which seems to be more accurate for my group. The males do seem to be a bit smaller overall than the females, so while my attempts at measurements for them are still giving me numbers over 2" SL, that seems to be closer to accurate for a male.
In the below pictures, the dashes on the box mark centimeters and half centimeters.

Image Image

These cats have been a delight to watch. My most entertaining catfish, for sure. They are not picky eaters, and readily come out for the assorted pellet foods and live blackworms I offer them, regardless of time of day. The tank becomes a buzz of activity at feeding time.
(The tank looks a bit messy in this video - the leaf litter items were in their "fuzzy stage" and the cats stirred a lot up as they moved around.)

In both the Cat-E-Log and their Catfish of the month pages these fish are described as being social with their own species. They certainly aren't aggressive to one another in the way I've seen from my other larger Bagrids, but I don't much see them actually socialize with one another. They tend to stake out a very small territory of their own, immediately surrounding their favorite hiding spot, which they will chase others of their group away from. They will all scramble for the food and several will be practically on top of each other if there are multiple pieces in the same spot, but as soon as two seem to go for the same piece of food there is more chasing and squabbling. They never actually harm one another, they just chase.
So to me they seem to be a little more tolerant of cohabitation, perhaps just by nature of being generally peaceful fish, than social in the way you might think of fish like Corydoras interacting and seeking to be generally near one another. Though I have yet to camp out through the night to see if their behavior differs at night, so maybe they are more active and more social at night. (Not that they are inactive - as you can see from the video they can be very quick and active when excited about food!)

My P. heokhuii drive me crazy because on the occasions that I've needed to go out of town, my mom, who would fish sit for me, would always tell me about what sounds like spawning behavior! I would leave with round eggy females and come back to slim little ladies. She never saw eggs in the tank during or following any of these possible spawnings, and I haven't seen surviving eggs or fry either, but I hope in time they'll be ready to spawn sometime when I am home and available so that I can try to raise some fry.

Overall, these fish have proven to be very hardy and adaptable, and just a total delight to keep. I hope they start cropping up in the hobby so more can enjoy them! If I have successful spawns, I will certainly be trading off some of the young so that more people have the chance to keep and enjoy these neat little fish.

Huge fan and collector of Bagrid catfish.
Currently running 8 tanks, adding up to almost 500g of aquariums.

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Re: My experiences with Pseudomystus heokhuii

Post by minipol » Sun Aug 20, 2017 1:32 am

Thanks for a nice read. They do look like great catfish. I recognize the hiding in leaf litter from some of my other cats. It can be very entertaining to watch!

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Re: My experiences with Pseudomystus heokhuii

Post by Shane » Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:40 pm

Excellent write up. Thank you.
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Re: My experiences with Pseudomystus heokhuii

Post by bekateen » Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:51 pm

Cool video of your tank. It's fascinating to watch them almost slither through the maze you've created.

Good luck finding eggs. If the females really are spawning, the eggs must be somewhere, right? :-BD

Cheers, Eric

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