Catfish of the Month Right Arrow April 1997

Spotted Talking Catfish, Kammdornwels (Germany), Plettet Tornmalle (Denmark), Spotted Raphael Catfish - Agamyxis pectinifrons   (Cope, 1870)

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded April 01, 1997.

This is another fish that can destroy a good net when attempting to transfer them. Although it can be a bit painful, it is possible to move this fish by hand. This is best practiced with small fish and rubber gloves initially, but seasoned pros can literally pluck these fish from underneath a rock. You must get a finger between each pectoral fin and the catfishes body with your thumb above the head. Due to a reflex driven defensive mechanism the fish will lock its pectoral fins, trapping your fingers! I recall reading that this action is used by the fish when caught to make itself as difficult to swallow as possible. The fish will remain locked to your fingers until you transfer it and submerge it once again when it will release and dart off to the nearest dark refuge.

Whether you transfer the fish by this or more conventional methods you will probably hear why it is called a talking catfish during the transfer. The fish emits a high pitched croaking noise which can be surprisingly loud. The fish achieves this by grinding the base of its pectoral fin bone against its shoulder bone; much like the noise you can make by grinding your teeth, but louder! Most, if not all, of the 80 - 100 members of the family can "talk" in this manner. Amongst these are some true giants (4ft +) which I would very much like to hear.

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 Agamyxis pectinifrons  (Cope, 1870)
Common Names Spotted Talking Catfish
Kammdornwels (Germany), Plettet Tornmalle (Denmark), Spotted Raphael Catfish
Type Locality Pebas, Peru.
Synonym(s) Doras pectinifrons
Pronunciation peck TIN ee frons
Etymology Agamyxis: From the Greek agan, meaning much, and myxa, meaning mucus; in reference to the mucus produced by the fish. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 150mm or 5.9" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification The light coloured spots that make this fish so attractive range from brilliant white to pale yellow in different batches of imports.
Sexing Unknown.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
Distribution Widespread throughout the Amazon basin.
Amazon (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Not Evaluated
pH 6.0 - 7.5
Temperature 20.0-26.0°C or 68-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Will eat any food that reaches it. Bloodworm and sinking catfish tablets are best as they can be ''aimed'' at the fishes daytime hide-out.
Furniture Needs a dark refuge, but smaller individuals will spend the day in dense vegetation just as happily.
Compatibility A perfect community fish
Suggested Tankmates Ideal first catfish for a budding aquarist as well as a good "worker" catfish for all levels of community tanks
Breeding Some details, although sketchy. Seems to be a bubble nest builder or at least lay its eggs on floating vegetation at the water surface.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Jump to next section Further Information
Reference Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society v. 11, pp 568.
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Last Update 2019 Sep 17 14:43 (species record created: 1997 Apr 01 11:22)

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