Catfish of the Month Right May 1998

Brachyrhamdia imitator
False Cory, False Corydoras - Brachyrhamdia imitator   Myers, 1927

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded May 01, 1998.

This mimic is the most frequently imported of "imitator" Pimelodids which are as a group not often seen by hobbyists. This is a great shame as their small size makes them the most suitable of this South American family for the community tank. They are a scaleless species which look very much like those of the melanistus group of Corydoras. There are also similar Brachyrhamdia that look like C. natteri and C. adolfoi. When I kept an individual with a shoal of Corydoras I noticed that the corys often had nibbled fins. I never caught the culprit red-handed (or finned!), but I am sure it was the impostor in their midst. Perhaps this forms at least part of the reason for this fish evolving in such a way?

Another (possibly complimentary) theory is that an utterly peaceful shoal of Corydoras containing a few Brachyrhamdia may well pass within easy reach of the latter's prey; this behaviour would be difficult to observe meaningfully outside of the natural habitat. In terms of "safety in numbers", there may also be benefits for the Pimeloids fry being raised within the a larger group of armoured Corydoras fry. Spawning of this species is unreported, but any attempts should perhaps take rhe previous suggestion into account?

In the group I kept, this fin-nipping behaviour was curtailed by the addition of two more imitators which shoaled with the original and the six Corydoras delphax also present. Perhaps like Tiger Barbs the presence of more conspecifics reduces aggressive behaviour. At that time I was unable to house enough C. delphax to prove if the ratio of Corydoras to Brachyrhamdia is significant.

From the number of questions raised by the above it is clear we have a lot to learn about this fascinating small group of catfish.

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

Down Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Brachyrhamdia imitator  Myers, 1927
Common Names False Cory
False Corydoras
Type Locality Caño de Quiribana near Caicara, Venezuela.
Synonym(s) Pimelodella imitator
Pronunciation bra key ram dee ah - im it ate or
Etymology Greek, brachys, -eia = shor + Brazilian vernacular name, Nhamdia/Jamdia. imitator = alluding to the fact that this species shares, identically, the patterning of Corydoras melanistus.
Down Species Information
Size 54mm or 2.1" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification Only potentially confused with the aforementioned species of Corydoras. Anything more than a quick glance reveals the long barbels and naked flanks.
Sexing Unknown
Down Habitat Information
Distribution South America: Caura River basin in Orinoco River drainage, Venezuela.
Orinoco, Lower Orinoco, Caura (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Least Concern, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2017.
pH 6.0 - 7.5
Temperature 20.0-24.0°C or 68-75.2°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters Hardness up to 18°dGH.
Down Husbandry Information
Feeding Will eat most foods to the point of bursting. Care must be taken not too overfeed especially with foods that expand once inside the fish. Live foods are relished but best used for acclimatizing or conditioning individuals. User data.
Furniture An open expanse of gravel for this fish to interact with its conspecifics or Corydoras is necessary to see it at its best. Floating plants will diffuse overhead light and thus allow the fish a greater sense of security when out in the open. The swimming area should be bordered with suitable sized hiding places structured to allow this fast swimming fish both quick entry and exit.
Compatibility A peaceful fish both with its own species and with Corydoras. The only drawback is that it will eat small tetras and young fish. Fish larger than 1'' are too large to eat and will not otherwise be molested.
Suggested Tankmates Most small to medium sized community fish are ideal. Tetras, Rasboras and Rainbowfish would all do well. The mimic nature of this fish suggests that you should keep similarly marked Corydoras species with this fish. The exact purpose of this is as yet unknown and the insight of aquarists are important in unravelling this mysterious fish.
Breeding A report of a failed spawning (eggs didn't develop) for this species was published by Trevor Norris in the April 1986 journal of the Catfish Association of Great Britain (CAGB). A group of these fish started spawning when their Corydoras melanistius tankmates spawned. The corys laid eggs on the glass, whereas the B. inimtator stuck their eggs to the leaves of large Vallisneria plants. The water was soft and slightly acidic.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Down Further Information
Reference Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology v. 68 (no. 3), pp 123.
Registered Keepers There are 10 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
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There are 9 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
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Last Update 2024 Feb 20 12:49 (species record created: 1998 May 01 11:22)

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