Catfish of the Month Right Arrow June 1997 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded June 01, 1997

Banjo Catfish, Banjo Cat, Guitarrita, Tofarvet Stegepandemalle (Denmark), Zweifarbiger Bratpfannenwels (Germany) - Bunocephalus coracoideus   (Cope, 1874)

Looking for something unusual? This is not a pretty fish, however its leaf-like camouflage gives it an appearance appealing to aquarists looking for something a bit out of the ordinary. Aside from its rugged skin (which, incidentally, it periodically sheds like a snake), the fish has tiny eyes and a very odd method of swimming. Banjo catfish expel water through their gills, making their swimming movement (I.E. irregular spurting bursts) somewhat comical. This swimming however is a rare sight as these fish spend 99% of their time inactive to the point of looking dead.

Feeding usually initiates some action in Banjos, however you almost have to drop the food right on the fish for it to react. Feeding after lights out will ensure that these fish get their share of food.

I have never had any problems with Banjo Catfish either through illness oraggression towards their tankmates or fellow banjos. If you find their craggy appearance interesting then these fish are ideal as a community tank curio.

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 NameBunocephalus coracoideus  (Cope, 1874)
Common NamesBanjo Catfish
Banjo Cat, Guitarrita, Tofarvet Stegepandemalle (Denmark), Zweifarbiger Bratpfannenwels (Germany)
Type LocalityNauta, Peru
Synonym(s)Bunocephalus bicolor, Dysichthys bicolor, Dysichthys coracoideus
Pronunciationboon oh SEFF ah luss
EtymologyBunocephalus: From the Greek bounos, meaning hill and kephale, meaning head; in reference to the bumps on the head of the fish, which is particularly marked in some species. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 150mm or 5.9" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationThe most commonly encountered Banjo Catfish for sale.
SexingMature females are larger and deeper bodied than males.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionSouth America: Amazon Basin
Amazon (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 StatusLeast Concern
pH5.8 - 7.8
Temperature20.0-27.0°C or 68-80.6°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersHardness between 2 and 20°dGH.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingMost prepared food that finds its way to the substrate, bloodworm and sinking catfish pellets are best.
FurniturePreferably river sand although the fish is equally happy under a flat rock elevated about ½ an inch above the substrate. In nature the fish can be found buried, sometimes several inches deep, in the leaf litter commonly found at the bottom of forest streams.
CompatibilityPeaceful. Can be kept singly or in groups given adequate refuge for each individual. Young fish like to hide vertically in bushy plants. Older fish will burrow in sand or fine, rounded gravel as well as under stones or bogwood.
Suggested TankmatesAny community fish.
BreedingAdult fish are mature at 4½'', a deep tank is not necessary. Spawning occurs at night. Several batches of eggs are serially deposited in an egg-scattering fashion and should be removed to a secure net or container. These hatch within 3 days. Another report suggests that over 4000-5000 eggs are laid in several spawnings of a night and that the fish spawn in groups, although the ratio of males to females required is not clear. The fry should be fed small live foods, and then as they grow tubifex worms and eventually catfish tablets.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesProceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia v. 26, pp 133
Registered Keepers(1) daniel60, (2) bronzefry (k: 2), who also notes: "Shedding seems to occur monthly, for both fish and they shed at the same time. The female likes to build a "mound" of substrate in which to hide.", (3) suezbele, (4) Chrysichthys (k: 3), (5) Lornek8, (6) ivokilli, (7) Oliver D., (8) Silurus, (9) adimeatatime (k: 2), who also notes: "Neat fish, but stay hidden all of the time.", (10) Whiskerbreed, (11) brettwms75, who also notes: "You might forget you have them, so BECAREFUL when you gravel-vac not so deep and don't push to hard.", (12) CatBrat, (13) Tulio, (14) traumatic, (15) sherry44 (k: 6), (16) Freakdaddy (k: 2), (17) mzavori, (18) Brian W C (k: 2), who also notes: "Ignore's all fish except Pleco's.", (19) Igowoof, (20) amiidae, (21) Threefingers, who also notes: "Buries in the sand all day, except to compete with the other fish for algae wafers. Purchased as a 3" juvenile, and has been eating frozen krill/bloodworm/artemia as well as a selection of dry foods. Only very active at night, jetting around t", (22) Kjlossman, (23) Högö (k: 8), (24) Teelie, (25) whiteymoza, (26) titch2007 (k: 6), who also notes: "always been interested in this species, but still never really gave it a second thought!!! bought 4, hoping to add to collection soon!!! they'll be set up pretty much on their own, with intentions of trying to get them to breed!!! mine's are only 3 i", (27) irshprncsk, (28) mouseninja, (29) unkaface, (30) darkwolf29a (k: 3), (31) haxjester, (32) chillired, (33) joepleco (k: 2), who also notes: "Newest members to my tank. Always looks emaciated though...", (34) tezr (k: 8), (35) valkat, (36) weisel, (37) Scubaguy (k: 2), (38) photizo379, (39) joe.juice13, (40) ChileRelleno (k: 3), who also notes: "Mine seem to contradict the Cat-E-Log on their hiding habits. Mine when young stayed buried in sand, now as adults are mainly in plants and under low caves/overhangs that are shaded.", (41) aledk85, (42) AU Chief (k: 3), (43) LowCat, (44) MADRacing, (45) kubastanik, (46) JayC, (47) iam1ru12 (k: 3), (48) Martin S (p: 2, k: 3), (49) geekshow (p: 3, k: 3), (50) krzys (k: 3), (51) nyrak33333, (52) coppernite (k: 3), (53) Birger, (54) cory1, (55) Phoxinus (k: 7), (56) Nick44, (57) xander, (58) ali12345, (59) ahodge84 (p: 2, k: 7), (60) JJ74, (61) LRKeefer (k: 3), (62) bahid, (63) Flavia, (64) aurora (k: 4), (65) MatsP (p: 2, k: 3), who also notes: "Got another two when I found another shipment in Lynchford Aquatics (my regular LFS).", "Got two from my LFS. One was "early fatality". The other is doing fine. ", (66) fischkringli, (67) royaldragoness (k: 2), (68) The.Dark.One, (69) boogie, (70) Toad (k: 2), (71) nvcichlids (k: 17), (72) ProblEmZ (k: 5), who also notes: "5 in a 29g Community tank.", (73) GW_NL (k: 5), (74) theonetruepath (k: 2), (75) jippo (k: 6), (76) Minus (k: 3), (77) astinus, (78) ayrtoninst (k: 2), (79) jag64 (p: 2), (80) matt12, (81) LowClassCC, (82) bamboosticks (k: 2), (83) Back, who also notes: "One left of two from the start", (84) Timberwolf (k: 5), (85) shaunypoo, (86) Wallace (k: 4), (87) coelacanth, (88) ocnluv13 (k: 2), (89) NickHarris77, (90) TRD, who also notes: "Might be a male.", (91) theviper06 (k: 2), who also notes: "Blue & Grass", (92) adcc (p: 2), who also notes: "Another one is died at 1 october 2012", (93) bcmitchell, (94) NC24, (95) shivamotiram, (96) tiffanyjayne, (97) Donald (k: 6), (98) Brisch, (99) atharrison21 (p: 2), (100) xXColtzFanXx (k: 4), (101) chad320 (p: 2, k: 3), (102) Harry94, (103) Quo, (104) Black_flys, (105) browny85, (106) cdc069, (107) elcucuu, (108) john_d, (109) Shawnc, (110) catfishkemp, (111) tropical (p: 2), (112) Ecrevince (k: 5), (113) Lilredbeaver, (114) markmoten, (115) L number Banana (k: 2), (116) Catfish freak, (117) dolgolev (k: 2), (118) vb75, (119) pel (k: 2), (120) transporter42, (121) slimrs, (122) indiCa, (123) jimlaroche83, (124) Woodza73 (k: 3), (125) wirikwiri, (126) merit, (127) mikemaes, (128) andyC, (129) Microsab (k: 8), (130) shoegazer, (131) linuxrulesusa (k: 2), (132) ScottishFish, (133) FerocactusLatispinus, who also notes: "Stanley is rather lean and Checkers, R.I.P., (pictured on My Cats) was rather pale and dark in contrast to him! Checkers adored tubifex worms and would "buzz" every time I hand-fed him! It's funny seeing these cute Bunocephalids use hydro-jet propulsion!", (134) amacintosh, (135) jac (k: 2), (136) RedLiz (k: 2), (137) Steff_ (k: 2), (138) bazzho, (139) uffe77, (140) p44236, (141) TB1987, who also notes: "Burrows into the sand and rarely comes out even at night. Have had to spend time digging gently and locating the fish so as to make sure it is feeding properly. Cryptic colouration makes it almost impossible to spot even when above the sand. Cool fish.", (142) Mruaru, (143) crazy4bettas, (144) MrsJP, (145) Sean B, (146) dmcat, (147) lilu, who also notes: "Spends most of the day buried in the sand or in the Java ferns. Sometimes comes out and feeds with the other cats. Very peaceful.", (148) miguel mitchel (k: 4), (149) CL27, (150) CarlDeller (k: 11), (151) mark24, (152) parrot1974 (k: 2), (153) Dragonrat, (154) Tau, (155) in_the_seance, (156) bekateen (k: 4), (157) JohnRayNg (p: 2), (158) telsonboy, who also notes: "Kept with 2 Stiphodon semoni gobies and 2 Danio margaritatus (galaxy rasbora, nee Celestichthys margaritatus), over sand, in which it spends most of its time.", (159) Narelle, who also notes: "Very active for such an inactive species. Likes to swim along the glass in the dark, but easily spooked back to the substrate.", (160) PlecosAndLoaches, (161) PurecoYSS (k: 2), (162) nytenoir, (163) sushi1980, (164) Deb (k: 2), (165) irishman710, (166) DHarris, (167) Mol_PMB, (168) pippilee, (169) urcysk, (170) hooliganATV, (171) anna*, (172) Dalek Tzet (k: 2), (173) Fishybotany, (174) Nativeguy, (175) mn011890, (176) WadeNCreeks, (177) antonyb93, (178) catfishchaos (k: 11), who also notes: "A joy to keep, even with the lights they come out for feeding time watching them "jet" around is a joy. They aggressively attack the repashy meat pie cubes I feed them and their feeding behaviours are reminiscent of a scaled down shark.", (179) inetpablo, (180) catquariauk, (181) KGlo (k: 2), who also notes: "Probably the most shy fish I've ever kept. They stay buried in the sand most of the time with just their eyes and mouth sticking out. At night you'll see them searching the bottom for food and if you turn the light on they'll quickly disappear into the sand.", (182) thalassophoebe (k: 4), (183) Peter Lund (k: 5), who also notes: "Added 5 more to the one in the tank.", (184) PepperVirginia, (185) protopterus, (186) Italian1026 (k: 5), (187) BullFishkeeping, (188) Zakqary, (189) L-Cait, (190) Atmichaels (k: 3), (191) Peixes (k: 5), (192) JamesStuddart (k: 8), (193) Kirin (k: 4), who also notes: "Very active when I first got them, afterwards they have been very seldom seen. Unfussy eaters and even seen them eat Repashy Soilent Green. The other tank mates don't notice them and they don't seem to move if they notice any other fish around.", (194) AMacLeod, (195) angerygrover (k: 2), (196) Lycosid, (197) Chilo_glanis (k: 2), (198) Glauce (k: 2), (199) CatfishAddict01.

Click on a username above to see all that persons registered catfish species. You can also view all "my cats" data for this species.
Breeding Reports(1) bekateen (b: 47), (2) nvcichlids (b: 46).
Article - Shane's World Reproduction Breeding the banjo catfish, Bunocephalus coracoideus
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Last Update2017 Jan 06 01:29 (species record created: 1997 Jun 01 11:22)

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