Catfish of the Month Right June 1997

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

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded June 01, 1997.

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.

Down Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Bunocephalus coracoideus  (Cope, 1874)
Common Names Banjo Catfish
Banjo Cat, Guitarrita, Tofarvet Stegepandemalle (Denmark), Zweifarbiger Bratpfannenwels (Germany)
Type Locality Nauta, Peru
Type Locality Notes Type locality inferred from location of Nauta (referenced 2021).
Synonym(s) Bunocephalus bicolor, Dysichthys bicolor, Dysichthys coracoideus
Pronunciation boon oh SEFF ah luss
Etymology Bunocephalus: 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. 
Article Link - Shane's World Right Reproduction Right Breeding the banjo catfish, Bunocephalus coracoideus
Down Species Information
Size 110mm or 4.3" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification The most commonly encountered Banjo Catfish for sale.
Sexing Mature females are larger and deeper bodied than males.
Down Habitat Information
Distribution South America: Amazon River basin.
Amazon (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 2020.
pH 5.8 - 7.8
Temperature 20.0-27.0°C or 68-80.6°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters Hardness between 2 and 20°dGH.
Down Husbandry Information
Feeding Most prepared food that finds its way to the substrate, bloodworm and sinking catfish pellets are best. User data.
Furniture Preferably 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.
Compatibility Peaceful. 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 Tankmates Any community fish.
Breeding Adult 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.
Breeding Reports There are 3 breeding reports, read them all here.
Down Further Information
Reference Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia v. 26, pp 133
Registered Keepers There are 239 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
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There are 5 wishes to keep this species, see who wants what.
Spotters Spotted this species somewhere? Click the binoculars!
There are 46 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
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Last Update 2021 May 27 09:05 (species record created: 1997 Jun 01 11:22)

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