Catfish of the Month Right August 2011

Corydoras(ln9) weitzmani
Twosaddle Corydoras, Weitzmans Pansermalle (Denmark) - Corydoras (lineage 9) weitzmani   Nijssen, 1971

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded August 24, 2011.

This month I turn 40 years old and in writing this month's article I find myself thinking about two past points in time:August 1997 and August 1971. The former was around about the time that I seriously started work on what was to grow into, the latter was when I was born. Also around about that time in the early seventies, Hans Nijssen was naming a new species of Corydoras after the American ichthyologist Dr. Stanley Weitzman.

1971 was a good year for catfishes, with Poll publishing work on Synodontis which, to this day, is referred to regularly and is, in my opinion, one of the great modern works. 1971 also saw Corydoras panda appear. That single spotted species was to become a mainstay. But it is to a species with two spots on its flanks that provided more intrigue. Corydoras weitzmani was described in 1971 but it had been sitting in a jar on a shelf since first formally collected in 1949.

Any Corydoras fan subsequently reading Nijssen's description of this fish would not fail to put what the Germans refer to as a "phantom" species at the top of their wish-list. That said, the five specimens that Nijssen had, and the one he collected in 1969, were all that are mentioned in the description. It is odd to note the numbers available; even odder was the type locality given near Cusco in Southern Peru.

Cusco is well known to the world traveller, and several failed attempts to relocate the fish and introduce it into the aquarium hobby came and went. Additionally, what were we to make of the care requirements and breeding set-up for a Corydoras that lives at an inaccessible 11,000 feet above sea level? Some have suggested this information was deliberately given by the collectors as a false lead to throw any more collectors off the scent. I've already said that I wasn't born when this was all happening, but it shouldn't take a particularly developed mind to wonder exactly how much commercial intrigue existed at that time. Would they really do that then? Why Cusco?

However, the species was named to honour Dr. Weitzman, curator of fishes at the Smithsonian, but he also occupied a role as senior consulting editor at TFH magazine (how times change) and that would imply a link with the trade. But in the trade this ghost species remained a phantom, elusive and the stuff of legend. Dr David Sands documented a trip out to Cusco in PFK magazine and failed to find it.

That all changed in late 2004 when Japanese collector Shigezo Kamihata supplied fish to Japan. A good move, as the tropical fish market in there has a budget like no other. Corydoras were (and continue to be) very popular in this heightened live fish market; the going rate was around US$1000 a fish. It is against that level of demand that any other population of fishkeepers needs to compete, and rarely does. Staying in Japan, the fish was introduced in Aqualife magazine in February 2005 as the "fantasy cory".

Later that year, imports were forthcoming to the second tier of ornamental fish trading countries like Germany, the UK and USA. We learned then that the fishes were exported from the more southern Madre de Dios (Mother of God) river system also in Peru. Even then prices of around £50 per fish were the going rate. Soon, several spawnings were reported globally and between then and now, this has become a fish that you can buy for under £10. Furthermore, Peruvian exporters either discovered new collecting sites, transport routes opened up, or the locations became more well known, as the species become more available from the wild too.

After such an intrigue-laden introduction, we should perhaps expect some devastating spawning trigger or another mystical husbandry requirement for this species. But, as it turns out, they are easy to keep, they spawn easily and are relatively fecund. It would not surprise me if, in another 40 years' time, this species replaces the bronze cory as the fish we all see in all shops most of the time. Certainly it would well deserve it.

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 Corydoras (lineage 9) weitzmani  Nijssen, 1971
Common Names Twosaddle Corydoras
Weitzmans Pansermalle (Denmark)
Type Locality Río Vilcanota system at Cuzco, 13°32'S, 71°57'W, Cuzco State, Peru.
Pronunciation kor ee doh rass (lineage nine).
Etymology . Named to honour Dr. Stanley Weitzman.
Article Link - Shane's World Right Reproduction Right Observations of Breeding Corydoras weitzmani.
Down Species Information
Size 55mm or 2.2" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification Fairly unique in that it has a light brown body with three dark markings, one over the eye, one under/into the dorsal and one at the end of the caudal peduncle. The exact shape of the spots varies somewhat from one fish to another.
Sexing Females fuller bodied and slightly larger than males.
General Remarks The type locality information recorded for this species is inaccurate. It was collected in the sixties by Paolini in his many expeditions in the area and vaguely recorded as from "near the Cord. Vilanota". The 1971 description from his preserved material made the final leap to the incorrect locale. It was not until Belinda and Lance Peck found the species again in 2003 that imports to the aquarium trade started. Those imports come from the Rio Araza in the Madre del Dios river system in Southern Peru.
Down Habitat Information
Distribution South America: western Amazon River basin.
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes), Madeira, Madre de Dios (click on these areas to find other species found there)

Log in to view data on a map.
IUCN Red List Category Least Concern, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2014.
pH 6.0 - 8.0
Temperature 22.0-26.0°C or 71.6-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters dh 2-25.
Down Husbandry Information
Compatibility Comaptible with all but the tiniest of fry, and as long as they are not considered "food" in themselves.
Suggested Tankmates Ideal tankmates are small to medium tetras. Possibly also dwarf cichlids such as Apistogramma or Mikrogeophagus.
Breeding Has been bred in the aquarium and appears to be both reasonably easy and predictable in its spawning behaviour.
Breeding Reports There are 17 breeding reports, read them all here.
Down Further Information
Reference Beaufortia v. 19 (no. 250), pp 91, Fig. 1.
Registered Keepers There are 192 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
Wishlists Love this species? Click the heart to add it to your wish list.
There are 7 wishes to keep this species, see who wants what.
Spotters Spotted this species somewhere? Click the binoculars!
There are 51 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
Forum BBCode
More on Corydoras (lineage 9) weitzmani
Look up Look up Corydoras (lineage 9) weitzmani on
Look up on Fishbase Look up Corydoras (lineage 9) weitzmani on Fishbase
Look up on Encyclopedia of Life Look up Corydoras (lineage 9) weitzmani on Encyclopedia of Life
Look up on Global Biodiversity Information Facility Look up Corydoras (lineage 9) weitzmani on Global Biodiversity Information Facility
Corydoras(ln9) weitzmani QR code LFS label creator
Last Update 2020 Oct 22 04:14 (species record created: 2011 Aug 24 04:41)

Back to Catfish of the Month index.