Catfish of the Month Right December 2006

Denticetopsis seducta
Red Dwarf Whale Catfish - Denticetopsis seducta   Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna, 2005

Article © Heok Hee Ng, uploaded December 01, 2006.

As discussed last month, and for the first time in Planet history, we have another catfish from last months' featured family - I decided it was a pretty cool thing to do as this family has been seriously overlooked to date. Introduced here is the second cetopsid catfish of the month article from CotM regular, Heok Hee Ng, who wants to set the record straight on the bad rap many species that are sold as whale catfishes "enjoy".

Most catfish enthusiasts think of cetopsids as ill-suited to a community tank, and as catfish constantly trying to take chunks out of tankmates (who can forget the image of the cetopsid-induced holey Brachyplatystoma in the Burgess Atlas?). This month's article looks at another cetopsid that dispels this stereotype and is well-behaved enough for most community tanks.

I first came across Denticetopsis seducta in 2002, having purchased a few online as Hemicetopsis sp. "red". The seller had advertised these as being smaller than the usual blue whale cats (Cetopsis coecutiens) and a lot more peaceful. Despite having reservations about the accuracy of the seller's claims, I went ahead and purchased several, figuring that reddish brown cetopsids were too interesting to pass up (all the cetopsids I had seen so far were bluish). The catfish disappeared from sight promptly upon being released into the tank (a familiar occurrence if you are into catfishes), and any lingering fear I had about their disposition evaporated over the next few weeks as the other inhabitants of the tank continued to thrive. I found D. seducta to be as shy as catfish come, spending most of their time wedged tightly in a crevice, but coming out to gorge themselves readily during feeding time (this pattern of behaviour should be familiar to anyone who has kept auchenipterids or doradids). The best part is that they are very well-suited for community tanks, and do not grow as large as most other members of the family.

While we are on the subject of cetopsids, we might as well revisit the notion that they are notorious "parasites" that will readily take chunks out of tankmates (the use of the term is a misnomer, since biting chunks out of other fishes does not constitute parasitism). Only two species (Cetopsis candiru and C. coecutiens) are known to exhibit this nasty habit (according to the recent cetopsid revision by Vari, Ferraris & de pinna); other members of the family are more typical in feeding on invertebrates). Most cetopsids are found in areas where a considerable current is present, although D. seducta can be easily kept in a tank without one.

Even though this is not a species that is spectacularly colorful (unless you like various shades of brown), a readily visible aquarium inhabitant (but seriously, most catfish aren't), nor particularly interesting in shape (looking very much like a small reddish brown sausage), I would recommend getting some when they are available (they come in as occasional imports). They may not liven up a community tank, but would certainly add an element of unusualness to 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 Denticetopsis seducta  Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna, 2005
Common Name Red Dwarf Whale Catfish
Type Locality Caño "Sabalito," small creek on terra firma about 40 kilometers south of Iquitos (4°14'45"S, 73°24'57"W), Loreto, Peru.
Pronunciation den tee sea top siss - sed uck tah
Etymology The specific epithet comes from the Latin seducta, meaning remote or apart, in reference to the disjunct distribution of this species relative to congeners.
Down Species Information
Size 51mm or 2" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification Appears most similar to D. praecox but the fish pictured here is from south eastern Peru, nowhere near the Rio Negro Basin and the locality from which the former species was described.

Distinguished from congeners in having a combination of the following characters: lack of elongate, symphyseal teeth on the dentary, a reduced lateral line extending posteriorly onto at least the caudal peduncle, presence of teeth on vomer, dorsal fin with 5 or 6 segmented rays and with first ray spinous basally, symmetrical, shallowly-forked caudal fin, possession of horizontally-elongate, dark, stellate chromatophores on body, origin of anal-fin anterior of vertical through middle of TL, caudal peduncle depth 1.33?1.5 times in its length, middle of orbit located at anterior 0.25-0.27 of HL, head width 0.61?0.70 times in head length, three rows of premaxillary teeth, caudal fin uniformly dark, heavily pigmented pectoral fin and 39-42 total vertebrae.
Sexing No distinct sexual dimorphism present
Down Habitat Information
Distribution South America: Rio Amazonas and rio Orinoco.
Amazon, Upper Amazon (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes) (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Not Evaluated
pH 5.0 - 7.0
Temperature 22.0-27.0°C or 71.6-80.6°F (Show species within this range)
Down Husbandry Information
Feeding Readily feeds on live/frozen foods. Will also take other prepared foods such as pellets readily. User data.
Furniture Provide plenty of driftwood as hiding spaces.
Compatibility Fairly peaceful species suitable for a community tank. Should not be kept with very small fishes.
Breeding Unreported.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Down Further Information
Reference Neotropical Ichthyology v. 3 (no. 2), pp 218, Fig. 53.
Registered Keepers There are 6 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
Wishlists Love this species? Click the heart to add it to your wish list.
There is but a single wish to keep this species, see who wants what.
Spotters Spotted this species somewhere? Click the binoculars!
There are 3 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
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Last Update 2020 Sep 20 09:44 (species record created: 2006 Dec 01 06:08)

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