Catfish of the Month Right Arrow December 2006 • Article © Heok Hee Ng, uploaded December 01, 2006



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

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.

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific NameDenticetopsis seducta  Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna, 2005
Common NameRed Dwarf Whale Catfish
Type LocalityCaño ?Sabalito?, small creek on terra firma approximately 40 km S of Iquitos, Loreto, Peru.
Pronunciationden tee sea top siss - sed uck tah
EtymologyThe specific epithet comes from the Latin seducta, meaning remote or apart, in reference to the disjunct distribution of this species relative to congeners.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 51mm or 2" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationAppears 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.
SexingNo distinct sexual dimorphism present
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionCentral and western portions of the Amazon River drainage
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)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
pH5.0 - 7.0
Temperature22.0-27.0°C or 71.6-80.6°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingReadily feeds on live/frozen foods. Will also take other prepared foods such as pellets readily.
FurnitureProvide plenty of driftwood as hiding spaces.
CompatibilityFairly peaceful species suitable for a community tank. Should not be kept with very small fishes.
BreedingUnreported.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesThe neotropical whale catfishes (Siluriformes: Cetopsidae: Cetopsinae), a revisionary study. Neotropical Ichthyol. v. 3 (no. 2): 127-238.
Registered Keepers(1) Silurus, (2) kruseman, (3) KungFish (k: 4), who also notes: "Shy, but will sometimes come out and do a couple laps around the tank before going back to their hiding spot. They can be really fast when they want to :O", (4) dmcat (p: 2, k: 4).

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 ReportsNone.
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Last Update2010 Jan 08 00:03 (species record created: 2006 Dec 01 06:08)

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