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

Twig Catfish, Grenmaller (Denmark) - Farlowella vittata   Myers, 1942

By anyone's standards, these are odd looking fish. They can be found for sale from time to time in good retailers but you have to look hard to spot them if they are in a decorated tank. They are very inactive fish; their twig-like shape and camouflage conceal them most effectively against bogwood or similar backdrops.

Inactivity aside, the fish will stay visible if housed in a dimly lit situation with peaceful slow moving fish. The biggest problem with keeping Twig Catfish is fluctuation in water quality. I have seen these fish die after a fairly "old water" tank was given a 25% untreated water change. The 3 individuals were simply found dead the next morning although the tank contained a number of tetras and a large shoal of Paraotocinclus, the latter of which survived, looking completely unaffected.

The fish is an algae eater although much prefers eating algae off long plant leaves and wood rather than the aquarium walls. Care is needed when moving these fish as their snout-like anterior protuberance is prone to bumps and knocks and will more often than not become infected if damaged in transit.

There are nearly 60 species of Farlowella and also a few related genera (Sturisoma especially) that look very similar. As these fish are almost always wild caught and imported, you can find a rarity in amongst large shipments from time to time. Oddly you never see Farlowella species for sale smaller than around 3-4"; perhaps the youngsters do not travel well? So you'll just have to take on the (not inconsiderable) challenge of breeding these elegant sucker-mouths to find out what juveniles look like."

Farlowlla vittata

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 NameFarlowella vittata  Myers, 1942
Common NamesTwig Catfish
Grenmaller (Denmark)
Type LocalityTributaries of the Rio Uribanto, from San Cristobal to llanos, Venezuela
Synonym(s)Farlowella agustini, Farlowella angosturae, Farlowella guaricensis, Farlowella roncallii
Pronunciationfar LOW ella - vit hat ah
EtymologyNamed after W. G. Farlow, from Harvard University. This specific epithet refers to its striped (vittatus=striped) appearance.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 225mm or 8.9" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationThere are at least 25 [Retzer & Page, 1997] species of Farlowella that, in the main, look very similar. The species was identified by its distinctive rostrum and ventral plates arrangement. In particular having two rows of plates on the ventral (belly) area.
SexingThe male's "snout" is broader and when mature sports small bristles called odontodes. This is clearly shown in one of the images above. The female has a thinner snout which always remains smooth.
General RemarksFor those collecting these fishes in their natural habitat, it is worth noting that several junior synonyms exist that are found in different biotops. Farlowella angosturae Martín Salazar, 1964: Type locality: Caño Largo al oeste de Cuidad Bolívar, Edo. Bolívar [Venezuela]. Farlowella agustini Martín Salazar, 1964: Type locality: Una quebrada límite entre los Estados Cojedes y Carabobo, carretera Campo Carabobo Taguanes, afluente del río Chirigua que a su vez lo es del río Pao [Venezuela]. Farlowella guaricensis Martín Salazar, 1964: Type locality: Río Guárico, en el puente de Uverito, carreteria San Juan de Los Morros a Ortiz, Guárico [Venezuela]. Farlowella roncallii Martín Salazar, 1964: Type locality: la quebrada El Ahorcado Aguirre, afluente del Río Tirgua Carabobo [Venezuela].
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionOrinoco River basin: Colombia and Venezuela.
Orinoco (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)
pH6.0 - 7.0
Temperature24.0-27.0°C or 75.2-80.6°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersAttention to water quality is essential for the long term prosperity of this species.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingGreen and soft brown algae, cucumber and lettuce.
FurnitureBogwood, particularly tall, spindly root-like structures. Tall plants such as Vallisneria or Amazon swords. Roof slate if you can get it.
CompatibilityPeaceful, to the point of being timid. Not the most active fish, it can spend much of its time sitting perfectly still.
Suggested TankmatesTetras or Rasboras are best. Avoid fast or "nippy" fishes such as Danios or Barbs. Will do well with Corydoras catfish, but larger catfish or cichlids are to be avoided.
BreedingSee Shane's World article.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesStanford Ichthyol. Bull.v. 2 (no. 4) - pp103 - Fig. 12
Registered Keepers(1) ivokilli, (2) adimeatatime (k: 5), (3) fmagnier (p: 2), (4) CatBrat, (5) Armadillo Del Rio, (6) snowball (k: 2), (7) Barbie, (8) Plecofanatic1989, who also notes: "This is a very easy cat to keep. They are very active at night and are good "algae eaters".", (9) Terrorblade90 (k: 2), who also notes: "A very peaceful fish. Often, similar species are offered like this species, e.g. Farlowella sp. (1); also, this species has some different range of colouring that could deviated from the typical colouring and it can change is body-colour.", (10) irshprncsk, (11) Chrysichthys, (12) reneb (p: 2), (13) Troender (k: 2), (14) tHEcONCH (k: 2), (15) Loracidlover, (16) ashik, (17) lbriquet, (18) mante-religieuse, who also notes: "first little "insect" in my aquarium!It's a little one;only 10cm long!I don't know why it died so quickly.I found it kind of small for an aquarium Farlowella.I'll try to get a refund from to petshop!Anyway,I'll try with another one later!", (19) PatchesThePirate, (20) aledk85 (k: 3), (21) Lubbe, (22) Thalan (p: 2), (23) Waterboy, (24) novice, (25) Juand15 (p: 2), (26) fleahound, (27) Blonde1 (k: 2), (28) Rixxter, (29) L number Banana (k: 5), who also notes: "5 unknowns are: 4-plate smaller 2-plate pearly 2-plate/3 plate head markings, prefers shrimp pellets, longest species, huge tail, has extra filament near his 'bum'. 3-plate yellow 3-plate common colour with eyes on top, flat mouth Update winter 2012: The pearly twig with a 2-plate belly is gone. Never saw the body, scavenged? All of them are much longer now and have beautiful flowing filaments. Size is pretty accurate for the smallest, he is also the darkest colour.", (30) willis30, (31) theonetruepath, who also notes: "Went 8 months without seeing him... Seeing him weekly now at night only", (32) ofird, (33) DiHo (k: 3), (34) gedtranter (k: 5), (35) jiapei, (36) djinn75 (p: 4), (37) Boxy, (38) wschug, (39) Stany200, (40), (41) bronzefry (k: 107), who also notes: "Bred in 29 gallon planted tank with Corydoras trilineatus as tankmates.", (42) lethalcustoms00, (43) (k: 7), who also notes: "Breeding pair in a 60L aquarium. ", (44) Wallace (k: 2), (45) Frank the L (k: 2), (46) Crel, (47) Timberwolf, (48) ozarowana (k: 4), (49) Bartman, (50) janne dahle (k: 55), (51) darkruse, (52) Yann (k: 3), (53) adcc, (54) David R, (55) Donald (k: 10), (56) 000, who also notes: "Died, I hope to get another, but not terribly soon.", (57) mike h, (58) zopex, (59) freakkmeister (k: 3), (60) Anthonyck, who also notes: "Unbelievably, I found this fish with its head stuck between two round stones on 05/24, and otherwise physically unharmed. It was lodged so tight that I have to move a very heavy rock to collect the body. Very sad day.", (61) jp11biod (p: 2), (62) Quo (k: 2), (63) Dinnie, (64) PlecoCrazy (k: 6), (65) donpetty, (66) nnpnnp (k: 4), (67) Ecrevince (k: 5), (68) markmoten (p: 2, k: 6), (69) Lars Jamne, (70) Catfish freak, (71) Apostolis, (72) flipperfeet (p: 2, k: 2), (73) oneoddfish, (74) BernieEcht (k: 4), (75) fahaka, (76) Akronsbiggest, (77) miguel mitchel (p: 2, k: 3), (78) captmicha, (79) Dalek Tzet, who also notes: "Very sedentary, doesn't touch the algae on the glass. hid the first week, now hangs on the front of the tank most days.", (80) ladytara33, (81) msjinkzd, (82) sabbath, (83) RedLiz, (84) Lusitano972 (k: 6), (85) Cory Ben, (86) fosco, (87) vsmith64, (88) lilu, (89) knockout (k: 2), (90) parrot1974, (91) Mol_PMB (k: 45), who also notes: "Last year's young started breeding at 9 months old and 100mm long. I now have lots of grandkids!", (92) MatsP, (93) spip, (94) Mr Whippy, (95) AcidicAngel, (96) Malek (k: 2), (97) synolover, (98) Nativeguy, who also notes: "Very easy, loves hikari algae wafers. Once she is full she sits on it until she is hungry to continue eating.", (99) marco0raimondo, (100) fishy1, (101) Sabaji, (102) mad357, (103) kracken200, (104) Stany1975, (105) Leeleeka, who also notes: "Buy as "Farlowella Acus", I guess it's a "F.Vittata". I'm not 100% sur it's a male, he's too young. We'll see... :)", (106) Tocinoyhuevos, (107) Allanski, (108) Joelinohio, (109) dmfd0331, (110) sturiosoma, (111) WadeNCreeks (k: 5), (112) PHHorst (k: 4), who also notes: "20 gallon long quarantine tank. Planted. Sponge filter. Many caves/shady spots.", (113) kumarkolekar (k: 15), (114) angerygrover, (115) Lycosid.

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) Mol_PMB (b: 57), (2) mad357 (b: 55), (3) Yann (b: 42), (4) Quo (b: 41).
Article - Shane's World Reproduction Spawning, Embryo & Fry Development in Farlowella vittata
Article - Shane's World Reproduction Breeding Farlowella
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Last Update2013 Jan 13 11:58 (species record created: 1997 Sep 01 11:22)

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