Catfish of the Month Right Arrow September 1997

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

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded September 01, 1997.

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 Name Farlowella vittata  Myers, 1942
Common Names Twig Catfish
Grenmaller (Denmark)
Type Locality Tributary of Río Uribanto [Uribante], Tachira State, Venezuela.
Synonym(s) Farlowella agustini, Farlowella angosturae, Farlowella guaricensis, Farlowella roncallii
Pronunciation far LOW ella - vit hat ah
Etymology Named after W. G. Farlow, from Harvard University. This specific epithet refers to its striped (vittatus=striped) appearance.
Article - Shane's World Reproduction Spawning, Embryo & Fry Development in Farlowella vittata
Article - Shane's World Reproduction Breeding Farlowella
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 225mm or 8.9" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification A key to the genus Farlowella can be found HERE.

There 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.
Sexing The 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 Remarks For 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
Distribution Orinoco River basin: Colombia and Venezuela.
Orinoco (click on these areas to find other species found there)

Log in to view data on a map.
IUCN Red List Category Not Evaluated
pH 6.0 - 7.0
Temperature 24.0-27.0°C or 75.2-80.6°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters Attention to water quality is essential for the long term prosperity of this species.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Green and soft brown algae, cucumber and lettuce.
Furniture Bogwood, particularly tall, spindly root-like structures. Tall plants such as Vallisneria or Amazon swords. Roof slate if you can get it.
Compatibility Peaceful, to the point of being timid. Not the most active fish, it can spend much of its time sitting perfectly still.
Suggested Tankmates Tetras 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.
Breeding See Shane's World article.
Breeding Reports There are 5 breeding reports, read them all here.
Jump to next section Further Information
Reference Stanford Ichthyological Bulletin v. 2 (no. 4), pp 103, Fig. 12.
Registered Keepers Keeping this species? Why not .
There are 151 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
Wishlists Love this species? Click the heart to add it to your wish list.
There is no wish to keep this species.
Spotters Spotted this species somewhere? Click the binoculars!
There are 27 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
More on Farlowella vittata
Look up Look up Farlowella vittata on
Look up Fishbase Look up Farlowella vittata on Fishbase
Get or print a QR code for this species profile, or try our LFS label creator.
Hits 14186 hits.
Last Update 2019 Sep 17 14:46 (species record created: 1997 Sep 01 11:22)

Hits: 14186

Back to Catfish of the Month index.