Catfish of the Month Right Arrow January 1999 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded January 01, 1999



Three Striped African Glass Catfish, Afrikanischer Glaswels (Germany), Svalehaleglasmalle (Denmark) - Pareutropius buffei   (Gras, 1961)

Everyone who sits down to write about catfish in general will mention in the first few paragraphs the immense diversity exhibited by this family of fish. This is rightly so and this diversity is part of the formula of their success, both in the natural world and in aquarists tanks. If you accept there is a successful formula then this month's catfish is a worked example.

This fish doesn't sit still under a rock all day, it doesn't grow to a full grown length that would require the conscientious fishkeeper to house it in an indoor pond and it simply refuses to eat, or even nip, other fish. It is, in fact, a true community fish. It spends its time shoaling very closely with its colleagues and these shoals actively drift up and down the aquarium in full view, all of the time. This then is a mid-water catfish adapted to daytime life in flowing water. Upon a time, while touring my collection of catfish, an "unconverted" newcomer to the hobby once exclaimed of the Striped Glass Cat, "It's a normal fish!". Later, while we watched some mollies magically produce live miniature mollies we had a chance to talk some more about our Glass Cat; Normal, I explained to him, is relative. Surely the very essence of fishkeeping is that there is no such thing as a normal fish.

So the African Striped Glass Catfish isn't special; however it amuses my warped mind to keep them with more "conventional" benthic catfish in a display tank to add to the mid-water activity. This essentially boils down to a deep rooted desire on my part to keep as many catfish as possible. Because of this I have kept these active little catfish with most common types of community fish and learned that they fit in very well indeed.

Most often these catfish are imported and sold as Pareutropius debauwi, often leading to an alternative common name of "debawi cats". This isn't accurate however. The true P. debauwi is rarely imported and has several distinguishing features. P. buffei has three body stripes, the lower is broken around the pelvic fins and a stripe or spot on each of the caudal fin lobes. P. debauwi on the other hand has one body stripe and clear caudal fin lobes. These are not very good identification parameters however, as telling the two fish apart requires adult fish. Fish less than 1" in length of both species do not have all of these features, for example often young P. buffei have clear caudal fins and a greatly diminished lower stripe."


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Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific NamePareutropius buffei  (Gras, 1961)
Common NamesThree Striped African Glass Catfish
Afrikanischer Glaswels (Germany), Svalehaleglasmalle (Denmark)
Type LocalityBas-Ouémé between Dannou and Adjohon, Benin [Dahomey].
Synonym(s)Eutropiellus buffei, Eutropiellus vanderweyeri, Eutropius buffei
Pronunciationbuffy aye
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 76mm or 3" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationMost often these catfish are imported and sold as P. debauwi, often leading to an alternative common name of ''debauwi cats''. This isn't accurate however. The true P. debauwi is rarely imported and has several distinguishing features. P. buffei has three body stripes, the lower is broken around the pelvic fins and a stripe or spot on each of the caudal fin lobes. P. debauwi on the other hand has one body stripe and clear caudal fin lobes. These are not very good identification parameters however, as telling the two fish apart requires adult fish. Fish less than 30mm or so in length of both species do not have all of these features, for example often young P. buffei have clear caudal fins and a greatly diminished lower stripe.
SexingFemales are heavier bodied, but this difference is slight and only noticeable in mature specimens.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionWidespread in Nigerian & Cameroon Rivers
African Waters, Cameroon waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Nigeria Waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Cross (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)
IUCN Red List StatusLeast Concern
pH6.5 - 7.5
Temperature23.0-26.0°C or 73.4-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersSlightly soft water is preferred.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingAll prepared food, most frozen foods. Flake, bloodworm and brineshrimp are ideal.
FurnitureOpen swimming space hedged with plants. Not too much light, ideally floating plants will give the best results in terms of settling the fish.
CompatibilityA perfect citizen for the small to medium sized community tank. To combat shyness keep this fish in shoals of at least six individuals.
Suggested TankmatesThe more active tetras, smaller barbs, rasbora and danios. These fish will also do well with loaches and other active bottom dwellers. To combat shyness keep this fish in shoals of at least six individuals.
BreedingThis fish is an egg-scatterer and thus the recommended two females and single male should be removed from the spawning tank immediately after laying eggs. Water temp. for this should be around 76F and the eggs will hatch after 3 days. The young eat freshly hatched brineshrimp and will grow rapidly.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesBull. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. (Ser. 2)v. 32 (no. 5) (1960) - pp406 - Fig. 3
Registered Keepers(1) Birger (k: 15), (2) ali12345, (3) Moontanman, (4) chris 1 (k: 6), (5) Oliver D. (k: 5), (6) Barracuda518 (k: 5), (7) invaderwithkey (k: 4), (8) Suckermouth (k: 7), (9) Plunt, (10) TP (k: 15), (11) corycat, (12) Barbie, (13) malawiman1, (14) fischkringli (k: 7), (15) carolynkline, (16) Bijn (k: 8), (17) tijani (k: 2), (18) hankinswood (k: 7), (19) wirikwiri, (20) jippo (k: 7), (21) Catfishfingers, (22) miguel mitchel (k: 9), (23) Quo (k: 3), (24) p44236, (25) CL27, (26) River Birzer (k: 5), (27) VickyEll7, (28) Narelle (k: 2), who also notes: "Originally had 3, but lost one to someone else's poor use of the siphon. Looking to end up with 12 or so?", (29) flatdog (k: 3), (30) Corvis (k: 5), (31) Tanganyikafreak (k: 13), (32) Gulper, (33) synolover, (34) Flatdog, (35) bekateen (k: 7), (36) syorksaquarist (k: 7).

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Last Update2005 Nov 20 00:00 (species record created: 1999 Jan 01 11:22)

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