Catfish of the Month Right Arrow March 2008 • Article © Birger Kamprath, uploaded March 01, 2008



Spatula Barbel Catfish - Phyllonemus typus   Boulenger, 1906


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Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Phyllonemus typus  Boulenger, 1906
Common Name Spatula Barbel Catfish
Type Locality Niamkolo, Zambia, Lake Tanganyika.
Pronunciation fie low NEE muss - tie puss
Etymology The generic name comes from the Greek phyllos, meaning leaf and nema, meaning thread, in reference to the distinctive barbel shape of the type species Phyllonemus typus. The specific epithet means form in Latin.
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Jump to next section Species Information
Size 90mm or 3.5" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification An upper body colour of brown-maroon with a cream coloured belly. Easily distinguished from the rarer P. filinemus by the small spatula-shaped endings on their maxillary barbels.
Sexing The male is larger and more strongly built than the female. The female may also be plumper when viewed from above.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
Distribution Endemic to Lake Tanganyika.
African Waters, Western Rift Valley Lakes, Tanganyika (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Status Least Concern
pH 7.6 - 9.0
Temperature 23.0-28.0°C or 73.4-82.4°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters A pH in between 7.8 and 8.2 is best suited to aquarium husbandry.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Will readily take most prepared foods. Its diet should be supplemented with live foods from time to time. In the wild, its diet has been shown to consist of very small fish and larval insects.
Furniture Prefers rock work over driftwood or plants. Will make its home in small crevices.
Compatibility A very peaceful fish which may be out competed for food and picked on if kept with much larger, more aggressive fish. A model citizen except for its large mouth which means it can and will eat smaller fishes. Should be kept in a group, since it is a fairly social fish and will be emboldened by the presence of conspecifics.
Breeding According to Ochi et al, 2000, P. typus is a biparental mouth brooder. Male and female form a strong pair bond before mating and caring for young, with the male and/or female incubating and hatching the eggs in their mouth.
Breeding Reports There are 3 breeding reports, read them all here.
Jump to next section Further Information
References Trans. Zool. Soc. Lond.v. 17 (pt 6, no. 1) - pp552 - Pl. 32 (fig. 3)
Ochi, H., A. Rossiter and Y. Yanagisawa, 2000 The first record of a biparental mouthbrooding catfish. J. Fish Biol. 57(6):1601-1604.
Bailey, R. M., and D. Stewart, 1984 Bagrid Catfishes from Lake Tanganyika, with a Key and Descriptions of New Taxa. UMMZ, Ann Arbor.
Eccles, D.H., 1992 FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Tanzania. FAO, Rome.
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Last Update 2013 Jul 19 18:53 (species record created: 2008 Mar 01 04:10)

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