Catfish of the Month Right December 2018

Platydoras costatus
Striped Dora, Liniendornwels (Germany), Surinam-tornmalle (Denmark) - Platydoras costatus   (Linnaeus, 1758)

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded December 14, 2018.

Many fishkeepers will have gone through that phase in their knowledge development where more and more scientific names are learned. Those learning all about catfish will pick up the name Platydoras costatus. For many of us, this was an easy to say, know and identify species. It's that talking cat with clear black and white stripes that, in allusion to the hard boiled sweet, is called a Humbug catfish.

Humbug? Well it is a Christmas CotM, and it is also humbug in the Dickensian sense - deception or false talk! Not that this was purposeful, but just that this is one of those names we've used for decades in the hobby that was associated with a commonly seen import. However, as it turns out, isn't factually correct. This goes back to the mid 1970's when, at least to English readers, Emmens and Axelrod published this name against the black and white fish we know so well in their hugely successful small book on catfishes. Today the commonly available black and white fish is known as Platydoras armatulus.

What about P. costatus? Well, it turns out its charm is in its rarity. To find this fish you will need to look in the very infrequent exports from Guyana. It's not a boring fish to look at, it has a dark brown base colour with beige stripe and contrasting black barbels. The sharp eyed would do well to look thoroughly at imports of Acanthodoras spinosissimus just in case one or two Platydoras have snuck in there. In terms of care in the aquarium, this will be a simple fish to feed and while it would typically eat a night, all Platydoras will eat with the lights on especially if food is offered at the same time and place.

I'd personally love to see a few imports of this fish; it would give something new and we really don't know much about this group of fishes in terms of their reproductive habits. One thing is for sure, these fishes live for a long time, two or three decades if well looked after. It may be difficult to obtain, but such a long living fish would be a star in any collection for a very long time indeed.

Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

Down Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Platydoras costatus  (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Names Striped Dora
Liniendornwels (Germany), Surinam-tornmalle (Denmark)
Type Locality Indiis [South America].
Synonym(s) Doras dentatus, Doras helicophilus, Mystus ascita, Platydoras dentatus, Platydoras helicophilus, Silurus costatus
Pronunciation pla tee doh russ - kos TAT uss
Etymology Platydoras: From the Greek platys, meaning flat, and doras, meaning skin (also a word commonly used in forming generic names for doradids); in reference to the depressed head. 
Down Species Information
Size 240mm or 9.4" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification This species was long misidentified as the widely distributed species commonly available in the hobby, however now appears to be restricted to two rivers in eastern South America. The common species in the hobby is Platydoras armatulus.
Sexing Unknown
General Remarks Platydoras helicophilus is questionably a synonym of Platydoras costatus. If and when this name is resurrected to a valid species in its own right, then the fishes exported in 2021-22 (pictured here) will also move. Talking catfishes get their common name from noises they make, mostly at night, by grinding their pectoral fin bone in its "socket". Click here to listen to this species.
Down Habitat Information
Distribution South America: Amazon, Tocantins, Parnaíba, Orinoco, Essequibo River basins and coastal drainages in French Guiana and Suriname to Argentina.
Guyana Waters, Coastal Rivers of Guyanas, Essequibo (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Least Concern, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2020.
pH 6.0 - 7.5
Temperature 23.0-30.0°C or 73.4-86°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters Slightly softer water is beneficial but not essential.
Down Husbandry Information
Feeding All aquarium fish foods, sinking catfish tablets offer the best method of getting food to the fish. Bloodworm and high protein dry food are also favourites. Try delivering food at night. User data.
Furniture Caves or pipes are a requirement if this fish is to avoid long-term stress or the possibility of mistaking a heater for safe refuge.
Compatibility An ideal community fish, peaceful but rugged.
Suggested Tankmates Anything from tetras to cichlids, preferably South American, but will mix with all community fish.
Breeding Unknown.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Down Further Information
Reference Systema Naturae, Ed. X v. 1, pp 306.
Registered Keepers There are 7 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 4 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
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Last Update 2022 Sep 23 02:41 (species record created: 2018 Dec 14 01:47)

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