Lima Shovelnose, Duck-beak Catfish, Duckbill Catfish, Hockey Stick Catfish, Lsn, Sortstribet Spademalle (Denmark), Spatelwels (Germany) - Sorubim lima   (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded June 01, 1999.

Originally a Shane's World article, written by Shane himself, this piece has been modified into the "catfish of the month" format and added to slightly in an effort to highlight this particular catfish.

The Lima shovelnose is a member of the family Pimelodidae. It belongs to the group of pimelodids known collectively as "shovel noses". Other shovelnoses include the Tiger Shovelnoses (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum, P. tigrinum and P. coruscans), the Round-head Shovelnose (Sorubimichthys planiceps), and the fabulously patterned and thus priced Brachyplatystoma tigrinus. All members of the family Pimelodidae are found only in the Americas. All are also predators in their natural habitat.

Of all the large predatory catfishes found in the aquarium trade, S. lima is perhaps the best suited to aquarium life. In one way it can be considered the "dwarf shovelnose", although they are capable of reaching a larger size, the majority of tank-raised specimens seem to be fully grown at just over 12 inches. That may not sound like a dwarf, but it is in comparison to a 4 foot tiger shovelnose! A 55 gallon tank would be the minimum size in which this fish would prosper.

Water chemistry is not a problem. These fish do well in a wide range of conditions. The most important thing is that the water is kept clean. Good filtration should be combined with weekly water changes of 30% - 40% of the tank's volume. Good but not overly strong current from a power-head will also make them feel more at home.

In nature, the Lima shovel nose hides in a head down position next to the roots of large trees. It waits in this manner for unsuspecting prey to wonder by. One nice thing about S. lima is that they can be weaned off of live foods easily. This should be a priority with new acquisitions as feeders often get the final revenge by spreading a disease to their predator. Sinking food tablets are fine for day to day feedng. Large earthworms are also appreciated and will not spread disease. Crickets are also eaten.

A 100 gallon tank with 5-6 S. lima would be fascinating to watch and may allow the aquarist to be the first to spawn this wonderful catfish.


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

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