Catfish of the Month Right Arrow January 2020

Otorongo Woodcat, Spinipterus Sp(1), Spinipterus Sp`oncinha` - Spinipterus moijiri   Rocha, Rossoni, Akama & Zuanon, 2019

Article © Erlend D Bertelsen, uploaded January 05, 2020.

In what is surprisingly his first CotM to date, we are delighted to have Erlend Bertelsen bring us fully up to date with the newly named "other jaguar woodcat" and his long term observations on its care.

In the last months of 2019, Spinipterus moijiri got named, and it is still difficult for me to get use to the new scientific name. I still refer mine as Spinipterus sp. "Otorongo". Otorongo is Spanish and means Jaguar and the pattern of this catfish has great resemblance to that of the big cat. These small, fascinating and shy fishes have also really managed to put my patience to the test.

When I write now, January 2020, I have kept my fishes for seven years, and regularly they have produced fertile eggs for the last three years. If I take a wild guess, I will say that I probably have managed to hatch 1500 eggs! And if you ask me how many fry I have managed to grow out; I can only answer two! I only keep one of these today. Due to the recent description of the fish, and the fact that I managed to successfully grow up a nice youngster to a good size, I think that it is mine time to write the first CotM article for the 2020.

My first experience with eggs from this fish was an interesting one. I had three species of fish together. The blue Peru Tetra, Boehlkea fredcochui, the Peruvian Banjo catfish, Bunocephalus coracoides and Spinipterus moijiri. The tank was only a 63-litre tank furnished with some wood and loads of java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri). I would guess that the moss occupied around 75% of the tank. After cold water changes, I always found the Banjo catfish in the moss the next day. So, when I found some eggs after a cold-water change, I was sure that the Banjos were the "guilty" party. The first time I found eggs was some days before I was leaving for Germany to visit some fish experts in the Frankfurt area. I did of course ask the question concerning who was "guilty" of producing eggs in my tank? And after some discussing (and loads of beer) the most concluded that the Blue Peru tetra was the "guilty" one. And to defend my German fish friends, they concluded this without seeing the tank, having not seen a picture of the eggs and do not forget that we did drink quite a lot of beer while getting to our conclusion. After coming back to hatched eggs and some of them developed into tiny fish, I could very quickly say that this did not look like tetra fry. So, I concluded that my banjo catfish were the ones that wanted to produce their next generation. Around three months after my first experience with the eggs I was visited by my German friend Daniel Konn-Vetterlein. I am not sure how big the fry were when he saw them, but he was sure that these were Spinipterus fry. I think then that I did not want to believe him, but after a while when I managed to successfully get a fish from fry to a semi adult, there was no more doubt.

Firstly, I think I need to say that I do not necessarily believe that this fish is extremely difficult to breed or raise. For me, it is more that it does not match my way of living. I work shifts and sometimes I do not manage to visit my fish room for about 40 hours. The fry need a lot of food and clean surroundings in the first stage of their life and due to my work and other responsibilities, I simply do not mange to provide them with what they need. After successfully hatching many hundreds of eggs, I still today have trouble with feeding them up. As I told earlier, I believe that the amount of food and the cleanliness that follows such a regime, is more than I can provide. And this is my main problem. The production of eggs is constant and they hatch without trouble. I mostly hatch them in an egg tumbler, after the fish have laid their eggs following a cold-water change. The eggs resemble a Corydoras egg, with a hard shell. The eggshell is clear and it is easy to see the small embryo inside. I can easy pick out 40 eggs, but I know that it is even more if I have time to look. They are placed one by one, all around in the moss. But I have never seen the egg laying myself. However, I am quite sure they are laid in the pitch dark. After the eggs have hatched, I look in the filter, and always manage to save some more fry out. They normally take between five or six days to hatch in 26°Celsius and a pH around 6.5. I feed with live brine shrimp and microworms as often as possible, and I have found that the "Tropical Pro Defence Micro" has worked very successfully in the first stage of the development.

Back in 2006, I collected what was to be the first described Spinipterus, S. acsi, in a tributary to Rio Ucayali in Peru. I managed to bring some back with me, but after some years I lost them one by one. The last fish I had left, I offered to science and sent to Dr. Mark Sabaj Perez and it is now in The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, USA. Sadly, this, the only other species of Spinipterus, is very uncommon not only in science but also in our hobby. I find the small so-called woodcats in the family Auchenipteridae highly fascinating, and I guess many of them also should be possible to breed with great success. Even if they already have a hardcore fanbase, I strongly believe they deserve a much bigger one!

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

Down arrow Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Spinipterus moijiri  Rocha, Rossoni, Akama & Zuanon, 2019
Common Names Otorongo Woodcat
Spinipterus Sp(1), Spinipterus Sp`oncinha`
Type Locality Rio Tapauá, Rio Purus basin, Amazonas, Brazil, 05°47'22"S, 64°33'33"W.
Pronunciation spi NIP terr uss. - moy JEE ree.
Etymology The specific epithet moijiri comes from Moijiri; this species is known among the Paumari Indians that inhabit the Río Tapauá, Purus basin. The meaning of the word Moijiri is unknown so far. The Paumari language belongs to the Arawa linguistic group.
Down arrow Species Information
Size 105mm or 4.1" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification Some of the unique features which distinguish Spinipterus from other auchenipterids are: pectoral and dorsal-fin spines with four prominent rows of serrations; lateral margin of the skull roofing bones ornamented with a single row of spines; and adducted dorsal fin rests into a mid-dorsal groove. Spinipterus also differs from most other auchenipterid genera by having lower counts for some fin rays.

Spinipterus moijiri differs from S. acsi by having a jaguar-like colour pattern of large black rosette-like spots over a light yellow to brown background (vs. brown background with small dark blotches over the body); adult body size reaching 104.5 mm SL (vs. maximum known size of body 37.1 mm SL); posterior process of cleithrum short, not reaching the vertical through the dorsal fin spine (vs. process long, almost reaching the vertical through first dorsal fin ray); seven soft pectoral-fin rays (vs. six soft pectoral-fin rays); caudal fin truncated (vs. caudal fin rounded).
Sexing Males have an elongate intromitent organ extending attached along the entire length of the anterior anal-fin margin. Females have a small urogenital opening anterior to anal fin. Other secondary sexually-dimorphic characters found among Auchenipteridae (on the fins, barbels and epidermis) were not observed in Spinipterus moijiri.
General Remarks The colour varies with age: small specimens have simple large black spots that gradually start to become rosette-like with growth. In specimens over 90mm, the rosettes are all over the body and some start to fragment into small black spots that are present over the body, head and all fins, but more conspicuous on the caudal and dorsal fins. Ventral surface of head densely pigmented with small spots on the branchiostegal membrane and around mental barbells. Ventral surface of body, from pectoral girdle to urogenital opening light brownish or yellowish, lacks spots.
Down arrow Habitat Information
Distribution Río Tapauá (Río Purus basin) and from Igarapé Ubim, a small tributary of Lago Amanã, Río Japurá, both from Brazil. Also reported in Peru, from Depto. Loreto, Province Maynas, Río Nanay throughout Tarapoto village and confluence with Caño Tarapoto (S. Grant pers. comm.).
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes), Purus, Tapauá (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes), Japurá, Amanã (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Nanay (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Not Evaluated
Down arrow Husbandry Information
Furniture This species is most comfortable hiding in wood tangles.
Suggested Tankmates In the wild, this species was collected was collected inside submerged trunks together with the auchenipterids Liosomadoras morrowi and Tatia sp., and Pseudacanthicus sp. and Panaqolus sp..
Breeding This species has been spawned in captivity.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Down arrow Further Information
Reference Journal of Fish Biology v. 96 (no. 1), pp 3, Figs. 1-7.
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Last Update 2020 Jul 20 12:54 (species record created: 2020 Jan 05 03:07)

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