Catfish of the Month Right Arrow April 2006 • Article © Lee Finley, uploaded April 01, 2006



Striped Woodcat, Mandube Catfish - Trachelyopterichthys taeniatus   (Kner, 1858)

There are defining moments in the history of anything. PlanetCatfish has had a few; our launch as a dot com, the arrival of the forum, our ten year anniversary and a whole host of "meeting in the real world" events. But back in the world of the web, content is king. So, it is with a great sense of the moment, I'm delighted to introduce one of the hobby's kings of content, Lee Finley, and this is no April fool. Lee has been keeping fish since before I was born and has written and knows a huge amount about the many and varied aspects of catfishes and their captive care and breeding. I'm personally delighted to publish someone from the catfish world whose name I've known for as long as I've been able to pronouce plecostomus. Here's what Lee has to say about the Striped Woodcat, Trachelyopterichthys taeniatus.

There is a great amount of physical variation in the catfish family Auchenipteridae, and this is strongly exemplified by the species covered in this month's entry.

The genus Trachelyopterichthys contains only two species: T. taeniatus and T. anduzei. The latter species is from the upper Orinoco basin of Venezuela and to my knowledge has not been imported as an aquarium fish. The known distribution of T. taeniatus is much larger (upper Amazon basin) and it has been reported from numerous areas in Brazil, southern Colombia, Peru and southern Venezuela.

Trachelyopterichthys taeniatus is characterized by an extremely elongate body shape. This elongation effect is most notable from the anal area back. In keeping with this the anal fin is also very long (>48 rays). The latter part of the body is also laterally compressed. T. taeniatus lacks an adipose fin and the small dorsal fin is placed quite forward on the body. The base coloration can range from reddish brown to dark brown to black. Two distinct yellowish to white stripes run the length of the body and a thinner, but similar one is seen mid-keel on the top of the body.

For size considerations, T. taeniatus is not overly large and reaches a total length of around (or slightly longer than) 15cm (6 inches).

As an aquarium fish there are no special problems with this species. Temperatures within the standard range of 72° to 78° F are fine. The values for pH are also plastic, and can range from 6.0 to the low 7's. As with other auchenipterids it is best to avoid letting the water conditions slip and regular partial water changes should be considered mandatory. As with many other of the driftwood type catfishes ample hiding places should be provided. In their natural habitat this species uses the nooks and crannies of submerged wood as hiding places and they will do the same in aquaria. I personally prefer to use lengths of PVC pipe to serve as hiding places for this species. Due to their long, but thin shape, I would suggest sections of pipe in lengths of eight to 12 inches and with an internal diameter of one ½ to two inches. This species is quite social and more than a few individuals can work their way into such a pipe. In fact, that is where they will be spending a great amount of their time! Once they are set in a tank they will come out to feed even under decently lit conditions. But, once the food is gone, they tend to rapidly return to their "home". Even better for observing them, especially their unusual anguilliform (eel-like) swimming manner, is to use very low light conditions (or even red light). Under low light conditions (the kind that your eyes take a little while to adjust to), T. taeniatus will leave their hiding place(s) and move more-or-less in midwater around the tank. Some favourite food added to the tank will only enhance this behaviour.

Feeding this species presents no problems. They take well to just about any prepared food and will feed at all levels of the tank, including from the surface. "Meaty" foods should also be used in live, frozen or freeze-dried form. Such foods can include krill, blackworms, brine shrimp and bloodworms. The latter, which like with most auchenipterids, is probably a natural food for them and are especially appreciated.

In keeping with the family Auchenipteridae, sexual dimorphism exists in this species. In males, two main features are noted: 1) Anal fin modification - In males the last unbranched ray and the two branched rays following it are elongated and thickened forming a sperm delivering "pseudopenis" designed for internal fertilization; and 2) Dorsal fin modification - The dorsal fin, which as noted, is quite small to begin with, is longer than that of the female in adult individuals. Males also have serrations on the posterior part of the dorsal spine which are lacking in females, but these can be difficult to observe on living specimens.

To date, I am unaware of any successful aquarium spawning of this species. I did have one batch of about 100 eggs produced, but these were very small (circa 1.5 mm) and did not show any signs of developing. Considering the size of fertilized eggs of much smaller auchenipterids (pers. observation and literature reports) it was obvious to me that the eggs were, for whatever reason, ejected in an unfertilized condition.

I am currently without any holdings on this species. But, it is high (if not at the top) of my list of auchenipterids to re-acquire. Hopefully, a successful spawning report will follow at some later date.

An ending note on a common name for this species: I would personally favour the use of "striped woodcat". The name "mandube cat" has been used, but often this is also applied to a number of different auchenipterids species in commercial shipments. In the first ever shipment of "mandube cats" that I received years ago, there were at least three other species of auchenipterids in addition to the T. taeniatus.


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

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific NameTrachelyopterichthys taeniatus  (Kner, 1858)
Common NamesStriped Woodcat
Mandube Catfish
Type LocalityRio Guapore, Brazil
Synonym(s)Trachelyopterus taeniatus
Pronunciationtrack ellie OP terr ICK thiss
EtymologyTrachelyopterichthys: From the Greek, trachelos, meaning neck, pteron, meaning fin and ichthys, meaning fish; in reference to the long cranial shield, which gives the appearance that the dorsal fin originates at the neck region. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 150mm or 5.9" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationAn extremely distinctive auchenipterid catfish that cannot be confused with any other species.
SexingMature males exhibit a modified anal fin that is formed into a ''pseudopenis''. The dorsal fin of mature males is also larger than that of mature females.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionAn upper Amazon basin species that has been reported from Peru, southern Colombia, Brazil and southern Venezuela.
Orinoco, Upper Orinoco (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Upper Amazon (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)
pH6.2 - 7.0
Temperature22.0-26.0°C or 71.6-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingNot fussy and catholic in every way as regards to diet. All manner of prepared foods will be taken with relish, but meaty foods such as brine shrimp, krill, bloodworms, etc. should be a regular part of the diet. The various foods will be taken at all levels of the tank including the surface.
FurnitureAmple hollow style hiding places should be provided. For the purist, driftwood or larger bamboo pieces can be used but longer sections (eight to 12 inches) of smaller diameter (one and a half to two inches) PVC pipe may also be used.
CompatibilityA peaceful fish, both with their own and other species. Very small fishes, though, might be eaten.
Suggested TankmatesMidwater swimming fishes such as characins (as long as they are not too small) are a good addition. Other smaller to medium sized catfishes, as long as they are not to aggressive, are also o.k. This species is social with its own kind, so try to have at least a small group of them.
BreedingAs with other auchenipterids this is an internally fertilizing species. To date there have been no reports of a successful spawning (but, see CotM for April, 2006 - link below - for a note on the laying of unfertilized eggs).
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesSitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Wienv. 26 (s. 373) - pp434 [64] - Pl. 8 (fig. 26)
Registered Keepers(1) daniel60 (k: 4), (2) Dave Rinaldo (k: 2), (3) Oliver D. (k: 3), (4) Kenneth Wong (k: 2), (5) amiidae, (6) Walter, (7) jiapei, (8) The.Dark.One, (9) Junttis (k: 4), (10) wrasse (k: 8), who also notes: "This is one of those species that sometimes arrive in the shops really thin and you have to rebuild them. They are very active at feeding time.", (11) Floody (p: 2), (12) arthos (k: 4), (13) Martin S (k: 3), (14) dmcat (k: 2), (15) Yann (k: 3), (16) rob rensen.

Click on a username above to see all that persons registered catfish species. You can also view all "my cats" data for this species.
Breeding ReportsNone.
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Last Update2013 Jul 19 18:57 (species record created: 2006 Apr 01 11:22)

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