Article © Shane Linder, uploaded January 01, 2002.
I found my specimen in a mall pet store of all places. I paid US $7.99. S/He was just a hair under six inches. I was VERY lucky to have been able to ID the fish. A couple of weeks before I found it (just by pure chance) I had received a reprint of Isbrücker and Nijssen's original description ("Rhadinoloricaria gen. nov. and Planiloricaria, two new genera of South American Mailed Catfishes (Pisces, Siluriformes, Loricariidae). Beaufortia No.290 Vol.22 July 31, 1974). A friend of mine was in Austria checking holotypes and Isbrücker gave him a box of old reprints. Knowing my fondness for these fishes, my friend sent me a good share of the reprints. Like I said, pure luck.
Once I got the fish home I immediately set to work trying to ID it. Imagine my surprise to find a photo of my fish in one of the newly acquired reprints! After the fish died I was able to compare it very closely to I+N's description. All the counts and measurements matched exactly so I can say with confidence that these observations are of P. cryptodon.
The fish adapted fine to my hard alkaline water even though it comes from soft acidic waters. My pH was 7.4 and DH 110ppm. The fish would bury itself in the sand for the first few weeks. Eventually he spent his time under the shade of a large Anubias sp. A fine sand substrate seems important to this fishes well being.
The fish did not like plants. Two-thirds of the tank are heavily planted and these parts of the tank were avoided. The fish likes to stay on the bottom and is distressed when plants are too thick and it can not rest on the bottom. The fish never "hangs" on the side of the tank like many Loricariids. The mouth is adapted to sifting and not sucking. I also never saw the fish rasp on driftwood or eat any veggies.
An ideal tank would have lots of bottom area a couple of swords or Anubias for shade and a few smooth flat rocks for them to "perch" on and "hide" next to. Actual caves are avoided.
Diet should be mainly "meaty" foods. Mine ate blooworms and frozen brineshrimp along with Tetra Bits and pieces of algae wafers. The fish had a great disposition and never scuffled with anyone else in the tank.
All of these things led to the fishes death. I am quite sure that he starved to death. The thick armor masked the signs. In most Loricariids you see the signs of starvation when the "hang" on the side. The hollow belly is a give away. But since this fish never showed its belly, I could not see that it was getting hollow. The fish will also eat food only if it is on the bottom. In my case this meant that it had to first sink past a school of six hungry Congo tetras and not much did. Furthermore, since he would not enter the planted ends of the tank, he missed any food that made it to the bottom in those areas. This gave the fish a rather small area in which to find food.
I am sorry that my P. cryptodon is gone since I was fairly attached to him as specimens go (with 13 tanks I do not have much time to think of individual fishes as pets). Hopefully the fish's death was not in vane as one of you will take this information and provide an even better home for any P. cryptodon you may eventually keep.
There is further information on this species on the Cat-eLog page.
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