Dr. Burgess' "Atlas of Freshwater and Marine Catfishes" (TFH: 1989) lists 14 spp. of Sturisoma. The range of the genus is throughout the Amazon basin and as far north as Panama. Like most of the more gracile Loricariids, it is very difficult to identify these fishes to species. Most of the books list S. aureum, panamense, and barbatum as being imported. The photos of these fishes all look very similar (i.e. they all look the same to me). Basically, I am not sure that it is possible for the average hobbyist to say what species they have for sure in most cases.
I have kept them in even quite alkaline hard water (pH of 7.4 and 10 DH) and they do well. Breeding is much more successful, however, in soft neutral to slightly acidic water. Side note: DH = Deustche Hartgraden, which translates as German hardness gradient. So GH (German Hardness) and dGH (degrees German Hardness) are the same thing as DH. They are just DH translated into English. It is confusing though if you do not know this. I have met many hobbyists that thought DH, GH, and dGH were all different measurements. We also use ppm (parts per million) which is the same thing as mg/L (milligrams per liter). To convert ppm to DH, multiply by .056. I sometimes see 100 dGH (even in aquarium books). This person forgot to do the multiplication and placed a ppm reading with the DH symbol. There is also the American measurement of grains/ US gallons (to convert ppm to grains/ US gallons, multiply ppm by .058), but we never use this because even though most of us Americans are horrible with the metric system, we understand our own system even less!
Back to Sturisoma. Like many Loricariids, they need clear clean water that is high in oxygen. Keep up the water changes. If the water is becoming fouled, you will notice the fish hanging out near the filter outlet. Include driftwood in the set up. Sturisoma seem to like to perch on a high point in the aquarium. Keep them with fairly mellow tankmates. My specimen seems to like the company of a Farlowella that is in the same tank. They hang out side by side much of the day. Of course, feed lots of veggies such as cucumber, green beans, and squash. These fish do not bother plants in the slightest.
The males possess a thick growth of head bristles. Adults usually stay on opposite sides of the tank, but will start swimming together when they are ready to spawn. They will clean several possible spawning sites. They usually spawn on the tank glass, but will also spawn on leaves, slate, and the side of flower pots. The majority of spawnings have taken place in large, heavily planted, aquariums.
The female lays 3-4 eggs at a time and the male fertilizes the eggs as they are laid. Then the female lays more and on and on until 80-100 eggs are laid. The male guards the eggs which hatch at about 8 days. The yolk sac is consumed in two days and then you must feed the fry with infusoria and soft veggies. The fry can be very tough to raise.
I would consider Sturisoma an appropriate project for the more advanced Loricariid breeder. They are more difficult to spawn than Ancistrus or Farlowella, but about at the same level of difficulty as many Hemiloricaria species.
Back to Shane's World index.