The honeycomb catfish is a small fish native to Peru and Ecuador. It inhabits swift flowing parts of rivers, where it is found around the shorelines. There is no aquatic vegetation of any kind, and the substrate is usually sandy. The honeycomb catfish grows to an adult size of 2.4 inches long. Adult males have an extended anal fin, which is used in a similar fashion to the gonopodium possessed by male live bearers. Females are much rounder than males, especially when gravid.
The honeycomb catfish should be maintained in an aquarium of 10 gallons or larger. These small fish like to squeeze themselves into spaces that are just a little bigger than themselves during the day, so provide plenty of hiding places among tangles of driftwood or lengths of plastic piping. A sand substrate (CS7581) is best, and the fish prefer a good amount of water flow, although this is not’t absolutely essential. The honeycomb catfish emerge in the evening to feed in open water, and the addition of a red light bulb will allow you to observe this nighttime behavior, as the fish can’t see red wavelengths.
The honeycomb catfish prefers a temperature of 75°F to 86°F, a pH of 4.9 to 8.0, and a hardness of 1 to 25°H.
The honeycomb catfish can be bred quite easily when kept in the correct conditions. It won’t spawn unless the tank has a moderate to strong flow of water, and lots of small crevices in which the eggs can be laid. Lengths of PVC piping are ideal for this purpose. Use air powered sponge filtration, so that any eggs or fry are not sucked up. As with other Auchenipterid catfish, fertilization takes place internally, via the modified anal fin of the male. The female then lays the eggs in a cave or crevice and guards the eggs until they hatch, at which point it’s a good idea to move the adults or fry to a separate tank, in order to avoid predation.
The honeycomb catfish is typically a very peaceful and fish and suitable for a small community aquarium. It is generally safe with all but the smallest of fish fry. Good tank mates include tetras, dwarf cichlids and other peaceful catfish such as Corydoras sp. and smaller Loricariids. It is totally unaggressive towards conspecifics, and is equally happy when kept singly, or as part of a group.
Honeycomb catfish are insectivorous in the wild, but in the aquarium it relishes live and frozen foods such as blood worms (SF4792), earthworms, and black worms, as well as sinking dried foods (AL166). Add food after lights out to ensure it receives its share, but take care not to overfeed, as these small fish are surprisingly greedy. For maximum color, growth, and health these fish will look their best when given probiotics (AL169) in addition to a balanced diet.