How to Care for Your New Banjo Catfish
Aqualand Info on Bunocephalus whatever
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Intriguing looking catfish -- lotsa bumps.
Appeal. Here’s a strange looking catfish that you seldom see. Banjo catfish do look like a tiny banjo or “guitarrita.” Banjo cats cost much less than most “interesting” catfish.
Hard to See. Banjo catfish are excellent hiders and have the colors and bumps that enable them to blend into nearly any tank décor. “Bunocephalus” means bumpy head which makes them look like a flat, bumpy rock. They prefer to remain motionless during the day, which add to their camouflage. You can easily pass them by as you browse your favorite fish store (Aqualand, we presume).
Origin. Several different species of banjo catfish can be found in the various tributaries of the Amazon. We get different species from time to time and would be hard pressed to tell one from another.
Drawbacks. As mentioned earlier, these guys like to hide during the day (and are very good at it). Some people call them “invisible fish.”
Observation. What the heck good is a fish you can’t see? Turn your lights off for half an hour and use a cheap flashlight. If you use a Magnum flashlight, cover most of the lens with your hand. Otherwise, they hit the bottom as soon as that torch hits them. Or add an incandescent fixture with red bulbs.
Size. Most banjo catfish top out at half a foot long. Some species grow larger.
Sexing. Females grow larger and plumper. Sexing them matters very little unless you plan to breed them.
Temperature. If you keep your banjo catfish at regular community tank temps, he (or she) will be happy.
They Can Pinch. Just like plecos and many other armored catfishes, the unarmored banjo catfish will try to pinch you if you pick him up. Of course, most people have more sense than to try to pick them up. And like many other catfishes, they will growl when you pick them up.
Groups. Banjo catfish fare fine as individuals but prefer to school with other banjo cats. When feeding at night, they like to travel in a pack.
Water. You need not stress over pH. You can keep your banjo catfish with community fish or discus. Because of their sedentary ways, they actually make good discus buddies.
Substrate. Where they come from, they live over (and under) sandy, muddy bottoms – much of it littered with leaves. Provide this if you never want to see your banjo catfish. Better, put them over white sand and they really stand out.
Tank Décor/Security. If you add plenty of plants and other décor to their tank, you will rarely see your banjo catfish. They also seek out caves, crevices, and crannies (even a flat rock) to hide in, under, behind, or between.
Tank Mates. Baby guppies and baby neon tetras might be in danger, but banjo catfish do not pester other fish – even at night. They are not determined predators (like pictus cats). Banjo cats ain’t mad at nobody.
Banjo Catfish Food. While not picky, banjo catfish enjoy live and frozen foods – especially worms. They do fine on flakes and pellets. However, since they eat at night, they’ll be on short rations unless you add their food right before you turn off their lights. They wake up when your lights go off.
Breeding Reports. We’ve never bred banjo catfish. We’ve seen reports of thousands of eggs at a time. However, these were banjos breeding in schools. The pictures of the little ones (from Germany) were really cute. A group of tiny guitarritas is very appealing.
Once you figure out how to see them, banjo cats are an intriguing
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