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Sturisoma aureum (festivum?)

by Frank Panis

Scientific name: Sturisoma aureum.
Trade name: Giant whiptail catfish.
Natural habitat: Rivers in Colombia and Venezuela.
Natural food: Algae and small invertebrates.
Food in the aquarium: Algae on the plants and spirulina tabs.
Behaviour in my aquarium: This is a very peaceful fish that grazes on all "algae containing" surfaces. Although it's supposed to be nocturnal, this catfish belonging to the Loricariidae group can be observed all day long, as it isn't shy at all and will only be disturbed when I come really close with my camera or with the window cleaning magnet.
Tankmates: All peaceful South American fish.
Maximal size: Can vary quite a bit depending on water quality and food amount. Can reach 30cm in the wild and about 22cm in captivity.
Aquarium: A tank of  >300L with a sufficient amount of bogwood and plants is recommended. Neutral pH between 6.5 - 7.5, temperature about 25°C. Highly aerated and good quality water is required.

 
Taking a rest on my newly bought anubias. These guys can't be blamed of being too shy!


Personal notes:

These Loricariidae were found in one of my favourite shops. The owner had bought a large batch of them at a very reasonable price, and as I was planning to setup an Amazon tank I bought 4 of them. They looked very fragile and difficult, but my fears were unfounded. True, I lost one of them, but the 3 others are doing really fine in my 750L South American tank. They already doubled in size, and I expect them to become even larger in the near future. It's a delight to see them moving and grazing around, and there isn't a single trace of shyness to be observed, which doesn't mean they are not on the alert for danger. These catfish are egg-layers and males should be recognized by a temporary development of bristles during the mating season. According to many reports they thrive in well aerated water, but they seem to do fine in my slow current, but yet under-stocked aquarium.


The Vallisneria gigantea leaves are their favourite algae "highways".


They clean the wood thoroughly and there is almost no place where algae stand a chance.

I love these Sturisoma: gentle, active and beautiful! 

Click on the images to see the high resolution pictures. Photos by Frank Panis /MCH January 2005

Update > This species was originally presented as Sturisoma aureum but was subsequently identified as Sturisoma festivum by David to whom many thanks. We believe that both names are valid for this fish and we will use both of them until some conclusive documents are received.

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