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Family: Auchenipteridae, Subfamily Centromochlinae

Common Name: Spotted Driftwood Catfish

Origin and Habitat: Columbia, Peru and Ecuador, South America. Inhabits faster flowing streams, along the shoreline wedged in rock or wood crevices facing the current.

Compatibility/Temperament: Very peaceful with fish that can't be swallowed, though it may fin nip. As it is totally nocturnal, it searches the tank during complete darkness and will swallow small fish such as fry. It does well singly or in a small group.

Spotted Driftwood Cat Diet

In nature it feeds on insects at all levels in the water column. Being nocturnal, it will actively swim throughout the aquarium after dark and readily eat sinking foods (tablets, pellets) and surface flakes and floating foods. It relishes frozen bloodworms and can be readily coaxed out during the day with this or live worms.


Attains 2.4 inches, females slightly larger.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

20 gallon

Water parameters for Spotted Driftwood Cat

Depending upon its origin, soft to moderately hard (hardness up to 25 dGH), acidic to basic (pH 6 to 8) water, temperature 25-28C/77-82F. Given the range of water parameters between the various habitats where this fish occurs, it seems to be adaptable though extremes should be avoided. Most authorities recommend soft slightly acidic water.


A truly unique resident in the aquarium but one that is rarely seen; the common name comes from the fish's habit of remaining hidden in tunnels in driftwood. Upon being introduced to the aquarium, the fish will seek out secluded tunnels in wood or crevices in rockwork, always closest to the strongest flow from the filter, and there it will remain during daylight hours, only venturing out during total darkness. During daylight, however, the appearance of frozen bloodworms or live worms will entice the fish out, and it will literally charge around the tank, gobbling them up like a vacuum until it is too full to swim. The worms must be carefully restricted to prevent this extreme.

Considering the body shape, this fish is a surprisingly strong swimmer. The spotted pattern can vary from fish to fish. Females are slightly rounder than males. The anal fin of the male has a thickened first and second ray, forming a copulatory organ similar to the gonopodium of livebearers; the female's eggs are fertilized internally and then deposited on the underside of wood or rock, in the manner of a cave spawner.

This species was originally described as Tatia perugiae by F. Steindachner in 1882 and may still be seen in the literature under that name. It was moved to the genus Centromochlus by L.M. Soares-Porto in 1998 following his detailed examination of the Centromochlinae. The genus name derives from the Greek kenteo (= sting) and mochlos (= lever), a reference to the pectoral spines. The species epithet (assigned by Steindachner) honours Albert Perugia, an Ichthyologist from Triest.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Byron


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