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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Catfish > Knob Nose Whiptail Catfish, Knobnose Whiptail Catfish, Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish
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South America


Knob Nose Whiptail Catfish

Hemiodontichthys acipenserinus


    This unusual fish does something very special--after the female lays eggs, the male gathers the egg mass into his large labial veil and carries them with him for 12 -14 days, both protecting them and providing ventilation for them with his movements until the fry hatch. Should the eggs be removed or should he loose them for any reason, the male will search the tank for a surrogate, like a ramshorn snail, and hold onto it for hours. Collectively, it's features are so unique that this is the only species in the genus Hemicodontichthys.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Adult Male: 5.28 inches (13.4 cm)
    Tank: Individual: 20 gallons (75 liters) or larger Shoal of 4: 40 gallons (150 liters) or larger Each fish must have a minimum of 24 square inches of tank floor.
    Strata: Bottom (benthopelagic)
    PH: 6.0 - 7.0
    Hardness: dH 2 - 12
    Temperature: 75°F to 82°F (24°-28° C)


    Order: Siluriformes
    Family: Loricariidae
    Genera: Hemiodontichthys
    Species: Hemiodontichthys acipenserinus


Common name:

    Knob Nose Whiptail Catfish, Knobnose Whiptail Catfish, Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    South America: Bolivia, Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana and Peru: in the Amazon, Essequibo, Oyapock and Paraguay River basins.

General Body Form:
    Male: A diamond-shaped body with a characteristic whip-shaped tail with a small caudal fin. The snout is long with a small bump on it's terminus. Moderately-sized pectoral and anal fins are slightly rounded. Adults develop a large labial veil and their teeth have spoon-shaped crowns (rather than pointed ones seen in females and juveniles.) Unlike the majority of Loricariidae, there have no well-developed odontodes on either their snout or pectoral fins. Female: Dimorphic only in having teeth with pointed crowns and by lacking a large labial veil.

    Male: Body and fins are pale bronze to olive-brown with a cryptic/disruptive pattern of minute, dark brown speckles for effective camouflage. Female: There is no sexual dichroism.


    Immaculate, highly-oxygenated water with a moderate amount of current is essential. While not rare in it's native distribution, oxygen-starvation during transport is the cause of death for many fish before they reach aquaria. Success relies on regular water changes which will also help prevent bacterial fin rot that to which this fish is susceptible. With excellent water quality, this fish can be kept fairly easily. This species prefers longer tanks and needs a soft, sandy substrate through which it can burrow and lie buried as part of it's camouflage defense. Pieces of driftwood or dry branches can be included as well as a few smooth stones and a scattering a few dried leaves on the substrate (oak and beech work well.) Peaceful tankmates include small characins, dwarf cichlids, and smaller Corydoras. This very gentle fish needs to be the only bottom-dweller in the aquarium as it can be easily out-competed for food. Does best in a one male to one female ratio.


    Knob Nose Whiptail Catfish


    Knob Nose Whiptail Catfish


    Omnivore: Enjoys worms and micro-crustaceans in nature; in aquaria, provide live and frozen blood worms, cyclops, daphnia, mysis shrimp, and tubifex worms. Supplement with sinking carnivore tablets and algae tablets with a slice or cucumber or zucchini for an occasional treat.

    Susceptible to bacterial and fungus infections, which frequently occur in the bottom substrate. Regular vacuuming needed.

    Found most frequently on the sandy bottoms of its River systems, Common to the areas of it range.

    Easy. Oviparous. Sexual dimorphism: Males develop teeth with spoon-shaped crowns rather than the pointed ones of females and juveniles. They also develop large labial veils as they mature. These increase in size when they are in spawning condition. Spawning occurs at night and the exact details are unknown. If spawning has been successful, by morning the male can be observed carrying the clutch of eggs attached to his lips. It is best to remove the male carrying eggs to a separate tank. The male carries his clutch for a total of 12 14 days, ventilating them with his movements. Once the fry hatch, the broodcare is over and in 2 3 days once their yolk sacs have been absorbed, the fry will be ready to feed. Brine shrimp nauplii and microworm are excellent choices. Fry are very sensitive to changes in water chemistry and prone to starvation. Success comes thorough careful water maintenance and constant access to food.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.







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