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A large growing and unique knifefish, the Elephant Nose Knifefish is, as the name implies, distinguished by its elongated trunk which it uses to root in substrate to find food. They feed on insect larvae and crustaceans in the wild but in the aquarium will generally accept small frozen foods like bloodworms or brine. Like most knifefish, they are shy and should be provided with plenty of cover in the form of driftwood and leaf litter in the aquarium.
A unique member of a rarely seen genus of duckbill catfish, the Green Stripe Duckbill Cat is found in the Nanay river, a tributary of the Peruvian Amazon. Unlike some of the related duckbill catfish of the genus Ageneiosus, these fish are not large growing, with a maximum size of around 5-6″. They are often misidentified and this striped variant is one of several found in the region that are yet to be described. In the aquarium they are hardy and adaptable, but will do best with plenty of plants or driftwood for cover. They are often found in groups in the wild and will loosely school in some cases.
One of the Amazon’s largest and most widespread giant catfish, the Jau or Gilded Catfish ranges from the headwaters of the river in the East to its mouth and most major tributaries. Throughout its range it is considered an important food fish. With wild specimens reported to reach well over 50″ in length, these fish are powerful, huge growing fish suitable only for public aquariums or very large tropical ponds or custom aquariums. In the wild, they are an active predator and scavenger, found in the fast-moving main river channels and preying on smaller fish, invertebrates, and carrion.
A rare, selectively bred color form of the Black Bar Silver Dollar (M. schomburgkii), the Blackberry or Blueberry Silver Dollar originated with breeders in Asia and remains hard to find in the US. With a distinct blueish-black blotch that covers most of the body and deep red fins, these fish are a colorful and showy addition to any larger community aquarium. Care and behavior is the same as with the more well-known Black Bar or Blue Hook Silver Dollars.
A strange elongated knifefish found through much of the middle Amazon, the Thermometer Knife is a sand dweller, spending much of its time buried in fine sand with just its head visible above the surface. They use their long, sensitive snouts and sensitivity to electrical impulses to find small prey items like worms, insect larvae, and crustaceans buried in the substrate. In the aquarium, they are hardy fish but can easily be outcompeted for food by faster or more aggressive tankmates so are best kept in a species tank or with other peaceful, slow moving species. Like all knifefish, they are primarily active at night but will occasionally emerge during the day to forage and explore. Although two species in the genus Gymnorhamphichthys are often referred to as “thermometer knife”, G. hypostomus is the more commonly seen species in the trade.
A unique South American eel species, the Spotted Swamp Eel is found in shallow waters throughout much of the Amazon basin. A slow moving and peaceful fish despite their large size, they are adapted to stagnant, oxygen poor water and can use atmospheric air by taking breaths directly from the water’s surface. In the aquarium they are easy to keep, but should be kept tightly covered at all times as they are notorious escape artists. The heavily spotted form is uncommon and more sought after than the olive or mottled form more commonly known as the Marbled Swamp Eel.
A gentle giant found throughout much of the Amazon basin, the Ripsaw or Niger Catfish is among the largest South American catfish. With distinctive saw-like scales running down their sides and dark black coloration, they are an impressive show fish but due to their enormous adult size are best suited for large custom aquariums or indoor ponds. In the wild, they use their sensitive barbels to scour sandy or muddy river bottoms for food, which primarily consists of insect larvae, worms, and crustaceans. In the aquarium they will readily accept almost any sinking prepared or frozen foods.
A stunning and extremely rare Anostomid found throughout Guyana, Suriname and possibly Northeastern Brazil, the Jewel Spotted Anostomid or Hypomasticus megalepis is a medium sized, peaceful characin. Like most of their relatives, they are a loosely schooling fish but show little aggression towards conspecifics and unlike many of the more well-known species of Leporinus or Anostomus, they do not have a tendency to nip fins. This species has a relatively small, somewhat delicate mouth for their size and prefers smaller food items like sinking granules or frozen bloodworms.
A rare Doradid catfish found in the lower Marowijne River in Suriname, the Small Scute or Shalllow Scute Doradid Catfish is typically found on sandy substrate in moderate to slow moving waters. With their heavily armored bodies and sharp pectoral spines, they have few natural predators and are a relatively bold species. Like most of their close relatives, they are a peaceful catfish and feed primarily on small insects, mollusks, and crustaceans in the wild. In the aquarium they are peaceful toward nearly all tankmates and will typically not be bothered by larger, aggressive fish.
The largest species of Wolf Fish and one of the most impressive predatory fish available in the aquarium hobby, the Aimara or Giant Wolf Fish is a fierce predator suitable only for the largest aquariums – pr perhaps more appropriately indoor ponds. Found throughout much of the Orinoco Basin, and Guiana Shield, these fish are powerful fish eaters which use their prominent sharp teeth to grab hold of prey. Despite their bulky appearance, Aimara Wolf Fish are fast swimmers and should be given ample swimming room (and a strong, tight-fitting cover). They are adaptable and generally hardy in the aquarium so long as good water quality is maintained. Due to their enormous adult size and predatory nature, these fish are only recommended for experienced hobbyists with the means to adequately house this species long term. Specimens from Suriname tend to be darker overall and have a reputation for extreme aggression.
A rarely seen species of Myleus (commonly referred to as Silver Dollars in the trade), the Sailfin Red Hook or Myleus setiger originates in the rivers and streams of Guyana and Suriname. It has only rarely been seen in the aquarium hobby, but adults develop extremely elongated, deep red dorsal and anal fins as well as a reticulated or blotchy pattern on the body. These tank-bred specimens from Asia are a new and rare offering.
One of the largest growing catfish species of the Amazon Basin, the Tiger Shovelnose is an important food fish throughout its range and has been a favorite in the aquarium hobby for decades despite its huge adult size. In the aquarium, they are fairly easy to care for but keep in mind they will attempt to eat anything they can fit in their surprisingly large mouths. Juvenile fish grow extremely quickly so to realistically keep these fish long term a massive aquarium or ideally an indoor pond is necessary.