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Oddball Alert: The Royal Whiptail Catfish
17 February 2020
Catfish are a diverse group of fish which are named for their prominent barbels, thus giving off the resemblance of cat-like whiskers. They are found mostly in freshwater environments of all kinds- in every continent except Antarctica. An interesting fact about Catfish is that they have no scales. All catfish (except members of electric catfish) possess a strong, hollow, bonified leading ray on their dorsal and pectoral fins. This is used as a channel for which a stinging protein is delivered upon aggravation to the fish.
The Royal Farlowella's scientific name is Sturisoma panamense. It is also known as the Twig or Royal Whiptail Catfish and is a member of the Loricariidae family. It is a very graceful looking algae eating catfish, native to Panama. Sturisoma males can actually be determined by the bristles along the sides of the head. This oddball fish is highly unique with a very thin twig-like appearance.
It is best to keep this Whiptail Catfish in a planted aquarium with other peaceful species. They are for the most part nocturnal, but can become active during daytime hours once it has established itself within an aquarium setting with plenty of driftwood and other good hiding places.
Unlike other suckermouth catfish (like Panaque sp.), it is not known to eat huge amounts of wood, but it may benefit from some additional wood in it's diet. The Royal Farlowella will most likely be unbothered by most plants, but it does love a good amount of algae to be available in the aquarium, especially as a juvenile.
We advise to feed the Royal Farlowella a diet rich in vegetable matter. So high-quality vegetable flakes, sinking algae wafers and pellets would work perfectly. It is worth noting, this lovely catfish loves to be given fresh vegetables like spinach, shelled peas and cucumber.
Occasional meaty foods such as bloodworms are fine to give as long as they are not given too often because too much meat can be unhealthy for the fish as well as the level of waste it produces in the aquarium.
The Royal Farlowella is overall very peaceful and is quite compatible with most other non-aggressive fish and invertebrates. It is possible that larger specimens might eat very small tank mates such as smaller dwarf shrimp. This being said, many fish keepers keep this catfish with their dwarf shrimp and have no problems.
Whiptails are slow feeders and therefore can become easy targets for nippy or hostile fish. The best companions are docile, midwater fish like tetras, rasboras, danios etc… Also, if in sensible quantity, a small school of Corydoras catfish or kuhli loaches should work out well too, providing there is enough food made available.
Out of all the oddballs we read about, we would argue Whiptails are amongst the best of them. This is because they do not destroy the hope an aquarist has when researching for which oddball fish will be compatible with their aquarium fish. Too often, common problems encountered are aquarium size or the water conditions required by the fish already within the setting. The Whiptail Catfish fulfil the 'oddball' craving one may have because they are certainly a peculiar looking fish, easy to keep because they are not huge in size and are generally peaceful and sociable fish.
This fish is available to buy online in our Tropical Fish 2 Your door section. Alternatively, click this link to add to your basket: BUY WHIPTAIL CATFISH