If you are looking for a fish that looks unusual, then the Banjo Catfish might be the one for you. Their unique features will instantly get the attention of anyone they come across.
To know more about this unique species, we will tackle everything you need to know about them in this article. They might look intimidating at first, but they will be one of your favorite fish after getting to know them!
What Is A Banjo Catfish?
Most catfish dominate muddy waters, but they prefer freshwater habitats to thrive more. The Banjo Catfish naturally resides in the Amazon River basin. This includes lakes, ponds, creeks, and rainforest streams. These fishes don’t swim near the surface but hide beneath salty substrates and leaf litter.
With the scientific name of Bunocephalus coracoideus, the Banjo Catfish is not common in most home aquariums. Their unique features are only getting known to most fish enthusiasts, so there is a big chance of seeing them more in the future in community tanks.
Its name comes from the shape of their bodies similar to a banjo. In other areas in Latin America, people call it Guitarrita catfish due to its guitar resemblance. Banjo catfish also dwell in other countries like Uruguay, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.
What Does It Look Like?
A banjo catfish is easy to spot by the shape of its body. They have a flat body and a long cone-shaped tail similar to a banjo guitar. This makes it easy for them to hide under litter in their natural habitat.
The main color of their body is khaki — almost sandy with dark splotches that make them look like a tree bark at times. They use this feature as a defense from predators and when catching their prey. Their pectoral fins are large, but they can still come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the particular species.
An adult Banjo Catfish can grow for as long as 15 cm (6 inches) during its maturity.
The color of their body is usually tan with brown patches.
- Gender Differences
Like most fishes, gender dimorphism is not that relevant to Banjo Catfishes. However, females tend to appear to have fuller bodies than males in most cases. This can be observed especially during breeding season when the females are ready to spawn.
Given that the fish receives proper treatment, a Banjo Catfish can live for as long as six years and more. This includes high-quality food and the correct water and tank conditions.
You can buy a single Banjo catfish for $4.99 online. However, this price may vary in different stores and websites available. You can also check fishkeeping stores if they have this particular species available.
Temperament And Behavior
According to fish experts, a Banjo Catfish is an easy fish to take care of. A large and slightly dark tank environment is enough to keep them happy.
Banjo Catfishes are nocturnal, and they would require feeding during night times. However, their gentle movements would limit their food intake, especially if other fishes eat in the tank. They are more likely to be left out of food if the others are more aggressive towards feeding time.
These fishes are peaceful and are great additions to a community of different fishes. Their nocturnal trait will be the reason why you would see them swimming less during the daytime. They also thrive in groups or alone, so it’s up to you if you want a school or a single fish in your aquarium.
One of its great features is its attitude towards its tank mates. They are known to be docile with others and would not cause trouble with smaller fishes. Be careful with putting them in a tank together with aggressive fishes because Banjo Catfish are defenseless. They only rely on their camouflage abilities to hide away from predators.
Banjo Catfishes are not venomous at all, so you don’t have to worry if they somehow bit you while feeding them in the tank. They are peaceful and mostly calm, so they are the perfect fish whether you are a beginner in fishkeeping or not.
Food And Nutrition
When it comes to food, Banjo Catfish can eat a variety of things. They consume bloodworms, mosquito larvae, daphnia, brine shrimps, and more. Aside from those, you can also feed them pellets and granules if there are no meaty frozen foods available.
It is important to remember that Banjo Catfishes move slowly. Feeding time alongside other fishes can be quite a challenge for them. To ensure that they are getting enough, you can put the food near their resting place or directly at the openings of their cave for easier access. You can also try offering them food in the dark so that the others won’t steal it from them.
Banjo Catfish is considered an omnivore, so finding the food that suits them best will be an easy task. As much as possible, provide live food to imitate their natural habitat. Make sure to feed them after lights out too, because that is when they go out and search for something to eat.
Most fishes have particular diseases that they contact throughout their lives, but it’s safe to say that the Banjo Catfish have a more tolerant body. Their natural habitat includes muddy waters alongside rotting leaves and other litter. They live a long and decent life with a good environment and proper water conditions.
However, it’s still possible to get at least one illness, especially if the water is contaminated. Most catfish are sensitive to ammonia, and a large amount of this chemical can poison them. Ammonia can also be concentrated at the substrate where this species spends most of its time.
Catfish is mainly an agricultural species in the United States. So, there are no limited diseases listed for them as pets. However, various bacterial infections have threatened their population in the past. Some of those are:
- Enteric Septicaemia
This is also known as the Hole-In-The-Head disease and is caused by a bacterium called Edwardsiella ictaluri. This disease is highly contagious. If one fish is affected in a tank, it’s best to separate it from the rest and make sure to change the water often to avoid contamination.
- Columnaris Disease
Columnaris is a disease caused by a gram-negative bacterium called Flavobacterium columnare. This leads to the development of lesions in the fish’s body. Some people also call it “cottonmouth” because the infection creates a cotton-like buildup on the infected fish’s mouth.
- Aeromonas disease
This type of disease can infect many organs. It is also infectious and can be acquired due to poor water conditions and contamination. Aeromonas salmonicida is the bacterium that causes Aeromonas Infection.
The good news is that there are treatments available for this disease — like doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, and ceftriaxone. These medications will treat lesions caused by this disease.
- Abiotic Stresses
Stress is a primary factor in acquiring various diseases. For Banjo Catfish, stress can be acquired due to many reasons. Among these are poor water conditions, overlighting, and overfeeding.
To avoid stress, also make sure to always check the water for ammonia contamination. Provide an adequate amount of litter, plants, logs, and rocks inside the tank so the aquarium will be as dim.
The best action is to ensure that their environment is in good maintenance. It is also essential to have a balanced and nutritional diet. If you are still unsure of what to incorporate in the tank, you can ask a fishkeeping expert to help you.
If there is one thing Banjo Catfishes are not, it would be aggressive fishes. They do well around other fishes and have a slim chance of attacking others inside the tank. You can always choose to make them live alone, and there would be no problem at all. However, if you plan to include them in a community tank, here are the tank mates they are most suitable with:
- Tiger Barb
- Tinfoil Barb
Having small and colorful fishes swimming around will encourage your Banjo Catfish to go out of their caves during daytimes. They are compatible with the same species, tiny species, and slow swimmers. They would only be a threat to shrimps — which are considered food by catfish — as well as with other aggressive and predatory species.
To put fighting to the minimum, always check the filtration of the water and change it often to balance nitrogen. Stress is a factor when it comes to fights and aggressive behavior toward fish.
Banjo Catfish is a bottom-dweller species, and they are best to keep in a large aquarium. If you still want to be able to observe them after the lights go out, you can use blue moon lightings. This will automatically go on at night. Banjo Catfish loves this kind of environment and will be less prone to stress.
- Tank Size
The recommended gallon size for Banjo catfish is at least 30 gallons. You can add more if needed as well as when you add more fish to the tank.
The water temperature should remain around 24 to 28 degrees Celsius.
- PH level
The recommended pH level of the water for these fishes is around 5.8 to 7.8.
- Water hardness
The water hardness should be 15 to 20 dGH.
- Water change frequency
You can change tank water at least twice a week, but you don’t have to change the whole water. 10 to 15% of the water is enough to maintain water cleanliness.
The tank set up for Banjo Catfish does not need much as long as there are plenty of places to hide. Try to imitate their natural environment and leave some open spaces for feeding time. They will come out and eat at times if they are hungry, so leave some food in places they have easy access to.
For the substrate, choose fine sands mixed with fine gravel to keep them from getting scratched when they bury themselves. Low lighting is a necessity as well as the slow movement of the water.
Banjo Catfish reaches its maturity at the size of around 11 inches. If you notice that the breeding period has started, you can observe them at night. Spawning usually takes place during this time. The eggs will then be scattered all over the substrate.
One important thing to note is that Banjo Catfish tends to predate the eggs. Separate the fish to a different tank to protect the babies. They will eventually hatch within three days and the number of juveniles can go for up to thousands.
If you plan to trigger breeding, ensure that the water is fresh, rich in oxygen, and has an intensive flow. You can also add some hormone injections to ensure the breeding process.
Breeding starts when the male hugs the female at the surface of the tank. She will then release small portions of eggs, and the male will fertilize them. After this, you will see that the fish will start going in different directions, and that is the sign that another spawning process is on the way.
The eggs of Banjo Catfish are small and bright green. You can easily see them scattered all over the bottom of the tank after the process. The parents do not eat the eggs, but the others might. So, keep them away from others until they are big enough.
After 2 to 3 days, the juveniles will hatch and look like tiny larvae. You’ll notice that they always hide during the daytime because young Banjo Catfishes are photophobic in their first days. Once they reach the age of one month, you can start feeding them large foods. They will then be reproductive at 12 months old.
The Banjo Catfish is easy to keep as a pet. They are low-maintenance and don’t need as much to survive in captivity. As long as you are meeting their needs, you can keep them for a long time.
If you don’t find them intimidating and unusual looking, you can add them to your community aquariums. If you are only a beginner when it comes to fishkeeping, they are still a great option among a variety of available fishes in the market today.