Asterophysus batrachus

1. October 2013

We could import a number of still young, about 5-7 cm long specimens of this unusual catfish from Venezuela. The fish feed readily on feeder fish. Here is the story that belongs to the animals:

The Altum-Eater of the Atabapo

In the spring of 2004 Aquarium Glaser managed to import for the first time one of the bizarrest catfishes that the family – not noted for its paucity of remarkable forms – has to offer. There is as yet no common name for this fish, which appears to consist practically entirely of mouth. We are speaking of Asterophysus batrachus, scientifically described by Kner in 1858.

We are grateful to Roland Numrich for details of the natural lifestyle of this catfish.
While snorkelling in the Rio Atabapo during an expedition to Venezuela he spotted Asterophysus for the first time. According to Numrich’s report this catfish lives in rock crevices, from which it emerges with considerable speed to grab its prey, before disappearing again. No wonder that collecting this catfish has proved difficult!
But the real surprise is the species of fish on which Asterophysus preys: altum angels (Pterophyllum altum)! Anyone who has seen Pterophyllum altum will realise just why Asterophysus needs such a barn door of a mouth. The imported specimens were initially difficult to get to feed, but luckily after about 10 days they abandoned their of hunger strike without needing to be fed on altum angels! Even so, feeder fishes are essential. By now the individuals at Aquarium Glaser will even feed from the hand of their keeper, Hidenori Nakano, as he reports with not a little pride.
According to the Check List of the Freshwater fishes of South and Central America, Asterophysus batrachus is distributed not only in the Orinoco basin (to which the Atabapo belongs), but also in the upper Rio Negro. Maximum length is given in the scientific literature as 25 cm. These fishes are still imported in only small numbers each year.

From AqualogNews No 70. Please visit also the website of Aqualog:

For our customers: the animals have code 208811 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade. Available in limited numbers only!

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer

Angaben zum Tier
Herkunft Venezuela
Verfügbare Größe in cm 5-7