The two species of the genus Rhinelepis – R. aspera and R. strigosa – belong with over 60 cm attainable final size to the largest armored catfishes at all and are therefore predestined as show objects in zoos, public aquariums and of course also for owners of gigantic private aquariums. Color-wise they have nothing to offer, they are monochromatic blackish, but they are imposing and whimsical creatures.
There are only a few Rhinelepis specimens in museum collections worldwide and therefore the fine systematics of these fishes is very poorly studied. Scientific doctrine holds that there are two species that occur in quite different river systems of South America: Rhinelepis aspera from the Rio Sao Francisco and R. strigosa from the Rio Parana and Rio Uruguay systems. We have now been able to import animals from Paraguay, which should therefore be Rhinelepis strigosa.
The difference between R. aspera and R. strigosa is that R. strigosa has many odontodes on the bony plates of the body and R. aspera does not. In the six specimens imported by us (four 16-18 cm, two 25-30 cm long) some correspond in this respect more strigosa, others more aspera, which is why we call all of them R. cf. strigosa as a precaution. Possibly this “species difference” is rather a sex difference after all, who knows. But we cannot clarify such questions here.
For our customers: the fish have code 287575 (16-18 cm) and 287578 (25-30 cm). Please note that we only supply wholesale.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer