Ernstichthys megistus

16. August 2010

For the first time we were able to import a very astonishing species of catfish, which was known until 1985 from 3 specimens only. At the first glimpse the small animals – they are hardly 2 cm long – remind one on the Asian catfishes of the genus Akysis. Actually they are relatives of the banjo cats.

The reason why this and some close relatives, which are classified as tribe Hoplomyzontini, are so little known lies probably in their way of life. Hoplomyzontini seem to settle on the bottom of relatively fast running waters where they burry themselves in the ground. As most of them are very small fishes they are hardly ever collected by usual catching methods.

Our specimens show a wide range of coloration, the extremes are grey ones and yellow ones. It is unknown wether this represents sexual differences.

Athough our specimens proofed so far to be quite hardy, it seems necessary to provide fine sand for them, which they use to burry themselves. The type specimen of Ernstichthys megistus was collected in Ecuador and is around 7 cm long (standard length without caudal fin). This is by far the largest size of any Hoplomyzontini known so far, which usually hardly reach half that size. Also the other known stored museum specimens of E. megistus, which originate from Peru, are much smaller (about 3 cm). Ernstichthys megistus is a fish we have much to learn about and aquaristis can help with their observations to understand the life history of that fascinating creature.

For our customers: the fish have code 253363 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Lexicon: Ernstichthys: dedication name, means “Fish of Ernst”; A. Ernst worked at the Universidade Central de Venezuela. megistus: probably latinized form of the ancient Greek word megistos, which means “the greatest”.

Suggestion of a common name: Bumble bee banjo cat

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer

Literatur: Stewart, D. J. (1985): A review of the South American catfish tribe Hoplomyzontini (Pisces, Aspredinidae), with descriptions of new species from Ecuador. Fieldiana Zoology (new series), No. 25