For a long time there were very different ideas among ichthyologists about the generic classification of the thorny catfishes. Aquaristically mainly the genera Doras, Hassar, Hemidoras, Leptodoras, Tenellus and Anduzedoras cause classification problems due to their similar appearance and relatively few useful color characteristics. Fortunately, this has little practical impact because they are all fairly similar in their care habits and rarely grow over 20 cm in length. They are peaceful schooling fish that seem like overgrown, stream-loving armored catfish, but are much livelier than one is commonly accustomed to with Corydoras.
One of the easily identifiable species is Hassar orestis, which we recently imported from Venezuela. Only by a hint of a customer we realized that some bycatch were with the H. orestis. Because of the intensive group behavior of the Hassar we had not noticed the deviant colored animals in the shoal. Of course we sorted the fish immediately and it turned out that there were still a few specimens of the second species, in which we believe to recognize the species Hemidoras boulengeri. Four to five species of Hemidoras are distinguished: H. boulengeri, H. morrisi (there is doubt about the validity of this species), H. morei, H. stenopeltis, and H. stuebeli. All are eligible from a geographic point of view, but H. morrisi and H. stuebelii seem too long-nosed compared to our animals, and H. stenopeltis has a strong black spot on the dorsal fin tip. H. morrisi is much darker in coloration (see https://www.aquariumglaser.de/en/fish-archives/extraordinary_rare_thorny_catfish_from_peru_en/). In contrast, H. boulengeri (illustrated in Steindachner, 1917) matches our fish quite well.
Hemidoras boulengeri grows to about 20 cm in length and, like Hassar orestis, is very gregarious. It is hardly possible to take a photo of a single animal, body contact to conspecifics is always sought immediately!
For our customers: the fish have code 257702 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer