One of the in the aquarium most easy to keep pencil catfishes is Trichomycterus alternatus. This species, originating from the Rio de Janeiro region, reaches an overall length of for 10cm and can be maintained in aquaria starting from 60cm length. These very shy fish, reminding in their appearance of our in Europe native Stone loach, lives in its habitat in similar biotopes, i.e. clean, fast flowing brooks and small rivers. Therefore a good water hygiene and high oxygen content is a must. A strong pump or a high performance filter should provide a sufficiently current. T. alternatus is not a parasite as some of its relatives from the group of the pencil or parasitic catfish. Here there are some unpleasant fellows, as the in its homeland as Candiru designated urinophilic catfishes, which are able to enter the human urethra. Usually however these little catfishes enter the gills of fishes, where its parasitic nature takes over by feeding on blood and bits of flesh.
(Photo F. Schäfer, Text K. Diehl)
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