This week’s Fish of the Week is a great catfish species for the slightly larger aquarium. The hoplo catfish (Megalechis thoracata) is a South American species that can grow up to 15cm. The name “hoplo” comes from a throwback to its original scientific description Hoplosternum. Hoplosternum derives from the Greek words hoplon meaning “weapon” and sternon for “chest”. The species was placed in a new genus in 1997 (Megalechis) to distinguish it from similar species that remain in Hoplosternum. Megalechis derives from the Greek mega “great” and lekis “plate”. This still refers to the large tough scales on the underside of the fish.
The hoplo catfish has an interesting breeding technique similar to many gourami species - they are a bubblenest breeder. The male will build the bubblenest amongst floating plants and leaf litter. Once spawning has taken place the male will guard the nest until the fry hatch after 3 - 4 days. Adult males are easy to identify by their bright orange, fleshy pectoral fins. Many will also develop a bright coloured ventral side during breeding season.
Feeding the hoplo catfish is easy and should take dry foods straight away. Our Pro-f Catfish Pellet is a fantastic daily diet for this species with the correct protein, oil and fat ratio for healthy catfish. They would also relish the occasional treat of frozen bloodworm. Given a good home, they can live in excess of 10 years. They are a fantastic addition to the community aquarium, given at least 100L space for their eventual adult size.