BANJO CATS / BUNOCEPHALUS CORACOIDEUS

Bunocephalus coracoideus, the guitarrito,[1] is a species of banjo catfish found in the Amazon River basin.[2] It occurs in Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and Uruguay where it is found in ponds and creeks that contain a large quantity of plant debris. Its diet varies, and may include organic debris from the bottom.[2]

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Description

Bunocephalus is the largest genus within the Aspredinidae family and there are several undescribed species. B. coracoideus is the most common member seen in dealers’ tanks. Its native name “Guitarrita” translates as “little guitar” and refers to the shape of the fish when viewed from above.

Despite the regularity with which it is seen for sale, it isn’t really a good catfish for the general community tank because it’s a largely inactive, secretive species, that will only emerge and become active under cover of darkness. It is, nonetheless, an interesting aquarium subject for the enthusiast, exhibiting an incredible degree of camouflage. Its appearance is designed to resemble a dead leaf and usually the fish will not even swim to escape a net. When released into the aquarium will simply drift in the current until it hits the bottom.

All members of the family occasionally shed their skins, although the exact reasons for this are not known. They also have a novel method of propulsion, taking in water through the mouth and expelling it through the gills, giving them a somewhat jerky swimming action.

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