Armoured Stickleback (Indostomus Paradoxus)

Indostomus Paradoxus, also known as Armoured stickleback, paradox fish or Burma stichling, belongs to the Indostomidae Family and is found in clear or full of algae-covered slow-moving, standing or stagnant waters of canals, ditches and swamps. Geographically, it lives in northern Myanmar (Nyaungbin and Kachin state) and recently it has been found much further south areas (town of Einme).


Its natural habitat comprises aquatic plants (Nelumbo and Eichhornia spp.), submerged macrophytes, riparian vegetation or leaf litter with black clay substrate or mud.

It’s a benthopelagic fish, living and feeding near the bottom of the rivers and as well as in midwaters or near the surface.


Indostomus Paradoxus is a slow-moving fish that reaches up to 3-4 centimeters in length at maturity; they are similar to pipefish, which are much smaller in width and height. At maturity, the females become larger than males.


They have an extremely thin and cylindrical body (twig-like) that ends in a fan-shaped tail fin, covered in hard scutes (bony armor plates). An unusual feature of the armored sticklebacks is that they have no scales. Indostomus Paradoxus has five spines on its back, which extend in front of a soft-rayed dorsal fin and six on its operculum.

Adult males have a broad, elongated pelvic fin, while in females it’s straight and slender. The outer rays of the pelvic fins are curved inwards in adult males.

Behavior and Compatibility

Indostomus Paradoxus are very peaceful fish and can be seen as prey by larger fish, so it’s best to keep them alone or with similar-sized and placid fish. Though it is better to keep them with the same species in the tank. Some other fish species will get along with them, such as suckermouth catfish species (they won’t take midwater foods), Otocinclus, Boraras, Danionella, Dario and whiptail catfish. Also, they are compatible with small shrimp species and snails. They will display more interesting behavior when they are kept in numbers higher than 4-6 in the same aquarium. Some males will tend to become territorial to other males, but their battles will result in no serious damage.

Water Parameters

Temperature: 20-28°C
pH: 6,5 – 8,0
Hardness: 6 – 10 dGH

Indostomus Paradoxus is an adaptable freshwater fish. It can live in slightly acidic to weak alkaline waters and in a wide range of temperatures.

Proper Tank Conditions

The minimum tank size for keeping Indostomus Paradoxus is 38 liters (10 gallons). They should be comforted with the water parameters they need with a filter that has a water flow between 4-5 times the aquarium volume. Also, the water flow should not be very strong. The aquarium should be well-planted and have driftwood roots and branches, floating plants, leaves and leaf litter to create a natural habitat with diffuse lighting. The substrate should be soft, but fine-grade gravel is also proper. PVC pipes or hollow bamboo tubes are suitable for creating an environment with small caves that they can use for spawning and hiding.


Indostomus Paradoxus are attracted by moving food and are carnivores. Being micro predators, they feed exclusively with live food, but they can be trained to eat frozen food such as bloodworms, brine shrimps, rotifers and cyclops. They never accept pellets or flakes. Thus, anyone who desires to keep this fish should be well prepared for sourcing the live or frozen food to keep this fish properly before buying.

Possible live foods include:

  • Moina spp. (common water flea),
  • Adult brine shrimps,
  • Brine shrimp nauplii,
  • Daphnia,
  • Midge larvae,
  • Mosquito larvae,
  • Small oligochaete,
  • Nematode worms (vinegar eels, microworms).

The use of a floating worm feeder allows the fish to eat the worms before they fall into the substrate is recommended. Also, several meals per day with small portions are more appropriate than heavy feeding.

If wet-frozen food will be given, it is better to decant a small amount into the water current bit by bit, instead of dropping the whole block. This will trick them into thinking that the food is live and they will “hunt” it.

The fry would feed on infusoria found inside the aquarium. If they are removed from the main tank they require microscopic food such as rotifers, Paramecium, etc.


Indostomus Paradoxus breeds in small caves or crevices (artificial or natural). PVC pipes and hollow bamboo tubes work fine as spawning shelters.

The males select the spawning site and defend the surrounding areas. They display a lighter reddish color and a light brown stripe in the dorsal and anal fins. For attracting the females, the males quiver their tails at the entrance of the spawning area. Meanwhile, all the other fins are erect.

In the receptive females, the protruding genital papilla will be obvious and visible, also their color will get paler.

The pair gets an upside-down position in the cave during the spawning and deposit the eggs at the top of the spawning cave. 5 to 40 eggs are laid in each batch. The males guard the eggs and leaving the cave only for feeding until the fry are free-swimming.

After the fry reach a certain size that they can eat larger foods such as microworms and newly hatched brine shrimp can be fed to them.

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