Sturisoma Aureum (Giant Whiptail Catfish)
Sturisoma Aureum is a species of armored catfish belonging to the Loricariidae family. It is known also with the common names Giant Whiptail Catfish or Golden Sturgeon Catfish. It is native to Columbia and Venezuela. This species inhabits areas having a mud or sand substrate with submerged wood in Magdalena, San Jorge, and Cesar river basins of South America. Sturisoma aureum is pretty good at eating algae and is a good addition to the aquarium because of its unique look.
It has a slender light brown body with dark brown patterns. Sturisoma aureum lives 10-15 years and grows up to 20-30 cm in length. It can be kept singly or in groups. The size of aquariums must be at least 30 gallons and the water must be well filtered and highly aerated. Since Whiptails spend most of their time near the bottom of the tank, the substrate must be sandy.
Due to that Giant Whiptail is a nocturnal fish that likes to spend most of the day hiding, it needs hiding places to feel safe and spend time during the highly illuminated periods of the tank. So, a planted tank decorated with rocks and driftwoods with hiding places will be best. It is a non-territorial fish that easily gets along with any other peaceful fish. It can be a good tank mate for other South American fishes. However, as it doesn’t compete for the food and grazing areas, it should be avoided to keep in the same tank with more robust fish of the same family. Also, it should not be kept in the same tank with fin nipping fish like Tiger barbs (Puntigrus tetrazona) or Cichlids (Cichlidae family).
pH: 6,6 – 7,6
Hardness: 3 – 15 dGH
Giant Whiptail Catfish prefers soft and slightly acidic water. It can tolerate neutral and slightly basic waters too. To keep this fish well comforted the carbonate hardness must be between 3 to 15 degrees. It needs somewhat colder waters and doesn’t do well in water temperatures above 26° Celsius.
Sturisoma Aureum is omnivorous. Its natural foods are algae and small invertebrates. A planted tank with high vegetation and some algae can sustain this fish. It will also eat vegetable foods like spinach, cucumber, zucchini, or algae wafers. It is also better to feed this fish with live or frozen fish foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and insect larvae occasionally to maintain a balanced diet and keep it in good condition. This fish lives near the bottom of the tank, so pellets or flakes may not reach it if other species share the tank. Sinking fish foods should be more useful in case other tank mates are existing.
Sturisoma Aureum breeds every 2-3 weeks if the water parameters are well-maintained. Brisk water currents and high oxygen levels are important for the well-being of the eggs during incubation and after hatch.
The males of this species develop bristles on their cheeks during the spawning periods. Gender determination can be easily done by using this feature of the species. The female Whiptail Catfish lays about 50 eggs, usually on vertical surfaces like driftwood or aquarium glass. Following spawning, the female shows no interest in the eggs and takes no additional role in the breeding. The male guards the eggs and doesn’t leave them except when it feeds for a short period. It also fans the eggs with rhythmic movements of pectoral and ventral fins to maintain oxygenated water flow over the eggs. The eggs hatch approximately after 5-6 days.
Raising the fry is considered over the average difficult as they need to be fed constantly without deteriorating the water quality. After the fry finish feeding on their egg sacs, they can be fed with algae powders such as spirulina, infusoria, and finely powdered fish foods rich in proteins.