Whiptail Catfish

Rineloricaria parva/ Rineloricaria lanceolata/Rineloricaria microlepidogaster

Origin: South America (from cool, fast-flowing creeks and rivers.

Temperature: 72 to 78 degrees F

Whiptail Catfish
Whiptail Catfish, © JavaJoe PH: 6.8 to 7.3

Environment: The whiptail catfish will do fine with very small gravel but prefers a more sandy substrate. It thrives in a planted tank but if not fed well it may use the plants as a food source. This fish needs a lot of hiding places and will relish driftwood or bogwood in the tank.

Temperament: Extremely peaceful…though very shy. This is an excellent community fish if not kept with fish that will bully it.

Adult size: about 6 inches – 15cm.

Minimum tank size: I would recommend no smaller than a 10 gallon tank for one whiptail catfish.

Feeding: The whiptail is a good scavenger and algae eater but must be provided with it’s own food as well. Mine happily accept flakes, algae wafers, sinking pellets, shrimp pellets and occasionally cooked spinach. I have read that they also like romaine lettuce and zucchini though mine won’t touch it.

Sexing: When look at closely from above the male has tiny bristle-like edges on it’s cheeks and pectoral fins.

Breeding: Whiptail catfish are among the easiest fish to breed. Just get yourself a male and female and provide them the following:
1) Good filtration/water quality
2) A reasonable water flow. (mine like the return flow of the aquaclear 300 filter).
3) A good steady diet of both animal and plant matter.
4) A lot of good hiding places such as caves or PVC pipes.

You do not have to worry about changing your water chemistry to induce spawning behavior. If you have a sexually mature pair and the 4 things listed above the chances are extremely good they will spawn. The female will lay the eggs in a suitable cave or hiding spot and then move off. The male will take over from here, fanning, cleaning and guarding the eggs. The male Whiptail is a very good father and will zealously guard his eggs so if you have other bottom feeders such as Plecos or Cories it might be a good idea (if possible) to move both father and cave with eggs to a hatching tank at this point. The eggs will begin hatching in about 7 days. Once the hatching is complete (about 24 hours) the Father should be removed from the hatching tank. The newly hatched fry will have yolk sacs and should not be fed until they have been used up. Once the sacs are gone feed with VERY FINELY crushed algae wafer powder mixed into a slurry with tank water as well as Microworms. !

Comments: There are a lot of species labeled whiptail catfish in the LFS and they are VERY hard to distinguish from one another. That is why I gave three Species/Genus names. These are the names you will see them under most commonly.
The whiptail Catfish is one of those fish whose beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. They are a slow moving, slim, flat and extremely graceful fish that resemble an elongated ray when they swim due to the outstretched pectoral and ventral fins. Their colors range from light to dark brown with brown or black camo-like stripes and spots. Their body is armored and stiff, with the top caudal fin ray ending in a delicate “whip-like” extension, giving the fish it’s name.
Unlike a lot of other catfishes, whiptails do not need to school to be happy and healthy. In fact two males in the same tank may become aggressive towards one another with the outcome being the starvation of the smaller one.
I have read that they are one of those seldom seen fish in some people’s tanks though this has not been the case for mine. Though they will lay quite still for very long periods they get very active at feeding time. I never fail to see them right in with the Paleatus Cories competing for food.
All in all the Whiptail catfish is a very good choice for people who want “something different” in the way of an algae eater or bottom feeder and are willing to make sure good water quality is maintained.

© JavaJoe