Common Name: Niger Catfish
Scientific Name: Oxydoras niger
Other Names: Dark doras, Black doras, Ripsaw catfish
Description: The Niger Catfish is a large freshwater catfish that can reach up to 3 feet in length in the wild, but usually grows to be around 1 to 2 feet in home aquariums. They are easily identified by their long, slender, silver body and their sharp, serrated spines that run along their back and sides. The fins are typically black or gray in color, and the eyes are very small in proportion to their body size. Their unique appearance and active nature make them an interesting addition to larger aquariums.
Habitat and Distribution:
The Niger Catfish is native to the Amazon River basin in South America. They are typically found in fast-moving rivers and streams, and they tend to congregate near submerged logs, rocks, and other structures. They prefer clean, well-oxygenated water and can be sensitive to poor water quality, making them more suitable for experienced aquarists who can maintain the water conditions they require.
Size and Lifespan:
The Niger Catfish can grow up to 3 feet in length in the wild, but usually grows to be around 1 to 2 feet in home aquariums. They have a lifespan of up to 15 years with proper care.
Diet and Behavior:
The Niger Catfish is a carnivorous species that primarily feeds on other fish, crustaceans, and insects in the wild. In captivity, they should be fed a variety of meaty foods, such as frozen or live shrimp, krill, bloodworms, and other protein-rich foods. They can be aggressive towards other fish and may eat smaller fish, so they should be kept with other large, peaceful species.
Breeding and Reproduction:
Breeding Niger Catfish in captivity is challenging and not common in the aquarium hobby.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements:
The Niger Catfish requires a large tank with a minimum size of 125 gallons. They prefer well-oxygenated, clean water with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5 and a temperature range of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They also prefer a moderate to strong water flow in the tank. A sand substrate with hiding places, such as rocks and wood, are recommended.
Ideal Tank Mates:
Niger Catfish are best kept with other large, peaceful fish such as catfish, cichlids, and other large characins that can tolerate their aggressive behavior. They should not be kept with small, delicate or slow-moving fish.
The Niger Catfish can be challenging to keep due to their large size and specific water quality requirements, making them more suitable for experienced aquarists.
- Temperature: 75-80°F
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- General Hardness (GH): 2-15 dGH
- Carbonate Hardness (KH): 6-15 dKH
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
- Niger Catfish are also called ripsaw catfish due to the sharp spines that run along their back and sides, which can be dangerous to handle.
- They are also known for their excellent eyesight and their ability to quickly locate food in the tank.
- In the wild, Niger Catfish play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to keep populations of smaller fish and invertebrates in check.
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