Common Name: True Piraiba Catfish, Giant Catfish
Scientific Name: Brachyplatystoma filamentosum
Other Names: Lau-lau Catfish, Lechero
The True Piraiba Catfish is one of the largest catfish species in the world. It has a robust and elongated body, typically silvery-blue to gray in coloration, with a white underbelly. Its long whiskers, sleek appearance, and active behavior contribute to its status as a highly sought-after mesmerizing and majestic species.
Habitat and Distribution:
This catfish is native to the major rivers of South America, including the Amazon and Orinoco basins. It inhabits deep river channels, sandbars, and floodplain lakes.
Size and Lifespan:
True Piraiba Catfish can reach impressive lengths of up to 12 feet in the wild, although sizes of 4 to 7 feet are much more common. In captivity they tend to not grow nearly as large, but are still reported to reach an impressive 3 to 4 feet, and their lifespan can exceed 20 years with appropriate care.
Diet and Behavior:
Piraiba Catfish are carnivorous and are known to consume fish, crabs, and even smaller mammals. In captivity, they can be fed with large chunks of fish, shrimp, and commercial pellets. Despite their size and reputation, they are generally not aggressive but can be predatory with smaller tank mates.
Breeding and Reproduction:
There is limited information on the breeding habits of Piraiba Catfish in captivity. In the wild, they undertake migratory spawning.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements:
Given their potential size, this species requires massive tanks or ponds, often beyond the scope of typical home aquariums. It’s difficult to determine the appropriate aquarium size for them, but if you’re asking yourself, ‘Is my tank large enough?’, the answer is likely no. A strong filtration system is essential, and the tank should have ample space for free movement. Substrate should resemble their natural habitat, with sand and rounded stones.
Ideal Tank Mates:
They should be kept with similarly sized fish to prevent predation. Examples of suitable tank mates include other large catfish, cichlids, and arowanas. Be sure to choose large peaceful tank mates and be mindful that while these catfish are generally not aggressive, anything that can fit inside of their mouth will most likely be viewed as food.
Expert. They are quite easy to keep, however their enormous size and overall requirements make them suitable only for zoos, public aquariums, and the most advanced hobbyists with the resources to accommodate such a large species.
• Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
• pH: 6.5-7.5
• General Hardness (GH): 5-20 dGH
• Carbonate Hardness (KH): 4-10 dKH
• Ammonia: 0 ppm
• Nitrite: 0 ppm
• Nitrate: <20 ppm
• In local Amazonian folklore, the Piraiba is sometimes associated with stories of swallowing humans whole, though such accounts are largely exaggerated.
• While they can be housed in very specialized large home aquariums, they are best suited for public aquariums or zoological institutions due to their massive size.
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