November 5

Sarah Robertson

How to Create a Naturalistic Environment for Your Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish

The Knobnose Whiptail Catfish is a fascinating Twig Catfish to keep in aquariums. It is a very common species in the Amazon delta, and it's entirely conceivable that these variants will be recognized as distinct species in the future.

For the time being, Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish is the sole representative of its genus. In captivity, they should be kept on a layer of fine sand where they can burrow. Because they don't compete for food, it's best not to pair them with tankmates that will.

There are two basic elements to a care plan for these species. The first is a delicate, sandy substrate because in nature it partially covers itself in the substrate as a sort of camouflage. It will flow much more freely in the aquarium if allowed to do so.

The second is a reasonable degree of oxygenation, generally accompanied by a degree of water development. The dried leaves may be used in a rustic style with maybe some bent branches and the rare altered stone for emphasis. It's also essential to use a strong water change system since the species is susceptible to poor water quality.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish are generally peaceful and can be kept with a wide variety of tankmates, although it is worth noting that because of their small size, they may be bullied by larger fish. They are active fish and will often swim in the middle or top of the aquarium. When choosing tankmates, consider other active species that won't out-compete the Knobnose Whiptail Catfish for food.

To know more about this fish and how to take care of it, please read the care guide below.

Quick Facts about Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish 

  • Scientific Name : Hemiodontichthys acipenserinus
  • Common Names: Knobnose Whiptail Catfish
  • Habitat: South America; Guyana, French Guyana, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil
  • Size : 13.5 cm
  • Biotope: It lives on the sand substrate in flowing rivers
  • Social Behavior: The peaceful and shy catfish. Can be kept with dwarf cichlids and tiny characins.
  • Social Behavior: The peaceful and shy catfish. Can be kept with dwarf cichlids and tiny characins.
  • Diet: Omnivorous; In the wild, they eat mostly aquatic invertebrates, so live and frozen foods may be their primary aquarium meal. Dried foods are also acceptable.
  • Breeding: It's rather simple.
  • Tank: Minimum 70 litres(19 gallons)
  • Care: Easy
  • Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite: at 0ppm
  • Temperature: 24-28 °C
  • Hardness: 2-12 dGH
  • PH: 6-7
  • Lifespan: 5-8 years

Decoration: The sand substrate is the most significant, as the catfish partially bury itself in it to conceal itself. The water must be adequately oxygenated with moderate water flow. Dried leaves and twisted roots can be added to the aquarium.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Care 

When it comes to caring for Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish, a rigorous water change regimen is necessary due to the species' sensitivity to bad water conditions.

Clean, well-oxygenated water with a medium current is required for their well-being. A weekly water change of 50% should be done, and the gravel should be vacuumed during each water change.

They are peaceful fish that does well in a community aquarium with other small, peaceful fish. They are not territorial and do not bother other tank mates. It is best to keep them in a group of at least 5 fish, as they are a schooling species.

Many fish die before reaching aquaria as a result of oxygen deprivation during transport, which is not at all uncommon in its natural environment. Because of this fish's sensitivity to bacterial fin rot, regular water changes will assist prevent the condition.

This fish can be maintained easily in an aquarium with good water quality. This species prefers longer aquariums and necessitates a soft, sandy substrate on which it may burrow and hide as part of its camouflage strategy. Driftwood or dry branches, as well as a few smooth stones and a sprinkling of dried leaves on the substrate ( oak and beech are non-toxic, and they work particularly well), will provide them with the hiding places they need.

Do not put this fish with larger or more aggressive tank mates, as they may nip at its fins. small characins, dwarf cichlids, and smaller Corydoras are recommended tank mates and they Do best in one male to one female ratio. Since they are omnivores, they will accept most foods, but a diet rich in vegetables is necessary.

A good quality flake food or pellet can be used as the base of their diet, supplemented with live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. They also benefit from vegetable matter such as blanched spinach, zucchini, and cucumber.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Size

This species can grow up to 5.4 inches (13.5 cm) in length but is more commonly seen around 3-4 inches (8-10 cm). When purchasing this fish, make sure that it is not being kept in too small of an aquarium, as this will stunt its growth.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Lifespan 

The maximum lifespan of the Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish is 8 years, but it is more common for them to live for 5-6 years. To live long and healthy lives, they must be kept in clean water and provided with a good diet.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Appearance 

The diamond-shaped body of the Male Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish features a whip-shaped tail with a tiny caudal fin. The snout is long and adorned with a tiny bump at the end. The moderately sized pectoral and anal fins are somewhat rounded.

Adult males have a huge labial veil and spoon-shaped crowns on their teeth (rather than pointed ones seen in females and youngsters). There are no well-developed odontodes on either the snout or pectoral fins, unlike the majority of Loricariidae. Females do not have a huge labial veil, and their teeth are pointed.

Their body and fins are pale bronze to olive-brown, with a faint/clandestine pattern of tiny dark brown specks for camouflage.

Sexual Dimorphism 

As they mature, males develop enlarged mouthparts. When the fish are in spawning condition, they grow even more so. There are also distinctions in the dentition of the two sexes.

Pinocchio Whiptail Food & Diet 

By nature, Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish are omnivores that mostly eat aquatic invertebrates, so offer them a lot of live and frozen foods such as bloodworm, daphnia, cyclops, Mysis shrimp, tubifex worms, and chopped earthworm.

The occasional slice of cucumber, zucchini or courgette can be included in their diet to make it more varied. Be sure to supplement their diet with algae wafers or tablets, as well as some plant matter in the form of blanched spinach, shelled peas, or similar.

To ensure good nutrition and health, it’s best to feed them small meals 2-3 times a day rather than one large one. They are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything that fits in their mouths, so take care not to overfeed them. Overfeeding can lead to health problems and issues with water quality.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Behavior 

It will be out-competed for food by many kinds due to its shy and retiring nature. They are quite friendly with conspecifics, and a few can be housed in most tank sizes.

They are a schooling species by nature, so keeping them in a group of at least 4-6 individuals is recommended. If you don’t have enough space for a group, a single fish can be kept provided it has lots of hiding places.

They are mainly active during the nighttime and shy during the daytime. When they sense danger, they will try to hide behind rocks or plants in the aquarium. Camouflage is their best defense against predators.

They are often seen hiding in caves or under ledges during the day, and come out to feed at night. In soft sand substrates, they often bury themselves completely except for their eyes and barbels.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Tank Mates 

They can get along with most tank mates as long as they are not too big or aggressive. They do best with other peaceful, non-aggressive fish that won’t outcompete them for food.

Good tank mates include:

  • Small characins
  • Dwarf cichlids like Apistogramma
  • Smaller Corydoras
  • Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish.

They can also be kept with other loricariids, but may be outcompeted for food. Avoid keeping them with larger, more aggressive fish that may view them as a meal.

While they are peaceful by nature, they can be nippy toward slow-moving fish with long fins. They may also harass smaller fish that resemble their preferred foods, such as neon tetras.

When you're choosing tankmates for them, look for fish that are similar to them in terms of water conditions and lighting. If you want to keep fish that thrive in higher temperatures or pH, you'll need a separate aquarium.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Tank Setup 

For setting up a tank for Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish, you need to consider the following:

Tank Size: Because they are dormant, a small group of five may be kept in a tank measuring 30″ x 12″ x 12′′ (75cm x 30cm x 30cm) – 67.5 litres in volume. Four fish may be kept in 150 liters (40 gallons).

Water Conditions: They are tropical fish, so they need warm water to thrive. The ideal temperature range is 24-28 °C(75-82°F). They can tolerate a wider range of temperatures, but this is the optimal range. The pH should be 6.0-7.0, and the hardness should be 2-12 dGH.

Filtration : Since they are bottom-dwelling fish, they benefit from having a filter that creates a moderate amount of water movement. A canister or hang-on-back filter is ideal. Be sure to include plenty of biological filtration to keep the water clean and the ammonia and nitrite levels low.

Lighting: They prefer dim lighting, so you don’t need to use strong lighting. A simple fluorescent tube light will be fine.

Substrate: They are sand-dwelling fish, so a sandy substrate is necessary. A depth of 2-3 inches is ideal. They also like to have plenty of hiding places, so include rocks, driftwood, and live or artificial plants.

Plants: They are not picky about plants and will do well with most types. Live plants are a great way to help keep the water quality high, but artificial plants can be used as well.

For their ideal tank setup, you'll want a longer tank with lots of hiding areas and a sandy substrate. For maintaining water quality, regular partial water changes are necessary. At least 25% of the water should be replaced every 2 weeks.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish1

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Breeding 

Although it has been bred in aquariums, it is not done very frequently. If you can locate some, it's worth a try since the technique it uses is fascinating. The greatest option is to purchase a small group so you have the best chance of getting a pair.

Here are a few thing to know to successfully breed your Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish:

  • Get a small group of juveniles and grow them out together.
  • Keeping them in a tank with no other tankmates, except perhaps a shoal of a tiny characin species to act as dither fish.
  • To encourage them to breed, feed the fish a nutritious diet with varied foods and do 40-50% weekly partial water changes to prepare them for mating.
  • An obvious sign that the fish are ready to spawn is an enlargement of the males’ mouthparts.
  • It's hard to know precisely when spawning takes place, although it's easy to tell if a spawn has occurred since the male will be seen carrying a brood of eggs in his lower "lip."
  • It's preferable to remove the male fish to a separate aquarium at this point in order to avoid predation of the fry.
  • For around 10-15 days, the male retains the eggs. The male keeps them ventilated during this time by moving his mouthparts. Some specimens are better parents than others, and in some cases the eggs may be eaten or set free early, but the male will keep them firm in other instances.
  • If the eggs are incubated for the full term, the resulting fry will require an additional 2-3 days to absorb their yolk sacs before being fed.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Fry 

Once the fry have hatched, the brood care phase is over and in 2–3 days, when their yolk sacs have been absorbed, the fry will be ready to eat. Brine shrimp nauplii and microworm are two excellent choices to start them off with.

To raise a healthy fry, you will need to provide them with a well-ventilated tank with plenty of space. The fry is highly sensitive to changes in water chemistry and are especially vulnerable to starvation, but a regimen of intensive water upkeep and regular food supply will allow them to reach 1′′ length quickly.

As the fry grows, you can start to wean them onto a diet of live foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Eventually, they will be large enough to eat pellets and flakes. Be sure to provide plenty of hiding places in the form of rocks, plants, and driftwood for the fry to feel secure. Once they reach 1′′ in size, you can start to slowly introduce them into community tanks.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Diseases 

There are a few diseases that your Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish may be susceptible to, including:

  • Fungal infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Protozoan infections

A few diseases that are commonly seen in Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish are white spot disease, ich, and velvet disease.

White spot disease is a viral illness that results from the white spot syndrome virus. It invades the fish's skin and fins, causing white spots to form. The spots are usually round and white, hence the name "white spot disease." If left untreated, white spot disease can be fatal to your Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish.

Ich is another parasitic protozoan that can infect your Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish. Ich causes small white spots to form on the fish's body, and if left untreated, can be fatal. The parasite multiplies and spreads to other fish quickly

Velvet disease is caused by dinoflagellate parasites. The parasite weakens the fish's immune system and causes sores. The fish is also more prone to secondary infections after being infested with velvet disease.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your fish, contact your veterinarian immediately:

  • Flashing
  • Excess Mucus Production
  • Scales Standing Out
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Skin Lesions
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Cloudy Eyes
  • Seizures
  • Death

One of the best ways to prevent your Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish from getting sick is to maintain a clean and well-filtered aquarium. You should also avoid overfeeding your fish, as this can lead to digestive problems. Keep an eye on your fish for any changes in behavior or appearance, and contact your veterinarian if you notice anything unusual. Regular vacuuming is also needed to remove uneaten food and waste from the gravel.

If you think your Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish is sick, take him to the vet for a check-up. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for any illness and can mean the difference between life and death for your fish.

Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish


How Many Gallons Does a Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Need? 

A 20-gallon tank is a minimum size for a single Pinocchio whiptail catfish, with a 30 to 50-gallon tank being ideal. If you want to keep more than one fish, you'll need an even larger tank as these fish grow to be quite large.

How Big Do Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Get? 

The Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish can reach a length of 13.5 cm(5.4 in). They are, however, most commonly 10-12 cm(4-5 in).

Do Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Eat Algae? 

Yes, Pinocchio whiptail catfish are known to eat algae in the wild. However, they may not eat as much algae in captivity since their diet will consist of other foods, such as pellets and flakes.

What is the Lifespan of a Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish? 

The lifespan of a Pinocchio whiptail catfish is around 5-8 years. However, they can live even longer if they are well-cared for and have a good diet.

What Do Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Eat? 

In addition to eating algae, Pinocchio whiptail catfish will also consume pellets, flakes, and live foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms.

How Often Should I Feed My Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish?

You should feed your Pinocchio whiptail catfish 2-3 times per week. However, you should only feed them as much as they can eat in 2 minutes.

Are Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Aggressive?

No, Pinocchio whiptail catfish are not aggressive. In fact, they are quite peaceful and can even be kept with smaller fish. However, it's very possible that they will compete for food with other fish, so make sure there is enough for everyone.

Do Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Need a Filter?

Yes, all aquariums need a filter. A good rule of thumb is to choose a filter that can turn over the tank volume at least 10 times per hour. So, for a 20-gallon tank, you'll need a filter that can move at least 200 gallons per hour. Since they are messy eaters, a filter will help keep the water clean and clear. A canister or hang-on filter will work well for a Pinocchio whiptail catfish tank.

Are Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish Active?

Yes, Pinocchio whiptail catfish are quite active. They enjoy swimming around and exploring their tank. They may even play with toys or decorations in the tank. However, they are not known to be particularly playful with other fish. They are more active during the night than day.

Final Thoughts

The Pinocchio Whiptail Catfish is a peaceful and hardy fish that makes a great addition to any aquarium. They are easy to care for and can even help keep your tank clean by eating algae. With a lifespan of 5-8 years, they will provide you with many years of enjoyment. Their unique appearance and active nature make them a popular choice among fish keepers.

All you need is a tank large enough to accommodate their size (at least 20 gallons), a filter, and some basic knowledge of fish care and you're ready to add a Pinocchio whiptail catfish to your home aquarium.

Be sure to give them a well-balanced diet that includes both plant matter and meaty foods and a large tank to swim in with a lot of places to hide and you'll have a happy and healthy fish for years to come. Thanks for reading!

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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