November 14

Sarah Robertson

What Fishkeeping Enthusiasts Need to Know About Hoplo Catfish

The Hoplo catfish is a freshwater fish from the Callichthyidae family. This is a beautiful, undemanding fish with an appealing demeanor. This catfish, like the majority of the species that may be found in the wild, has numerous different variants that are only distinguishable by their color and form. Because of this, the hydrochemical characteristics of waters where these species can be found in nature are quite diverse.

This is a rather easy-to-handle species of aquarium catfishes. Their unique traits include their gorgeous look, simplicity in upkeep, and quiet disposition. They are a good choice for both novices and experts. They are effective tank cleaners that keep your aquarium sparkling clean. It's also entertaining to observe them assisting the other residents through the slower sections of the aquarium.

Hoplo catfish species thrive in groups of five or more. It is somewhat reclusive and, as a result, requires a lot of hiding places such as driftwood, pipes, or other nooks. When kept in a group, it will be more sociable. This fish is not aggressive or territorial, but it will prey on anything tiny enough to fit in its mouth, such as tiny fish, dwarf shrimp, and immature fry. It will not harm plants. It isn't particularly sensitive, but it prefers a quiet to moderate water flow. It enjoys digging in the substrate for food, therefore its aquarium should be filled with sand or very fine, smooth gravel.

The Hoplo catfish is a nocturnal creature that rests during the day. So, don't be alarmed if you don't see much activity from your fish during the daylight hours. It is a hardy fish that is not easily susceptible to disease. However, it is still important to maintain good water quality and to conduct regular water changes. To know more about the fish, please read on.

Quick Facts about Hoplo Catfish

  • Scientific Name: Megalechis thoracata
  • Common Names: Hoplo, Armoured Catfish, Gefleckter Schwielenwels, Plettet Amazon-pansermalle, Prickig Hoplo, Spotted Hoplo
  • Family: Callichthyidae
  • Origin: Throughout the Amazon Basin
  • Appearance: Silver, Main brown / lighter in young and darker in old
  • Average purchase size: 1.5 inches (3.8 cm)
  • Life Expectancy: 8 – 10 years
  • Temperament : Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons
  • Tank Environment: Dim light, floating plants, coarse sands and pebbles for digging, strong roots plants.
  • Temperature : 17.0-28.0°C or 62.6-82.4°F
  • PH: 5.5 - 8.2
  • DH: up to 25 degrees
  • Compatibility: Great in community tanks
  • Tank Mates: Barbs, tetras, small cichlids, and rainbowfish
  • Lighting: Low
  • Care Level: Easy to medium

Hoplo Catfish Care

The Hoplo catfish is a freshwater fish from the Callichthyidae family. This is a beautiful, undemanding fish with an appealing demeanor. This catfish, like the majority of the species that may be found in the wild, has numerous different variants that are only distinguishable by their color and form. Because of this, the hydrochemical characteristics of waters where these species can be found in nature are quite diverse.

This is a rather easy-to-handle species of aquarium catfishes. Their unique traits include their gorgeous look, simplicity in upkeep, and quiet disposition. They are effective tank cleaners that keep your aquarium sparkling clean. To take care of your fish you need to provide a well-filtered aquarium with plenty of hiding places and a sandy substrate. Maintaining ideal water conditions and providing a varied diet are also important.

Natural Habitat 

The Hoplo catfish inhabit Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. The Amazon, Orinoco, and Rio Negro basins, as well as other locations across the world, are home to this species. To survive a short drought, the Hoplo catfish may be kept in silt up to a depth of 25 cm.

The appearance of a young Hoplo is appealing, and it resembles elongated Corydoras in many ways. Despite the fact that it is significantly more expensive than corys, it is still very reasonable.

Hoplo Catfish Size 

Hoplo catfish growth rate is relatively fast. As an adult, the Hoplo catfish grow to about 5 inches (12.5 cm) in length. But most of the time the purchase size is between 1.5 - 2 inches (3.8 - 5 cm).

Hoplo Catfish Lifespan

The lifespan of a Hoplo catfish is largely determined by the conditions in its tank. As a result, in the wild, the fish survives for four to six years. In a tank, its lifespan is typically longer, and it has been known to survive for ten years or more.

Hoplo Catfish

Hoplo Catfish Appearance

The spotted hoplo catfish may grow up to 13 cm long. The body is oblong, and the head is somewhat flattened from the sides and has a rather wide head with two pairs of barbs on its upper jaw and one on the lower. Some other features of this fish include:

  • Flat abdomen and arched back.
  • Unique dark spots with irregular shapes. The spots are widely dispersed throughout the body.
  • Along the fish's sides are two rows of solid bony plates.
  • It has a fatty fin on its back.
  • Brown is the prevalent body color.
  • Young individuals are lighter in color, while adults are dark brown.
  • Small, ungeometrical dark spots are seen on the fish's body.
  • Its abdomen is almost white in color.
  • They have an intestinal respiratory system.

This amusing fish will come up to the surface and take oxygen from the air above the water's surface if there is a lack of oxygen in the tank. The intestine is the organ that absorbs oxygen.

It has such a lovely look and soothing qualities. It's also a fantastic choice for novices and intermediate aquarists since it is simple to maintain.

You will discover that the body markings vary from one fish to another when you explore the pet shop market. Not all these catfish are brown in color. There is a milky-white albino spotted hoplo catfish with black spots on its body. Although it is a rare breed, you can find it in some specialty pet stores.

Hoplo Catfish Types

There are three main types of Hoplo Catfish that you can find in the market.

Spotted Hoplo Catfish

Spotty hoplo cats are a new kind of catfish that has just recently been discovered and documented. Despite their scarcity, spotted hoplo cats aren't seen as endangered or threatened.

Spotted hoplo cats are a relatively new species to the aquarium industry, so nothing is known about their natural history or behavior. Unfortunately, they are regarded as docile and calm fish that may be enjoyed in any aquarium.

Albino Hoplo Catfish

Albino hoplo catfish are the result of a genetic defect that causes them to be colorless. The albino hoplo catfish is light yellow in color with black markings on its body. The albino variety of Hoplo is not considered to be endangered.

Brown Hoplo Catfish

The brown hoplo catfish is also known as the Alabama bluntnose or brown trout. The brown hoplo is a robust fish that can survive in a wide range of water temperatures and pH levels.

Sexual Dimorphism

When it comes to identifying hoplo catfish male-female, there are no real external differences. The only way to know for sure is to observe them in spawning behavior or to look at the genital opening, which is located underneath the fish just before the anal fin. At the age of 8-10 months, the Hoplo catfish becomes fertile. Males are somewhat smaller than females. The adult males' milk-white abdomen fades to a bluish hue during the spawning period. At all times, the abdomen of reproductive females is the same color. The appearance of their pectoral fins is the most dependable method for determining their sex. Male Hoplo Catfish have triangular-shaped elongated pectoral fins with thickened first ray. It becomes orange during the spawning period. Male and female young fish have oval-shaped pectoral fins, with the first ray being similar to those of other rays.

Hoplo Catfish Behavior

Hoplo catfish, like climbing perch, has intestinal respiration and therefore comes to the surface of the water from time to time to breathe. Aquarists who are not familiar with this behavior often think that the fish is sick and about to die. However, this is not the case and the fish is perfectly healthy. This catfish species is nocturnal, so it is more active at night. During the day, you may find your fish hiding in caves or among plants. Unlike other catfishes that spend most of their life in bottom water layers, they frequently venture to the middle and upper levels of the water column.

Hoplo Catfish Feeding & Diet

It's simple to feed a Hoplo catfish. It's an omnivore, so it'll eat everything you put in your tank. Small crustaceans and larvae, as well as plant debris, are the live foods that they enjoy the most. If you have any vegetables left over, consider putting them in the tank for the Hoplo to munch on.

You can either feed them live foods, or you can give them pellets or flakes. If you do choose to feed them pellets or flakes, make sure that they are high in protein. It's not suggested to feed live or frozen foods to the catfish if you include them with other dwellers. It's unbalanced and might cause infections in your aquarium. The aquarium's conditions must be maintained with appropriate attention. You may instead concentrate on high-quality dry foods.

If you're referring to commercial catfish feed, it might be in the form of tablets or wafers, since these will sink to the bottom. The hard part is that, as you add floating foods, your Hoplo will compete with the other inhabitants. Sinking meals are beneficial to them in this situation.

It's okay to feed them once or twice a day but make sure not to overfeed them. You can tell if you're overfeeding them if there's uneaten food at the bottom of the tank. If this is the case, reduce the amount of food you're giving them and remove the uneaten food.

Hoplo Catfish Tank Mates

In the wild, Hoplo Catfish are typically found in enormous schools that may contain more than a thousand distinct species. Because of this, keeping them in a small group is best in a tank. Only one male should be in there in a single tank. Otherwise, during the spawning season, they may fight to establish which species is dominant, and the weakest individual may be murdered as a result.

However, hoplo catfish isn't aggressive towards other tank inhabitants. You can keep them with other peaceful community fish like:

  • Black Tetra
  • Angelfish
  • Koi
  • Cardinal Tetra
  • Cherry Barb
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Bristlenose Catfish
  • Guppy
  • Glowlight Tetra
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Kuhli Loach

It is better not to keep them with fish that are known to be nippy or fin-nippers as they may harass or even eat the smaller hoplo catfish. It may be aggressive to other tank inhabitants when the tank conditions are not ideal. If the tank volume is insufficient, adult species may begin chasing other bottom-dwellers, such as clown loach or yoyo loach – they may have territorial issues. However, this is only true for large species since they are non-aggressive towards other tiny catfishes. A hoplo catfish may be found dwelling with a corydoras, for example.

The adaptability of black marble hoplo allows it to cohabit with a wide range of fish types, including aggressive fish like Central American cichlids. This is among the few fish that may cohabit with such cichlids as jaguar cichlid, oscar fish, Texas cichlid, or flowerhorn. The Hoplo catfish have protective plates, which protect it and keep it on the bottom of the tank where it is seldom harassed by its aggressive neighbors. They may nevertheless be attacked by cichlids during the spawning season. However, hoplo catfish are more at ease with African cichlids since they can't harm them. They merely nip the lengthy barbs on its tail.

Hoplo Catfish

Hoplo Catfish Tank Setup 

Your Hoplo Catfish (Megalechis Thoracata) will need a tank that can hold at least 30 gallons of water. But a larger tank is always better. These fish can grow to be about 5 inches long, so make sure your tank is big enough to accommodate them.

There are a few things to think about while setting up your Hoplo Catfish tank:

Tank size 

A tank with a large bottom square, up to 200 liters capacity, densely planted, and numerous hiding places is recommended for a couple of spotted hoplo catfishes. The top of the tank should be covered since fish, when coming to the surface for air, have been known to jump out of the water.

Water parameters 

Because Megalechis thoracata is so widespread, you can anticipate that they are not picky about water quality. They'll be able to survive on preliminary settled tap water. Its temperature should be 17–28 °C(62.6–82.4 °F. It doesn't matter much whether the water is hard or acidic. The most important thing to remember is that these parameters should not be excessively high: The pH of the water should be between 6 and 8, with a hardness level of 20° on the mineral hardness scale (GH should not exceed 20°).


A canister filter with a large capacity is required for the fish since they prefer clean, oxygen-rich water. Make sure they have easy access to the water's surface at all times since hoplo catfish will go to the water's surface from time to time for a breath of fresh air even in a well-aerated tank. Tanks require moderate lighting. You should renew 20% of the water in the tank once a week to prevent the formation of noxious nitrogen chemicals.

Decorations and plants

Small, smooth pebbles and small-grained sand can be used as the tank bottom substrate. The fish is a bottom-dwelling species that dig the bottom in search of food on a regular basis. Don't overlook to give them enough shelter options, including stones, snags, and caves.

For the tanks' plants, choose those with big roots - anubias, cryptocoryne, and so on. The plants in the tank are ignored by the Hoplo catfish. Plants with weak roots will float all the time, taking into account their continual bottom digging. It will be beneficial to add some fluctuant to the water's surface like amazon frogbit, water lettuce, etc in order to create a dim light environment in the tank.

Hoplo Catfish Breeding 

After they mature at 8-12 months, spotted hoplo catfish will occasionally mate in a community tank. They are bubble nest breeders. For reliable breeding, a tank with a capacity of 50 liters is necessary.

Water parameters in a spawning tank should be the following:

  • Hardness not higher than 8 dGH
  • PH 6.5-7.0
  • Temperature 25-27 °C

The fish spawn in couples. The fish group creates the couples on its own. The water temperature is lowered to 3-5°C to induce spawning by replacing part of it with colder water. The temperature is then increased. The atmospheric pressure drop is another signal for spawning, and it's helpful to note that, during cyclone passage, the air pressure decreases. It's critical to prepare the breeders ahead of time in order for successful spawning to occur. You should provide them with a balanced diet that includes animal-based foods. It's essential to alternate the types of food offered. At that point, you should keep in mind that food scraps shouldn't infect the tank water.

A huge fluctuant leaf serves as a nesting frame in the wild. The nesting frame is made from a piece of foam plastic or a floatable plastic cap by many aquarium owners. The male constructs the nest for several days and, in some cases, utilizes tiny portions of plants. Each bubble is coated with sticky slime that keeps them stuck together and prevents them from falling apart in a few days.

Because of this, the nest may be 2.5 cm or higher in height, and it may cover up to one-third of the tank surface. When the nest is finished, the male begins pursuing the female until she reciprocates his affection and returns to the nest with him. The couple is beneath the nest and resembles a T, while the female is the upper portion of the letter. It deposits a dozen orange sticky eggs in its abdominal fins and then lays a layer of eggs in the nest before swimming away. After the female has laid her eggs, a male takes her place and fertilizes them. The breeding cycle continues until nearly 500 eggs are in the nest.

After spawning, the male chases after the female to keep her away from the nest. Remove her from the spawning tank now, because the male will defend the eggs and attack her.

With a gap of around 1-3 weeks, Hoplo catfishes may spawn multiple times. The male does not eat while caring for the eggs, so there is no need to feed him. He also repairs the nest from time to time, adding new bubbles if necessary and replacing fallen eggs. If any eggs are drawn, they won't die. When the time comes, the larvae will hatch from them.

If the spawning tank is big enough, several fish couples may reproduce in it at the same time. Males will fight over the right to spawning substrate, so you'll need more fake leaves than there are males in the tank.

Hoplo Catfish Fry

It takes 3 to 5 days for eggs to hatch depending upon the water temperatures. The larvae are roughly 6 millimeters long at this point, and their barbs and fins are clearly visible. At this point, the male should be removed from the tank. The larvae consume their yolk sacs after two more days in the nest.

Once they've developed enough, the next stage is for youngsters to reach the bottom and begin swimming, seeking food. From this moment, you should feed them several times a day with brine shrimp nauplii or juvenile-specific food. The lighting in the tank with juvenile fish should be dim. The youngsters develop quickly, and after 8 weeks, they have reached a length of approximately 4 cm. From this time, you may offer them an adult diet. In contrast to other catfish species, Hoplo catfishes do not consume their larvae or young. So you don't have to worry about that.

Hoplo Catfish

Hoplo Catfish Diseases

As with many other aquarium fish, Hoplo catfish are susceptible to a number of diseases. Some of the more common ones include:

Ich: Also known as white spot disease, ich is a parasitic infection that can quickly kill your fish if left untreated. The most common symptom is white spots on the fish's body, fins, and gills.

Bacterial Infection: Bacterial infections are usually the result of poor water quality and can cause a number of problems for your fish. Symptoms include red or inflamed skin, cloudy eyes, and ulcers on the body.

Columnaris is a common disease in fish and can be deadly. It is characterized by slimy white patches on the fish's body, fins, and gills. The fish may also have red lesions on their body.

Fungal Infection: Fungal infections are also prevalent in aquarium fish, and if not treated promptly, can be deadly. The most typical sign of a fungal infection is fuzzy white spots on the skin or fins. If you detect any of these symptoms, take your fish to the veterinarian right away. To cure the fungus, your veterinarian will give antifungal medication.

Fin Rot: Fin rot is a bacterial infection that causes the fins to deteriorate. The most common symptom is frayed or ragged fins. In severe cases, the fins may fall off entirely.

If you think your fish has any of these diseases, take it to the veterinarian immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for a successful outcome.

Dropsy: The symptoms of dropsy include bloating and fluid retention. It's a condition caused by poor water quality, and if not treated promptly, it may be deadly. The ideal approach to cure dropsy is to raise the water's temperature to 86 degrees Fahrenheit and add a spoonful of salt for each gallon of water. The salt will work to eradicate the bacteria. Do a partial water change to help dropsy go away.


How Big Does a Hoplo Catfish Get?

The Hoplo catfish is a tropical fish that may grow up to 5 feet long and weigh 40 pounds when fully grown.

Are Hoplo Catfish Aggressive?

This fish is a peaceful, non-territorial species, but it preys on anything small enough to fit in its mouth, such as tiny fish, dwarf shrimp, and fry. It won't harm plants. It's not particularly sensitive, but it prefers water movement that is calm to moderate.

Because the hoplo catfish consume piranhas and other aggressive fish, some people think it is aggressive. Because hoplo catfish prey on smaller fish in the wild, they may not be as aggressive in captivity.

Do Hoplo Catfish Eat Other Fish?

Some Hoplo catfish eat small amounts of other species, and this behavior is influenced by environmental factors. For example, when the water quality is poor or there's not enough food, the Hoplo catfish may start to eat other fish. If you think your Hoplo catfish are eating other fish, check the water quality and make sure there's enough food. You can also try adding live plants to the tank, which will provide hiding places for the smaller fish.

Do Hoplo Catfish Need a Heater? 

Keeping Hoplo catfish in captivity demands a different range of temperature and humidity conditions than those found in home aquariums. The species is native to Southeast Asia and can survive in temperatures as low as 62 degrees Fahrenheit, though it flourishes between 68 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to a specific range of temperatures, Hoplo catfish need a moderate to the high degree of humidity (85-90 percent). So, a heater is necessary to maintain the temperature and humidity levels that your Hoplo catfish needs.

What Size Tank Do Hoplo Catfish Need? 

When selecting the appropriate tank for a hoplo catfish, consider its size. Hoplo cats, like other fish that may be kept in small tanks, require at least a 30-gallon tank to survive. If you have more than one hoplo catfish or a lot of plants and algae to maintain, a bigger tank may be preferable.

When kept in groups of six or more, the Hoplo catfish flourishes. They may survive in a variety of water parameters and are capable swimmers, although they prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH levels.

How Many Hoplo Catfish Should I Get? 

The number of hoplo catfish you should get depends on the size of your tank. If you have a 30-gallon tank, you can get six fish. If you have a 50-gallon tank, you can get 10 fish.

Are Hoplo Catfish Active?

The hoplo catfish is a nocturnal species, so it is most active at night. During the day, it may rest on the bottom of the tank or in hiding places.

Do Hoplo Catfish Eat Snails?

The Hoplo catfish is not a common snail eater, but it may eat them if there's nothing else to eat. If you think your Hoplo catfish are eating snails, make sure there's enough food. You can also try adding live plants to the tank, which will provide hiding places for the snails.

Can Hoplo Catfish Live With Cichlids? 

You can keep your hoplo catfishes with the same-size South, Central, and North American cichlids. The majority of South American catfishes cannot co-habitat with African cichlids. Most species can live together with Hoplo. They're fantastic for unheated goldfish aquariums.

Hoplo Catfish With Goldfish, Are they Compatible? 

Yes, but there are certain benefits and drawbacks to consider in this situation. The disadvantages of goldfish include that they leave a lot of waste and leavings for hoplo catfish to consume. The main disadvantage is that goldfish must be kept in colder water, and while hoplo catfish can tolerate rapid changes in water temperature, it is still tropical fish. So, if you're going to keep goldfish with hoplo catfish, make sure that the water temperature is appropriate for both species and that there's enough food.

Final Thoughts 

As you can see, Hoplo catfish are fairly easy to care for, and can even be bred in captivity. With a little patience and effort, you can have a thriving colony of these beautiful fish in your home aquarium. These omnivores are relatively easy to feed and will accept the most commercially available aquarium foods. However, it is always best to provide a variety of food sources, including live or frozen foods, to ensure optimal health and nutrition. They are bubble nest breeders, so you will need to provide them with a suitable spawning substrate. If you are planning to breed Hoplo catfish, it is best to set up a separate breeding tank to avoid aggression from the males. These fish are relatively peaceful and can be kept with other peaceful species. However, they may become territorial when spawning, so it is best to remove any potential tank mates during this time. With proper care and attention, Hoplo catfish can be a rewarding addition to any aquarium.

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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