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Banjo catfish - Bunocephalus coracoideus

Banjo catfish - Bunocephalus coracoideus

Scientific name: Bunocephalus coracoideus

Common name: Banjo catfish

Family: Aspredinidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 12 - 15 cm (4.72 - 5.91 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 6 - 8

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 5 - 18°N (89.29 - 321.43ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 24 - 28 °C (75.2 - 82.4°F)

The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning

Where the species comes from: South America

Temperament to its own species: peaceful

Temperament toward other fish species: peaceful

Usual place in the tank: Bottom levels


The Banjo catfish originates from South America where it inhabits the Orinoco delta waters. It can be found from Venezuela to Brazil and also on the coastal waters of Trinidad.

Short description

The Banjo catfish is quite happy to occupy both freshwater and brackish water conditions. It tends to occupy waterways closer to the coastline than many other catfish species that live in delta waters. Adult specimens will grow to an average length of approximately 15 inches and they develop a lovely brown colouration as they mature. Like most catfish they are bottom dwellers in the aquarium so will require lots of swimming areas that allow them to swim freely.

Sometimes the Banjo catfish may be referred to as the “Eel tailed Banjo catfish due it’s longer and slender tail that it develops.

They are classed as a peaceful species but like most bottom dwellers they can become aggressive and very territorial at spawning times, it is advised to keep one specimen only in the aquarium. They also tend to develop smaller barbels compared to other catfish species so this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.


If cared for correctly, the Banjo catfish has an average lifespan of between 10-15 years of age.

General care

These are quite a hardy species but like all other species they still require high water quality. In the wild they prefer to swim in small groups but this would require a very large aquarium. For a single specimen the minimum sized aquarium should hold at least 25 gallons. They like to bury in the substrate so use sand and add rocks or wood to create plenty of hiding places. They are excellent camouflage artists so using a lighter sand for the substrate will make them easier to see in the aquarium although they will hide away a lot in the daytime. The Banjo catfish are also happy in a wide range of water parameters, the water temperature should be set between 24-28°C (75-82°F) and the pH should be set between 6.0-8.0. Although they inhabit brackish water conditions for part of their life in the wild they can be kept long term in freshwater conditions in the aquarium.

Plants can be added to the aquarium but this will create even more hiding places for these fish.

Water changes should be performed on a weekly basis, at least 10% with each change and make sure that any uneaten food is syphoned out of the aquarium after feeding times to keep the water quality high.

Avoid keeping the Banjo catfish with small species as these may be seen as a food source although they will not predate on larger species.


Banjo catfish are classed as omnivores and should accept all foods offered.Use a quality flake or small catfish pellets for the staple diet but vary this with treats of live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp or blood worms. Feeding times should be in line with their nocturnal habits, they prefer to feed after lights out when they are most active so place their food in the aquarium just prior to the lights being switched off.


Mature females tend to grow slightly larger than the males and will have a plumper body shape.


Very little is known about the breeding habits of the Banjo catfish and there are no reliable reports of these breeding in the aquarium. What is known is that the female takes on the parental care and that the eggs are incubated underneath her body and she will carry them until they hatch.


Bought by from One picture was provided by Dado.

Banjo catfish, picture 1 Banjo catfish, picture 2 Banjo catfish, picture 3 Banjo catfish, picture 4 Banjo catfish, picture 5

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