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Thorny catfish - Agamyxis albomaculatus

Thorny catfish - Agamyxis albomaculatus

Scientific name: Agamyxis albomaculatus

Common name: Thorny catfish

Family: Doradidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 12 - 14 cm (4.72 - 5.51 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 6 - 7.5

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 8 - 12°N (142.86 - 214.29ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 20 - 26 °C (68 - 78.8°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


These fish originate from South America, namely the Amazonian river basins located in Brazil and Peru. They occupy the highly vegetated areas.

Short description

The Thorny catfish, sometimes referred to as the spiny catfish are not all that common in the aquarium trade but well worth searching out for. They have extremely attractive markings comprising of a dark brown body colouration which is broken by specks of yellow or off white markings. Even their barbels will have stripes of the contrasting colouration. Adult specimens should reach an average length of up to 10 cm with wild caught specimens reaching a larger size. They do not have an highly aggressive nature but like most bottom dwelling fish they can be territorial if given to small a space in the aquarium. The Thorny catfish belong to the family of Doradidae and their Latin name is Agamyxis albomaculatus. They bear a striking resemblance to Agamyxis pectinifrons. Some keepers say the only difference is where the fish were actually located in their natural habitat and they both require the same conditions in the aquarium.

It is advised that before purchasing these fish you observe their swimming and feeding habits, any specimens with sunken bellies may be suffering from malnutrition and will not be in the best of health.


If cared for correctly the Thorny catfish should have an average lifespan of 17 years making these a long term commitment in the aquarium.

General care

The minimum sized aquarium that these fish should be housed in will need to be at least 4 feet in length with a width of 1 foot (120cm x 30cm). They should never be added to an immature set up as they do require stable water parameters with a high quality. Always make sure that the filtration system is rated for the water volume that the aquarium holds. The temperature should range between 20-26°C (68-79°F) and the pH should range between 6.0-7.5. Rocks or wood should be added to the aquarium and the choice of substrate is entirely yours but make sure if you are using gravel that it does not have any sharp edges. Adding plants will benefit these fish and keep the lighting subdued. The addition of floating plants such as Amazon Frogbit will help to keep the lighting levels low. Plant species such as Anubias should grow well under low lighting levels. Keep the water quality high and perform regular water changes of at least 10% weekly. Never add the Thorny catfish to an immature set up, they require stable water parameters and do not cope well with parameter swings.


As the Thorny catfish are classed as a nocturnal species it is best to offer them feeds just before the lights go out as they become most active at this time. For the staple diet you can offer sinking catfish pellets or a quality flake but this will need to be varied with supplements of meaty foods. These can be live or frozen, blood worms or brine shrimp are ideal! Make sure that they get their share of the food as fish that occupy the higher levels may get their larger share first. Always remove any uneaten food from the substrate to prevent it from decaying and lowering the water quality.


Extremely difficult to sex but it is believed that the females have a rounder body shape.


As of yet there are no reliable reports of the Thorny catfish breeding in the aquarium, in the wild they are substrate spawners with both parents taking on the care duties of the nest.

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