Noticed Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons) caresheet

Sharing is caring!

The Spotted Raphael Catfish is a beautiful, interesting fish that fits perfectly into any tropical tank. These tough fish are also easy to keep, making them the perfect choice for beginners.

Read on to learn exactly how to care for and breed these adorable fish.

What's in a name?

The spotted Raphael catfish has the scientific name Agamyxis pectinifrons and belongs to the family of Doradidae fish. It is known by a few other names including:

  • Spotted Talking Catfish
  • White spotted talking catfish
  • White spot Doradid
  • White-spotted Doradid
  • Talking catfish
  • Thorny catfish

Whichever nickname you use, don't confuse it with the Pimelodus Pictus, also often referred to as the Spotted Catfish. So when shopping online, make sure you are ordering the correct fish before ordering.

Where does Spotted Talking Catfish come from?

The Agamyxis pectinifrons were first described by Cope in 1870. The fish comes from the Amazon basin, particularly from Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. It is currently not on the UCN's Red List of Endangered Species.

These catfish live in slow moving rivers or still pools in the wild, dig into the soft, sandy substrate or hide in tight spaces such as cavities in driftwood or roots. The habitat is heavily overgrown, and the fish like to stay in the middle of the plants, where they can be protected from predators.

During the rainy season, the catfish migrate to flooded forest areas where there is plenty to eat. In the wild, Pimelodus feed on worms, crustaceans, a small amount of plant matter, and insects.

These aquatic animals are quite sociable and train with their species and other similar-looking relatives.

Thorny catfish

These catfish belong to the family of Dorididae catfish, collectively known as the thorny catfish. Catfish agamyxis pectinifrons are hard-skinned with a neck shield in front of the fish's dorsal fin and have bony lumps that form thorny grooves that run along the fish's side line.

Catfish in this family are also known as speaking because they can make audible clicks or croak noises by rubbing their breast spines over grooves in the fish's shoulder. It usually makes these noises when it is moved out of its tank or otherwise stressed.

Handle with care!

The first spine on the pectoral fins of the catfish is extremely strong and can be used as an effective weapon of defense. When loaded, the thorny specimen stretches the spines laterally outwards. Therefore, be extremely careful when handling the fish and performing general maintenance in the aquarium.

Networking these creatures can be difficult due to the spines that can easily become entangled in your web. For this reason, we recommend that you use a rigid container to hold the fish if you need to move it. Handling with bare hands should be avoided whenever possible, as a stab in the spine is painful and can lead to infection.


The spotted Raphael catfish has a cylindrical, arrow-shaped body and flat bellies. Female fish are generally more full-bodied than their male counterparts, and these fish have large heads and very small eyes. The catfish's large mouth has three pairs of barbels – two pairs on the lower jaw and one pair on the upper jaw.

Once they reach adulthood, these catfish are up to 6 inches long.

The body of the fish is usually dark brown or black to black blue in color and has a pattern of small spots that can be white to light yellow. The fin is dark with stripes and spots that sometimes intermingle to create a criss-cross pattern that is unique to each individual. The fish's belly is lighter in color with a similar pattern of random spots.

This particular catfish usually lives up to 10 years, although some specimens have been reported to be between 15 and 20 years old.

False identity

The spiny Agamyxis albomaculatus looks very similar to the spotted Raphael catfish, and it can be very difficult to distinguish between them when the fish are collected from their natural environment.

Because of this, you need to know where the fish were collected before buying them. The spotted Raphael is native to the Amazon basin, particularly Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia, while the spiny catfish is only found in the drainage of the Orinoco River in Venezuela.

Are Spotted Thorny Catfish easy to keep?

These fish are ideally suited for life in a beginner's pool. They are quite sturdy, small, and easy to feed. As a bottom eater, the catfish can also help remove uneaten food and plant matter from the substrate.

The fish are easy to please when it comes to water parameters, and they make good community members because they are peaceful and sociable. Because these catfish do not grow to the size of many other catfish species, there is no need to enlarge your aquarium as the fish get older unless you want to add more to your collection.

The only downside to the catfish is that it is thorny! So be extremely careful when transporting or moving the fish, use a plastic or glass container instead of a net, and never use your bare hands!

Spotted Raphael Catfish Care Guide

Aquarium maintenance

Spotted Raphael catfish are very hardy creatures that can tolerate a range of water conditions. In the fish's natural environment, the shallow floods in which they live can cool down significantly at night, so that the catfish can tolerate very low temperatures for a short time, although rapid and extreme temperature changes should be avoided to avoid stressing the fish.

These catfish are fairly low maintenance and only need a water change of 30 percent per month and an efficient filter system.

Tank size

This catfish requires a minimum tank size of 35 gallons, although bigger is better. If you plan on keeping a group of these fish, consider something that is at least 45 gallons. Since the Spotted Raphael is a basic inhabitant, a rectangular aquarium is better than a large one so that the catfish have plenty of space to swim and forage.

Water parameters

Like most catfish species, Thorny Catfish prefer well-oxygenated H2O and they don't like strong water movement, so an underground filter and powerhead will work well for them.

Doradidae catfish are freshwater fish that cannot tolerate a brackish environment.

The temperature should be between 68.0 ° F and 79.0 ° F, with a pH range of 5.8 to 7.5 and a hardness between 2 and 20 dGH.

Aquarium decoration

These catfish prefer a dimly lit environment with lots of greenery, driftwood, and twisted roots under which to hide. Young fish like to hide in dense vegetation, and fish of all ages love to pinch themselves in tight corners and dig. So fill at least one corner of the tank with plants and use fine gravel or sand as a substrate to protect the fish's sensitive barbel.

The fish doesn't care about any type of plant, so you can add some floating species for shade. Even so, carpet plants don't work very well with catfish because the fish must have access to the substrate in order to dig and search.

Diet and feeding

The spotted Raphael Catfish is omnivorous and will happily accept a variety of foods including high quality sinking pellets, flakes, live food, frozen bloodworms, Tubifex worms, and the like. In fact, these scavengers clean pretty much anything that lands on the bottom of the tank. Meaty protein is important in the catfish diet, and you can feed them whole or chopped earthworms too.

If you keep snails in your tank, it's important to know that these catfish will eat molluscs and invertebrates that are small enough to fit in their mouths. This can be extremely helpful in controlling snail counts, but is a bit dangerous for shrimp and small crabs.

Ideally, you should feed these nocturnal catfish every day just before the aquarium lights are turned off at the end of the day.

Tank mates

Spotted Raphael Catfish are peaceful creatures that make a great addition to any community. While these fish are not aggressive, it is recommended not to include very small creatures that could be viewed as a source of food.

You can only keep one catfish, but it's a gregarious species that prefers to exist in groups of four or more. To add variety to your setup, add some similar looking catfish relatives. And thanks to its armored, thorny protection, you can also combine it with Central and South American cichlids and larger, semi-aggressive companions.

Breeding of spotted Raphael catfish

It is relatively easy to determine the sex of these catfish as mature female specimens tend to be much plumper than males.

However, if you are hoping to breed your fish, very little information is available on successfully spawning these fish in captivity, except from commercial farms that use hormones. It is believed that in the wild the fish build bubble nests between floating plants. There have also been reports of fish nests made of leaves, debris, and scraps of wood. However, the fish usually just hide under the nests and no spawning has been reported.

health and sickness

Spotted Raphael catfish are quite hardy once fully grown, although they can get the same tropical fish diseases as most other species like ego, fungus, and various bacterial infections.

However, provided their habitat is well cared for, these catfish rarely succumb to disease. The main cause of problems is injury caused during transportation and the network. So be very careful when moving or catching this fish.

If the nitrate levels get too high, the catfish can suffer from infected barbels, making it very difficult for them to feed and navigate around the room. You should therefore ensure that the nitrate content is below 20 ppm by regularly changing partial water and monitoring the quality with a test kit.

So these are scaleless fish Do not use potassium permanganate or drugs that contain copper. You can safely use formalin or malachite green in an amount 1/2 to 1/4 the usual dose.

Disease prevention

To keep your fish healthy, you must always quarantine new specimens for at least two weeks before adding them to your main tank.

Parasites and bacteria can get into the aquarium on plants, substrates and decorations. So wash everything in a weak solution of bleach and water, wash the items thoroughly in water from the tank, and then add them to your aquarium.

You can also quarantine plants for about a week to make sure they are not carrying snail eggs, though the catfish will briefly edit any snails that may be imported onto the plant's leaves.


The Spotted Raphael Catfish is available at most fish stores and online retailers and is available at reasonable prices.

Final thoughts

If you're looking for a peaceful, attractive community fish that will spend most of its time on the floor of its glasshouse, then Spotted Talking Catfish is the place for you.

Keep a small group of these hardy, resilient little species of catfish in a clean, well-maintained aquarium. They will bring you joy for many years without any problems. However, keep in mind that this catfish is primarily nocturnal. So you'll need to add a moonlight if you want to enjoy them exploring their habitat after the main lights go out.

Sharing is caring!

Comments are closed.