Driftwood Catfish

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Trachelyichthys exilis

Pygmy Driftwood Catfish




Nanay river basin, Peru.


The River and its tributaries.

Maximum Standard Length


Ideally suited to a heavily planted setup, and will show its best colours in such surroundings. It doesn’t appreciate bright conditions and we suggest the use of floating plants to diffuse the light entering the tank. Allow open spaces between areas of planting to allow swimming space.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 72-77°F (22-25°C)

pH: 6.5-7.0

Hardness: 8-15°H


It prefers live and frozen foods such as bloodworm, earthworms, prawns etc., but most will also take small pellets or flakes. Unlike most Auchenipterids it will usually feed during daylight hours.

Behaviour and Compatibility

Safe with all but the smallest of Fry, and so suitable for most community. aquaria. Ideally, keep it in a South American biotope Aquarium with tetras, dwarf cichlids and other peaceful catfish such as Corydoras sp. and smaller Loricariids. It’s totally unaggressive towards conspecifics, and is happier when kept in a group.

Sexual Dimorphism

Males have a heavily modifed anal Fin, which is used in a similar fashion to the gonopodium possessed by livebearers. Females are much rounder than males when Gravid


Has been achieved but very little data is available. In common with other members of the Family fertilisation is internal.

Very similar to its Congender T.decaradiatus, it can be distinguished by looking at the position of the eye, which is set much further back in decaradiatus. Also, the Humeral Process (long spine extending from the back of the gill plate), is longer and thinner in this Species than decaradiatus. Neither are seen very often in the hobby, but are sometimes available at specialist outlets.