Foods, Feeding Banjos, and Ted
The proper feeding of our fishes
is an important part of their
successful captive management,
and I would like to make
some comments regarding this topic on a
particular group of catfishes. I will briefly
discuss what the catfish eat in their natural
habitat, and then look at how we might
provide a similar diet in captivity.
With that consumer alert out of the way,
let’s move on to the next topic.
photographs by Oliver Lucanus
Lee Finley has been active
in the aquarium hobby for
40 years. For the last 25
years, catfishes have taken
up the majority of his time.
In addition to being just a
fun-loving hobbyist, Lee has
also been involved in the
aquarium industry as an
aquarium store owner, writer,
and wholesale/retail breeder.
He is a familiar presence
and presenter at aquarium
conventions. Lee is also
interested in the literature
and in the early history of the
aquarium hobby, and works
on projects in these areas.
Commercial Food Recall
First an upfront note needs to be made.
As part of what follows, the use of a
variety of commercially prepared fish
foods will be suggested for use. In that a
small number of such products became
involved in the recent melamine-tainted
pet foods fiasco, some care might need
to be exercised. A quick Internet search
showed that at least two companies
producing fish food had voluntarily
recalled certain products. One of the
companies listed a total of 19 such foods.
Even if it were not against this magazine’s
policy to mention brand names within
editorial copy, I prefer to not name the
companies involved; hopefully, since they
are actively working to fix the problem,
by the time that this is published this
problem will be straightened out and
the companies will once again have their
untainted products available.
Nevertheless, caveat emptor. Such foods,
as those mentioned above, may yet remain
for sale somewhere (or exist as part of
the freebies that aquarium societies receive
from manufacturers). Whether melamine, at
the detected levels, is potentially harmful to
tropical fishes is unknown. But, on general
principle, it would no doubt be best to avoid
it where possible.
It is not exactly a big secret that most of
the common aquarium catfishes can get by
quite nicely, thank you, on a varied diet of
standard commercial foods (flakes, tablets,
pellets, etc.). Unquestionably, such foods
should be part of the dietary profile that
you develop for your catfishes, but it is
ideal to expand out and provide other foods
for them. These can include a wide variety
of “meaty” and vegetable-based food items
depending on the fish under consideration.
These need to be chosen with the natural
diet of the fish in mind. Granted, this may
not always be easy to figure out, in that the
necessary studies from which to extract this
information may be few and far between.
But one may extrapolate a bit from what
is available and take it from there. We just
need to try to keep learning and do the best
that we can.
With the above in place I would like to
say a few words on the feeding of banjo cats.
These are South American in origin and
belong to the family Aspredinidae. This is a
relatively small family and currently consists
of 36 species divided among 12 genera
(both undescribed genera and species are
also known). Most of the banjos that we see
in the hobby are fairly small catfishes that
range in size from 3 to 4 inches, and most
of them that are imported are members of
the genus Bunocephalus, although other
genera (e.g., Pterobunocephalus) may be
encountered from time to time.
Banjos tend to be shy and retiring
(especially early on in their aquarium life),
and once they are in the tank their presence