Bio Facts: Catfish, Shovelnose
East of the Andes in the Amazon, Orinoco, Paraná, and Parnaiba river basins
Fast-moving and slow-moving freshwater, including lakes, rivers, and bays with substrates that are mixtures of sand, clay, and mud, and associated with reeds, grasses, and roots.
Adult length: 20 in (50 cm); appearance: possess dorsal and pectoral fin spines, a triangular adipose fin, and very long barbels (“whiskers”); jaw is shovel-like and projecting with an exposed, villiform (brush-like) premaxillary tooth patch; head is depressed and usually three times longer than it is wide; eyes are set laterally and usually visible from below; characteristic black, lateral stripe, variable in width, that extends from the snout to the end of the caudal fin; dorsal surface is dark with dark blotches or spots. The ventral part of the body is white or cream colored. Light areas may appear golden or slate gray, often appearing iridescent. Young fish are more heavily pigmented than adults.
In the wild, they eat fish and crustaceans; in the Zoo, they are fed a scientifically developed, commercially available fish food and fish gel diet.
S. lima is nocturnal and commonly found in schools. When inactive, these fish often swim in a vertical posture, probably to help blend into stems of reeds and other aquatic plants; when active, they swim in a normal, horizontal manner.
Sorubim have been observed in captivity to excavate a small pit as a nest and even guard freshly hatched young. These fish have not been bred in aquaria. In the wild they are seasonal spawners.
They may use their camouflage to either hide from predators or to ambush prey.
The genus name is derived from a Brazilian local name, Sorubí. The description of Sorubim has been attributed to both Cuvier and Agassiz in 1829, but because Cuvier’s description predates that of Agassiz’s by two months, Cuvier’s is valid.
It is a hardy species, and the pH is not of great importance, but slightly acidic is best. This fish requires a large aquarium and prefers a current and clean water. It has not yet been bred in captivity.
Other common names include: Lima Shovel-Nosed Catfish, Striped Shovel Nose, Duckbeak Shovel Nose, and Hockey Stick Catfish.
The First European import was to Germany in 1929 by the firm Scholze & Pötschke. The fishing world record holder caught a 31 in long shovelnose catfish weighing 14 lb 5 oz in Rio Xingu Brazil, 2001.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
Shovelnose catfish were first added to our animal collection in 2008.