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Giraffe catfish

  • Fishes

Introduction to Giraffe Catfish

The Giraffe Catfish is a unique aquatic creature, native to many tropical and subtropical rivers, streams, and lakes. It is known by various common names, such as the See-through Catfish, Cave Catfish, and Catfish of the Gods. Its scientific name is Lepidocephalichthys pierei, and is part of the family of Catostomidae. While not the most glamorous freshwater fish, the Giraffe Catfish is quite interesting and poses a unique set of characteristics and physical attributes.

Appearance of Giraffe Catfish

If we are to talk about its physical characteristics, the Giraffe Catfish has an elongated, oval body, that is usually around 4 inches long. Its coloring is usually a solid black or dark grey, but might also have tinges of green, brown and linear patterns, specially in the fins. The most prominent trait of the Giraffe Catfish, however, is its distinctive head. The head has a slender, cylindrical shape, with a bony protuberance on the top and bottom, which gives the fish its common name.

Behaviour of Giraffe Catfish

The Giraffe Catfish is a nocturnal creature that spends the majority of its day hiding among the rocks and plants of the river bed, only emerging at night in search of food. It is a solitary species, and during the night, it will actively search for a variety of different organisms, including worms, crustaceans and small, unsuspecting fish. While it isn’t an actively predatory fish, it will take defensive action when approached, and should be handled with caution if you are to touch it.

Habitat of Giraffe Catfish

The Giraffe Catfish is typically found in nutrient-rich, slow-moving bodies of water. It prefers rivers and streams that have a good amount of vegetation, rocks and logs, as these provide shelter from the current, as well as beds of detritus for foraging for food. As it is a tropical species, it prefers warm waters, usually between 62-86° F in order to thrive. Giraffe Catfish natively inhabits Africa, in the waters of the Congo River Basin.

Giraffe catfish two

Care & Tank Requirements of Giraffe Catfish

When keeping a Giraffe Catfish, the tank requirements and water quality must be closely observed and kept in perfect condition. The fish inhabit in groups, so an aquarium with at least 6 fish should be used for full enjoyment. The tank should be 30 gallons or more, planted, and decorated with numerous hideouts, such as rock tunnels, driftwood, and plants, offering the fish plenty of places to hide and explore.

The water should be soft, acidic, and have a temperature of 78-86° F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5, and should be kept clean, with water changes made at least once a week. Diet for this species should consist of a variety of live, frozen and dry sinking pellets, as well as some blanched vegetables, such as cucumber, lettuce and spinach.

Breeding the Giraffe Catfish

The breeding behaviour of the Giraffe Catfish is different from other aquarium fish, as they are substrate spawners. The female will lay her eggs on the bottom of the aquarium, and the male will fertilize them. When the fry develop, they survive on their own and no additional parental care is given. The fry should be fed a mix of infusoria and high-protein food, such as frozen brine shrimp, to ensure their health and growth.


The Giraffe Catfish is an interesting species, natively residing in the Congo River Basin. While it is not the most glamorous fish, its physique, behavior, and tank requirements make it quite a unique fish. It is relatively easy to care for, adjust to aquarium life quickly, and has a peaceful and non-predatory nature that makes it a great fish for the community aquarium.

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