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An Aspidoras Armored Catfish

I wanted to add one final post to my armor posts of last week.  Although I posted about chitons, Chinese helmets, glyptodons, gothic armor, and Athena, I left out a post about catfish.  Ferrebeekeeper has already featured one post about the armored catfish of the Loricariidae family (an extremely large and diverse family of suckermouth catfish from South America), however there is a second different family of armored catfish, the Callichthyidae, which are characterized by two rows of bony plates (or scutes) running the length of their body. The Callichthyidae are comprised of 9 genera of catfish (and taxonomists will probably discover a few more in the future) including the Corydoras genus, which includes some of the most endearing and popular tropical aquarium fish.

Corydoras gossei (from seriouslyfish.com)

Callichthyidae literally means “beautiful fish” in Greek and the endearing little fish are common in virtually every freshwater habitat throughout South America. Some species of the little armored catfish are able to flourish in stagnant or swampy water by a unique physiological mechanism.  The fish gulp air into their intestines where the oxygen permeates into the blood vessels.  Through this fake lung they are able to survive conditions which could kill other fish and even travel overland for brief distances (although they do look rather comic expelling the air dorsally in silvery bubbles).

Callicthys callicthys (from seriouslyfish.com)

A distinctive (and extremely eponymous!) example of the Callichthyidae is Callichthys callichthys an eight inch drab catfish which ranges from Trinidad to Patagonia—an extremely large range for a little fish.   The male of this species is a bubble nester who builds a large nest out of plant parts and bubbles formed from air and mouth secretions.  Until he is perfectly satisfied with his construction he chases the female away.  Only when his nest is perfect does he let her enter: then both partners work together to defend their offspring within the little floating home.

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