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Farlowella Catfish – Whiptail Catfish, Twig Catfish – Farlowella oxyrryncha (Kner, 1853)

Whiptail Plecostomus

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1.  Common Names: Farlowella catfish, Stick Catfish, farlowella long nose catfish, twig catfish, Farlowella Pleco, Farlowella Plecostomus


2.  Scientific Name: Farlowella oxyrryncha


3.  Synonym: Acestra gladius, Acestra oxyrryncha, Farlowella gladius


4.  Order: Siluriformes — Family: Loricariidae (Pleco catfishes)


5.  Distribution: South America, Amazon basin and Paraná River


6. Farlowella catfish Adult Size: 9 in


7.  Life Expectancy: 5+ years


8.  pH: 6.0 to 7.0


9.  Temperature: 71°F to 82°F

Twig Catfish

10.  Tank Requirements

The minimum tank size for a Farlowella Catfish (one kept by its self) is 55 gallons. You’ll want to add driftwood of many roots and trunks in the aquarium, since the species spends most of its time camouflaged and attached to them.

11.  Behavior & Compatibility

Exhibiting a peaceful behavior, the this Catfish is ideal for a community aquarium with equally friendly and small fish such as Tetras, Rasboras, Corydoras, and Dwarf Cichlids. You should avoid keeping this catfish with large aggressive fish, for example, Oscar fish.

12.  Feeding

An omnivorous species. In its natural environment, it feeds mainly on algae. In the aquarium, this catfish may not readily accept dry foods, and alternative foods such as fresh vegetables should be given. Once dry foods are accepted, feed them plant-based and spirulina algae foods regularly.

13.  Reproduction

Farlowella Catfish are an oviparous (egg laying) species. They lay their eggs on open vertical surfaces, such as vegetation or submerged rocks, in a single layer that the male guards.

14.  Sexual Dimorphism (Visible differences between male and female)

It shows notable sexual dimorphism when mature. Male sexual dimorphism includes hypertrophied odontodes (body hair) along the sides of the snout or the head. Females won’t have this.

15.  Biotope (Biotope: where this fish is found in nature)

Farlowella Oxyrryncha can be found in nature in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins, in addition to coastal rivers in Northeast Brazil. Native to Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, with questionable reports in Argentina.

They prefer areas of slow-flowing water, remaining immobile on submerged branches, where they camouflage themselves in this environment.

Additional information

16.  The Stick Catfish has a slender body with a pronounced snout, brownish color, and a dark lateral stripe from the tip of the snout to the caudal peduncle (thin area right before the tail fin). Its body is similar in shape to a thin wooden twig.


17.  The name Farlowella is a tribute to William Gilson Farlow, a famous American botanist at Harvard University, whose primary job was to study algae, the favorite food of these fish.
Article alert: 9 types of fish foods for aquarium fish.


FAQ – Farlowella Stick Catfish

Question: “How big will my Twig Catfish get?” 

Answer: About 9 inches in length.


Question: “Do Farlowella fish eat algae?

Answer: They will chew on the algae in your tank but they must be feed a variety of algae wafers and frozen algae cubes or they will starve to death.


Question: “Will my Farlowella Whiptail Catfish reproduce in my aquarium?”

Answer: Yes with the following conditions: 1. You need to have enough Farowella fish in your tank to get a pair. 2. Your tank must be large enough to house many large fish. 3. You know how to keep your aquarium spotlessly clean. 4. Your Farowella fish are very well fed.


Ferraris, C.J. Jr., 2003. Loricariidae – Loricariinae (Armored catfishes). p. 330-350. In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre EDIPUCRS, Brasil.

Lopez, H.L., R.C. Menni and A.M. Miguelarena, 1987. Lista de los peces de agua dulce de la Argentina. Biologia Acuatica No. 12, 50 p. (Instituto de Limnologia “Dr. Raul A. Ringuelet”).

Nature Planet – Trilhando os caminhos da natureza – Ricardo Britzke

Oyakawa, O.T. and N.A. Menezes, 2011. Checklist dos peixes de água doce do Estado de São Paulo, Brasil. Biota Neotropica

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The minimum tank size for this species is around 40 in long X 15 in wide. As they are tall fish, the aquarium must have enough height — Naturally, they are found in low-light rivers, so the aquarium should have numerous plants, roots forming refuges, and low light.