In the family of Loricaria, or Armored catfishes, catfishes, there is a group of species that are not yet very widespread in the aquarium but are definitely of interest by their appearance and unpretentiousness in content. We are talking about loricaria, also known as whiptail catfish. What is remarkable about these interesting fish, you can learn from our article.

Scientific nameLoricaria cataphracta Linnaeus
Common namesLoricaria, Whiptail catfish, armored catfish
Natural range
native to South America
Sizefrom 10 cm(4inch) to 30 cm(12inch) depending on species
Tank size40 L or 10 gallons
Life span8 - 10 years
22-25 C. or 72-77°F
pH 6.0 - 7.5
GH 3 - 15
Colorred, red-brown, brown, different stencils
Foodomnivorous fish / worms, insect larvae, and algal growths
Breedingnot be difficult / just like other catfish
Temperamentmost peace-loving fish
around 1 year
Eggsaround 100 eggs / 7-9 days incubation

General information

Loricaria is a group of freshwater fish from the family of Loricaria (Armored catfishes) catfish that live in Central and South America. These fish have an extraordinary appearance, perfectly adapt to various conditions of the aquarium, and are so peaceful that they do not even pay attention to fry. And also loricaria are good helpers to maintain cleanliness in the aquarium because they perfectly eat up the remains of food and algae. But despite all its merits, while these fish are found in aquariums of amateurs quite rarely.


Loricaria has an elongated body with a thin caudal fin, at the end of which a pointed tail is located. For this feature in Western countries, fish are often called “catfish whip” or “catfish whip” (Whiptail Catfish). The sizes of loricaria are very diverse: there are both small representatives up to 10 cm long, and real giants capable of growing up to 30 cm. The whole body is covered with dense bone plates, creating a real “shell” for protection against enemies.

The head is triangular with small eyes. The mouth opening is transformed into a suction cup, which allows the fish to stay in bodies of water with a strong current and scrap off algae.

The fins are large, their rays end in small spikes. The color of the body is diverse and depends on the specific species. Among bright species, loricaria red stands out, the body of which has a rich red-brown color, which most likely indicates an artificial origin, because natural individuals are modestly colored.

Sexual dimorphism is weak, females are larger than males. On the ​​maturation, special outgrowths on the head begin to appear in males, imitating the roots of plants – tentacles.

Life expectancy in the aquarium is 8-10 years.


Loricaria in nature inhabits the reservoirs of Central and South America. Especially widespread in the Amazon in the territory of countries such as Peru, Brazil, Paraguay.

These catfishes prefer rivers and streams with a strong current. Mostly live on sandy substrates among snags and fallen leaves of trees.


Loricaria red (Rineloricaria sp. “Red”)

Disputes about the origin of this species are still ongoing. Some scientists believe that this is a hybrid or a variety of Peruvian loricaria, others – that this is a completely new, not described species, so often the fish can be found under the numbers L010a and L10a. It lives in the Amazon, usually in sandy shallow waters.

One of the most beautiful loricaria. Body color varies from yellowish to reddish brown. The fish grows up to 11 cm. For keeping you will need an aquarium of 60 liters. Peaceful temperament, you can contain one by one and flocks. Prefer soft and sour water.

Loricaria parva (Rineloricaria parva)

LORICARIA PARVA Rineloricaria Parva
This species is found in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina. A small fish up to 11 cm long. Body color varies from tan to taupe with a large number of small dark spots, which in some places merge into transverse stripes. The fins are large, transparent, with small dark dots.

For keeping a pair of fish, an aquarium of 40 liters or more is recommended. The character is peace-loving, compatible with most species of non-aggressive fish.

Loricaria royal (Loricaria similima)

Loricaria similima with eggs
The name got its name for the graceful manner of swimming and luxurious coloring. In nature, the fish lives in the reservoirs of Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina. They can grow up to 25 cm. For keeping you will need a large aquarium (from 150 l) because it is better to have fish in small groups.

The body is most often painted in light brown color with wide stripes of irregular shape. Color saturation depends on living conditions and water quality. For example, fish that lives in clear water is darker than relatives who prefer “black” waters.

They get along well with neighbors in the aquarium. An interesting feature is the bearing of eggs: during the incubation period, the male carries it in his mouth for protection.

Care and maintenance

Loricaria is unpretentious fish that adapts perfectly to different conditions of detention. The main thing is to ensure high-quality filtration, aeration, and regularly maintain the aquarium. Loricaria can be kept alone, or in pairs or in groups, if the volume of the aquarium allows. For a couple of small species, 40 liters will be enough, large representatives will require 150 or more liters.

The aquarium is best designed in a natural style, using coarse sand, stones, and snags. Such an environment will most closely match the natural. Along the walls, it is necessary to plant live plants, preferably with wide leaves.

Loricaria loves to dig in the ground, so they often raise the suspension. To keep the water clean, it is necessary to install a filter that has suitable for power. Catfish are sensitive to pollution, so do not forget about weekly water changes up to 20% of the volume of the aquarium. Loricaria is twilight catfish, you should not install very bright lighting.

The optimal water parameters for the content are: T = 22-25 ° C, pH = 6.0-7.5, GH = 3-15.


Loricaria is one of the most peace-loving fish. A little aggression is possible only in males protecting their territory during spawning, but these skirmishes are more indicative.

As neighbors, tetras, Seluang, zebrafish, dwarf cichlids, Pangio, gourami are perfect.

But neighborhoods with very active species that like to bite fins (barbs, tetraodons, Minor tetra) should be avoided. Loricaria are rather timid fish, therefore it is necessary to note that they should get enough food because instead of “fighting” for food with other species, they prefer to sit out in a secluded place.

Feeding Loricaria

Loricaria is an omnivorous fish whose natural diet consists of worms, insect larvae, and algal growths.

When kept in an aquarium, drowning tablets for bottom fish, such as Tetra Tablets TabiMin, Tetra Pleco Tablets or Tetra Wafer Mix, will be the best choice for feeding loricaria. Tablets quickly sink to the bottom, where catfish usually eat, and also retain their shape for a long time without polluting the water. They are fully balanced and contain a complex of vitamins for the health and longevity of your pets.

Loricaria also eats up good food residues (flakes, chips, pellets) that neighbors in the aquarium did not have time to eat, which helps to maintain cleanliness in it.

Breeding and breeding

Reproduction of loricaria will not be difficult, especially if you already have experience breeding other catfish, for example, Ancistrus. If there are a couple of fish in the aquarium, then it is highly likely that they will spawn on their own, without creating special conditions. Sexual differences in fish are not very obvious: females usually have a more rounded abdomen, and sexually mature males have many spikes on their heads.

The spawning substrate is grottoes, plastic tubes, pots, coconut shells, etc. The fertility of a female is usually about 100 eggs. After spawning, the mason is guarded by the male. Incubation lasts 7-9 days. After hatching, the larvae spend the contents of the yolk sacs for a couple of days, then go on to self-feed.

Fish become sexually mature at the age of about a year.