Driftwood catfish of wood cats are smaller cafish found throughout the Amazon river. The family has ben devided in two subfamilies, Auchenipterinae and Centromochlinae.
Centromochlus comes from the Greek ‘kenteo’, meaning sting and mochlos, meaning lever or crowbar; which is in reference to the long spines. As the common name wood cats implies, these fish like pieces of wood with crevices and gaps for shelter.
Wood cats are unique among catfishes in that they practice internal fertilization. The male’s anal fin serves a similar role as the gonopodium in livebearers.
Centromochlus perugiae reaches a maximum size of only 5 – 6 cm and is covered in a pattern of large black spots separated by a white network, hence the common name ‘honeycomb’. Their distribution is throughout Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
Until 1998 Centromochlus perugiae was described as Tatia perugia. Many resources still list incorrectly this way.
Wood cats are interesting and attractive fish that are very suitable for the aquarium if you keep in mind they are a noctural. Thy are peaceful and shy and most of the time will only come out at night of at feeding time. They need to be kept in a small group. A tank with a lot of hiding places is required, such as driftwood or rocks with many crevices.
They adapt to different water parameters, but do better at a slightly acidic pH and lower hardness, and a higher temperature (25-17 degrees C). They are very sensitive to stress and poor water conditions and need a higher than average oxygen levels. Otherwise often they are the first fish in the aquarium that will get itches. Some current in the aquarium is appreciated.
For good health it is important to understand that wood cats do not hunt along the bottom and they do not eat well during the day. In the natural habitat they skim small insects from stream surfaces at night. Best is to give them flakes of other floating insect-based foods. Frozen mosquito larvaee are also great. Using sinking pallets will likely result to very hungry wood cats/
Centromochlus perugiae is the easiest breeding species of wood cats in the aquarium. Often, breeding is not even noticed until the fry appear.
Several days after being fertilised (which takes place during the night) females will enter a hiding place do deposit the eggs. The eggs are guarded by the female until they hatch (4 or 5 days later, depending on water temperature. After hatching the male and female both may eat the young. The young also only feed from the surface – at night-.
P. de Pijper