Freshwater Fish

Hoplo Catfish: An In-Depth Look At These Amazing Aquatic Creatures

If you look at your aquarium and realize its attractiveness is depreciating, it is the right time to add this bottom dweller fish species. This fish supports the aquarium by uniquely eating the leftovers and the unwanted food in the tank.

They are naturally known to be cleaners of the tank. The hoplo catfish is one of these unique species. The fish is exciting and brings fun to your aquarium.

Species Overview

Common Names: Hassa, Hoplo, Spotted Hoplo.

Scientific Name: Megalechis Thoracata

Adult Size: 5 inches

Life Expectancy: 8-10 years


Order: Siluriformes

Family: Callichthyidae

Origin: America

Tank Level: Bottom dweller

Diet: Omnivorous

Social: Peaceful

Breeding: Egg layers

Care Level: Easy

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

Hardness: 8 dGH

Appearance And Description

The color of the fish is brown. The young ones have light brown color while the adults have dark forms. The fish has flattened sides of the body with a wide head. It has three barbs, one on the lower jaw and two on the upper jaw of its mouth. Its abdomen is flattened and white, and its back has drawn up.

Also, there are two bony plates on each side of the fish and a fin that is extra fat on the back. There are small dark spots distributed evenly on their body. The albino species have milky white colors interchanged with dark spots. The difference in the spotting and coloring depends on the hydrochemical parameters of the water in the tank.

However, the fish breaths using gills similar to other fish species. It also experiences intestinal respiration, and they swim to the water top to take in air. They have whiskers that are more sensitive during their navigation. Also, the whiskers add most to their instinct.

The males are smaller than the females. You will notice that the white abdomen of the male turns bluish during mating while the female’s color maintains throughout their life.

Additionally, the fish have pectoral fins that help to differentiate their sex. For males, their pectoral fins are triangular ad elongated with thick first fin rays. The pectoral fins in males become orange during breeding. In females and most young males, this fin is oval, and there is no difference between the first fin ray and the rest.


The species inhabits rivers, streams, and tributaries. This is mostly south America, Amazon, Orinoco, Paraguay, Brazil, and Guianas.

The fish prefers both running waters and lakes with thick plats. They are also found in waters near the ocean. However, the fish survives conditions that kill other fish species.

Some sources categorize’ the fish as symbionts that feed on the parasites of the piranhas. The fish was long known to belong to the genus Hoplosternum where it is believed to have gotten its name.

The fish is lately categorized as a Megalechis, which means a large plate in Greek. This shows that the body of the fish is covered with plates instead of scales. The plates protect it in the same way scales do.

Life Span

The average lifespan of a hoplo spotted fish is around five to eight years. However, some individual fish have been known to live for up to 10 years in captivity. Wild fish typically have a shorter lifespan due to predation and other environmental factors.

Diet And Feeding

The hoplo fish is a voracious feeder and will consume almost any type of food that it can fit into its mouth. In the wild, the diet of the hoplo spotted fish consists mostly of smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects.

You will note that in captivity, the diet of the hoplo can be supplemented with pellets, flakes, and live foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.

It is vital to provide the fish species with a variety of food items to ensure that it is getting the nutrients and vitamins it needs to survive. It is also essential to ensure that the food is fresh and contains no chemicals or pollutants.

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If your hoplo spotted fish starts to show signs of sickness, such as poor appetite or lack of energy, you should start feeding it different types of food until its condition improves. Never feed your hoplo fish species anything poisonous or harmful.

Tank Requirement


Since the fish is a bottom dweller, a tank with a large square in the bottom is required. The tank should be at least 10 gallons. The tank should be covered on the top to prevent the fish from swimming out while grasping air. It should have plenty of plants to provide hiding surfaces for the fish.


The substrate for a hoplo fish tank can be either gravel or sand. If you choose gravel, make sure it is small enough that the fish cannot swallow it. Sand is a better choice for substrate because it is easier to keep clean. The substrate should be deep enough that the fish can bury themselves if they want to. A depth of at least 6 inches is recommended.

The substrate in the hoplo spotted fish species tank is very important. It is where the fish live and eat, so it is important to choose a substrate that is comfortable for them and will offer them enough space to swim and hide.

Water Parameters

The fish is easy to care for and can survive in a wide range of water quality. They will thrive with tap water as well as fresh water from streams. The temperature should be 22-30 degrees with 20 degrees GH water hardness. The species survive within a pH range of 5.8-7.5.

Tank Setup

The tank should be set up in such a way that there is a maximum of hiding places. Stones, driftwood, artificial grottoes, caves, and live plants are suitable for this. Such labyrinthine conditions will help the fish to feel at ease and be able to hide in case of danger.

In the aquarium, plenty of plants to provide cover and interest for the hoplo, as well as a few pieces of floating wood ornaments. These will add movement and life to the tank while also providing hiding places for the fish.

The decor may include a few small pieces of live rock or coral to create an interesting backdrop, but no large pieces that could obstruct the fish’s view or cause them any problems in their natural environment. A few bubbling-type water features can also be added to liven up the tank.

Finally, a sizeable chunk of driftwood should be placed in the center of the tank to provide plenty of hiding places and territory for the hoplo fish. This will help to ensure that they remain healthy and happy in their new home.


It is common to find aquarists who use filters for the filtration of their aquariums, but it is less common to find those who use filtration in the tank of hoplo fish. Thus, it is important to note that the correct use of filtration in the tank of this fish species is essential for the proper development of the fish and for the filtration of the water in which it is kept.

The use of hoplo spotted in an aquarium can lead to problems if the filtration system is not properly installed and if it is not effective. In particular, a poorly designed or malfunctioning filter can result in the accumulation of toxins and bacteria in the water, which can harm both the fish and other organisms that live in the tank.

Additionally, a filter that does not remove large particles from the water may also cause clouds of sediments to form, which can be harmful to both the fish and other aquatic organisms.

If you are considering using a filter in the tank of hoplo fish, it is essential to consult with an expert before making any decisions. A qualified professional can help you choose the correct type of filter for your aquarium and ensure that it is installed correctly and effectively removes pollutants and debris from the water.

In addition, a well-designed and functioning filtration system can provide your fish with a healthy environment in which to live.


The fish species reach reproductive maturity at ten months. They breed both naturally and in captivity, though, in captivity, the rate is high due to the controlled conditions.

A tank of 10 gallons is required, and the water parameters should be kept the same. The fish live in groups, and they choose their partners to form. They experience a couple of spawning. The water temperature is reduced by 4 degrees to stimulate spawning.

This is done by adding cooler water to the tank. After spawning, the temperature is heated to normal. The atmospheric pressure is also reduced, so the spawning matches the cyclone passage.

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The breeders are prepared in advance for breeding to be successful. The food should match that in their natural habitat, and the leftovers should not be too much to make the water in the tank dirty.

Due to the unique nature of the fish, the male builds a nest on the top of the tank water for several days. They use leaves as their nests in the wild. Aquarists use plastic caps or foams, which provide an improvised nest for the fish in the tank. The plastics are put on top of the water in the tank.

The built bubble nests are covered with sticky slime that makes them adhere to each other. Once this action is done, the male chases the female to the nest direction. They look like a letter T in the nest, the female being on the top. The female lays eggs in the abdomen. The eggs are orange and sticky. They are deposited in the nest, and the female immediately swims away.

The male fertilizes the eggs increasing their number in the nest. The males guard the eggs, and they may feed on the females if they do not swim off.

The fish may spawn many times in three weeks. More interestingly, the male ceases eating during this period of guarding the eggs, which gives the aquarists an easy time dealing with them. The males renovate the nests so that it produces more bubbles. It also makes sure the eggs do not fall off.

The incubation of eggs takes different times depending on the temperatures in the tank. The larvae hatch with an average size of 6mm. They are fully formed with visible fins and barbs.

After hatching, the males are taken away from the tank as the larvae feed on the egg sacs. The juveniles forms for one week, and they swim to the bottom to school with others. They are fed a special diet with brine shrimp or any particular diet.

The light at this point should be dim. After eight weeks, they are fully grown and fed o with adult feed.

If you have a larger tank during spawning, you can allow several couples of the fish to spawn at once. It would be best if you were cautious about the nests and other conditions in this case. The fish do not feed on their larvae or juveniles.

Tank Mates

This fish species is happier when playing species of the same kind. However, they are peaceful and can adapt to other fish tank mates. They live longer and have fun while in groups, and therefore keeping them lonely may not bring out the desired characters in this species.

If you want to keep your hoplo fish with other fish in a tank, you should consider choosing fish that are compatible with them. Some of the fish that are compatible with Hoplo fish include:

  • Ghost shrimp
  • Neon tetra
  • Dwarf cichlid
  • Goldfish
  •  Siamese fighting fish

Common Possible Parasites

The main parasites that affect the catfish are protozoans, nematodes, and trematodes. These parasites can cause a variety of problems for the fish, including disease, malnutrition, and even death.

In some cases, the parasites can also be transmitted to humans who eat infected fish. Therefore, it is essential to cook hoplo fish thoroughly before eating them. Parasites can also be a problem for aquaculture operations that rear hoplo spotted.

 Infected fish can spread disease to other fish, and the parasites can also damage the growth of young fish. Consequently, it is essential to take steps to control parasite populations in aquaculture facilities.

1. Protozoans

They are tiny creatures that feed on the blood and tissues of Hoplo fish. Protozoan infections can cause diseases such as blackhead disease, white spot disease, and chilblain disease. In some cases, Protozoan infections can also lead to deformities in the fish flesh.

2. Nematodes

They include small creatures that feed on the skin, scales, and flesh of Hoplo fish. Nematode infections can cause problems such as fin rot, parasite infestation, and muscle atrophy.

3. Trematodes

These are large parasitic creatures that can infect both fish and humans. Trematode infections can lead to various problems, including liver disease, heart disease, and even death. It is therefore essential to take steps to control parasite populations in aquaculture.

Common Possible Diseases

If you notice any unusual behaviors or physical changes in your fish, it is always best to consult a veterinarian or fish expert to rule out any potential health problems.

Some common diseases affecting freshwater fish include bacterial and fungal infections.

1. Bacterial Infections

Infections caused by corynebacteria in a farmed population of Hoplosternum were studied. Corynebacteria may be the causative agent of the high mortality rate in this population, as suggested by other studies on corynebacteria-infected farmed fish. The use of antibiotics may be necessary to control the infection and prevent further losses in this species of fish.

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2. Viral Infections

This fish species is susceptible to several viral infections, including the bubonic plague, which can cause fatal internal organ damage. The hoplo fish also suffers from several other common water-borne diseases, including gill disease and cholera.

These diseases can be treated with antibiotics, anti-parasitic, or anti-fungal medications. It is essential to follow the instructions on the medication label carefully and always consult a qualified expert if you have any questions or concerns about your fish’s health.

Prevention is the best way to ensure that your catfish remain healthy. Keep the tank clean and free of parasites, and make sure you give them enough fresh water and nutritious food to stay hydrated and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Are Hoplo Catfish From?

The spotted fish is native to the Amazon Basin in South America. It is also found in the Orinoco Basin and the rivers of Guyana. It is found in freshwater habitats, including rivers, streams, and ponds. It is not found in salt water.

Are Hoplo Catfish Good With Goldfish?

Some Hope fish may be good with goldfish, while others may not get along as well. It is always best to check with your fish care supplier or veterinarian before adding any new fish to your aquarium. Generally speaking, it is safe to mix different types of fish, provided they are all properly maintained and sized appropriately.

Some hobbyists recommend keeping a small number of goldfish in an aquarium with a more significant number of Hoplo spotted, as this can help to keep the smaller fish safe while also providing some interesting interactions between the two species.

How Many Hoplo Spotted Can Live Together?

It is best to keep Hoplo fish in groups of no more than six fish. Overpopulation can lead to stress and aggression among the fish, resulting in injuries or even death.

Additionally, larger groups of fish may consume more food than they need, leading to nutritional deficiencies in some members of the group. Therefore, it is best to keep these predators in smaller groups if possible.

Some hobbyists maintain populations of up to thirty-six Hoplo fish in tanks as small as ten gallons. However, care must be taken to provide the cats with adequate space to swim and hide, as well as enough food and water.

Overall, it is best to keep Hoplo spotted in groups of no more than six fish. If you need help with this decision, please consult a qualified veterinarian.

Can You Eat Hoplo Spotted Fish?

Yes, these fish are edible. They are a popular food fish in their native range and are also farmed for commercial sale. The flesh of the fish is white and firm, with a mild flavor. The fish can be cooked in a variety of ways, including baking, frying, grilling, and steaming.

Hope fish are also commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, where they are often made into curries or grilled whole. While the fish are edible, it is advisable to inquire about the quality of the fish before purchasing it, as some varieties are less desirable and may contain higher levels of toxins.

How Big Does A Hoplo Fish Get?

The fish can get up to 3 feet long. There have been reports of them growing up to 4 feet long, but this is very rare. They are also quite variable in size, with some being much smaller than others. Generally, the larger ones are more colorful and have a more striking appearance. However, there are also plenty of smaller ones that are just as beautiful.


The hoplo catfish is a freshwater fish that is native to South America. It is a member of the family Callichthyidae, which contains armored catfishes. The hoplo fish is interesting, and it gets its name from the Greek word “hoplon,” meaning “shield,” which refers to the fish’s bony plates that cover its body. It is a bottom-dweller and can be found in slow-moving rivers and streams. It is a nocturnal fish capable of living in very acidic water. The fish species is a popular food fish in South America and can be found in the wild, both fresh and frozen. It has moderate to high-quality meat that is often used in regional cuisine.

It has a wide range and population size, so it is not considered threatened by the IUCN. However, its populations may decline due to habitat loss and other factors. The hoplo fish is currently protected in Brazil and Paraguay.

Overall, the hoplo spotted is a good choice for those looking for a fish that is both interesting and easy to care for. If you are interested in purchasing a hoplo, be sure to research the available options before making a decision.


Passionate fishkeeper. Nature lover. Creative thinker. Music junkie. Adventurer.

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