Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Platydoras costatus

Talking catfish

Talking catfish, Platydoras costatusTalking catfish, Platydoras costatus
Photos by Andy Rapson


Platydoras: Greek, platys = flat + Greek, doras = skin.

General Notes:

Platydoras costatus is a very shy nocturnal species and not one which you are likely to see much of in the aquarium. It is better to keep just one per tank unless the tank is very large and has sufficient hiding places for the fish to avoid each other. They are generally peaceful with other fish but very small fish may be considered as food. Platydoras costatus get their common name of "Talking catfish" because when caught they make a 'grinding noise' by grinding their pelvic fin bone in its socket. Try to avoid having to catch these fish using a net.  Their long pectoral spines become tangled in the net very easily and extracting them is very distressing for the fish.


In the wild Platydoras costatus feeds on molluscs, worms, crustaceans and detritus. In captivity they will accept sinking pellets, live and frozen food. It is best to feed them just after the tank light has been turned off to begin with as they feel more secure during the hours of darkness but they will become bolder as they settle in to their surroundings.


There are no visible external differences between the sexes


Talking catfish have never been bred in captivity. All specimens are wild caught.

Wild status 

The health of wild populations is unknown.

Information at a glance

pH: 5.8 - 7.5
dGH: 4 - 12
Temperature: 23 - 30°C (74 - 86°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 16cm (6.5in)
Min tank size: 200 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Bottom

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Talking catfish, Platydoras costatus

Origin: South America: Amazon, Tocantins, Parnaíba, Orinoco, Essequibo River basins and coastal drainages in French Guiana and Suriname. Also reported from Argentina

Habitat: Rivers with sandy substrate and lots of hiding places


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Doradidae
Genus: Platydoras
Species: P. costatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name:
Talking catfish

Synonyms: Doras dentatus, Doras helicophilus, Mystus ascita, Platydoras dentatus, Platydoras helicophilus, Silurus costatus.