African glass catfish, Parailia pellucida

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Matt Clarke looks at the African glass catfish or Glass schilbeid Parailia pellucida.

Scientific name: Parailia pellucida, Boulenger, 1901.

Common name: Glass schilbid, African glass catfish

Origin: Found over a very wide area of West Africa. Its range also extends as far north as the Senegal-Mauritania border on the west coast and as far east as Egypt and the Sudan, which means it's probably a common species in the wild.

Size: Up to around 15cm/6", but normally a lot smaller in captivity.

Diet: Gut content analyses have revealed that Parailia pellucida feeds on small planktonic invertebrates and bottom-dwelling crustaceans, so frozen Daphnia, Mysis, brineshrimp and bloodworm would probably be preferable.

Water: Found over a wide area, so likely to be an adaptable species. Aim for something around neutral and you can't go far wrong.

Aquarium: This is a gregarious shoaling species and should only be kept in a group, preferably a group of at least six, ideally many more. Like the Asian glass catfish it's fairly fragile, so should only be mixed with peaceful, small or medium-sized species.

Provide plenty of cover in the form of plants and open driftwood so the shoal can shelter. Use a powerful filter to keep the water clean and add a bit of movement.

Notes: Although this fish resembles one of the Asian glass catfish of the family Siluridae, it's actually a member of the Schilbeidae family from Africa.

Identification: The Parailia genus contains four other species: P. congica, P. occidentalis, P. somalensis and P. spiniserrata.

Availability: Although undoubtedly a common fish in the wild, and one that is sold as food, this isn't a particularly common fish in the hobby. These fish were spotted during a recent visit to Coxwell Aquatics in Staffordshire.

Price: On sale for £3.50.

This article was first published in the September 2008 issue of Practical Fishkeeping. It may not be reproduced without written permission.