Akysis vespa

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Dr Heok Hee Ng explains how to keep the stunning little akysid catfish Akysis vespa - a species he described with Maurice Kottelat in 2004.

Scientific name: Akysis vespa Ng and Kottelat 2004

Origin: Upper reaches of Ataran river drainage in south Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Size: Up to 4cm/1.6”.

Water: Best kept in cooler, slightly acidic to neutral water, although it has been maintained at temperatures as high as 30°C/ 86°F. Temperature should ideally be around 20-24°C/68-76°F and pH around 6.0-7.5.

Diet: Live or frozen food such as bloodworm and brineshrimp are eaten readily. Will eat dried food, provided particles are small enough.

Aquarium: A fine sandy substrate with some rocks and moderate current is ideal for these small catfish. This is also the first member of the genus bred in the aquarium, with spawning triggered by a drastic change in conditions brought about by a large water change.

These are ideal catfish for an Asian hill stream biotope featuring danios and loaches.

Identification: I described this species with Maurice Kottelat in 2004.

Two Akysis species with the yellow and brown banding pattern seen in A. vespa are regularly imported from the aquarium trade from Myanmar. They are A. longifilis and A. prashadi. A. longifilis  has longer nasal barbels, while prashadi differs in having a brown (vs. yellow) abdomen.

Availability: These fish were spotted on sale at Coxwell Aquatics last year. A few other dealers have also had them recently.

This item was first published in the August 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.