Striped headstander, Laemolyta taeniata


Matt Clarke looks at one of the less common species of anostomid headstanders which is common in the central Amazon basin, but not often seen for sale in the shops.

Common name: Striped headstander

Scientific name: Laemolyta taeniata

Origin: Quite widespread over the central part of the Amazon basin being found in the Rio Negro in Brazil and further west in the Orinoco drainage.

Size: Up to about 25cm/10" but probably only 20cm/8" in captivity.

Diet: These fish feed in typical headstander mode by feeding with their heads at the substrate and their tail in an almost vertical position. Their actual diet hasn't been documented, but they probably feed on detritus and insect larvae. They'll take most dried and frozen foods in the aquarium.

Water: This species occurs in blackwaters where the pH can be as low as 2-3 and the hardness virtually non-existent. But these were doing fine in very hard, alkaline tapwater, so it's clearly an adaptable fish.

Notes: I watched a small group of L. taeniata swimming around in a terrestrial lake during the PFK Brazil expedition last year. Unlike some other anostomids, such as Leporinus species, which can be quite aggressive and were usually solitary, these were always seen living peacefully in groups of three or four, so you ought to keep them this way in the aquarium.

Aquarium: For a group of four you'll need a tank of 120cm/48" or more with a silver sand bottom and plenty of bogwood. No plants were seen in their natural habitat, but it wouldn't surprise me if these were herbivorous, so they're perhaps best left out. They mix well with the cichlids from the region, such as Mesonauta species, Acarichthys heckeli and Uaru.

Identification: Usually exported from Manaus in Brazil as Striped headstanders, however, that name is more commonly used for Anostomus anostomus. L. taeniata was previously considered a member of the Anostomus genus. Not much has been written on Laemolyta, but as far as I know, the distinctive lateral stripe of this fish should be enough to tell it apart from others. There are 10 other Laemolyta species: fernandezi; macra; nitens; petiti; varia; garmani; fasciatus; proxima and orinocensis.

Availability: Not often seen for sale in the UK. We recently spotted a tankful at the Goldfish Bowl, Oxford.

Price: As a rough guide, you should expect to pay around 10-20 for one of these.