Platystacus cotylephorus (Banded Banjo Catfish)

Platystacus cotylephorus

Last updated on September 3rd, 2022 at 05:05 pm

The banded banjo catfish, Platystacus cotylephorus, is one of the most popular aquarium fish on the market today. They have an extremely peaceful nature, making them perfect for both beginners and experienced aquarists alike.

Platystacus cotylephorus are catfish that are usually found in freshwater rivers but can also live in lakes and ponds, as well as man-made lakes and ponds.

This short guide on Banded Banjo Catfish will provide everything you need to know about this spectacular species of catfish!

Origin and descriptions

Platystacus cotylephorus 4 - Platystacus cotylephorus

Found in southeast Asia and Australia, Platystacus cotylephorus are easily identified by their dark brown coloration with yellow and blue stripes running along their sides. A thin black stripe runs from behind their gills to around their eyes, ending above a wiggly whisker-like apparatus.

This fish grows up to one foot long and is not only an excellent food source but also a very popular aquarium species. These fish can be distinguished from other members of their genus due to their distinctive markings; however, it can be difficult to tell males and females apart until they reach sexual maturity.

Male Platystacus cotylephorus develop a larger head as well as a much more noticeable whisker than females do; at maturity, they can grow up to four times larger than females do. These fish prefer water temperatures between 70°F and 80°F, though they can survive in slightly cooler or warmer temperatures if necessary.

Species profile

Platystacus cotylephorus belong to the family Aspredinidae, which are often referred to as banjo catfishes. These fish are native to Asia and Australia but have been introduced into many other parts of the world. They typically live in slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation, such as swamps and marshes.

This species is one of several similar-looking species within its genus; it can be distinguished from others by its coloration and banding pattern on its body. Like other banjos, Platystacus cotylephorus has an elongated body that tapers at both ends.

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Common names

Platystacus cotylephorus goes by many names, some of which are banjo catfish, eel-tailed banjo, banded banjo catfish, or just banjo fish.


Platystacus cotylephorus can be found in Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania. Found in clear slow-moving rivers of tropical waters. It is a bottom dweller that likes to hide under rocks or logs. It is very important to note it will not live in an aquarium as they require a natural habitat with lots of hiding places.

Banded banjo catfish size

Platystacus cotylephorus

Platystacus cotylephorus can grow up to around 12.6 inches (32 cm) in total length.

Banded banjo catfish tank size

Due to their size, the minimum recommended tank size for Platystacus cotylephorus is 30 gallons (114 liters)

Tank requirements

The ideal tank size for one adult Platystacus cotylephorus is at least 30 gallons with plenty of open swimming area. They will thrive in community tanks, especially those with high surface areas. A tank with a large number of driftwood and rock formations offers shelter for this fish but also leaves space for algae growth. These algae provide a food source for Platystacus as well as other bottom-dwelling species.

If given enough algae and wood, Platystaco will not even have to resort to consuming invertebrates. However, if you would like to keep invertebrates in your tank, it is best to avoid housing Platystacus with shrimp or snails; they are likely to be eaten by these catfish.

It is also important that you provide hiding places for any small fish that may live in your aquarium because these catfish are known for their aggressive behavior towards smaller fish. They are often described as having sharp teeth and can inflict damage on other fish. In order to avoid injury, make sure there is plenty of space between your Platystacus and other fish in your tank.

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Tank mates

Choose tank mates that can thrive in similar conditions, such as livebearers, Central American cichlids, and rainbowfish. This fish can be kept with archerfish, scats, monkeys, gobies, and chromides in brackish water fish communities. There is no aggression towards its own kind, and it can be kept individually or in groups.


Platystacus cotylephorus

The breeding of Platystacus cotylephorus is not well known. Their eggs are usually deposited in brackish water. Females hold eggs to their abdomens, where males fertilize them. Females incubate eggs under their abdomens. It’s probably an adaptation to provide oxygen to the eggs properly in a muddy environment.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Platystacus cotylephorus are generally peaceful, but they are territorial and will chase other tank mates away if they decide to claim an area of your aquarium as their own. Also, if you have a bristlenose pleco in your tank, it’s best to keep at least four of these catfish together. These species are known for occasional nipping on one another’s fins.

Banjo catfish care

Platystacus cotylephorus

Consider a small school of platys that can be kept in a 30-gallon or larger aquarium. In terms of current and décor, it should be large enough to allow space for every fish to swim comfortably with no aggressive behavior displayed toward each other. As with most schooling species, decor such as driftwood and rock formations provide cover while acting as subtle décor.

The substrate should also be minimal in order to reduce maintenance time, leaving you more time to enjoy your new pets.

If housing them together, ensure there is plenty of room between them, and plants are used as dividers between them so they don’t feel crowded. When housing multiple individuals together, it is important to have at least three females per male because males will become territorial if only one female is present.

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What do banjo catfish eat

Platystacus cotylephorus is omnivorous, meaning it eats both plants and animals. It prefers small aquatic invertebrates like worms, insects, shrimp, and other crustaceans but can also eat fish and plant matter when those are easier to find.

They’re scavengers and will hunt for food at night or in low-light conditions. They’ll even follow larger predators like bass or catfish around hoping to pick up scraps of food from their hunting efforts.


Their expected lifespan is 8-12 years with good care.

Parasites and diseases

Parasites are a problem that often gets overlooked. When you first acquire your fish, it’s best to isolate them before adding them to your aquarium. Do not buy fish from pet stores that don’t quarantine their stock, or from public auctions where no medical history can be obtained, and quarantining is not an option.

The most common parasites affecting aquarium fish are protozoan (single-celled organisms), worms, fungus, and external parasites such as ich and velvet. There are many different treatments for these diseases; ask your local fish store which treatment they recommend.

Some of these diseases can be treated with antibiotics, but others require a change in water conditions or temperature to eliminate them completely. It’s important to remember that if one member of your tank becomes infected with disease, chances are all of them will become infected eventually because they’re living in such close quarters. This means frequent water changes and keeping up on regular maintenance may help prevent disease outbreaks in your tank.


Platystacus cotylephorus are very vulnerable to predators. Anything that finds them attractive is likely to eat them. These fish usually only live in areas where there is lots of covers so that they can hide from their enemies. They try to stay close to structures such as logs and rocks, even if it means swimming into very small crevices in order to do so.

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Some common predators are largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, walleye, muskellunge, and northern pike. These fish can often be found in large groups so they have a better chance of survival. They will also try to stay near cover so that if a predator comes close they can dart away quickly.

The banded banjo catfish is a very interesting species of fish that has many unique adaptations to help it survive.

Do Platystacus cotylephorus make good pets?

While Platystacus cotylephorus isn’t actually ideal pets, they aren’t overly aggressive and can be kept in a small tank. However, a lot of care is needed for these animals. As an adult, these catfish reach about 13 inches long, so you’ll need to provide them with ample space.

Also, if you want to keep more than one in your tank, each fish will require its own territory because they are territorial creatures by nature.