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Title Spotted Headstander (Chilodus punctatus)

Sara Waller

Last Updated



A brief description of the spotted headstander.

Image result for Chilodus punctatus

The spotted headstander is a small fish found in Lake Amuku, the upper Essequibo River system, Guyana, and is currently considered to range throughout much of the Amazon system in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil plus the western Orinoco in Colombia, the Apeú drainage in Pará state, eastern Brazil and various coastal river systems of Guyana and Suriname. It primarily inhabits slow moving rivers, tributaries, oxbows and floodplain lakes.  These fish grow to an adult length of about 2.7 to 3.1  inches long.  Spotted headstanders have a pointed snout, diamond-shaped green and brown body with brown spots.  Adult males develop a slightly more extended dorsal fin than females, while sexually mature females tend to have an overall rounder shape than males.

The spotted headstander should be kept in an aquarium of 30 gallons or larger as it should be kept in groups of at least 3 or 4.  A biotope style aquarium could consist of a sandy substrate (CS6631) with driftwood roots and branches, leaf litter (CS706) and floating plants.  Submerged plants may also be used and although it may browse algae and biofilm from the surface, this species should not consume leaves or soft shoots.  

The spotted headstander prefers a water temperature of 68° to 82°F, a pH range of 5.0 to 7.5, and soft to moderately hard water of 1 to 10°H.  

The spotted headstander is an omnivore feeding primarily on insects, insect larvae, terrestrial fruits, and algae.  In the aquarium, spotted headstanders are generally adaptable and will accept most good quality prepared foods as well as live or frozen blood worms, daphnia, brine shrimp, and black worms, but should be offered a varied diet ideally including some greenery in the form of fresh algae, fruit, vegetables or a dried product containing a high proportion of Spirulina, such as CS Pro flakes or sticks (AL166).  It may be beneficial to soak live or frozen foods in a food supplement such as Vita Chem (BE2450) to enhance the nutritional profile of the food and ensure good health.  An appetite stimulant such as Hyper Garlic (SIC542) may also be beneficial.


Spotted headstanders are relatively shy and peaceful and do not appreciate the presence of boisterous or fast moving fish.  Good tankmates include many tetras, smaller loricariid catfish, Corydoras catfish, and peaceful cichlids such as keyhole cichlids or rams.  Spotted headstanders can be maintained in a group, and although some squabbling is inevitable physical damage is rare as long as sufficient cover is provided.

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