Not a ninja!
If you’ve got a woodcat fan looking over your shoulder as you read this, he or she might have barked ‘Ninja catfish’ upon seeing this picture. If they did, then they’re wrong.
This is Tatia musaica, a different fish to the ‘true’ Ninja catfish, which is Centromochlus orca. At naked eye level, the difference between the two comes down to the amount of white present on each fish. C. orca has a greater ‘splash’ of white over it, especially on the tail. According to ichthyologists Sarmentosoares et al., the two fish are likely sister species awaiting a taxonomic clean-up. Based on how these things usually pan out, I wouldn’t get too attached to the ‘Tatia’ name here.
Keeping woodcats happy is pretty straightforward — the clue is in the name. Offer up wood. Split, water-worn, creviceladen wood that the cats can hide in will win them over. As a negative point, that means you’ll rarely see the fish, and you’ll need to be forever cautious about any wood you remove from the tank.
Very warm, acidic water is needed if you want to keep them at their best, and always look at the bellies before buying — thin specimens can be hard to fatten back up.
Scientific name: Tatia musaica (Tay-tee-ah mew-zay-ka). Size: to around 6cm. Origin: Guiana shield, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil. Habitat: Sandy, stained rivers. Tank size: Minimum 60 x 30cm footprint. Water requirements: Very soft and acidic: 4.5–6.0ph, hardness below 4°H. Temperature: High, around 28°C. Temperament: Peaceful, if incredibly shy. Feeding: Sinking pellets and granules, live and frozen Daphnia, Cyclops and bloodworm. Frozen Calanus. Availability and price: Rare import, specialist retailers only. This fish were on sale at £39.95.