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Scientific Name Sturisomatichthys aureus  (Steindachner, 1900)
Common Names Giant Whiptail
Gylden Størmalle (Denmark), Helikoptermal (Sweden), Stoerwels (Germany)
Type Locality Sororia Creek at Jagua de Ibiricó, lower Magdalena basin, Cesar Department, Colombia.
Synonym(s) Loricaria aurea, Sturisoma aureum
Etymology (German)Sturio=Sturgeon + (Greek) soma=body + (Greek) -ichthys=fish. This specific epithet refers to its golden (aureum=golden) colour.
Hop to next section Species Information
Size 150mm or 5.9" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification Sturisoma and Sturisomatichthys can be difficult to tell apart. Older descriptions of the genera emphasized the length of the snout (elongated in Sturisoma), but this trait is not reliable across species. Recent analyses allow discrimination based on the abdominal plates, fin colors and lateral plates: Sturisoma has its central abdominal plates arranged in three clearly-defined longitudinal series; all fins (except sometimes pectoral fins) lack dark spots; and 20–21 lateral plates in median series. Sturisomatichthys has its central abdominal plates less organized, not arranged in clearly-defined longitudinal series; dark spots usually present on one or more of the dorsal-, pectoral-, pelvic, or anal-fins; and 15–18 lateral plates in median series. Furthermore, to date all Sturisoma are cis-Andean; most (but not all) Sturisomatichthys are trans-Andean.

Young Sturisomatichthys of any species are difficult to distinguish.  S. aureus can be distinguished from most congeners by the black horizontal markings behind the first dorsal ray, which are solid as opposed to speckled.  It also appears to be the smallest member of the genus rarely reaching over six inches in length. S. aureus, when in good condition, has a long trailing fin extension from the upper caudal lobe but not other fins.
Sexing Males sport conspicuous odontodes along the sides of the head and rostrum.
General Remarks Often, but always incorrectly, sold as S. panamensis which is not commercially exported nor captive-bred. Evers and Seidel (2002) describe this fish in earlier editions of their Wels Atlas as Sturisoma sp. "Kolumbien". This is the most common species shipped from Colombia. Sturisomatichthys leightoni are often mixed in the shipments.  These shipments are also sometimes combined with shipments of a similar species that are collected further downriver this has led to hybridisation in captive populations.
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Distribution Magdalena, San Jorge and Cesar River basins, Colombia.
Found in the Rio Magdalena and its tributaries, upstream of Honda. It appears to be the species common in the upper Magdalena and is replaced downriver by another, similar species.
Colombia Caribbean Rivers, Magdalena (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Data Deficient, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2014.
pH 6.6 - 7.6
Temperature 20.0-26.0°C or 68-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters Soft to medium water hardness.  It should also be noted that this fish prefers slightly cooler water and may not thrive in a warmer (over 78°F/26°C) aquarium.
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Feeding Typical of the genus.  The diet should be mainly spinach, cucumber, and algae wafers with meaty food like blood worms or brine shrimp fed once per week. User data.
Furniture Does well in a planted aquaria with driftwood.
Compatibility Peaceful community fish.  Do not place with more robust loricariids as it is not a strong competitor for food.
Breeding See Shane's World article.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Hop to next section Further Information
Reference Anzeiger der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe v. 37 (no. 18), pp 206.
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Last Update 2024 May 17 09:07 (species record created: 2001 Apr 29 00:00)