Catfish, Emerald

Brochis splendens

Adult length: 3 in (7.5 cm); coloration: body reflects a metallic green, blue-green, or even a bluish color. The ventral area is yellowish with the pectoral, ventral, and anal fins yellowish and the dorsal, caudal, and adipose fins a translucent brownish. Females are larger and more robust than the males, and have a more pinkish belly as opposed to the more yellowish one for the males.








Upper reaches Amazon River basin: Ucayali River to Pucallpa, Ambiyacu River, and the area around Iquitos in the nations of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru


Inland tropical freshwater systems with slow moving water and dense vegetation along banks

Life Expectancy

Up to 5 years

Sexual Maturity



In the wild, they eat worms, benthic crustaceans, and insect larvae; in the Zoo, they are fed a scientifically developed, commercially available fish food.


IUCN – Not Listed


The emerald catfish is a common species in freshwater aquaria. It is a peaceful, undemanding species and can be maintained under the same conditions as most Corydoras species. They are shy and easily frightened when kept as individuals, so it is best kept in small groups of at least three, with more being recommended. The tank should have only a soft, fine bottom to prevent damage to barbels and should be heavily planted. Feeding is not difficult and they accept almost anything, although live worms are especially appreciated. It does well in a community tank and does not tear up the plants. Spawning has been achieved in captivity. Typically, the fish are separated into a breeding tank in the ratio of three males to two females, all well-conditioned on live foods. The couple will spawn while sitting on the bottom, not while swimming as many similar species do. In captivity, the female collects the eggs in her pelvic fin basket and pastes them individually to plants and other objects. Eggs will be deposited by the female throughout the tank, but especially on any floating surface plants. According to most reports, the parents do not immediately try to eat the eggs. The eggs hatch in about four days and the fry become free swimming two days later.


A flattened head allows for digging through the substrate as well as perhaps serving as a hydrofoil. Most have a mouth that can expand to a large size and contains no incisiform teeth; catfish generally feed through suction or gulping rather than biting and cutting prey. The barbels (“whiskers”) are important in detecting food. Like other ostariophysans, they are characterized by the presence of a Weberian apparatus, an anatomical structure that connects the swim bladder to the auditory system. Their well-developed Weberian apparatus and reduced gas bladder allow for improved hearing as well as sound production. All catfish, except members of Malapteruridae (electric catfish), possess a strong, hollow, bonified leading spine-like ray on their dorsal and pectoral fins. As a defense, these spines may be locked into place so that they stick outwards, which can inflict severe wounds.

Special Interests

The name Brochis is derived from the Greek word “brogchia”, meaning “throat” or “trachea”. Catfishes are named for their prominent barbels, which resemble cat whiskers. It was originally described as Callichthys splendens by François Louis de la Porte, Comte de Castelnau in 1855. This species was once also commonly called Brochis coeruleus. W. A. Gosline was the first to suspect that the two species were the same in 1940, but it was actually Njiseen & Isbrücker in 1970 who combined the two, giving sufficient reasons for doing so. Some believe that this species should be classified as Corydoras britskii and Brochis should be synonymized with Corydoras.



Jacksonville Zoo History

This species first arrived in 2004 for the opening of the “Range of the Jaguar” exhibit area.