Bunocephalus verrucosus – Craggy Banjo Catfish

Bunocephalus verrucosus or Craggy Banjo Catfish is peaceful and grows to about 11 cm in length. The head and back all show bumps.

Bunocephalus verrucosus – Craggy Banjo Catfish

Bunocephalus verrucosus was already described in 1792 by Walbaum. They are part of the family Aspredinidae or Banjo Catfish. The genus name Bunocephalus can be broken down into two ancient Greek words. Bounos means hill or mountain and Kephale means head. A reference to the bumps on the head of this genus. Verrucae is the name for warts. The species name means something like covered with warts, referring to warty nodules on the body.

Their common name is Craggy Banjo Catfish or Gnarled Catfish.


Bunocephalus verrucosus can reach a total length of about 11 centimetres. As the name implies, this species has small bumps on the head and body. The back is high and ribbed. This distinguishes them from other Banjo Catfish. The colour is light brown to dark brown. Sometimes also spotted.

The difference between males and females is best seen from above. The females have a rounder belly. Especially visible from above at the base of the caudal peduncle.

In Bunocephalus verrucosus, the pectoral girdle (coracoid process) extends almost all the way to the pelvic fins. This is a bone that runs from the shoulder along the edge of the abdomen to the back. You can feel this bone from the outside. In Bunocephalus verrucosus it continues even further than in Bunocephalus coracoideus, which owes its name to this bone.


Not only the colour and shape of Bunocephalus verrucosus provides camouflage. When in danger, the fish curls its tail along the body. This creates a round shape that resembles the seeds of the trees and shrubs along the bank. The caudal fin can even be raised slightly to give the appearance of the fruit about to sprout.


The character of Bunocephalus verrucosus is very peaceful. They also leave smaller fish completely alone. They combine well with many other fish of similar size. They are nocturnal animals that mainly emerge at dusk.


The distribution area of ​​Bunocephalus verrucosus includes rivers in Brazil, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru.

The species Bunocephalus scabriceps has become a synonym, but the name is sometimes still used in exports. These specimens come from the Amazon region. This variant has more pronounced bumps on the part of the head in front of the dorsal fin. In the trade, they are therefore sometimes referred to as Bunocephalus verrucosus verrucosus and Bunocephalus verrucosus scabriceps.


The diet of Bunocephalus verrucosus is not too difficult. This omnivore will eat almost all food. You can feed them with sinking tablets, flake food, live and frozen food.

The best time to feed them is after the lights are out. If there are other fish swimming around they will not look for food unless they are really desperate and hungry. It is better not to combine them with other species with which they have to compete too much for food.

Feeding by hand

With a lot of patience and perseverance, you can teach this strain to be hand-fed. The advantage of this is that you know for sure that they actually eat. Once they are used to being hand-fed, Bunocephalus verrucosus will also come out when the light is still on.

The Aquarium

You can keep Bunocephalus verrucosus in an aquarium from about 80 centimetres. Preferably use sand on the bottom. Unlike many other Banjo catfish, this species does not or hardly dig. Decorate the aquarium with some plants, wood or leaves for them to hide in during daylight.

As mentioned, they are peaceful fish that are easy to combine. Just don’t keep them with overly busy and aggressive fish. If a Bunocephalus verrucosus is hanging from the water’s surface rather than on the bottom, that’s a sign that they are being harassed.


This is a fairly strong strain that is easy to keep. Of course, they preferably have water that suits their natural environment. The temperature of the water may be between 21 and 26 degrees Celsius. The pH may be slightly more acidic to neutral at a pH of 5.5 to 7.5.

Breeding Bunocephalus verrucosus

Not much is known about the breeding of Bunocephalus verrucosus. The newly hatched Bunocephalus verrucosus like to hide between the leaves of (floating) plants. The eggs are said to be deposited between roots of floating plants, but a well-documented observation is not known.



John de Lange

Copyright images

Ben Lee – Amiidae.com
Marcus Elieser Bloch, 1723-1799 – D. Marcus Elieser Bloch’s, ausübenden Arztes zu Berlin … Oeconomische Naturgeschichte der Fische Deutschlands


Fooled by a fish: seed camouflage by an Amazonian banjo catfish,
Bunocephalus verrucosus – Flávio C. T. Lima and Gilberto N. Salvador – 2018
Genera of the Asian Catfish Families Sisoridae and Erethistidae – photo with example of the chest belt.
Mees, G.F., 1988 “The genera of the subfamily Bunocephalinae (Pisces, Nematognathi, Aspredinidae)” ( Proceedings of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen) P. 90
Mees, G.F., 1989 “Notes on the genus Dysichthys, subfamily Bunocephalidae, family Aspridinidae (Pisces, Nematognathi)” (Proceedings of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen) P. 204

Additional information







Agmus lyriformis, Agmus scabriceps, Aspredo gronovii, Aspredo verrucosa, Bunocephalichthys gronovii, Bunocephalichthys verrucosus scabriceps, Bunocephalichthys verrucosus verrucosus, Bunocephalus gronovii, Bunocephalus scabriceps, Platystacus verrucosus, Silurus verrucosus

First described by

Johann Julius Walbaum



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