The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Platydoras costatus
Platydoras costatus
(Raphael catfish)

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Platydoras costatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name: Raphael catfish

Synonyms and Other Names: striped raphael, chocolate catfish, bacu.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Higuchi (1992) gave a brief diagnosis of the genus, which was more recently discussed by Sabaj and Ferraris (2003). Keys to doradid genera and species were given by Eigenmann (1925) and Burgess (1989); however, the information should be considered dated or suspect. A few distinguishing characteristics and color photographs of live fish appeared in Burgess (1989). A photograph of the species also appeared in Sands (1984) and Ferraris (1991). This species is very similar to and can be confused with other species of Platydoras, including P. armatulus (see Remarks).

Size: Maximum length of 24 cm SL (Sabaj and Ferraris 2003) but averages smaller.

Native Range: South America, from Venezuela and the Guianas to Argentina (Robins et al. 1991), including the Amazon, Tocantins, Parnaíba, Orinoco, and Essequibo River basins and coastal drainages in French Guiana and Suriname.

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Platydoras costatus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL198419841South Atlantic-Gulf Region

Table last updated 2/27/2023

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Generally found in streams and rivers, among mangrove roots and sandy bottom habitats. Benthic omnivore, generally feeding on mollusks, crustaceans, and organic detritus. Juveniles may be facultative cleaners of larger fishes (Le Bail et al. 2000; Carvalho et al. 2003).

Means of Introduction: Likely aquarium release, as many species of Doradidae are popular in the aquarium trade.

Status: Reported from Florida and Texas. Likely failed introduction: there have been no additional specimens or reports since initial sightings.

Remarks: This species is one of the most common doradids in the aquarium trade. It is very similar to a congener, P. armatulus, which originates from the Paraguay-Paraná and portions of Amazon and Orinoco basins. Records for P. costatus may actually be specimens of P. armatulus, e.g., Howells (2001) lists P. costatus but the museum collection record for this specimen (ANSP 179206) is identified as Platydoras cf. armatulus.

References: (click for full references)

Burgess, W. E. 1989. An atlas of freshwater and marine catfishes: a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Courtenay, W. R., Jr., and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1990. The introduced fish problem and the aquarium fish industry. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 21(3):145-159.

Courtenay, W. R., Jr., D. A. Hensley, J. N. Taylor, and J. A. McCann. 1984. Distribution of exotic fishes in the continental United States. Pages 41-77 in W. R. Courtenay, Jr., and J. R. Stauffer, Jr., editors. Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Carvalho, L.N., R. Arruda, and J. Zuanon. 2003. Record of cleaning behavior by Platydoras costatus (Siluriformes: Doradidae) in the Amazon Basin, Brazil. Neotropical Ichthyology 1(2):137-139.

Courtenay, W. R., Jr., D. P. Jennings, and J. D. Williams. 1991. Appendix 2: exotic fishes. Pages 97-107 in Robins, C. R., R. M. Bailey, C. E. Bond, J. R. Brooker, E. A. Lachner, R. N. Lea, and W. B. Scott. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada, 5th edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 20. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Eigenmann, C.H. 1925. A review of the Doradidae, a family of South American Nematognathi, or catfishes. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 22:280-365.

Ferraris, C. J., Jr. 1991. Catfish in the aquarium. Tetra Press, Morris Plains, NJ.

Higuchi, H. 1992. A phylogeny of South American thorny catfishes (Osteichthyes; Siluriformes; Doradidae). PhD dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Howells, R.G. 2001. Introduced non-native fishes and shellfishes in Texas waters: and updated list and discussion. Texas Parks and Wildlife Management Data Series, vol. 188.

Le Bail, P.-Y., P. Keith, and P. Planquette. 2000. Atlas des poissons d'eau douce de Guyane. Volume 2. Publications scientifiques du Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris, France.

Piorski, N.M., J.C. Garavello, M. Arce, and M.H. Sabaj Pérez. 2008. Platydoras brachylecis, a new species of thorny catfish (Siluriformes: Doradidae) from northeastern Brazil. Neotropical Ichthyology 6(3):481-494.

Robins, C. R., R. M. Bailey, C. E. Bond, J. R. Brooker, E. A. Lachner, R. N. Lea, and W. B. Scott. 1991. World fishes important to North Americans exclusive of species from the continental waters of the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 21. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Sabaj, M.H. and C.J. Ferraris Jr., 2003. Doradidae (Thorny catfishes). 456-469 in R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. eds. Checklist of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil.

Sands, D. 1984. Catfishes of the world, volume 4: Loricariidae, Aspredinidae, and Doradidae. Dunure Enterprises, Ayr, Scotland.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus

Revision Date: 10/4/2012

Peer Review Date: 10/4/2012

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus, 2023, Platydoras costatus (Linnaeus, 1758): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=665, Revision Date: 10/4/2012, Peer Review Date: 10/4/2012, Access Date: 3/26/2023

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2023]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/26/2023].

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