Name: Farlowella acus (& others)
Origin: Southern Amazon
***Note: there are more than 20 different species in the Farlowella genus, which are however similar in size and aquarium keeping conditions, so we'll keep them all together on this page for now.
A fascinating looking algae eater, this fish is rarely seen in stores, and is not recommended for beginners, for several reasons. The fish rarely moves, is very sensitive about water conditions and intolerant of contaminants and untreated water. An extremely peaceful fish, it will not disturb even the most sensitive of other fish, but it is suceptible to being picked on itself by more aggressive fish. Farlowella prefer well planted tanks, make excellent algae eaters, and will not harm plants. When acquiring new specimens, a tank with plenty of algae is recommended, as the fish is best described as "lazy", and is often unwilling to move in order to search for food. Once aclimatized however, they can be fed a variety of vegetable foods, including parboiled zucchini, sliced yams, romaine lettuce, spirulina tablets, and sinking omnivorous pellets. While they can dart very quickly when startled, their normal motions are best described as similar to "a non-driver, attempting to do a 3-point turn in a stretch limo".
I´ve had several farlowellas for some time. They did quite well and were peaceful. However, these catfish need to come to the surface for air and they have rather long noses. It's important not to have the water level too close to the tank cover, or it can interfere with a large specimen's ability to gulp air easily. They do a good job on algae.
Here is my story of my first Farlowella (Twiggy). I got her by accident when I bought a beautiful plant that she apparently was attached to. I had no idea what she was, but she looked so cool! At first, she was indeed very shy. Now she is very much at home. I keep as many plants as I can in the tank and make sure that when I clean the tank I do not wipe the back or sides, rocks, etc, of algae. I have noticed that she poops green, so I guess she is not eating the bark she likes to lay on, only the plants. I liked her so much that I went back to the store and bought another one. There was one that was very long and lighter in color that I liked, but getting it off the side may have injured it. It was very lethargic on the way home. Also I noticed that it had no interest in the first one. One stayed at one end of the tank (200 liters) and the new one stayed at the other end. One morning I found it dead. I think that it had gotten squished by the large (30 cm) Pleco I have. Twiggy seems to know enough to get out of his way. I observed the going to the top for air from the long one, but haven't caught Twiggy yet. She may do it at night. I supplement her diet with cooked and shelled peas. I have only had fish for a couple of years, so I am still officially a "beginner", but so far so good. I would say to anyone, try this fish in a well established tank. As long as there are all mellow fish in it they should be fine. I have 2 large Bala Sharks (they showed interest in Twiggy for the first day, then left her alone), 2 adult Dalmatian Mollies, 11 baby Mollies and 2 large Clown Loaches. The tank uses a bio-wheel filtration system and I never clean the wheels, only change the filters. Clean water, good pH, but lots of nice algae. Well, it was nice to have a way to say how neat it is raising this very unusual fish.
I had a whiptail for about two years, and I found it to be a WONDERFUL fish. He was actually very hardy (though they aren't supposed to be), and did fine in my community aquarium...that was until I got one of those little lobsters....the lobster was very aggressive, and would attempt to pinch anything that came near. It ended up killing my whiptail. I thought he would be safe because he rarely swam horizontally across the tank, but I guess I was wrong!
I bought a whiptail not so long ago. I was prepared to get a very inactive guy but to my surprise he started almost immediately to eat and examine the tank. I also have a "black ghost" quite big and was afraid he would attack the the whip, but he doesn't pay him any attention at all.
I kept a farlowella in my tank for a year and a half. It was extremely hardy, even in very hard alkaline water (pH 8). I kept it in a well planted 75 L tank. It mostly hung out attached to an amazon sword leaf and only ate algae (I never fed it specifically). It survived 2 moves and an accident with my DIY CO2 generator. Careful when pruning plants - I once threw away a leaf that he was attached to by accident. After realizing what happened a few minutes later, I picked him out of the trash can and he was fine.