Scleromystax - Mata Atlántica

Scleromystax-Mata Atlântica

The rainforest located on the east coast of Brazil - the Mata Atlântica - is home to many endemic animal and plant species. The tropical forest, which once comprised 17 states, is separated from the Amazon rainforest by savannah and dry areas. The states from which armoured catfish of the genus Scleromystax are known are Bahia, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, running from north to south. The best known are probably the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, with their large cities of the same name, which are growing ever further inland and taking up territory.

Scleromystax barbatus male

Environmental destruction

Since the arrival of the Europeans in the 1500s, over 90% of the original forest area has been cleared. Sugar cane cultivation in the north and coffee cultivation in the south are mainly responsible for this. Although the Mata Atlântica has been placed under protection, a study from 2009 says that 80% of the remaining forest area consists of pieces of less than 0.5 square kilometres, which are on average 1.4 km apart from each other. This circumstance makes it difficult for animals to migrate to the forest islands. (*)

In November 2015, two ore mine tailings ponds ruptured, contaminating about 650km of the Rio Doce in Minas Gerais state with heavy metals and other toxins. The mudslide has cost lives, swept away entire villages and cut off many people's access to clean drinking water and non-poisoned fish.

Scleromystax macropterus male


The armoured catfish of the genus Scleromystax inhabit this Mata Atlântica. The sometimes very long distance to the equator is reflected in distinct seasons with temperatures ranging from 20 to 25°C. This should be taken into account when keeping Scleromystax. This should be taken into account when keeping Scleromystax, permanently high temperatures cause the species to age faster. They are very well suited for unheated aquariums. The species S. barbatus, S. kronei, S. macropterus, S. prionotos, S. lacerdai as well as the undescribed species C112, C113/CW38, CW147, CW148 are known in aquaristics. Other species not known or established in aquaristics are S. reisi, S. salmacis, CW42, CW67 and CW92. S. macropterus and S. lacerdai have been classified as endangered even in Brazil and are not permitted for export (negative list of IBAMA **).

The aim of the conservation project for the Scleromystax of the Mata Atlântica is to bring together stocks and increase numbers through breeding.

Scleromystax prionotos

Literature Sources:

*(Milton Cezar Ribeiro et al.: The Brazilian Atlantic Forest: How much is left, and how is the remaining forest distributed? Implications for conservation. In: Biological Conservation. Band 142 (6), 2009, S. 1141–1153, doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2009.02.021).

** (Link from 26.01.2022)

project manager: Rob McLure    Email:

project manager deputy: Roman Lechner

project member
Henrik van Bennekom (NLD)    Sven Brunke (GER)    Torsten Friedrich (GER)    Manuel Harringer (AUT) 
Jürgen Janisch (AUT)    Dirk Jansen (GER)    Kasi Mátyás (HUN)     Roman Lechner (AUT) 
Rob McLure (USA)    Guido Reiter (AUT)   Ronny Stavenow (AUT)    Astrid Thomas (CHE)    Anne Zierold (GER) 


project partner

Aquarium Berlin     Zoo Leipzig


ÖVVÖ Conservation Projects

Project participants wanted!

02.05.2017 - 13:55

Call!  Conservation breeding project Mata Atlántica

Now that we have offspring of the endangered species Scleromystax prionotos at our disposal, we are...

Scleromystax macropterus, by Ingo Seidel

Final report first year Mata Atlantica

31.03.2017 - 09:16

Year-end report of the conservation project "Mata Atlántica" of the ÖVVÖ

In March 2016, the ÖVVÖ started the first conservation breeding project. After we were able to procure catfish of...

Erik Schiller

Conservation projects - lectures

14.03.2017 - 12:29

In order to promote our conservation breeding projects outside the ÖVVÖ, I am always on the road with lectures. In January, for example, at the...

Scleromystax prionotos

Report No. 2 Scleromystax - Roman Lechner

26.01.2017 - 09:10

Scleromystax sp. C112

On the evening of 14.11.16 I discovered many large (>2mm) eggs in the S. sp. C112 aquarium. Interestingly, they were not...

ÖVVÖ Conservation Projects

News - Another project participant, breeding successes

25.01.2017 - 12:03

With Wolfgang Heinrichs, the project has gained another experienced and committed aquarist. He takes care of the existing pair of Scleromystax kronei from the project.

The pair has...

Winners of the auction

Calendar auction for conservation projects

15.12.2016 - 13:15

On 10 December 2016, the Christmas party of the Aquarienfreunde Tirol took place. A calendar was auctioned off. The proceeds of 160€ will go to the conservation breeding projects. 80€ for each of...

ÖVVÖ Conservation Projects

Report Scleromystax - Roman Lechner

24.10.2016 - 14:41

Scleromystax sp. C112:
After the two females of the S. sp. C112 had gained quite a bit of body weight and were full of eggs, I put the three animals into a...

C113 - Larva

Scleromystax sp. "C113" - Manuel Harringer

22.10.2016 - 21:31

The further care of the animals has gone without an issue so far. On 20.6. the animals spawned for the first time, there were only a few eggs and these were widely scattered, the next day the eggs...

Aquarium Berlin

Cooperation with Aquarium Berlin

25.08.2016 - 21:37

Finally, with the kind support of Marco Hasselmann from the "Aquarium Berlin", the conservation breeding...

Scleromystax barbatus

New partners won for the "Mata Atlántica" project!

06.07.2016 - 14:53

In my search for partners and supporters for the project, I was able to win Marco Hasselmann from AQUARIUM...