Typified by the 2 rows of bony plates which adorn both sides, the Callichthyidae are a large family of small, “armored’ catfish found throughout South America and parts of Central America. The name is derived from the Greek “Kallis” for beautiful, and “ichthys” for fish. Some species of the genera within this family are among the most popular aquarium catfish. When kept in groups they are bold, active, gregarious, and can be very entertaining to watch. And while cryptic colors that serve to camouflage may be common, many species (more than 170 have been thus far identified) have striking patterns. However, what makes catfish in the Callichthyidae family invaluable to aquarists is the fact that they are hands-down the best scavengers. They are opportunistic omnivores, feeding on detritus, necrotic tissues, and any uneaten fish fare that reaches bottom of the aquarium.
Most (nearly 90%) of the species within the Callichthyidae family are in the sub-family Corydoradinae. There are two tribes within this sub-family. Aspidoradini, which includes the genera Aspidoras and Scleromystax, and Corydoradini, which includes Corydoras and Bronchis.