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genus Ceptopsis

Cetopsidae: Cetopsinae

Blue Whale Catfish, Carnero, Bagre Azul









Ceptopsis is commonly called a Peruvian Blue Whale by English-speaking people and is usually the species seen in pet store aquariums. 


There are apparently a few color morphs of this species; blue, green, tiger stripped, and one called Sleep Cetopsis.The whale catfishes are restricted to mainly the northeastern area of South America (ie; Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela). They are typically found at depths ranging from 2-40m and can be found in the river channels of the Brazilian Amazon such as the rivers Amazonas and Solimoes. Although some cetopsids in the cetopsidae family have only been found at maximum lengths of 30 mm, C. coecutiens are known to grow up to 35 cm in length. Their larger size and streamline bodies (comparable to other Cetopsidae) allow whale catfishes to swim with great effectiveness in faster currents.


This species is thought to be harmless (See Dr. Warren E. Burgess, Catfishes of the World) however, I would not trust it too far. They attack fishes and carrion in fast moving surface waters. They are also known to drill holes in humans and actually eat you from the inside out. Leaving pretty much a hollow corpse. Law enforcement in areas where the fish is common would sometimes believe a person was killed by gunfire because of bullet type holes in the body. Only through autopsy would they find evidence of carnero intrusion in the hollowed out body (source Jeramy Wade, River Monsters, Animal Planet). Piranhas are largely blamed for human mortalities or injuries. But these fish known as carnero can make a piranha look harmless. There is no doubt that the carnero does indeed skeletonize humans in a feeding frenzy.


In the digestive tracts of related species of Cetopsidae such as B. oliveirai, remains of spiders, heads of ants, mosquito-like dipteran, diptera and orthopteran have been found. This suggests that Cetopsidae may have some form of terrestrial diet in addition to other fish. C. coecutiens have one row of thin, blunt, conical teeth with which they eat their prey. Cetopsidae: Cetopsinae.




Cetopsis amphiloxa

Eigenmann 1914

Pacific versant, West Colombia and nw. Ecuador


Cetopsis coecutiens

Lichtenstein, 1819

Amazon, Tocantins and Orinoco river basins: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.


Cetopsis oliveirai

Lundberg & Rapp Py-Daniel 1994

Middle and Upper Amazon river basin: Brazil and Peru


Cetopsis plumbea

Steindachner 1882

Upper Amazon river basin, NE Bolivia, E. Ecuador and SE. Peru

Cetopsis arcana

 Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna 2005

Middle and upper portions of rio Tocantins basin, Brazil


Cetopsis fimbriata

Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna 2005

Río Atrato basin, Caribbean versant of NW. Colombia


Cetopsis orinoco

Schultz 1944

Orinoco R, basin, Colombia and Venezuela and Caribbean Sea versant of N. Venezuela


Cetopsis sandrae

Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna 2005

Rio Arinos, upper portions of rio Tapajós system, Amazon basin, Brazil

Cetopsis baudoensis

Dahl 1960

Pacific versant, Baudó river basin, West Colombia


Cetopsis jurubidae

Fowler 1944

Jurubidá river basin, Pacific Ocean versant, W. Colombia


Cetopsis othonops

Eigenmann 1912

Magdalena and Sinú R. basins, Caribbean Sea versant, NW. Colombia


Cetopsis sarcodes

Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna 2005

Rio Tocantins basin, E. Brazil

Cetopsis caiapo

Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna 2005

Tocantins basin, Brazil


Cetopsis montana

Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna 2005

Western portion of Amazon basin in NE. Peru and S. Ecuador


Cetopsis parma

Oliveira, Vari & Ferraris 2001

Upper Amazon river basin: Brazil, Ecuador and Peru


Cetopsis starnesi

 Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna 2005

Southeastern Bolivia and Argentina

Cetopsis candiru

Spix & Agassiz 1829

Amazon river basin: Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru


Cetopsis motatanensis 

Schultz 1944

Lake Maracaibo basin: Colombia and Venezuela


Cetopsis pearsoni

Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna 2005

Upper portion of the rio Madeira drainage basin, SE. Peru and NE. Bolivia


Cetopsis umbrosa

Vari, Ferraris & de Pinna 2005

Rio Orinoco basin, Colombia



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UPDATED: 12/06/2015