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 (USA)   Email:

project manager deputy: Roman Lechner (AUT)

project member
Henrik van Bennekom (NLD)    Sven Brunke (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


Conservation Projects


25.03.2023 - 07:31

Recently, there has been an increase in phishing e-mails with extortionate intent to addresses of the ÖVVÖ. Unfortunately, some of these were also forwarded through our automatic distribution...

Mata Atlántica

Year-end report 2019 of the "Mata Atlántica" project

04.01.2020 - 12:25

Since Brazil's new president, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, took office on 1 January 2019, environmental protection is no longer seen as important for the Brazilian government. Hard times are dawning...

Mata Atlántica

Further project members wanted / Species in stock

18.12.2019 - 13:33

Further search for project participants

In the "Mata Atlántica" project we have been able to build up a good stock of one species in the last few months. We are therefore in the fortunate...

Mata Atlántica

Maintenance (preservation) of Scleromystax prionotos in continuous setup

25.08.2019 - 12:14

Field report by project member Torsten Friedrich

By chance, through participation in the ÖVVÖ conservation project 'Mata Atlantica', I came to a new realisation in...

Programm WAT

WAT Fulda

12.05.2019 - 13:46

The time had come again, on 11.05.19 another Catfish Conservation Day (Welsarterhaltungstag -WAT) took place in Fulda. The organisers, the regional group Fulda of the IG BSSW, were very well...

"Panthera 2017"

Annual report "Panthera 2017" of Leipzig Zoo

19.11.2018 - 12:38

Through our...

WAT 2018

Project sponsor Fulda WAT

07.06.2018 - 06:37

Thank you, Fulda Catfish Conservation Day!

Now for the third time, the Fulda Catfish Conservation Day took place on 26.05.2018. This time, however, it was organised by the...

Announcement donation

Aquarienfreunde Tirol / Conservation projects

20.03.2018 - 12:17

For the seventh time, the "Aquarienfreunde Tirol" invited to the Aqua Day. The event has become an integral part of aquaristics in Austria. But it is not only...


Year-end report of the conservation project "Mata Atlántica

13.03.2018 - 21:13

Final report second year Mata Atlántica

Year-end report of the conservation project "Mata Atlántica" of the ÖVVÖ, 2017

A brief insight shows that the situation on...

Zoo Aquarium Berlin Mata Atlantica

Current status of our Zoo Partners

22.10.2017 - 10:13

Atteced are some recent pictures from the Zoo Aquarium Berlin and the...