The Neotropical detritivorous catfish Panaque nigrolineatus imbibes large quantities of wood as part of its diet. Due to the interest in cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin degradation pathways, this organism provides an interesting model system for the detection of novel microbial catabolism. In this study, we characterize the microbial community present in different regions of the alimentary tract of P. nigrolineatus fed a mixed diet of date palm and palm wood in laboratory aquaria. Analysis was performed on 16S rRNA gene clone libraries derived from anterior and posterior regions of the alimentary tract and the auxiliary lobe (AL), an uncharacterized organ that is vascularly attached to the midgut. Sequence analysis and phylogenetic reconstruction revealed distinct microbial communities in each tissue region. The foregut community shared many phylotypes in common with aquarium tank water and included Legionella and Hyphomicrobium spp. As the analysis moved further into the gastrointestinal tract, phylotypes with high levels of 16S rRNA sequence similarity to nitrogen-fixing Rhizobium and Agrobacterium spp. and Clostridium xylanovorans and Clostridium saccharolyticum, dominated midgut and AL communities. However, the hindgut was dominated almost exclusively by phylotypes with the highest 16S rRNA sequence similarity to the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium-Bacteroides phylum. Species richness was highest in the foregut (Chao1 = 26.72), decreased distally through the midgut (Chao1 = 25.38) and hindgut (Chao1 = 20.60), with the lowest diversity detected in the AL (Chao1 = 18.04), indicating the presence of a specialized microbial community. Using 16S rRNA gene phylogeny, we report that the P. nigrolineatus gastrointestinal tract possesses a microbial community closely related to microorganisms capable of cellulose degradation and nitrogen fixation. Further studies are underway to determine the role of this resident microbial community in Panaque nigrolineatus.