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Aquarium Catfish Care Guide

Aquarium Catfish Care Guide

Are you looking for an aquarium catfish care guide? There are over 2,000 species of tropical freshwater catfish. Most people are familiar with the massive specimens often captured as trophy fish or for the table by anglers. But did you know that a variety of smaller catfish species can be kept in a home aquarium?

Every catfish has its quirks and characteristics. Catfish, on the other hand, have one thing in common: they don’t have scales. Catfish, on the other hand, have armor-like plating on their bodies. They are one of the most long-lived aquarium fish species, living for seven to fifteen years.

In this section of our aquarium catfish care guide, we’ll show you which ornamental catfish species be best for your aquarium.

Catfish Tank Size

You must know how big your chosen aquarium fish grow, just as you must know how big any other kind of aquarium fish grows. Some catfish species begin life in your tank as cute little creatures just a few inches long but quickly grow to be a foot long or even longer when they reach maturity.

When stocking your tank, keep in mind that one gallon of water per one inch of fish is a good rule of thumb. So, when determining whether or not your tank is large enough, find out how big your chosen catfish can grow. It’s a common misconception that the size of the tank in which the fish live determines their size. Big fish keep rising until they can no longer fit in their tank.

Catfish are bottom-dwellers, spending most of their time exploring and foraging around the substrate, unlike most other fish species that cruise the water column’s middle and upper regions. Adding a few catfish to your aquarium adds attention to an area of the tank that sometimes overlook. Choose a larger tank than it is deep to give the catfish plenty of room to roam. Here is an analysis on an aquarium catfish care guide.

Tank-mates for Catfish

While most catfish are friendly, some species can be aggressive. Catfish are unlikely to contact other population members who prefer the water column’s upper reaches because they live at the tank’s bottom.

It’s worth noting that many small aquarium catfish species are schooling fish that must contain in small groups. The Pygmy Corydoras catfish, for example, lives in large shoals of several hundred fish in nature.

However, some larger predatory catfish species prey on small fish and invertebrates, so check the catfish’s profile before purchasing.

Behavior of Catfish

The majority of aquarium catfish are peaceful creatures who spend most of their time in small groups foraging through the substrate or hiding among plants and tank decorations. Behavior is crucial for this aquarium catfish care guide.

However, some catfish species may be territorial and hostile, so do your homework before selecting one for your community tank.

Also, several catfish species are nocturnal by nature. That means you won’t see them much throughout the day, and they’ll need to be fed after dark as well.

Catfish Tank Setup


Catfish generate about as much waste as other fish, so larger species need an external power source or a canister filter.

Many catfish species live in fast-flowing rivers, and some even live in river rapids, so a strong current shouldn’t be an issue. One thing to keep in mind is that no catfish enjoys introduced to a new tank, so continuously cycle your setup before adding your fresh fish.

Tank Décor

The delicate barbels, whiskers, and scaleless skin of most catfish make them vulnerable to injury. As a result, the best substrate is a perfect, sandy one.

Catfish, particularly during the day, enjoy hiding. Caves, overhangs, huge rocks, and twisted roots must also mimic the fishes’ natural environment. Surprisingly, the more hiding places you have, the more likely you see your catfish during the day because they feel comfortable enough to venture out and explore.

Plants are an essential part of a catfish’s diet. Floating plants can help create dappled shade for the fish by filtering out bright light. When choosing aquarium décor, keep in mind that catfish need room to explore, so don’t overcrowd the aquarium’s bottom.

How to Take Care of Aquarium Catfish

To stay safe and happy, catfish, contrary to common opinion, need the same clean environment and stable water conditions as other fish species.

Maintain your filtration system properly, perform weekly partial water adjustments, vacuum the substrate to eliminate excess waste, and your catfish be content and thrive.

What to Feed Aquarium Catfish

Different catfish species feed in different ways, and the shape of their mouths and whiskers reveal how they eat.

Suckermouth plecos, for example, graze on bloodworms, vegetable matter, and fruit while rasping algae from hard surfaces. Catfish with barbels have evolved to detect invertebrates in the sediment. In contrast, predators with giant mouths and long barbels need a meaty diet.

Most catfish, however, can thrive on a diet of high-quality fish flakes, sinking pellets, and live and frozen meaty foods. If you hold suckermouth plecos, you’ll need to have a small number of algae for the plecos to feed.

7 Catfish Species for Your Aquarium

Let us introduce you to seven beautiful catfish species that can live in your aquarium now that you know more about catfish and how to care for them.

1. Corydoras Catfish

The most popular and widely available catfish in the aquarium hobby is the Corydoras catfish. There are over 200 species of these super-cute, active little fish, and they’re a great addition to any group aquarium.

2. Green or Bronze Corydoras (Corydoras Aeneus)

Bronze or green? Corydoras are native to South America, with Colombia and Trinidad to the north and Uruguay and Argentina to the south. These sweet tiny catfish prefer shallow, muddy water with a slow current in nature. However, they can also found in rivers with stronger wind.

Corydoras catfish can take gulps of air from the water’s surface, allowing them to live in nearly stagnant water if necessary. Corys saw darting up to the surface to breathe and then diving rapidly back down to the home tank substrate.

3. Peppered Corydoras (Corydoras Paleatus)

Peppered corys are interesting freshwater catfish that can “wink” at their owners by tilting one eye down and back up without moving their head! The peppered cory often vocalizes during courtship. Who knew a talking fish existed?

Charles Darwin found this species of Corydoras catfish during his discovery of South America in the 1830s. It is one of the earliest aquarium-kept fish. However, the first captive-bred Peppered corys raise in France in 1878, most specimens sold in the trade today commercial bred in Asia and Florida.

4. Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus)

In South America, major rivers and their smaller tributaries, such as the Madeira River in Brazil, the Aguarico River in Ecuador, and the Nany River in Peru, are home to these charming, tiny catfish. These are all tropical areas, but the water pH and temperature can differ, impacting these adaptive, adaptable animals.

The Pygmy cory is a shoaling, active fish that needs to house in a group of at least eight individuals. Unlike other bottom-dwelling corydoras, the Pygmy cory spends much of its time swimming in the tank’s open midwater region.

5. Sterbai Corydoras (Corydoras Sterbai)

The Sterbai cory is a beautiful and appealing addition to every peaceful group tank. Since these fish are a schooling species in nature, I suggest keeping them in an aquarium in a group of at least five. The more people you have, the more self-assured and involved they become.

Sterbais, like all corys, have razor-sharp pectoral fin spines that can get caught in aquarium nets and cause a painful injury if they penetrate the skin. If you must treat your corys, do so carefully.

6. Clown Pleco

The Clown pleco is simple to maintain and ideal for beginners. These attractive fish are primarily in Venezuela, but they have been seen in Colombia as well.

If you get a Clown pleco as a pet, you can expect to have it for ten to twelve years if you give it the proper care and a nutritious diet. Driftwood, twisted roots, and other wood, as well as a few flat stones and plenty of planting, should be plentiful in a pleco tank. Driftwood is essential in the habitat because plecos feed on it to obtain essential nutrients.

7. Golden Nugget Plecostomus (Baryancistrus xanthellus)

Take on a Golden Nugget Pleco for a truly stunning and unique addition to your aquarium. These fish come in three distinct varieties: L018, L081, and L177, all of which come from various locations along the Amazon’s Rio Xingu. Both of these Golden Nugget variants are purchased online, and sometimes one can be found in a fish shop. However, they are very costly as compared to other pleco species.

You’ll need to build a South American river ecosystem in the aquarium, complete with a powerful water flow, plenty of wood, rocks, hiding spots, and thick planting.

We suggest keeping just one of these beautiful catfish in your collection and avoiding housing other bottom-dwellers in the same setup for safety reasons. Remember, the aquarium catfish care guide is crucial.

Catfish Species to Avoid

Common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus)

People often purchase common plecos for their aquariums without realizing how large and fast the fish grow. Furthermore, plecos do not eat only algae, which is why most hobbyists purchase one. These fish are omnivores, so once they realize there’s other food available, they won’t be interested in algae.

When common plecos outgrow their tanks, their owners frequently release them into the wild, where the fish can cause havoc by outcompeting native wildlife for food.

Redtail Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus)

While juvenile specimens bought fish stores, the Redtail catfish is not suitable for aquarium life.

These carnivorous predators grow to enormous sizes and are highly aggressive. A Redtail catfish is not for you unless you have a dedicated tank and previous experience with related fish species.

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