• Group: Freshwater
  • Size: Large
  • Temperament: Non-aggressive
  • Swimming Region(s): Bottom
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Other species of catfish, Koi, Giant Gourami, Oscars, Pacu
  • Difficulty Of Care: Monthly care

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Catfish are a large family of freshwater fish extremely popular in the aquarium trade. Most species of catfish are extremely hardy and make for fascinating aquarium specimens. They are characterized by their whisker-like barbells which are used to gather a great deal of sensory information. Unlike most other species of freshwater fish, the catfish’s body is not covered in scales. Instead, they have thick, leathery skins which are often covered in a thin layer of mucus. Most species of catfish also have a bony and spine-like ray on their dorsal and pectoral fins. When feeling threatened, they will often lock these rays in place, making them stick outwards and providing the catfish with a certain degree of physical protection.

Most species of catfish are extremely hardy and make for fascinating aquarium specimens.

Different species of catfish are found in freshwater habitats across the world.

The many different species of catfish come colored in shades of white, pink, brown, yellow, grey and black.

catfish-1The specific aquarium needs of different species of catfish vary based on their natural habitats. However, most species are extremely hardy and can adapt to a fairly wide range of water conditions. That said, they can be sensitive to abrupt changes in water quality and are sometimes sensitive to the side effects of various medications.

Catfish are a primarily bottom dwelling species and prefer a soft substrate such as sand or smooth gravel. Most species are also extremely active and spend most of their time swimming up and down the aquarium. Catfish thrive in aquariums which provide them with enough swimming space as well as numerous hiding places.

Most species of catfish are extremely peaceful and make great community fish. They shouldn’t however be kept with slower moving, timid species which might be stressed out by their exuberant physical activity.

Most species of catfish can grow quite large and it is important to the individual species’ growth potential before raising them. Often they need to be raised in large, outdoor ponds because of their great size and strength.

Most species of catfish are omnivores and can be fed on a pellet or algae disk based diet. Some species, like plecos, are scavengers and will scour the aquarium bottom and sides for algae. Some carnivorous species may also devour smaller tank mates that they can fit in their mouths.

Most species are extremely hardy and can adapt to a fairly wide range of water conditions.

It is virtually unheard of for catfish to breed in the home aquarium.

Otocinclus, Cory, Pleco, Bristle Nosed Catfish, Clown Catfish, Iridescent Shark, Glass Catfish, Bumblebee Catfish, Columbian Shark, etc.

Photo credit: CHUCAO/Wikimedia; sannse/Wikimedia

Other Fish

Go to Lake Victoria Cichlids

Lake Victoria Cichlids

  • Group: Freshwater
  • Size: Medium-Large
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Swimming Region(s): Mid-Range
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Other Lake Victoria Cichlids, Lake Malawi Cichlids; Non-Conspecific Cichlids
  • Difficulty Of Care: Weekly
Go to Tetra


  • Group: Freshwater
  • Size: Small
  • Temperament: Non-aggressive
  • Swimming Region(s): All
  • Suitable Tank Mates: Danios, While Cloud Minnows, Platys, Sword-tails, Guppies, Mollies, other small livebearers
  • Difficulty Of Care: Weekly care