Aquarium Catfish -The Most Important Facts ( A to Z Care Guide )

Are you looking for the best care guide for your Aquarium Catfish? Then you are in the right place to get a proper guideline for your catfish. In this guide, we share everything you need to know about Aquarium Catfish.

This article will provide all important facts about this fish, which will help you to keep your catfish healthy, furthermore, it also helps you to get knowledge about diseases, causes and ways to treat of this catfish.

Aquarium Catfish 

Aquarium Catfish

Catfish are incredible survivors as an Aquarium Catfish Breeds. First of all, they have the ability to live and even thrive in temperatures from just above freezing to nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit and can be found living inland and in the coastal waters of every continent minus Antarctica.

These fish are an extremely diverse group of fishes, although many of them are fare well in the home aquarium. This fish can be found in almost every ecological niche around the world. However some catfish live in oceans, but most of them are freshwater fish.

Aquarium catfish types vary from small, peaceful species to larger and more predatory species.

Most importantly, these fish are one of the most popular picks among beginners and experienced aquarium owners, because of their unique look and interesting personalities. Therefore, it is said that picking the right type of aquarium catfish is important.

Keep reading to learn the most important facts about aquarium catfish.

Let’s get started

What makes catfish such a popular choice?

Firstly these fish are an extremely diverse group of fishes with many unique colors and patterns. Catfish are easy to keep in the home aquarium.

Usually, along the bottom of the tank, they can swim easily. In terms of feeding habits, this fish range from planet-eaters to detrivores. Catfish have large heads and wide, toothless mouths. Rather than cutting through food, most of them feed through suction. Through the substrate at the bottom of the tank, they essentially filter their food up.

Some small catfish are otocinclus catfish and some species of which grow to no more than an inch long. On the other hand, one of the largest species of catfish is the Making Giant Catfish, which grows up to 10.5 feet long. Likewise, most freshwater aquarium catfish stay under 12 inches at maturity.

Important Facts about Aquarium Catfish

All, following things you need to know about your Aquarium Catfish

  • This fish can live from 7 to 15 years and can grow up to 1 foot long, in addition, they prefer living together within groups of three or more.
  • Average adult size – 2-48 inches long, and it depends on species.
  • Average lifespan – depends on species
  • Minimum aquarium size – 10+ gallons, and it also depends on species
  • Aquarium water temperature – 72-82°F

Maximum Size and Longevity of Catfish

The size of the catfish depends on species type. Catfish can range from as little as 2 to 3cm for dwarf Corydoras species up to 1 to 2 meters or more for giant Pangasius species.

Water Quality of Aquarium

You should maintain good water quality in your aquarium and generally, this fish will thrive in parameters such as

  • Temperature: 22°C to 28°C
  • pH: 6.4 to 7.4
  • General Hardness: 50 to 200 pm

Catfish Food

They eat a wide variety of foods, for example –

  • Algae
  • Small fish
  • Prepared foods and
  • Scavenged debris


  • Some of this fish prefer to live in schools but can be happy alone, for instance – corys.
  • They like to swim at the bottom of the aquarium and they also need plenty of hiding place.
  • They will scavenge for food and they eat almost anything.
  • Many catfish have barbs for defense.


  • A well-balanced Aquarium Catfish diet consists of
  • Preferences vary by species
  • Sinking pellets or flake foods
  • Brain shrimp, bloodworms and Mysis shrimp


All of these things you should remember when feeding your catfish

  • Thaw frozen food before feeding
  • Need to be specifically fed
  • Feed prepared foods


Signs of healthy catfish

  • Swimming off the side or bottom of the aquarium
  • Clear eyes
  • Eats vigorously
  • You should avoid overcrowded conditions because they are a major cause of stress and disease. With adequate filtration and regular water changes, keep maintaining good water quality.

Sign of unhealthy catfish

  • Cloudy eyes
  • Listlessness
  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Labored breathing
  • Spot or fungus on body or mouth
  • Erratic swimming
  • Weight loss continuously
  • Bloating


Catfish home aquarium should be comfortable for their living. Following the issue, you should keep in mind

  • Aquarium water quality – You should ensure your aquarium water quality because stable water quality and parameters are critical to the health of aquatic life.
  • Appropriate aquarium size – Ensure appropriate aquarium size, which provides proper filtration to maintain health and provide plenty of space for swimming and hiding places.

Habit Maintenance

  • Daily – Check water temperate, filter and other equipment
  • Weekly – Check water quality
  • Monthly – Change 10-25% of the total volume of water, as needed.
  • Gradually introduce new inhabitants to your aquarium.


Including other catfish, some catfish can be kept with most community fish of similar size and temperature, .

Aquarium Catfish Diseases                                    

Fin Rot

  • Symptoms/cause – Frayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens.
  • Suggested action – Need to improve water quality and consult with your aquatic veterinarian for treatment.


  • Symptoms/cause – White cottony growth and discoloration of the eyes
  • Suggested action – Quarantine your fish and need to use a commercial antifungal remedy as directed.

Bacterial infection

  • Symptoms/cause – Cloudy eyes, open sores or reddening of the skin.
  • Suggested action – Need to improve water quality; use a commercial antibacterial remedy as directed.


  • Symptoms/cause – White spots appear on fins and body; fish rubs against hard objects or swims awkwardly. Rapid respirations.
  • Suggested action –Immediately quarantine your fish; use a commercial ich remedy for at least two weeks.

catfish disease


Where do Catfish live?

Catfish get their nickname from their feline-looking whiskers. They are an extremely diverse group of ray-finned fish. This fish can live in saltwater, brackish and freshwater. On the other hand, some catfish like to stagnant water and others call rivers and streams with fast-moving currents their homes, and it all depends. That is to say that some of these fishes are love to sleep during the day and they are known as nocturnal, while others become active during daytime and they are called diurnal.

Channel catfish, one type of catfish that includes more than 45 species. In the United States, this fish is account for all the commercial food production, furthermore, catfish are known as mud cats, polliwogs, big bullheads, chuckleheads, scoopers, shovelheads, and flatties, in the USA.

There are nearly 40 species of catfish in North America, and among them, only 6 have been cultured for or show potential for commercial production. Above all, certain species of catfish make excellent aquarium mates and pet fish.

What to feed Aquarium Catfish?

Aquarium catfish are quite different, they do feed off of algae and other decaying organic material that settles to the aquarium floor, they also need additional food to live and they should be fed the same way as other fish.

They like meaty foods like brine shrimp or blood-worms occasionally.

Although goldfish sustain itself scouring the bottom of the tank for leftover food, that is not sufficient for them. While catfish can help your tank to be clean in this way. So, you should take care of their extra need for food.

Each catfish has their own preferences, for instance, clown plecos actually eat driftwood and like some fresh vegetables so often, on the other hand, other species have a diet that consists of mostly algae. In addition to making sure that every creature in your aquarium gets what it needs.

Tips from an expert – First research the proper feeding level of your catfish that will help you to select the correct food. Also, ensure that the food is a sinking type.

What types of fish can live well together in an aquarium?

Before starting the group among different types of fish together in your aquarium, you should ensure that your aquarium could be meet all different needs of these fish. However, fish that live together will have similar requirements and preferences, which will make keeping your aquarium healthy.

Fish that can live well together include

  • Catfish
  • Danios
  • Guppies
  • Corys
  • Gouramis
  • Mollies
  • Plecos
  • Loaches
  • Platies
  • Tetras
  • Raspboras
  • Swordtails

How big do aquarium catfish get?

Among big catfish, Cory fish can live in 5 to 10-gallon tanks additionally catfish grow to be about 4 inches. And other larger catfish require at least a 30-gallon tank.

You should keep your aquarium near a power source in a low traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts. The water of tank weighs about 10 pounds per gallon.

Top 10 Aquarium Catfish List that grows too large sizes

In this article, I made a list of top 10 freshwater fish which grows too large sizes, to helps you to find out which fish are giants and rulers of aquariums as they grow up. And you can share with me about your favorite one. The list is given below

  • Common Goldfish
  • Bala Sharks
  • Tiger Oscar
  • Plecostomus
  • Clown Loaches
  • Koi
  • Arowana
  • Redtail Catfish
  • Gar Fish and
  • Arapaima 

What should put in a catfish’s tank?

  • Fill your aquarium about halfway up with dechlorinated water
  • If you want to use an under-gravel filter, add that first
  • On the bottom of the tank, layer about 3 inches of gravel and rinse the gravel before putting it in the aquarium.
  • Add necessary equipment with thermometers
  • For decoration, you can add plants, rocks and fish furniture
  • By filling the aquarium for the rest of the way with water, you can finish your aquarium setup.

Top Aquarium Catfish List

Here we list the Best Aquarium Catfish, which are given below

  • Cory Catfish
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Glass Catfish
  • Pictus Catfish
  • Bristlenose pleco Catfish
  • Upside down Catfish
  • Clown pleco Catfish
  • Striped Raphael Catfish
  • Chinese Algae Eater
  • Gold Nugget Pleco
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Whiptail Catfish
  • Twig Catfish
  • Asian Stone Catfish
  • South American Bumblebee Catfish

Best Aquarium Catfish

How to take care of an aquarium catfish?

For proper Aquarium Catfish Care, first, you should learn about the specific requirements of their particular species.

  • Most importantly you need to use appropriately sized of an aquarium because these fish need plenty of space to swim and a lot of caves, driftwood, and plants to hide among.
  • You should keep in mind that some fish like to live in school on the other hand others will prefer to live along, so make sure that you provide them with what they need.
  • Keep an eye on the water parameters, because catfish are generally pretty hardy.
  • For the survival of your tank, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels are very important and you should be checked with testing strips at least once a week.
  • Every 2 or 4 weeks you should change about 25% of the water, once a month.
  • Usually, catfish like a lot of plants, wood, and caves to hide in. Your aquarium should have enough places to explore because they spend most of their time on the bottom of the tank.

There are some thing’s you should look out for that will tell you what is wrong with your fish.

Loss of color – If you will notice that one of your fish is not looking as bright as the others, then it will indicate that your fish are affected with the bacterial infection.

Inactivity – If your catfish loss its activity which lasts about 3 days, that will indicate that the fish is unwell.

Cloudy Eyes – Your fish could have cloudy eyes, because of bacterial infection

Bloat – If your fish suffering from an infection, then the body of your catfish can swell and turn red.

Bulging Eyes – It is a huge sign of an eye infection or systemic infection.

Open sores or abscesses – It is a sign of an infection or damage which caused by another fish biting or attacking.

Inflammation – If you identify inflammation anywhere like fins, skin or organs than it will be an obvious sign that something goes wrong with your fish.

Breathing Difficulties – Fish lung infection indicator is labored breathing, which is also an indication that something is wrong with the water.

Keeping your catfish healthy

If you found any of these symptoms of illness or distress, talk you’re your pet doctor

  • Inflamed skin or fins
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Fins clamped to the sides
  • Scraping body on rocks


A filter of the aquarium should have the ability to process all of the water in your tank 3 to 5 times an hour.

For the instant, the filter in a 20-gallon tank would need to push through at least 60 gallons of water each hour. And choosing and setting up the filter, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Heat and Light

Before putting your fish in the aquarium, you should check the temperature that your fish will need. Generally, catfish require warm water that is between 74 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

For each gallon of water in the aquarium, you can choose an aquarium heater with 5 watts of power.

Wait at least 15 minutes after filling the tank before turning on the heater.

Place aquarium heater close enough to the filter then distributes the warmed water.

Run the tank’s hood light and the tank’s filter for 24 hours, then check the water temperature and adjust the heater if necessary.

Aquarium Catfish

General aquarium health and environmental guidelines

Aquatic animal like fish can transmit zoonotic disease to humans. So before and after interacting with your aquarium, you should wash your hands with soap. Elderly people, children, pregnant women and those with immune-system problems should take extra care.

  • Try to keep your fish away from food and areas where your food is prepared.
  • Never release fish into the wild.

Want to know more about catfish?

Here we discussed a few additional fun facts about aquarium catfish

  • Almost 100,000 taste buds exist in Catfish bodies, which helps to detect chemicals presents in the water and also respond to touch.
  • As a natural way of getting rid of waste, some ancient cultures used to keep catfish in their latrine ponds.
  • Some catfish are able to breathe through their skin
  • The Asian Walking Catfish can walk across the ground, with the help of its fins and tail. In the same vein, it will walk short distances when it needs to relocate to a different pool or body of water.
  • Catfish have an organ, which is called the Weberian apparatus that they use to communicate with each other underwater. This organ also helps to improve its hearing ability. By rubbing parts of their bodies together underwater, these fish make additional sounds.
  • In some ancient cultures, catfish are kept in their latrine ponds to get rid of waste naturally.
  • A word of warning

There are certain catfish that are more trouble than they are worth. Here are 3 common catfish species you should think twice about before adding them to your tank. You should probably avoid all of these following catfish

Common Plecostomas – It is also known as Hypostomas Plecostomus. They are not a bad addition to the home aquarium, but they do come with certain challenges. When they are young, they may eat algae and many Common Plecos become lazy as they get older and they also stop doing their jobs. Their size is the main problem because they can grow to over 2 feet long. If you want to add a pleco, then choose a Clown Pleco or Bristlenose Pleco instead, because they are more suited for a small tank.

Red Tailed Catfish – This fish is also known as Phractocephalus Hemiolipterus. They are very attractive for their red and yellow coloration. These fish come from Amazon River. Their size is the biggest problem for this species catfish because they can grow nearly 5 feet in length. This catfish does not make a good choice unless you have an absolutely massive tank. And if you are looking for color, you can try an albino pleco or a Bumblebee catfish.

Tiger Shovelnose Catfish – This species catfish also known as Phseudoplatystoma Faciatium. They are unique in appearance because it has tiger stripes and a long tapered nose. This fish can grow quickly and their growth depends on their feeding habit. Tiger shovelnose catfish are harmful to the home aquarium because they will likely eat any other fish in the tank.

How to clean an aquarium in the right way?

In particular, to keep your fish healthy and aquarium crystal clear, you should clean your aquarium properly. At this point, you should be taking your time and not skipping any critical steps. This video shows a detailed explanation on how to do all the essentials that will make your fish happy.



Tips from expert

Firstly, you need to dissolve the salt in warm water before adding them to your aquarium, otherwise, your fishes will burn themselves if they touch the salt.

And secondly, it is better for your fish if the water temperature is matched before introducing them into the aquarium.

Aquarium Decoration

If you recently buy an aquarium, you definitely want to add fish and decorate your aquarium. And if you already have an aquarium, you also want to add new fish and decorate your aquarium, to make a new look of your aquarium. And you want this because decoration can create a theme and bring the look of the tank together. Here we suggest some steps for your aquarium decoration.

Firstly, you can start with the substrate, which goes on the bottom of the tank, and secondly, move on to both manufactured and natural objects.

Choosing a substrate

  • Try a colorful stand for a beautiful base
  • Try a colorful grave as a base

Adding natural touch

  • Pick rocks to create a theme
  • Use shells to create a miniature ocean
  • Using manufactured additions
  • Use driftwood for a more natural touch
  • Use live plants to add green

Add more green with plastic plants

  • Use novelty items to create a theme, ceramic pieces to add art and bottles or old glass jars for cheap color

Decorating around the fish tank

  • Use a background to tie it together
  • Keep the theme going
  • Tie into the color scheme
  • Try a similar style of plants to continue the theme

To sum up this article, we want to suggest you that you should choose you’re Aquarium Catfish which will work well in your freshwater aquarium and that would not outgrow your tank and would not cause trouble for your other tank inhabitants.

Hopefully, all the information in this article should be more than enough to get you started. Good luck!

If you want to share your experience and if you have any more questions about the catfish, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below

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