19 Types Of Catfish For Aquarium: Selection, Care, Breeding

We have selected for you detailed information on aquarium catfish: their appearance and characteristics of behavior, maintenance, and reproduction.

Full name of FishCatfish / Silurus
TypesOtocyclus, Ancistrus, albino, stellate Ancistrus, pterygoplicht, hypancistrus, loricariid, elegant, speckled, black-bellied pinnate, multi-point pinnate, angel, synodontis, platidoras striped, agamixis stellate or white-tailed
ColourBlack, white, silver, brown, beige, often with spots and stripes
WaterPH (acid-base balance) – 5-7
KH (hardness) – 6-12 °
t (temperature) – 22-28 ° C
FeedDry: Tetra Wafer Mix, Sera Wels Chips, Sera Vipachips Nature, Zoomir Granules for bottom fish and amphibians; live food is not recommended due to the possibility of infection with helminths
CompatibilityGuppies, gourami, zebrafish, barbs, scalars, swordtails
Catfish LifespanAverage 8 years

Catfish Description and habitat

Catfish spend most of their lives at the bottom of the reservoir. These fish are predators and vegetarians, but most are omnivores.

They inhabit freshwater reservoirs of all continents except Antarctica.

types of catfish for aquarium


Catfish are fish with a large head with several pairs of antennae and a relatively flat body tapering towards the tail. The color of catfish is quite varied, but most have neutral shades, close to the color of the bottom.

Their sizes are varied: from a couple of centimeters to huge “monsters” of several meters. Their appearance and behavior are quite funny, so they are often kept in aquariums.

Features of behavior

In addition to the fact that the presence of catfish enlivens the lower part of the exposition, they keep it clean by eating food that has fallen to the bottom of the aquarium. Many of them help to get rid of algae by scraping them with their suction cup from the inside surfaces of the aquarium.

Types Of Catfish For Aquarium

Catfish are an extremely large family, including about 2000 species. It is possible to create conditions for maintaining the house of a significant part of them – the restrictions are mainly due to the size.

loricaria Catfish Types For Aquarium

This group includes almost 700 species, but only a few of them are suitable for home keeping.

All loricaria have an elongated body and a pointed tail. Their body is covered with thickened bony plates, which have an external and functional resemblance to chain mail. The sizes of loricaria range from 10 to 30 cm.

loricaria catfish types for aquarium

The head has a triangular shape, the mouth has turned into a suction cup that allows the fish to scrape off algae, keeping in rivers and streams with strong currents.

loricariid is found in nature in Central and South America, especially densely populating the Amazon basin.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus have a size of 2 to 5 cm. The body is elongated.

The color depends on the species. Usually they have a silvery body with a yellow tint, covered with dark spots. A dark streak may run along the entire body. Otocinclus zebra, on the other hand, has a transverse

Ancistrus Catfish

Catfish ancistrus is a rather large aquarium fish, up to 20 cm. The color is dark with a mass of white dots and a white border on the fins. In young individuals, the pattern is most pronounced.

Star ancistrus Catfish

The stellate variety of ancistrus is valued for its smaller size compared to the common one – it does not exceed 8 cm. Its body has a black background and bluish-white “stars” that darken with age.

Pterygoplichthys (Janitor fish)

Pterygoplichthys has a size of up to 25 cm, but is extremely peaceful and eats exclusively plant foods. An interesting look is given to it by a large dorsal fin in the form of a sail with twelve rays.

The body color is leopard a beige pattern on a chocolate-black background. There are albinos.


Hypancistrus have a drop-shaped body with a specific “hump” on the head and elongated rays on the tail. Size from 8 to 16 cm.

The color varies from gray-green to black with contrasting spots or stripes of white, yellow or orange, depending on the species.

Synodontis Catfish Family for Aquarium

Synodontis are subdivided into 131 types. They all live in Central, East, and West Africa.

Their length is from 6 to 70 cm. They have a head strongly compressed from the sides with a wide mouth, large eyes, and the crown of the head in pairs of whiskers. The body is massive, compressed from the sides, without scales, but covered with mucus. The tail is elongated, largely cut.

synodontis catfish family for aquarium

The color ranges from off-white to black. The main background has a pattern of spots or stripes in a contrasting color – black, white, red, or brown, the tail is also edged. The belly is darker and more monochromatic.

Black bellied peristosy catfish

The length of this catfish reaches 5 cm. The color is interesting: dark stains, similar to the pattern of marble, on a whitish or beige background. The abdomen is almost black.

High fin pinnate catfish

Its dimensions reach 12 cm. The color is spotty, characterized by a dense black pattern on a yellowish background. The tail has a black border, the rest of the fins are blue-white at the back.

Angel Catfish

This catfish can grow up to 25 cm. It has a polka-dot color – light or reddish spots on a dark bluish-gray background. Fins are brindle.

Synodontis catfish shapeshifter

The aquarium fish, the shape-shifter catfish, swims belly up most of the time. Has a size of no more than 10 cm. Camouflage coloring – dark spots on a brownish-gray background.

Talking Catfish

The entire body of these catfish is covered with large bony plates, and the sides are covered with spines. Only the belly, on which the catfish lies, is not protected. They can also produce toxic mucus when stressed.

This group lives in South America and has 90 species. All of them are distinguished by the ability to make sounds due to the movement of the spines on the fins or the vibration of the swim bladder.

Their sizes are from 3.5 to 120 cm.

In several of their fins, they have needles, the wounds from which do not heal well. Therefore, you should be careful when catching and transporting.

Striped Raphael catfish

This catfish reaches 20 cm. The body is dark brown in color with two light yellow stripes along the back. The head underneath, belly and fins are colored light yellow, while the dorsal fin has an oblique dark brown stripe.

Spotted Talking Catfish (Agamyxis pectinifrons)

This species can grow up to 14 cm. Its body and fins are covered with white or yellow spots, which merge into 2 rows of transverse stripes closer to the tail, against a black-brown background.

Bargus Catfish

It is a vast family with 227 species native to Africa and Asia. Pisces are predatory, with a characteristic body shape. They do not have scales; mucus protects the body. The dorsal fin has one spiny and up to 20 soft rays.

These are medium-sized fish, up to 20-40 cm. The body color is usually black or silver, with stripes and spots.

Cory catfish (Corydoras)

This family includes about 160 species, 130 of which belong to the genus Corydoras. They are common in South America. They got the name because of the rows of bone plates that cover the entire body. The sizes of these fish vary from 2 to 16 cm.

Most of them live in swampy and silted bodies of water, with a small amount of oxygen in the water. And although they lead a bottom lifestyle, for breathing they rise to the surface of the water and swallow atmospheric air by mouth. These fish feed mainly on small invertebrates.

The coloring is not very diverse in colors, but there are interesting variants of the drawings. For example, the panda corridor has characteristic spots around the eyes and near the tail.

Spotted Somik Catfish

This catfish grows up to 5 cm. The color is gray with dark specks, which pass to the dorsal fin. Two light stripes run along the body. The tail and all other fins are translucent.

Motley Catfish (Speckled Corridor)

This corridor is up to 7 cm in size. The color is olive-gray with darker spots of different sizes. The abdomen and fins are not pigmented. There is an albino form.

Tarakatum catfish

This name comes from Latin for “shell”. This catfish can grow up to 15 cm.

Its color ranges from marsh to hazel, with black spots all over the body. The abdomen is lighter, usually beige.

Pimelodidae Catfish Family for aquarium

This group lives in Central and South America and has about 300 species.

Most of them are medium to large in size, some are over two meters.

The body has no scales. The head is decorated with three pairs of antennae, in some species they are comparable to the body length.

pimelodidae catfish family for aquarium

Many have bright and variegated colors. Juveniles can differ significantly from adults in color and body shape.

Pictus catfish

In the wild, it can reach a length of 175 cm and is one of the largest fish in aquariums.

The name comes from the striking tail fin, orange or red. The body is dark gray with black spots. Wide white stripes run along the sides.

He is very gluttonous, you cannot keep small fish and even small decorations with him – he is able to take all this for food and swallow it.

How to choose catfish For aquarium

Catfish are very diverse both in nature and in the aquarium. But when buying a specific species, you need to have a good idea of ​​its size as an adult, habits, and features of the content.

Catfish Dimensions and physical shape

Moreover, the size of the catfish is one of the most important indicators. The same red-tailed catfish, for example, is often found on sale with a size of 5-8 cm and attracts attention with a bright decorative color. But how many are ready for the fact that it can grow up to 1.4 meters and reach a weight of 45 kg?

You also need to pay attention to the appearance of the fish. Many of them may seem quite thin. This is normal – very little is fed when transporting fish. But the belly should not look very sunken.

The color of the catfish should be uniform and bright, the skin is even and without plaque, the fins are intact.

Particular attention should be paid to the antennae of these fish. They should not bleed or be shortened. This is a sign of poor maintenance, in which the mustache suffers first of all in catfish.

Catfish Behavior

If you plan to add catfish to other fish in a common aquarium, you need to study their habits. Even outwardly similar catfish can be both peaceful and more aggressive. And do not forget that many of them are predators, including those capable of swallowing fish larger than their size.

how to tell if catfish is male or female?

Female catfish are larger and have rounded abdomen. Males are brighter and more variegated in color, have larger fins and a greater number of outgrowths and antennae.

Near the anus, males have a protruding tubercle, and females have depression.

Transportation home

Usually, fish are transported in plastic bags filled with water. But it is better to transport aquarium catfish in double, and large species even in triple packages. They often have sharp spines on their fins that can easily pierce a bag. Better yet, use plastic containers.

Selection and arrangement of an aquarium For Catfish

All aquarium catfish are bottom fish. Therefore, it is not so much the size of the aquarium that matters as the area of ​​its bottom. In this case, the height is not so important.

Length is important if you need to create a strong current in the aquarium, which is necessary for some species, for example, Loricaria. In this case, it is better to take a longer aquarium.

Round aquariums are not suitable for catfish. Fish are uncomfortable in them, plus the installation of equipment is also difficult.


The volume of the aquarium depends on the size of the fish themselves, plus their number is important. In general, for 2-7 cm small catfish, a volume of 50-200 liters is sufficient, and for half-meter catfish it should exceed 500 liters.


Many catfish in nature live in a flow with a strong current, rich in oxygen. Therefore, in aquariums with them, filters are often used to create water flows. Aerators (such as compressors) are less important since catfish often use ambient air for breathing.

It is better to use a mechanical bottom filter to clean the bottom. All catfish dig soil and raise mud streams.

All filters are best mounted outside the aquarium. Many catfish can move large enough objects. If the equipment is inside, it must be well attached. Separate immersion filters combine aeration and filtration and can be used too.

Many catfish are thermophilic and need additional water heating. In such cases, you will need to purchase a water heater and a thermometer. Moreover, it is better to choose the latter so that it is attached to the outside of the wall of the aquarium – otherwise the catfish will simply demolish it.


Catfish are aquarium inhabitants of the bottom, and they do not need bright light. They do not need additional lighting; moreover, the aquarium with catfish must be shaded. And in no case should you put it near a window or near light sources.

The light should be dim and diffused – then the catfish will be active not only at night, but also during the day.

Water parameters

The water temperature for most catfish species should be between 22-28 ° C. Moreover, it should have neutral acidity and hardness of 6-12 °.


The best soil for catfish is coarse sand or gravel. Digging in shallow soil, they will raise the dregs.

The substrate should be chosen smooth, without sharp edges and notches. Otherwise, aquarium catfish can damage the face and antennae when searching for food.


Plants are a must for an aquarium with these fish. They will create partial shade, which catfish love so much. For this role, you need to choose plants with large leaves and strong roots, plus you need to additionally strengthen them, since the catfish will dig in them.


In the aquarium, it should be important to have shelters. These can be driftwood, hemp, turrets, houses, grottoes or caves, ships, groups of stones, ceramic pots, pipes and shards, coconuts and shells. It is important that there is at least one shelter for each fish. There they will hide and rest.

Care for catfish to live in aquarium

Catfish are unpretentious, which attracts many aquarists. It is enough to provide them with standard conditions to keep them healthy and active.

what to feed to catfish in aquarium?

Most of these fish are omnivorous and enjoy both live and frozen food, as well as dry and freeze-dried. The diet for them should contain both plant and animal food. Allowed to feed many types of raw fish, seafood, vegetables and herbs

Life span of Catfish

The largest representatives in nature can live up to 100 years. But they do not keep such at home, on average, aquarium catfish live for 8 years, but much depends on the variety and content.

catfish tank mates

When buying any aquarium fish, you need to know with whom they get along, because each has its own characteristics.

Most catfish are peaceful, do not start a showdown with representatives of other species, but sometimes they come into conflict with each other. The greatest threat is posed by large fish, which can swallow their prey whole.

It is also undesirable to add them to fish that have a habit of biting off their tails.

catfish breeding in tanks and Reproduction

Breeding aquarium catfish is highly dependent on their species. Many species reproduce quite easily, but some offspring are almost impossible to obtain at home. For some species, hormonal injection is used.

Preparing for spawning fish and aquarium

Usually, 1 female and 2-3 males are selected for breeding and put in a separate aquarium with a volume of at least 30 liters for 1-2 weeks and begin to feed them well. The most important place for spawning is the availability of shelters. The temperature dropped by 3-5 degrees and the inflow of freshwater are usually a signal for spawning. This mimics the rainy season in nature.

When do Catfish Spawn?

During spawning, the male chases the female, at some point snuggles up to her and they both freeze. Why does the female spawn. Further behavior of producers depends on the species, some catfish do not show concern for the offspring, and even manifestations of cannibalism are possible. Such fish are planted. In some species, the male takes care of the eggs.

take care of catfish eggs

Larvae appear a few days after spawning. They are very small and react poorly to light, so the water must be darkened first. After about a week, the fry begin to swim and feed. The initial food is dry food crushed into dust, brine shrimp larvae, and microworms. They grow slowly. Babies need to change their water more often.

Catfish Diseases and prevention in aquarium

Catfish fish suffer from bacterial and fungal diseases. The reasons can be sudden changes in temperature, the presence of salts in the water or high nitrate content due to poor care.

The behavior of sick fish changes – they become lethargic and inactive, refuse food, a whitish coating may appear on the body. In such cases, it is necessary to isolate them in a separate container and begin to treat them with the use of medicines and vitamins.


Semolina is also called ichthyophthiriasis. The disease is manifested by the appearance on the body of a plaque resembling semolina. For treatment, Malachite Green and Sera Cosyopur are used. The drug is poured into the aquarium, increasing filtration and aeration and replacing 20% ​​of freshwater. On the day of treatment, the fish is not fed.


Oodiniumosis or velvet rust. Unfortunately, fish can have this disease for several years, but it does not manifest itself in any way. A change in behavior should be an alarming signal – the fish begins to tremble and itch against the aquarium decorations. For treatment, it is necessary to increase the temperature of the water and pour copper sulfate into it according to the instructions.

Illness from stress

Such diseases develop mainly due to defects in care:

  • with improper nutrition, the fish develop stool disorders and impaired appetite;
  • oxygen starvation occurs when there is a lack of dissolved air in the water. fish begin to float to the surface;
  • if the temperature is incorrect in the aquarium, then the catfish look less mobile, lose their appetite, and their skin turns pale.

In addition, large white spots may appear as a manifestation of stress. For treatment, it is necessary to establish a feeding and care regimen.

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