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FAQs on Catfish Systems

Related Articles: Catfishes Sucker mouth Cats/Loricariids, Otocinclus, Callichthyids, Ictalurid CatfishesMochokids/Synodontis, Candirus (Trichomycterids, Cetopsids), Marine Catfishes: Plotosids, Ariids

Related Catfish FAQs: General, Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

Lasiancistrus sp. possibly.

Catfish Aquarium     3/27/13
I would like to have an aquarium that is only for catfish. I'm interested in the Pictus Catfish, upside down catfish, and Corry Catfish. Are these three even compatible?
What other catfish could I have in the same tank?

<A small to medium-sized Loricariid catfish would be nice and easy to feeder, perhaps Peckoltia or Ancistrus spp assuming the tank is relatively small; allow about a square foot of space per specimen for either of these catfish. Asian Glass Catfish are another option; they're active day and night, but are finicky feeders so review their needs carefully. Keep in a big group, five or more, otherwise they'll pine away. You could also try a species of Driftwood catfish if you have space. One of the Tatia species like Tatia galaxias could work. Very shy, very nocturnal, and have to be kept in groups of three or more specimens, but much loved by hardcore catfish-keepers.>
I'd like to have three of each.
<Three Corydoras is a bit mean… get 5 or more, per species being kept. Three Pimelodus pictus and three Synodontis nigriventris will be fine.>
I've looked for catfish compatibility articles, forums, etc and I haven't found one that is exactly what I am looking for. I haven't bought anything yet; I want to have all my research done before hand. Any advice will be appreciated!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Catfish Aquarium     4/4/13
It certainly did! Do you think a 38 gallon tank will work for this type of aquarium?
<38 US gallons is a good size, but not huge, so be circumspect when stocking. Something like half a dozen Corydoras, a pair of Ancistrus, and three Synodontis nigriventris should work, and give space for a school of small schooling fish like Tiger Barbs to add some daytime colour. Cheers, Neale.>

night light?    2/22/12
Hi Neale, how are you?
<Well, thanks!>
I bought a 50W moonlight lamp from Exo-terra, its for desert and tropical terrariums, I was planning to put it in a lamp and turn it on sometimes for night-watching so I get to see my Catfish more, but if its for reptiles can it harm my fish?
<Nope. So long as it doesn't produce UV or heat, it's fine.>
I've read that getting a moonlight fixture is a good idea,
<Can be. Moonlight tubes were all the rage in the 80s when I started keeping fish seriously. Not all catfish fall for this ruse, which is why they largely fell out of fashion. But they're fun toys if you use them for an hour or two after normal daytime lighting, and might possibly encourage your catfish to swim a bit when you can see them.>
can you please elaborate a bit on having night lights or not for my aquarium, quick reminder I have:
- 4 Angelfish
- 2 Striped Raphael Catfish
<These are among the most completely nocturnal fish sold. They're almost never seen by their owners. Do suspect one problem is they're social fish, so when we keep one or two, they become very shy. But even so, this family of catfish is extremely nocturnal and favours deep, murky rivers where very little light penetrates.
That said, you can train them to come out during the day (at least in very shady aquaria) if you tempt them with appropriate foods dropped near to their favoured cave. For this trick to work all overhead light needs to be filtered out with floating plants or leaves, because they simply won't come out into brightly lit spots.>
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: night light?
Hi Neale, thanks as always for your great help!
I will keep asking, ha ha!
<Go ahead.>
so when I grow my aquarium would you recommend to get 2 more Catfish so they are happier, given that they are social? I would love to, since I like them a lot.
Question about the Striped Raphael Catfish, I got them Pleco algae food, algae wafers that go to the bottom, is this ok, or they would prefer carnivorous food?
<Either. They will eat algae wafers as readily as anything else. My catfish (including Corydoras and Synodontis species) feed almost entirely on algae wafers, with occasional meaty treats like bloodworms and mussel used once or twice a week.>
Then, I returned the Chinese algae eater, but now my aquarium has tiny dots of algae all over the plants and rocks, I guess the algae eater was doing a good job, you had suggested a Bristlenose Pleco, will this fish clean the algae as much as the algae eater did?
<Much much better. For best results, allow one Ancistrus per 20 gallons on so.>
Is it a good addition for my 2 Catfish?
<Cheers, Neale.> 

FW Bright Lights, No Big City... catfish sys.  2/16/07 I have a 55gallon aquarium with (2)18" natural daylight bulbs . They are to <Too> bright for my (fw) catfish. What light bulbs should i <I> get to lower the light in the tank with good color spectrum? <Mmm, I would not get/use any with lower luminosity for this size/depth system... But would add some sort of "cover"... driftwood (real or faux), stacked rocks of suitable chemistry... and possibly some live (even simple floating plants... a fave, Watersprite)... to shield some of the light> I have no plants and feed Spirulina to tilapia because plants don't last long. <Oh, yes... perhaps some Hornwort/Ceratophyllum... or other non-palatable species... See WWM re> I would appreciate any help you have to offer so i don' buy wrong bulbs.  thank you       David <Next time... spellchecker... Bob Fenner>

Dissimilar cats, salt or no salt Hi Bob <Jess> I have just set up a new fresh water tank, I let my mum go and pick out some new fish. I now have a white baby Oscar and what I think is a shark catfish (Hexanematichthys seemanni) and also a Angelic Pim (Pimelodus pictus). <... not a good mix... the Oscar will likely try to consume the Pimelodus in time... killing both... the two cats live in very different worlds> The shark cat would be better in saltier water wouldn't it? <Yes> Can he go in a full salt tank when he is older? <Yes> If he can go in a full salt can I put him in my Moray tank. The Moray is a snowflake. <Likely very compatible... as this Moray does not generally eat fishes> He is a lovely fish and I would love to have him in my snowflakes new 6'x2'x2' tank, which I am still setting up. Or I can set up a brackish tank, in my Morays old tank once he is out. If I do the brackish tank the other two fish I mentioned above can't go in it can they? <Nope... they are truly freshwater fishes that tolerate little salt> Cheers Jess <And thou. Bob Fenner>

Cycling, timing, and Endler's Dear WWMites, <<Kewl. I'm an official Mite!!>> Well, thanks to the rest of your site (and I thought I'd read nearly everything before), I've answered my own questions.  Wow, y'all have a lot of stuff for us to read!  I backed out to the home page and found more links to more info a bit farther down.  Unfortunately, the intense absorption of so much info knocked most of the third grade out of my head to make room.  Ah, well, third grade was a bust anyway...  To recap: We'll get the Otos much later in the process rather than earlier, and our earlier decision on five (one per ten gallons) is apparently a good population.  Also, my bride and I decided we're going to replace several of the silk plants with live plants, both for the beauty and the Otos. <<Excellent idea :)>> We'll stick with making larger batches of tweaked water, and go get a cheapy air pump to aerate it (at least overnight) before we use it.  We're also talking about increasing the water changes to 20% a week rather than every two weeks, especially after reading about the sensitivity of Otos and Corys to nasties in the water. <<It would be a good idea to vacuum your substrate regularly, Corys are prone to bacterial infections of the barbels. Nasty stuff can accumulate in gravel beds, and Corys are always sticking their noses into...it. :P>> We're going to have to decide which Corydoras to get, since they prefer being with their own.  I'd had the impression that it wouldn't quite do to mix based on genus rather than species.  (Now if I can just convince my wife to go with the paleatus...) <<My favorite Corys are melanistius melanistius and adolfoi. You can check out pics of any species of Cory cat at www.planetcatfish.com/ Maybe you will both see something inspiring there that you agree on :)>> As I said in an earlier message, the little speed demon is, indeed, an Endler's.  He's started getting a stronger hint of green on his caudal fin, and a more definite green tinge on his rear half.  We're looking forward to getting a group of them after New Year's. <<Nice fish. Easy to keep and not a royal pain like so many livebearers can be...Belonesox spring to mind.>> Again, thanks for the wonderful site, and I hope I haven't chewed up too much of your time. Glen <<You are most welcome. Happy Fishing. LOL. -Gwen>>

Just bought a 2.5" red tail baby Amazon catfish 3 days ago, <decided to get a tank buster eh?  These grow to be enormous fish in a relatively short amount of time.  I've wanted one myself for a long time, just haven't had a tank that could house them properly. > he was fine the first 2 days, then started 'floating around' the tank, without swimming.. kinda like he's dying...kinda letting the current take him, <these fish are bottom dwelling, and floating of any kind is not good.> this is a small 5 gallon tank, was setup 1 month ago, 3 weeks ago got 3 zebra tetras / 2" Pleco / whole bunch of good established gravel and they are doing great. <They maybe doing great but that tank is way to small for all of those fish.  Pleco's and Catfish are very messy fish!  The water parameters can become bad fast with the amount of waste these fish are producing!> 75-78 degrees, ph 7.0-6.8..he is also kinda breathing harder, if you try and touch him with your finger, he'll try to escape. but he just floats around. when he looks more coherent sometimes he is upside down. Hadn't eaten, but looks like he just ate a shrimp (freeze dried 1 cm long shrimps). <I suggest you get your larger tank up and running very soon! This tank is not going to work for these fish! What you need to purchase is Freshwater Test Kits.  These will tell you the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in your tank.  With high ammonia and nitrite levels it effects the fish's breathing.  Ammonia damages the gills, and nitrite hinders the fish's body from using the oxygen from the water.  The water parameters must be at Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate being as close to zero as possible.> I'm calling the fish store, but was wondering if this is totally bad. the tank should be ok <No, it's not okay.  way to small.  It's like keeping an elephant in spare bed room.  Just because it fits inside doesn't mean it's okay.> (by the way, he's moving in 2 months to a 55 gallon and then a 200 gallon at least to start with, then a pond eventually.) <that is a good plan, but you should have gotten this fish when you had the larger tank ready.  Don't put the cart before the horse.  have the environment ready for the animal, it's easier on you and the fish.> Have wanted one of these for years, please help, only 3 days in !!! --Dave <I've wanted these myself, but realized that they can become monster sized, and need a home to fit their needs.  See if your Local fish store will hold the fish for you as you get your larger tank set up. You will need to do some water changes on this 5 gallon to help bring the water levels back to normal this will help.  during this time you will need to start setting up the larger tank  for him.  good luck and remember to research and have things ready well in advance before purchasing any animal. -Magnus.>

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