Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Catfish Stocking/Selection

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, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

Do you know how large, how quickly... the scientific name/s of...? Cetopsis coecutiens, (Lichtenstein 1819), Whale Catfish.

Questions on Royal whiptails/stocking and temperature.     8/3/13
HI Neal its Alex again.
<He's out till 8/6. Will fwd. your msg., and respond here myself>
 I got my 50 gallon. plan to set it up early in September. The rams ( Bolivian) and angel seem to be doing well in the 20, the angel is really growing big, i do water changes to help with the heavy bioload and everyone seems great,. I'll move them to the 50 before long. I was wondering if a royal whiptail would outgrow a 50 gallon. I plan on getting the following fish
<Mmm, this Loricariid will outgrow a 50 in time; needs habitat as well as space>
2 more rams Bolivian - would this be pushing it
<Likely fine; unless they or others are territorial, breeding here>
about a dozen tetras- not sure if I want glow light or Rummynose. maybe i should up the tetras to 17 and leave out a second ram pair
<Fine; though these may be targeted by the cichlids as they get larger>
8 warm water Corys
<Good number>
a royal whiptail the singleton angel and the 2 rams I have now
I kept the water at 80- 82 is this to <too> warm for a royal whiptail?
<Not too warm>
 I lowered the temp to around 80- 78.
Royal whip tails how big do they get/ longevity
<Most likely 6-8 inches... a bit longer if you count the tail fin: http://www.fishbase.org/summary/50531
and price range please, also what to feed them.
Thanks have a great day.
<Let's have you just use the Net: for Sturisoma panamense
Bob Fenner>
Re: Questions on Royal whiptails/stocking and temperature.     8/4/13

I was wondering if a royal whiptail would outgrow a 50 gallon?
<<Not much to add to what Bob states, except that these are fabulous catfish if you have the space! Do visit the Planet Catfish website in particular; it's an excellent resource for identifying catfish and summarising their needs. Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Questions on Royal whiptails/stocking and temperature. Catfish stkg.      8/4/13
My new tanks dimension are 20 high, 36 inches long by 15 inches wide. I was wondering besides the Corys what types of catfish would go well with rams, angel, tetras. that sort of thing. The water is kept at 80- 82, ph is 7,
<Apart from Corydoras, and assuming you want to stay with the South American theme, look at Brochis, Dianema (if water quality is excellent), Lepthoplosternum pectorale, perhaps Megalechis (bit boisterous), Centromochlus perugiae if you can keep a group of 5+, Peckoltia spp., Agamyxis pectinifrons with nothing bite-sized... the list is a long one.
Basically anything from families Doradidae, Loricariidae, Auchenipteridae and Callichthyidae that doesn't have specific environmental requirements you can't provide, isn't too aggressive or retiring, and isn't likely to eat its tankmates.>
I really like that planet catfish site, thanks Neal, tried to log in but becoming a member was too difficult so I'll just look through..
<Difficult? Curious. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Questions on Royal whiptails/stocking and temperature.      8/4/13

I think what I'll do is set up the 50 gallon, and get some oil catfish if a world of fish can get them in. Do they need to be kept in groups?
<Absolutely, yes. Five at minimum.>
Would they take fruit flies at night, when/ time wise should I feed them?
<Frozen foods (bloodworms, brine shrimps, krill, glassworms, etc.) offered when the lights are out will be readily taken. They prefer to feed in the dark, so a canopy of floating plants may be of great help trapping foods where you can watch the fish feed as they would in the wild. I find this works great with the ecologically similar Synodontis nigriventris. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Questions on catfishes.     8/7/13

I was told that the oil catfish like current so they are out, all i plan on using in this tank will be powerful sponge filters just in case any fish breeds ( rams etc.) so I found some new catfish I'd like you to tell me about.
Chocolate talking catfish- Acanthodoras spinosissimus
<A lovely fish. Good with Angels, Bolivian Rams and deep-bodied and medium sized tetras (e.g., Lemon Tetras, Bleeding Heart Tetras, etc.). Slightly risky with small, narrow-bodied fish like Neons. Unusually for a thorny catfish it seems to be territorial and does well kept singly. Extremely nocturnal though, so you won't see it much/ever.>
jaguar catfish - Liosomadoras oncinus
<A beautiful catfish for reasonably advanced aquarists, in fact one of the classic species kept by catfish enthusiasts. Not difficult to keep, assuming you have soft to medium-hard water (won't do well in hard water).
But extremely nocturnal, so needs a shady aquarium. Predatory, though peaceful. Good with Angels, Silver Dollars and similar-sized tankmates.
Bear in mind it gets to about 20 cm/8 inches, and is able to consume fish up to the size of a Dwarf Gourami.>
White Cross Woodcat
<Trachelyopterus albicrux; not much traded, but basic care presumably similar to the Starry (or Common) Woodcat, Trachelyopterus galeatus, which makes a reasonably good aquarium fish if you have the space. Decent current, low to middling temperatures, deep aquarium with lots of shade.
Adult size around 20 cm/8 inches. Predatory, not aggressive as such but boisterous and given to prowling the tank at night swallowing anything bite-sized, so Starry Woodcats at least are kept with tankmates of similar size, like Severums. May be kept singly or in groups. Not really viable in your set up, though.>
I was wondering if any of these would be okay in a 50 gallon with rams, tetras, Corys and an angelfish- would they outgrow the tank- eat the tank mates.
<See above. Do review the list sent previously; I do suspect you'd get the same kind of weird catfish vibe from one of the medium-sized Callichthyidae, in particular Lepthoplosternum pectorale (Hoplosternum pectorale in older aquarium books). Not too big, not too small, can be kept singly, active by day, not predatory, quite outgoing, very adaptable re:
water chemistry and temperature. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Questions on Acanthodoras spinosissimus     8/7/13
I really like the chocolate talking catfish, Acanthodoras spinosissimus.
<Is a nice fish, but all thorny catfish are strictly nocturnal, and hardly ever come out by day.>
The other species you gave me  Lepthoplosternum pectoral is too drab for my taste.
<But at least you'll see it! Try keeping it away from the food at feeding time. Do have a read here:
This species is lively, hardy and breedable!>
But I have a few questions on chocolate talking catfish . Do they like to be kept in groups or singly- I was told by planet catfish that they could poison each other if kept together.
<Not likely. They seem to be solitary fish in small aquaria and certainly do well kept singly, but most of these thorny catfish are gregarious in the wild. More than likely they "fight" only insofar as they squabble over hiding places. As for poisoning each other, there's little/no evidence for this. Some thorny catfish have venom glands on their pectoral fins, but
then so do a great variety of other catfish including species we don't think of as venomous, such as the Callichthyidae (the Corydoras family).
I'd urge you to peruse the scientific literature if you're interested, starting here:
But these are strictly defensive weapons and never used offensively, and provided the catfish isn't swallowed or otherwise placed in a life-threatening situation, they generally don't use these venom glands under aquarium conditions, and certainly don't have a mechanism for squirting venom into the faces of other fish. These venom delivery systems all work in the same way, puncturing the skin (typically in the mouth) of a predator, and then allowing the venom to seep into the resulting wound. Put another way, those Corydoras and Synodontis catfish studied appear to have venom glands, yet no one is paranoid about putting them in community tanks!
So basically think of their venom as an interesting curiosity but that's all. Territorial catfish are more likely to damage each other through physical attacks and/or social stress than mutual envenomation.>
How dangerous is the toxin created by these fish?
<Not. You have probably already kept venomous fish without worrying.
There's a slight risk handling any/all catfish because their spines can create puncture wounds that become infected secondarily, and at least some catfish produce enough venom to cause a painful sting (including Corydoras) but most species produce so little venom they're no risk to humans. The only exceptions would be those who react badly to animal stings generally, such as bee stings, in which case soliciting advice from a medical practitioner would be wise. At the very least, tell such people not to man-handle your catfish!>
I don't want to put myself or my housemates in danger if they are really bad/toxic. but at the same time they are really interesting.  would emperor tetras be okay with them as a tetra species too large to swallow in my tank.
<Emperor Tetras would be find with both Acanthodoras spinosissimus and Lepthoplosternum pectorale. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help with Gymnothorax tile laying on back/abnormal breathing, Now catfish sys., stkg.
One last question.  Is the 30 gallon too small to keep 2 or 3 catfish that are 4-5 inches?
<Depends on the catfish species. For less active species it can be sufficient. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind1.htm  for various catfishes and see www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/pimelodids.htm
and www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/pictuscatf.htm  if you need more info on your Pictus.>
Thanks again. This site is amazing.  I learned from my mistake and will read this site in detail before I buy anything else!
<Take care. Marco.>
Re: Help with Gymnothorax tile laying on back/abnormal breathing

Thank you so much! That information was exactly what I needed.
<Ah. good. You're welcome. Marco.>

Catfish and Guppies  10/16/11
I have a 2 foot tank with mostly Guppies and a shoal each of Neon and Glo-light Tetras and I am hoping to include a frog or 2, and catfish. I was wondering if you could give me a list of Catfish which would be compatible with my fish, no fin nippers, or ones that would definitely outgrow my 2 foot tank.
I am aware most catfish would eat any fry and am going to buy nets and plants for the fry so this should not be a problem. So could you please list some catfish which would do best with my fish and tank, also I'd like to know some interesting looking ones such as the Bumble Bee type if you could, I will be very grateful for any advice or ideas.
Many thanks,
<Your best bets would be Corydoras catfish, ideally the excellent and easy to keep Peppered or Bronze Corydoras, in a school of at least 5 specimens because these are sociable fish that appreciate company of their own kind.
Bristlenose Cats (Ancistrus sp.) are another option, a singleton being a good choice and it would have some additional value as an algae-eater. So far as oddball sorts go, Whiptail cats, Rineloricaria spp., are excellent choices. They're mildly territorial but you could keep 3-4 without any problems. They consume a wide range of foods despite their strange appearance, with algae wafers and catfish pellets making fine staples.
Cheers, Neale.>

What sized aquarium, & Cichlid/Catfish comp.    7/1/11
I am going to purchase an aquarium soon for large cichlids.
<Fair enough.>
The fish I want are 1 red Oscar,
<Needs soft water; not aggressive when not spawning.>
1 jack Dempsey,
<Needs hard water; can be aggressive.>
1 convict,
<Also needs hard water; females more colourful than males and less aggressive.>
1 Salvini,
<Also needs hard water; extremely aggressive; quality of specimens in the trade nowadays pretty poor.>
6 silver dollars
<Need soft water.>
and 1 Pleco.
<What sort?>
All Male if I can.
<Good luck sexing juveniles'¦ male and female Oscars for example are essentially identical and cannot be sexed outside of spawning. Usually male cichlids are more aggressive than females, so adding adult males to an aquarium usually ends up with bullied or dead fish!>
Are then any type of catfish I can put with these fish?  
<Depends on the water chemistry. Are you keeping a hard water collection or a soft water collection? How are you keeping nitrate down? Above 20 mg/l, nitrate is a serious killer for Oscars especially -- Hole-in-the-Head and Hexamita infections in particular. It may well be that water quality will be better managed with fewer fish.>
What sized aquarium will I need.
<Which of your cichlids do you want to keep? A collection of hard water Central Americans can work in 200 gallons/750 litres without too much bother. Have done this with a Jaguar, a Midas, and a group of Convicts, plus a Channel Catfish and a Gibbiceps Plec. Obviously you wouldn't keep Oscars or Silver Dollars in a hard water Central American community. Likewise, a 200 gallon tank could be a great home for a harem of Cyphotilapia frontosa together with a few Tanganyikan species of Synodontis.>
I am willing to buy up to 807 u.k. litre aquarium. It is 8x2x2. If I can go smaller I would like to. That is just the maximum. Could I get by with a 6x2x2 foot aquarium. Is there any room for more fish, and if so what would you recommend. Thank you
<Do think more carefully about what it is you want to keep, rather than a random collection of cichlids. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: What sized aquarium

On your first combo of fish, the hard water one could I sub a Flowerhorn for the midas. Sorry for the stupid questions.
<Yes, a Flowerhorn would be more or less equivalent to a Midas cichlid, but do be aware of the problems associated with Flowerhorn cichlids including inbreeding and the often-low quality of the specimens offered for sale.
Cheers, Neale.>

Catfish sel. for Neotrop. Cichlid... comp. - 8/1/10
Hello, I plan on getting a 75 to 100 gallon fishtank, which will have 1 red devil or midas, but before I get them, what kind of catfish could I get?
<Large Pterygoplichthys work well, e.g., Pt. gibbiceps, though this assumes there's a good sized cave where the catfish can hide. I've also kept a Midas Cichlid with a large Ictalurus catfish in a 200 gallon system.>
<Nope. These are very much catfish for their own aquarium.>
And would tinfoil barbs or some kind of higher level fish work if they were at least equal size or bigger then the midas and put in before?
<Nope. Midas Cichlids will harass and likely kill any midwater fish. Do review the literature on Amphilophus spp.; the hybrids sold in pet shops are not good "community" residents and males especially often end up on
their own. Amphilophus lyonsi is an exception, if you can find it. Plus, Tinfoil barbs need completely different water chemistry.>
<Cheers, Neale>

Catfish Selection  2/28/07 Hello WWM, <<Hello, Joe. Tom here.>> We currently have a 20 gallon aquarium with a Tetra Whisper Power Filter 20, 4 inch bubble wand, and heater. The system has been going for about 8 weeks and currently the pH reads 6.8, hardness 120 ppm, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, and nitrates at 0 to 10 ppm after a 20% water change (done weekly), with temperature at 78 degrees. <<I like the sounds of it, Joe.>> There is currently some rusty/brownish algae growing on the plants which I am guessing is caused by the use of the fluorescent light for about 5-6 hours per day. <<Diatoms ("brown algae"). Very common in new tanks and will dissipate/disappear on its own. Nothing to worry about but rather unsightly.>> We currently have 1 female Red Wag Platy, 1 female HiFin Platy, 2 Female Sunburst Mickey Mouse Platies, and 1 male Calico Platy and a varying population of babies (currently about 5) and all seem healthy and happy. The water is treated with dechlorinator and 1 Tbs/5 gallons of conditioning salt is added to the water. No salt is added when replacing evaporated water. <<A Platy fan, eh? Good for you. Very colorful and nice fish.>> My question is this. My kids would like to add some more fish. I have told them we have room for 5 more perhaps 7 fish. I figured this would be a good population for this system. We would like to add 2 more platies (we figure the more platies the better) and perhaps 3 catfish. What type of catfish would you recommend? Reading your site it seems Cory catfish and Otos are out because of the salt or is this salt level tolerable? <<Joe, you can reduce the salt level just a bit and the Corys would be fine. One Tbsp./five gallons of water is tolerable for just about any fish but cutting back just a bit wouldn't hurt. Maybe about 3/4 Tbsp./five gallons.>> Plecos sound like they would get too large for this tank size and I know the Chinese Algae Eater has no place in this tank. <<Common Plecos would, indeed, get too large for this tank as would most varieties. There are some very nice Plecos that remain smaller but I think the Corys would be a better "fit" here, Joe.>> So any advice on "bottom dwellers" would be appreciated. Thank you, Joe <<Keep up the good work, Joe, and I hope you all enjoy your new additions. Tom>>

Shovelnose catfish Is there a shovelnose catfish that stays under 12 inches in length? <Mmm, Sorubim lima...> Or do they are all get over the 2 feet mark? I worked in a pet store for years and the only shovelnose I have ever encountered back then, were the striped shovelnose that got over 2 feet in length. We used to warn customers ahead of time before they purchased any fish that would get fairly large. Anyway, I have been out of the aquarium circuit for a few years now and I was doing research to keep myself updated. However, each aquarium books seems to have their own set of rules to follow. One book stated that the striped shovelnose catfish only reaches 8 inches in length. <We know this is incorrect...> That is why I am asking this question because I think the book is wrong. And this is also the same book which stated Clown Knife fish would only really a maximum length of 19 inches in captivity, but in the wild they grow to 4 feet. I have seen plenty of 30 inch clown knife fish pass through the pet store!!!! Let me know if there is a shovelnose cat that stays under 12 inches, thanks!!! Shannon <Plug the above name into fishbase.org or search the entire family of Pimelodidae... or see some on our site here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/pimelodids.htm  Bob Fenner>  

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: