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FAQs on Catfish Identification

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

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

Synodontis multipunctatus

Unknown catfish   6/11/12
Hello crew! I recently bought a tank off my cousin that was small and neglected in hopes to save his fish from hardships.
<Nice of you to help out.>
He had 6 fish that i temporarily added to my own tank in hopes of cleaning the ten gallon that i got. My 15 gallon, pristine and exceptionally cared for is housed to my dearest black blotch cichlid who usually lives alone and tends to be an aggressive male.
<Not really sure what a "black blotch cichlid" might be. Do you mean Vieja maculicauda, the Black Belt Cichlid? A large, almost entirely herbivorous species.>
I plan on getting a 50 gallon soon for my best friend who is said to grow a foot?
<Vieja maculicauda can certainly get to almost that size, though 20-25 cm/8-10 inches is more typical.>
Well I've had this guy for a while and while he is only six inches he managed to eat a couple of the fish i got while i wasn't looking.
<Are you feeding him enough green foods? They are almost 100% herbivores in the wild, and unless you give enough greens, obviously it won't grow or do well. It also needs an adequately large tank, and if kept in a 15 gallon tank, then chances are you may have stunted the fish, unless you did very frequent water (daily!) changes.>
He ate a Danio and a tetra of some sort.
<Not good.>
Now the other two danios are a little tattered too. They weren't doing too well when i first got them but are fine now. The other two fish are cats, my misguided cousin didn't have adequate tanks and knowledge, and had given me a Chinese that was 8 inches which i brought to my local pet store in hopes of finding him a better home.
<What's a "Chinese"? Do you mean the so-called Chinese Algae Eater, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, a fish that doesn't come from China and doesn't eat much algae.>
So the biggest question here is for species suggestions for this other cat. This cat is very small, about six inches and is dominantly orange with a few black splatters about him.
<Is this the golden morph of Gyrinocheilus aymonieri?
They're about the commonest golden fish that might be mistaken for a catfish (they're not catfish or even loaches, but their own special kind of bottom-dwelling fish). Other options include albino Corydoras (often Corydoras paleatus), albino Ancistrus ("Bristlenose Catfish"), and albino Plecs (Pterygoplichthys species).>
This fish has the typical wide mouth and barbells, and though it hides all the time with my cichlid who doesn't see him as food i could tell that this cat has a typical slender shape down to the tail. I cannot identify him as i cant catch more than a glance of his side while he hides. I can honestly say that i don't expect my new danios to last long being that my parents will not allow me to set up this new tank now that I've cleaned it. My cichlid is bound to eat them too.
<Likely, especially if hungry/not given enough greens.>
So the cichlid and the cat both should grow rather large but i plan on a larger tank to house them both. Another question is how to treat the cat so that he is more trusting. I managed to get my cichlid over time to stop hiding and be friendly when he isn't mad that i cleaned the tank and got gravel in his home! Any suggestions?
<If these "cats" are both Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, they are extremely territorial and WILL NOT get along in one tank.>
Also i have a smaller version of a bio filter i already use from my cousin. I took the old carbon out and plan on using it just as another bio. My cichlid isn't bothered by a lot
<…a lot…>
of movement in my tank but would the catfish like calmer waters too? Thanks a lot! _matt
<Welcome, Neale.>
re: Unknown catfish   6/11/12

Your right about the cichlid, and i will be giving him a better tank. I will construct a better diet as soon as i get off work today. He was rather large when i got him a month ago so i am not worried about stunting as you cant stunt something that is already grown.
<Quite so. Fish grow throughout their lives, but once they get above a certain age -- usually within a year for cichlids -- that growth rate slows right down to almost imperceptible amounts. So while your fish may grow a little more, especially if moved to a much bigger tank, it's unlikely he'll ever reach the maximum size for this species.>
However i will make she he is not cramped. The Chinese i spoke about is the exact fish you mentioned. I knew that it would be to much which is why i brought it to a dealer right away. As for the other fish ill look at info for the suggested species and see if it all adds up. Thank you so much -
matt
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

It's Just a Catfish! Not... 3/22/10
Hi Bob & Crew,
Any truth to this?
James
<No, it's a Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus. The white spots and the longitudinal furrows on the back are very distinctive. There are some gigantic catfish in Asia, including at last one Pangasius species that (unknown to anyone until recently) spends part of its life cycle at sea. But this isn't one of them! I'm not sure if Whale Sharks are cannibalistic; to the best of my knowledge, and Bob may know better, they feed exclusively on zooplankton, squid and small schooling fish. In other words, much like the baleen whales they are so clearly convergent with. Cheers, Neale.>
>>It's Just a Catfish! Yeah, sure!!
>>For all those crazy guys who go 'noodling' for catfish and stick their
arms down the fish's throat!! This would be 'all the catfish you can eat',
>>Each year, a few people were drowning or disappearing mysteriously in
Huadu's Furong (China) Reservoir. It was not until recently, when the son
of a government official went swimming, in the reservoir and was drowned,
that the secret was revealed.
>>It is a 3 meter (9.8ft) long man-eating catfish whose head alone is 1
meter (3.3ft) wide!
>>After cutting up the catfish, people were surprised to find the remains
of another man inside!
>>Swimming in the reservoir is now forbidden because it is feared another
similar man-eating catfish is still lurking in the waters.
>>It's Just a Catfish!

Re: It's Just a Catfish! 3/22/10
Didn't think so. Thanks Neale.
James
<Most welcome! Cheers, Neale.>

Chrysichthys spp. 1/19/10
Hi.
I bought a catfish yesterday labeled as an aluminum catfish.
<Crikey! Haven't seen one of these in the trade for YEARS! Used to be semi-commonly traded here in the UK during the 1980s, when big catfish were very much the "in thing". Now hardly ever seen.>
I was under the impression that the "aluminum catfish" was a single species of fish that reached an adult size of about 8 inches. I was wrong.... When I got home, I did some research, only to find that almost all of the fish in the Chrysichthys genus reached sizes of over 12" in length.
<Indeed, several species sold as Aluminium Catfishes, including some Chrysichthys species, but also Clarotes laticeps, and possibly others. When at university I was sold an "Aluminium Catfish" that turned out to be nothing more than a Channel Catfish, Ictalurus. The Ali Cat name really gets applied to most any big, silvery (usually African) catfish. So you have to be careful. Yours certainly isn't an Ictalurus, and it isn't the Chrysichthys species I used to keep, Chrysichthys ornatus. It does look a lot like Chrysichthys longipinnis, what Fishbase calls the Aluminium Catfish. That species supposedly reaches a maximum length of 70 cm (27 inches), and even assuming it only gets about 2/3rds that size (often the case with riverine cats) you're still looking at some thing around 45 cm in length (about 18 inches).>
Some only got to 13" or so, but others topped 2'. Is there any way that I can i.d. my cat so I know how large it will get?
<As juveniles, many clarotid catfish look exceedingly similar, so it's impossible to say for sure. I think this is Chrysichthys longipinnis, though adults of that species have quite well developed dorsal fins. Do also look at Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus, another species that is occasionally traded. In short, review Fishbase, in particular the thumbnails of species in the family Claroteidae.
http://filaman.ifm-geomar.de/identification/specieslist.cfm?famcode=668&area
code=
>
If you can provide any insight, that would be great. I think I have Chrysichthys auratus, but my fish is only a juvenile, about 1.5", so it's hard for me to tell.
<Quite so; Chrysichthys auratus should have an obviously golden colour, which this specimen appears to lack.>
I have attached some photos of it; sorry for the poor quality and the smudges on the glass. Semester exams are coming up and I haven't had time to clean my aquarium's glass.
Thanks in advance!
<I kept Chrysichthys ornatus for a long time, 10 years, before passing him on to another aquarist with some similarly venerable Ctenopoma and Synodontis. In short, my experience of Chrysichthys ornatus was that this was a very hardy, essentially peaceful, but extremely predatory animal capable of swallowing tankmates up to 2/3rds it size (lost a blue Gourami that way). So DO NOT underestimate the "bite" of these animals. They are top predators, and need to be treated as such. Typical riverine fish:
unfussy about water chemistry, but appreciate water current and good oxygenation. Eat anything; earthworms, krill, chopped fish fillet as well as catfish pellets will all work well for its diet. A superb fish, but you WILL need a big tank for him. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Chrysichthys spp. 1/20/10
Thanks for your reply Neale.
<Pleasure.>
I looked through Fishbase and talked with the folks on planetcatfish.com....
<A good site.>
It seems that only time will tell what species I have, but what do you think the chances are that I have a species that will reach a size of under 12"/30cm in captivity?
<Unknown, but honestly, I doubt you'll be that lucky.>
The guys on planetcatfish mentioned C. polli,
<Not traded, so far as I know. If it's so uncommonly seen Fishbase doesn't have a photo of the live fish, it's pretty unlikely to turn up in a pet store.>
and I have been looking at a couple pictures of C. brevibarbis...
<Perhaps.>
both of these seem to match my fish, at least more closely than C. longipinnis.
<This is the Ali Cat of the trade though.>
Or should I say, I hope that those species match my cat more closely than C. longipinnis?
<Comparing a photo of a pickled fish at Fishbase to a live one is practically pointless, so I really can't comment on Chrysichthys polli. I've never seen a live specimen.>
As you can probably tell, I really want to keep this fish...
<By all means keep it. Even if it's a small species, it's going to be around 30-45 cm when mature, and that's a fish that needs a big tank and robust tankmates. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Cheers, Neale.>

Unidentified Catfish, Catfish ID - 06/27/07 Hi, I've been searching sites (Thanks Google) for a while now looking for anything to help identify a recently adopted catfish. So far, your site seems to be the most informative and popular, so here I am. The new guy (or girl) is approximately 6-7 inches long with barbels extending about the same distance. The general shape is that of a Pictus sp. as far as I can tell. It appears to be "naked" with a light silver body, white belly and 3 poorly defined lateral stripes of black, white and black. The tail fin is forked. I know it would be easier to identify with a picture, but I can't provide one yet. As far as behavior goes: It hides under my rock formation and comes out only at night. When he does come out, he taps the front of the tank as if maybe the glass will give way. I've had him about a week and have yet to see him eat anything. A few freeze dried krill have disappeared after a while in the tank, but since they float I can't be sure it was the catfish that ate them. Other then that I've tried shrimp pellets and "variety wafers" since they sink nicely. I know some catfish eat the wrong things sometimes when they get hungry and I want to make sure my other fish will be ok. I have a 55 Gal. with 2 Blue Gouramis, 2 Neon Blue Dwarf Gouramis, 2 Clown Loaches, 5 Platies and 3 Juli Cories. (and the 6 inch cat) Thank you for any help you can provide. Josh < Of coarse a picture would be very helpful, so instead check out planetcatfish.com. Check for one of the Mystus cat or Pimelodus species.-Chuck>

Yellow eel tail catfish 6/5/07 Do you have any information on this freshwater aquarium sized fish. it is Australian i have been told. < Indeed it is Australasian. The yellow-tail eel catfish is a species of Plotosidae, that is, a catfish belonging to the same group as the marine striped catfish that used to be quite common in the trade. The exact species is unknown to me. The name is not recognized by Fishbase or any aquarium book I have, and is only used by a single fish farm's web site and they don't even mention the Latin name! It may possibly be Neosilurus hyrtlii or Neosilurus glencoensis, both of which have been traded as the yellow-finned eel catfish. Anyway, these catfish are all pretty similar, and while there are some dwarf species (15 cm or less) and some giant species (above 90 cm), most are 25-50 cm size bracket. The freshwater species outnumber the marine species, and in terms of water chemistry these freshwater species are not in the least fussy and will adapt to anything suitable for freshwater fish generally.> > put one in my cichlid tank and lost all of my cichlids. they died one after the other. do you think it would be disease or something to do with the catfish ??? i have kept these cichlids for approx 4 years with no previous problems. <Well, these catfish are extremely capable predators, and can and will eat anything they can stuff into their mouths. But they are also venomous, being equipped with one or more spines capable of delivering an excruciatingly painful venom. To be fair though, venomous fish rarely if ever use their venoms offensively, so the catfish wouldn't deliberately jam itself against a cichlid intending to kill the cichlid. But depending on the size difference, I suppose it's possible the cichlids tried to eat the catfish, and got stung that way. Regardless, the Plotosidae generally make acceptable tankmates for robust communities. The Plotosidae tend to be more or less gregarious, and at least when not fully grown seem to do best kept in groups. Some species will in fact pine away completely if not kept with companions. As they mature they become less sociable and expect secure hidey-holes, but even adults tend to be found in twos and threes in the wild, so getting a buddy or two for your catfish is probably a very good idea. Hope this helps, Neale> Re: yellow eel tail catfish 6/6/07 thanks...for prompt reply.... <No problem.> do you think the catfish has brought in a virus or disease that killed off the rest of my tank as the catfish is the only survivor now. lost rainbow sharks, cichlids and small catfish x2 all dead except the newly arrived catfish <Seems very unlikely. Viruses tend to be species-specific. Possibly a bacteria, but these tend to affect only certain fish and even in worst-case scenarios the fish get ill gradually and obviously. So you'd notice things like lethargy, loss of colour, dropsy, and so on before fish infected with internal bacteria or parasites actually died. Some fish have a toxic mucous (boxfish for example) but these tend to kill everything, including the boxfish. So I don't think that's likely. If the catfish was simply attacking things at night, you'd expect to see damage on the dead fish -- any sign of that? If you had an electric catfish, explaining the sudden deaths would be easier, too. But assuming you have a genuine eel-tail catfish of some type that's not a possibility either. Obviously you need to check water quality and chemistry. This may be a case of two unrelated events merely connected in time: i.e., you introduced the catfish at the same time your aquarium crashed for one reason or another.> regards tom <A picture of the catfish, and some aquarium stats would be useful: size of the tank, filtration, pH, hardness, nitrite. Cheers, Neale>

Butterfly Catfish, Identification - 07/25/2006 <Sisoridae> Hello Bob my name is Allan Larkins I am the general manager of creatures great and small in Victoria I have seen several postings for people trying to research butterfly catfish and unfortunately the answer is always the same "did you mean African butterfly fish" but the fish they are trying to research is also known as the Asian moth cat Latin: HARA HARA OR HARA JORDANI. <Hmm.... I'm thinking you might mean Hara jerdoni, here; seems that H. jordani may be a common misspelling of this name. Fishbase and PlanetCatfish both seem to lead in that direction. And thanks for this! I've never heard this group called "moth" cats.> Look forward to more great info on your site. <I will. I always do.> Sincerely, Allan <All the best to you, -Sabrina>

Shades of Billy Shakespeare! Blue Dolphin Catfish? 12/22/2005 I have just purchased what they called a blind brackish blue dolphin catfish. Is there such a fish, I can not find him any where. I have him in a nano tank. Can you give me any info or place to go for info. Thanks, Jane <Mmm, doesn't come up on fishbase.org... I suspect this is a nomen for some species of Cetopsid (whale catfish), or perhaps (my second guess), an ariid... Can you send a likeness/pic? Bob Fenner>

Freshwater: Algae Eater.of some sort - 10/24/05 Hello there <Hello.> I have a quick question for you. I have lost 3 algae eaters in the past month. The second one we bought from our local fish store, it died within a few days. The last one that we just bought (from a diff. pet store) lasted for a week. Is there a thing called bad algae that could be killing our poor algae eaters? <This is where we run into a problem with common names there are various fish that retailers label as algae eaters. Could be anything from a Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilos aymonieri) to a Golden Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilos aymorieri), heck I have even seen the common Pleco (Hypostomus punctatus or Liposarcus multiradiatus) labeled as an algae eater. In short if any of these fish keep passing away on you, there is something wrong with the environment: your tank. Could be a number of things from poor water quality (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, temperature, improper pH) to improper acclimation procedure. Keep in mind while these fish do eat algae, all but the largest of tanks cannot provide adequate algae to keep them healthy. You will have to supplement with some type of wafer or pellet composed of vegetable material.> Sorry not to mention this earlier - this is a fresh water, the water tests fine and its been up for a little over a year. Thanks for helping. Cody <You're welcome, Adam J.>

ALBINO CATFISH Hello, When I was a kid, my dad had an aquarium & pet shop. I loved watching the fish, but not doing the "cleaning & what-not". I still love watching the fish, but not the cleaning. I have a 20 gal. tank that I think keep pretty clean. The water is always clear, & most of the fish look great! The problems I am having are this: I have an Albino Cat Fish in the tank that is so light colored, it looks almost white. At first, I thought it looked that way because of the light, but now I don't think so as the fish was more of a pink color when I got it. My other cat fish died about a month ago and looked just as white as this one does. Any suggestions on what I should do? Lisa < Albino fish are actually pretty common in the hobby. Genetically though they seem weaker than their normal colored counterparts. If you are worried then I would check the nitrates. These can creep up over time and cause weak fish to get sick. Up to 25 ppm is fine for most fish , but in your case I would try and keep it under 20.-Chuck> Black fin FW shark I supposedly have a black fin shark. I have read on a website that it is called a Tetra Catfish. Is this true? < I can only find them listed as Black Finned sharks, but common names are often different in different areas of the country.> I also need a way too sex it. It is fully black except all around its fins is white, and one or two of its whiskers is white. (WHISKERS!) < Your catfish (Pangasius pangasius ) gets huge, around 4 feet long. This fish probably is not sexually mature until it gets at least 2 to 3 feet long.> Also I have a mud turtle, 5 minnows, and this shark all in a twenty gallon tank, but is only filled about five inches high in water for the turtle. I plan to buy more black fin sharks (AKA Tetra Catfish) so I need a way to tell male from female! Thanks in advance! < Nothing is known about their sexing or reproductive behavior in the aquarium.-Chuck>

Pleco ID Where can I find out what type of Pleco I have as it does not seem to match any photos on the net? Can I send you a photo? <The best site for all info covering Plecos is planetcatfish.com. I'd be happy to take a look. Don> Thanks Chetna

Ageneiosus marmoratus - "dolphin catfish"? Hi Mr. Fenner: <Crewmember Sabrina here for yah this afternoon> Hope everything is going great for you this holiday season. <Indeed it is, thank you - I hope all is well for you, as well.> I am writing to see if you can provide some info as to what is a "dolphin catfish". I did a search online and came up with many links that said a Dolphin catfish is the same as Pseudodoras niger. <This is what I have found, as well.> That was a surprise for me but I figured it could be possible. <Common names for many fish differ greatly depending upon locality, unfortunately. Latin names are much more sound.> However, 1 link took me to a website of a Japanese importer where he has pictures of different "dolphin catfishes" and they were all members of the family Ageneiosidae. <This is a genus of the family Auchenipteridae. Might want to make use of the inexhaustible PlanetCatfish: http://www.planetcatfish.com/core/index.htm . Check out the "Cat-eLog" - I love this site for catfish reference.> I have been looking for a specific member of the Ageneiosidae family for many years with no success but I have been looking for it under a different name (Marbled Flat-nosed cat or Marbled slopehead catfish). Is this family of catfish the ones known as Dolphin Catfishes or is it yet a different fish? <Honestly, I am not familiar with that common name, other than finding it via google searches, etc., and there, like you, I find it in reference to Pseudodoras niger.> Thank you, Ivan PS. Do you have any idea where I could find for sale the Ageneiosus marmoratus or other members of its family? <I believe I saw this fish once, and only once, at a store called "Jumbo Fish" in Wichita KS - Oh, how I loved that store! They had some of the most bizarre, impossible-to-find fish.... Rumor has it the place burned down (sob!), but I don't know that for sure (and I hope not!). I imagine if a store can get hold of it, you can too, with some serious prying and digging. Check with any local aquarium clubs, check on Planet Catfish's forum, ah, and you might try with http://www.belowwater.com/ as they tend to bring in some mind-blowing fish from South America. Good luck on the fish-hunt! Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Catfish id On that specific website the pictures do not match the ones on there it does a bit look like the black one but not really it looks like a bug. Please help. <Youll have to just research until you find the right one and then search for that specific one until you have found the info you desire. I cant tell you what it is or any info on it because I cant see it. Ronni>

Catfish id He is blk and has little tiny hooks that go all the way down to his tail. He looks is like mean looking. <Likely a callichthyid. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/callichthyids.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Pseudodoras niger or jaguar catfish?? Hey Bob, are these guys related; Pseudodoras niger and Megaladoras irwini?? <Yes... same family... though a genus has changed... Please insert these names in www.fishbase.org and you will learn> also can u help me.. I am looking for a catfish that I can put in with my African cichlids.. at the moment I have a few synodontis multipunctatus in there and they are all doing fine.... I was wondering could a Pseudodoras niger or jaguar catfish work in that kind of a tank.. <Likely yes... if they start out large enough, with plenty of rock spaces to get away, adequate feeding to initially fit in> I saw the Pseudodoras at my LFS and the guy told me that they can live in a tank with a ph of up to 7.8 and gh of 25... mine are ph 7.8, kH 12, gh 16.. its 280 gallons.. 96 x 24 x 31 dimensions.. <Mmm, as you'll find by looking at fishbase... these S. American fishes prefer softer, less alkaline water... there are many "native" African choices to consider in their place> currently I have 8 fish in there.. a Kigoma frontosa (about 3"), Malawi blue dolphin (3" also), a gold Lepidiolamprologus profundicola (4"), 2 Neolamprologus sexfasciatus (2"), 3 synodontis multipunctatus (4").. I plan to get more fish later on, but this is what I have at the moment.. I also plan to get 3 more Mpulungu Malawi blue dolphin.. 4 Mwele orange Altolamprologus compressiceps, 4 Mutondwe gold head Altolamprologus compressiceps, 5 synodontis angelicus, 3 synodontis multipunctatus and also 1 Lepidiolamprologus kendalli.. that's all I have looked into at the moment.. is this a good idea?? If not can yo u recommend any other catfish that would work. I really like how the Pseudodoras looks... its really cool and plus I have the big tank that it requires.. I just got my 280 gallon.. its cycling at the moment. Please help! <Do take a read through the family Mochokidae again... there are some nice choices there that are as available as these doradids... and much more appropriate in terms of water quality. Bob Fenner>

Algae eater please help... within the last 2 days my algae eater (don't know the scientific name of it, just your run of the mill pet store 1" or smaller algae eater) has developed a very large abdomen...just read that they are scavengers...my other algae eater died about a week ago and has not been replaced...could it be that this one is scavenging so much that he is now eating twice the amount as before?? otherwise he acts perfectly healthy... please advise and if you can't, is there any link you can provide me with?? ps: what exactly is the name of this algae eater anyway?? <Freshwater? Perhaps the "Chinese" Gyrinocheilus aymonieri... please use the search feature on www.WetWebMedia.com for more possibilities, pix of this species... Need to have more information re your set-up, history, livestock to render meaningful input. Bob Fenner> thanks, joy

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