25 Types of Catfish for Freshwater Aquariums

Catfish are diverse and fascinating, the perfect freshwater companions in your tank. Their unique characteristics and behavior will bring life and excitement to your aquatic scenery. Plus, they are simple to care for and beginner-friendly, ideal for enhancing your aquarium hobby experience.

catfish types

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Here is a comprehensive list of different types and species of catfish that are suitable for aquariums. Some of them grow really big, while others stay small. Check out these 25 fantastic catfish species below:

Corydoras Catfish

Delving into the first variant of catfish, let’s discuss the Corydoras Catfish. Adored for their armored yet friendly demeanor, Corydoras are tranquil residents to have in your freshwater aquarium.

bronze corydoras

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons (76 liters) or more.
  • Care Level: Easy.
  • Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6.35 cm).
  • Temperature: 70-78°F (21-25°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous. Loves quality pellet or flake food and occasional treats of live food.
  • Lifespan: Up to 5 years.
  • Behavior: Peaceful, bottom-dwelling, social, prefers being in groups of six or more.

Having these gentle scavengers in your tank will not just add visual pleasure, but also aid in keeping the substrate clean.


Emerald Brochis

Emerald Brochis, or Brochis Splendens, is a fascinating fish of the most sparkle. These Catfish, hailing from South America, are known for their distinctive armor-like scales that glisten in shades of green. Perfect for freshwater aquariums, these bottom dwellers are peaceful and sociable, making them ideal companions for many other fish species.

emerald catfish corydoras splendens

  • Tank Size: Minimum 20 gallons (76 liters)
  • Care Level: Easy to moderate
  • Adult Size: Up to 3 inches (7.6 cm)
  • Temperature: 72-79 °F (22-26 °C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous; enjoys a mix of sinking pellets, flakes, and small live foods
  • Lifespan: Up to 5 years
  • Behavior: Peaceful, sociable, and active


Common Pleco

The Common Pleco, also known as Hypostomus plecostomus, is an intriguing type of catfish, adored by fish enthusiasts for its unique physical characteristics, including its spotted body and impressive whiskers.

common pleco

  • Tank Size: This fish needs a lot of swimming space, requiring a tank size of a minimum of 75 gallons (283 liters).
  • Care Level: They are relatively easy to take care of, requiring moderate care.
  • Adult Size: The fish grows quite large, often reaching up to 24 inches (61cm).
  • Temperature: They thrive in temperatures ranging from 72-86°F (22-30°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: Common Plecos are omnivores, feeding on algae, small crustaceans, and plant matter.
  • Lifespan: This fish has an impressive lifespan, living up to 10-15 years in captivity with proper care.
  • Behavior: They are largely nocturnal, spending their daylight hours hiding under aquatic plants or in aquarium décor.


Bristlenose Pleco

Perfect for those with minimal experience, the Bristlenose Pleco is a delight!

bristlenose pleco

  • Tank Size: They need a minimum of 20 gallons (76 liters).
  • Care Level: Easy to manage and handle.
  • Adult Size: They grow up to 5 inches (12.7 cm).
  • Temperature: Thrive at 60-80°F (15-27°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: Primarily herbivores, they love algae wafers, fresh produce, and occasional meaty foods.
  • Lifespan: Their life expectancy is 5-15 years.
  • Behavior: Generally peaceful and would often hide during the day and stay active at night.

This fish species is particularly fascinating because of its unique, bristle-like facial features thus earning its name, ‘Bristlenose’. It’s one versatile cohabitant you’d truly enjoy.


Pictus Catfish

Pictus catfish captivate aquarists with their silver bodies and dark spots. Notably social beings, they enjoy the company of their kind in aquariums.

Pictus Catfish

  • Tank Size: A minimum of 55 gallons (208 liters) for their active swimming.
  • Care Level: Moderate. They require clean water with a steady flow.
  • Adult Size: Pictus catfish grow to an adult size of 5 inches (12.7 cm).
  • Temperature: The ideal temperature lies between 74°F-81°F (23°C-27°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: They are omnivorous and cherish both meaty foods and high-quality flake food.
  • Lifespan: They live up to 8 years if given good care.
  • Behavior: Pictus are peaceful with other species but can be a bit aggressive with their kind.


Glass Catfish

Among the choicest of freshwater aquarium inhabitants, the Glass Catfish beautifully stands out. At a glance, these fish captivate with their unusually transparent bodies, allowing you to observe their inner workings.

Glass Catfish (Ghost Fish)

  • Tank Size: A minimum of 20 gallons (76 liters) is ideal.
  • Care Level: Moderate. Having a well-filtered tank and maintaining clear water quality is crucial.
  • Adult Size: They usually reach about 4 inches (10 cm) in length.
  • Temperature: Perfectly comfortable between 70-80°F (21-27°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous by nature, they enjoy a diet of live, frozen, and flake foods.
  • Lifespan: If provided excellent care, they can live up to 7-8 years.
  • Behavior: They are peaceful schooling fish and prefer to swim in groups of five or more.


Hoplo Catfish

Meet the Hoplo Catfish, also known by its scientific name, Megalechis thoracata. A unique member of the Catfish family.

Hoplo Catfish

  • Tank size: They need a spacious living environment. A 30-gallon (113 liter) tank is a good starting point.
  • Care Level: Easy to moderate. Patient and attentive fish keepers will do fine.
  • Adult Size: They grow up to 6 inches (15 cm).
  • Temperature: They like warm aquariums at 73-79°F (23-26°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: They have a varied diet, from flakes and pellets to live and frozen foods.
  • Lifespan: With proper care, they can live up to 10 years.
  • Behavior: They’re nocturnal and peaceful. A communal catfish that gets along with other fish species.

So, what sets the Hoplo Catfish apart? This species boasts an armored, plated body, and a unique dorsal fin. It’s definitely a fish with character.


Sun Catfish

The Sun Catfish, also known as the Eclipse Catfish, shines in your tank with its golden-yellow hue. Originally native to Southeast Asia, this nocturnal swimmers’ twinkling scale is worth seeing.

sun catfish

  • Tank Size: 70 gallons (265 liters)
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Adult Size: 12 inches (30 cm)
  • Temperature: 72-82 F (23-28 C)
  • Diet & Feeding: They’re omnivorous. Live foods, pellets, and frozen foods are favorited.
  • Lifespan: Approx. 8-10 years with proper care.
  • Behavior: They’re nocturnal, peaceful yet can be aggressive when hungry.

Note: Due to their large adult size, they need a spacious aquarium with many hiding places. Plus, they can eat small tank mates. Pick friends wisely.


Upside-Down Catfish

The Upside-Down Catfish, a quirky swimmer, can lend a unique flavor to your freshwater aquarium. 

upside down catfish

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons (75 liters). They enjoy their space.
  • Care Level: Medium. They’re not overly demanding but require good care.
  • Adult Size: Up to 4 inches (10 cm). They remain moderately sized.
  • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C). They prefer a warm environment.
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivore. They eat plants as well as meaty foods.
  • Lifespan: Can live up to 15 years. A long term aquatic friend.
  • Behavior: Very peaceful. A good choice for a community aquarium.

The Upside-Down Catfish can thrive in a nuanced environment and create an engaging spectacle with their unique swimming style.


Featherfin Squeaker

In the vibrant world of aquarium pets, the Featherfin Squeaker is notable. Their name originates from the faint squeaking sounds they produce.

featherfin squeaker synodontis eupterus

  • Tank Size: A minimum of 55 gallons (208 liters) is essential for their comfort.
  • Care Level: Intermediate-level care is required for their grooming.
  • Adult Size: They peruse the waters at a size of 8 inches (20 centimeters).
  • Temperature: Warm environments of 75-79°F (24-26°C) are idyllic for them.
  • Diet & Feeding: They’re omnivorous, feeding happily on various aquatic plants and meats.
  • Lifespan: They’re committed companions, with a lifespan of 8-10 years.
  • Behavior: They’re largely nocturnal, fond of burrowing in the daytime hours.

With their characteristic sounds and fascinating behaviors, the Featherfin Squeaker holds a solid place in freshwater aquariums!


Banjo Catfish

Banjo Catfish, aptly named due to their guitar-like shape, are a peaceful species, making them a delightful addition to your freshwater aquarium.

banjo catfish

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons (75 liters) as a minimum. Their distinct shape requires ample space for comfortable movement.
  • Care Level: Easy to intermediate — they appreciate a well-designed habitat with lots of hides.
  • Adult Size: They can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm).
  • Temperature: Ideal temperatures range from 72 to 78°F (22 to 26°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous — they enjoy a mix of sinking pellets, live, freeze-dried, or frozen food.
  • Lifespan: If well cared for, they can live up to 5-8 years.
  • Behavior: Nocturnal and relatively inactive during the day. They thrive in peaceful tanks.


Striped Raphael Catfish

The Striped Raphael Catfish makes a fantastic addition to any freshwater aquarium.

Agamyxis pectinifrons

  • Tank Size: At least 30 gallons (114 liters)
  • Care Level: Moderate, suitable for intermediate aquarists
  • Adult Size: They can grow up to 7 inches (18 centimeters)
  • Temperature: The tank should be between 72-79°F (22-26°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous, feed them pellets, frozen, dried, and live foods
  • Lifespan: Can live up to 15 years with proper care
  • Behavior: Peaceful and nocturnal, they prefer to hide during the day and come out at night for food.

With its striking stripes and peaceful nature, the Striped Raphael Catfish can quickly become a beloved addition to your tank!


Otocinclus Catfish

Meet the Otocinclus Catfish, a small but industrious member of the catfish family. Despite their compact size, these little guys are extremely efficient tank cleaners. Happy to eat the algae that other fish leave behind, they play an important part in maintaining the health of your aquarium.

Otocinclus Catfish

  • Tank Size: Min 20 gallons (76 liters)
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: Up to 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Herbivorous, algae and plant matter
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Behavior: Peaceful and social; best in groups

A group of Otocinclus can be a lovely addition that brings balance to your freshwater ecosystem.


Whiptail Catfish

Whiptail catfish are a sight to behold in any aquarium setup. These enchanting creatures are known for their elongated, flattened bodies adorned with distinct honeycomb markings that set them apart.

whiptail catfish

  • Tank Size: Opt for at least a 20-gallon tank (75-liters) for their comfort.
  • Care Level: An easy pet to care for, they are adaptable and hearty.
  • Adult Size: They grow up to 6 inches long (15 cm).
  • Temperature: Preferred temperature ranges from 72-79°F (around 22-26°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivores by nature, they munch on algae, scraps and commercial fish food.
  • Lifespan: With good care, they can live up to 10 years or longer.
  • Behavior: Peaceful, they can share the tank well with other non-aggressive species.

Undoubtedly, their charm lies in their unique look and captivating movement, making them prized possessions among aquarium enthusiasts.


Farlowella Catfish

Often known as the “Twig Catfish”, Farlowella Catfish are a distinctive addition to your freshwater aquarium, owing to their elongated, slender shape.

twig catfish farlowella acus

  • Tank Size: A spacious abode is best for these creatures, a minimum of 30 gallons (approximately 114 liters) is recommended.
  • Care Level: They need an intermediate level of care.
  • Adult Size: Matures to a length of around 6.5 inches (16.5 centimeters).
  • Temperature: Warm water between 74 to 80°F (23 to 27°C) is preferred.
  • Diet & Feeding: Mainly herbivorous, the Farlowella Catfish enjoys algae, plant matter, and occasional invertebrates.
  • Lifespan: With proper care, these fish can live up to 10 years.
  • Behavior: They’re peaceful, nocturnal fish, perfect for community tanks with non-aggressive tank mates.


Red Tail Catfish

The Red Tail Catfish is an enigmatic species that brings a sort of regality to freshwater aquariums. They hail from the warm rivers of South America, infusing an exotic appeal to your aquatic settings.

redtail catfish

  • Tank Size: Requires a large tank of at least 1000 gallons (3785 liters), due to their potential size.
  • Care Level: They demand quite a high level of care, not recommended for beginners.
  • Adult Size: Can grow to a massive 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length.
  • Temperature: They prefer a warm habitat of about 70-80°F (21-27°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous, requiring a diet of meaty foods.
  • Lifespan: With good care, can live up to 15 years.
  • Behavior: Generally peaceful but due to their size, they can accidentally harm smaller fish.


Flagtail Catfish

The Flagtail Catfish is a chic freshwater marvel, with its striking ombre-like color scheme. With the correct care and tank conditions, this variety of catfish will no doubt “flag” its presence in your aquariumscape.

flagtail catfish

  • Tank Size: A voluminous and comfortable 100+ gallons (378+ liters) space is ideal.
  • Care Level: Medium to High
  • Adult Size: It grows large, reaching up to 20 inches (50 cm)
  • Temperature: 74-79 degrees Fahrenheit (23-26 degrees Celsius)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous by nature, catering to a variety of meaty foods and plant matter keeps them hale and hearty.
  • Lifespan: This vivacious species has a good lifespan, living up to 8-10 years.
  • Behavior: Flagtail Catfish are calm, peaceful, and mix well with similar-sized tank mates.


Clown Pleco

The Clown Pleco, a showstopper in any aquarium, is more than just a pretty face. This creature’s hardy nature and easy care make it a perfect fit for beginner fish keepers. 

tiger clown pleco l104

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons (75 liters) at a minimum. Clown Plecos need lots of space to explore.
  • Care Level: Easy. They’re resilient and can adapt to a wide range of conditions.
  • Adult Size: 3.5 to 4 inches (9 to 10 cm) long. They’re petite but full of personality.
  • Temperature: 72-86°F (22-30°C). Ideal conditions mimic their tropical origins.
  • Diet & Feeding: They are omnivorous. Feed them a balanced diet of algae, vegetables, and quality fish flakes.
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years. They are a long-term commitment but worth every moment.
  • Behavior: Peaceful yet elusive. They love to hide during the day and are most active at night.


Queen Arabesque Pleco

A royal spectacle indeed, the Queen Arabesque Pleco is mesmerizing to observe. With its dark body adorned with white squiggly lines, it’s like watching a living work of art swimming across your tank:

queen arabesque pleco l260

  • Tank Size: You’ll need at least a 30-gallon (113.6 liter) tank.
  • Care Level: Intermediate.
  • Adult Size: They grow up to 5 inches (12.7 cm).
  • Temperature: Keep the water between 73°F and 82°F (22.78°C to 27.78°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous. Feed them algae-based fish foods supplemented with foods like shrimps, bloodworms.
  • Lifespan: They live up to 10 years.
  • Behavior: They are peaceful — great for community tanks. Meanwhile, they’re also nocturnal, so daylight might not reveal their full majesty.


Golden Nugget Pleco

Golden Nugget Plecos are adorned with bright golden spots that seem to glisten, mimicking a literal nugget of gold…thus the name. Their body is characterized by a dark, almost black color, that highlights these golden spots. This species is one of the smaller plecos, perfect for hobbyists with moderate-sized aquariums.

golden nugget pleco

  • Tank Size: 55 gal minimum (208 lit)
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 6-8 in (15-20 cm)
  • Temperature: 73-79°F (23-26°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous, best fed with sinking pellets and occasional fresh vegetables
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Behavior: Peaceful and a bit shy, they prefer hiding in caves or under plants during daylight hours, becoming more active at night.


Giraffe Catfish

In the world of freshwater aquariums, the Giraffe Catfish is a real entertainer. Due to its unique pattern that resembles a giraffe, it’s loved by many aquarists.

giraffe catfish

  • Tank Size: 90 gallons (340 liters) or more.
  • Care Level: Moderate. This fish needs space to roam.
  • Adult Size: Up to 30 inches (76cm) in length.
  • Temperature: 73-82 degrees Fahrenheit (22-28 degrees Celsius).
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous. They love live, fresh, and flake foods.
  • Lifespan: Up to 15 years if cared for properly.
  • Behavior: Peaceful but may eat smaller tank mates.


Oil Catfish

Welcome to the world of the Oil Catfish. This catfish species, known scientifically as Centromochlus perugiae, is an interesting addition to your freshwater aquarium.


  • Tank Size: A minimum of 55 gallons (208 liters) is essential for their comfort.
  • Care Level: Intermediate, so be prepared.
  • Adult Size: They grow to up to 1.4 inches (3.5 cm).
  • Temperature: Perfect between 75 and 81°F (24-27°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: These nocturnal feeders prefer live or frozen food.
  • Lifespan: With good care, they can live up to 5 years.
  • Behavior: Usually peaceful but can exhibit mild territorial behavior.


Asian Stone Catfish

As an aquarist, meet the Asian Stone Catfish. This beautiful, tiny species hails from the rivers of India. Usually found near the riverbed, this species loves to hide in the seclusion of terrain, rocks, or driftwood.


  • Tank Size: 10 gallons (38 liters) minimum
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Adult Size: 0.8-1 inch (2-2.5 cm)
  • Temperature: 70-80°F (21-27°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivore, prefers a diet rich in live or frozen foods
  • Lifespan: Up to 5 years
  • Behavior: Quiet and peaceful bottom dwellers

Asian Stone Catfish are hardy little creatures, perfectly suited for nano-aquariums. With their stone-like camouflage, you can enjoy a dose of mystery in your aquarium.


Mystus Catfish

The Mystus Catfish, originating from India, is an interesting addition to freshwater aquariums. Known for their free-floating style, these fishes reflect the nature of an untamed river in your aquarium.

mystus catfish

  • Tank Size: A minimum of 35 gallons (132 liters) is appropriate as they love their space.
  • Care Level: Intermediate. They do require some experience.
  • Adult Size: They can reach up to 8 inches (20 cm) in length.
  • Temperature: The suitable temperature for them lies between 68-79°F (20-26°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivorous diet with both live food and prepared flakes.
  • Lifespan: They live approximately 5-8 years.
  • Behavior: Fairly peaceful but may consume smaller fish. Best kept with similar-sized fish.


Walking Catfish

The Walking Catfish is a unique, air-breathing species named for its ability to walk on land. Native to Southeast Asia, this fish has an elongated, eel-like body and a dorsal fin extending the majority of its length.

walking catfish

  • Tank Size: Around 180 gallons (681 liters). They thrive in a spacious aquarium due to their large adult size.
  • Care Level: Moderate. They need clean water and plenty of hiding spots.
  • Adult Size: They can reach up to 24 inches (60 cm).
  • Temperature: Ideally between 75°F and 85°F (24°C-29°C).
  • Diet & Feeding: They are omnivores, so feed them a variety of foods – both plant and meat-based.
  • Lifespan: They can live up to 15 years if well cared for.
  • Behavior: They are largely nocturnal, active during evening hours. They may journey out of their hiding spots during the day for food.

Keeping a Walking Catfish can be a bit tricky due to its size and habits but is worth the effort for those who appreciate its unique features.


We’ve explored 25 incredible species of catfish suitable for freshwater aquariums, each presenting its own behavior, care needs, and personality. Regardless of which kind you prefer, they are bound to add unique character to your aquatic family.

Share with us, which catfish species would you choose for your aquarium. We’re eager to read your comments!

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