Flagtail Catfish Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Learn how to care for Flagtail Catfish! The article provides you with in-depth information about the Flagtail Catfish’s nature, their specific needs, and best practices for their care. From their diet to breeding techniques, this guide covers it all, preparing you to provide the best possible environment for your Flagtail Catfish.

flagtail catfish

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Flagtail Catfish Species Profile and Identification

The Flagtail Catfish, scientifically known as Decapogon urostriatum, is an intriguing species native to the Amazon River basin in Brazil. This freshwater fish is known for its uniqueness and beauty. Its maximum size is about 13 cm (5.1 inches), making it a medium-sized catfish species.

Flagtail Catfish are identifiable by their robust body structure. Mature males have thickened leading pectoral fin rays, while females have a fuller body. Recognizing these distinctive traits can come in handy while selecting your aquarium residents.

The Flagtail Catfish is admired for its resilience. Able to adapt to a wide variety of environments, these fish can acclimate to various water conditions with a pH range of 6.0-7.8 and dH up to 20 degrees.

When setting up your tank, take into account their preference for dim lighting. This trait, coupled with their compatibility with community tanks consisting of similar-sized fish, makes them a fitting choice for both novices and experienced aquarists.

Their environment should mimic their natural habitat in the Amazon basin. Hence, a lower temperature between 25°C-28°C (77°F-82.4°F) is recommended. This delicate care towards recreating their natural home will contribute greatly to their overall health and longevity in your aquarium.

Flagtail Catfish Supplies

When you plan to own a Flagtail catfish, there are necessary supplies to keep it healthy. Among the essential items is a 150-liter (around 40 gallons) aquarium which will comfortably house a small group of these species. Larger tanks are always beneficial, allowing for more stable water conditions and room to swim.

Here is a bullet-point list of essentials for your Flagtail catfish:

  • The Tank: As previously noted, a 150-liter tank is an ideal starting point. Remember that Flagtail catfish can grow up to 13 cm (5.1 inches), meaning space is critical.
  • Water Conditioner: This is crucial to render tap water safe for your fish. It aims to eliminate toxins like chlorine and heavy metals that can harm your catfish.
  • Aquarium Filter: A sturdy aquarium filter is a must because it keeps the habitat clean, eliminates harmful substances, and contributes beneficial bacteria.
  • Aquarium Heater: Maintain the water temperature between 25-28°C (77-82°F).
  • Substrate and Decorations: Opt for a soft substrate that will not injure the delicate underside of the species.
  • Food: Flagtail catfish are not fussy eaters. They can thrive on a varied diet that includes catfish pellets, granules, flake and frozen foods.
  • Lighting: Low-level lighting will mimic the Flagtail’s natural environment. Too bright lighting can cause stress to these species.
  • Testing Kit: Regularly checking your water parameters like pH level, and hardness is necessary. The kit should allow you to measure pH from 6.0-7.8 and hardness up to 20 degrees.

Every requirement serves a specific purpose in your Flagtail’s habitat. Make sure you cross-check everything off this list before you introduce this captivating species to its new home.

Flagtail Catfish Tank Setup

Making your Flagtail catfish feel at home involves creating the right tank environment.

  • Size Matters: For the Flagtails, which can grow up to 5.1 in (13 centimeters), your tank should be at least 150 liters (40 gallons). Remember, bigger is always better when it comes to the comfort of your aquatic friends.
  • Think Natural: Mimic their natural habitat – the Amazon River basin. Incorporate loads of sinking wood and leaf litter over a fine sand substrate. Cave-like hidey-hole using driftwood or rocks provide safe places for them to retreat.
  • Lighting: Your Flagtails prefer low lighting. Subdued lighting, similar to the shaded waters of their natural environment, helps make them more comfortable and less stressed.
  • Water Flow: Moderate to strong currents are best. You can achieve this by adjusting the outflow from your filter or using a water pump.
  • Temperature: Keep the water temperature between 25-28°C (77-82°F), replicating the tropical conditions they’re used to.
  • Floating Object: For those interested in breeding, a floating polystyrene or plastic piece might act as a nest-building space. This should ideally be secure at one spot in your tank to enable efficient nesting.

Following these guidelines, you can create a spacious, aesthetically pleasing, and natural set-up that your Flagtail catfish will love.

Flagtail Catfish Water Requirements

Flagtail Catfish thrive in moderate temperatures. Thus, you must maintain your tank within a comfortable range of 77-82°F (25-28°C). Ensure consistent temperature regulation to avoid any sudden fluctuations, which might stress the fish.

To mimic their natural Amazon river basin habitat, the water’s pH needs to be slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0-7.8. These fish are quite adaptable and can withstand varying levels of water hardness up to 20 dH degrees.

Even so, it’s vital to regularly test your tank’s pH, temperature, and dH levels. Here are some pointers:

  • Use a high-quality water testing kit
  • Monitor the temperature daily
  • Check pH and hardness once every week

Another significant aspect is the fish’s sensitivity to light. They favor low-light environments, simulating the dense foliage of the Amazon. Install subdued lights in your aquarium and add floating plants to create dappled light spots.

Lastly, while Flagtail Catfish can acclimatize to diverse conditions, maintaining clean water is crucial to their health. Regularly change around 15% of the tank water weekly to remove waste and unwanted residues. This practice helps maintain optimal water conditions and keeps your fish healthy and active.

Pay close attention to water temperature, pH, hardness, lighting, and cleanliness. By ensuring these facets are well-regulated, you are well on your way to providing an ideal environment for your Flagtail Catfish.

Flagtail Catfish Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Flagtail Catfish correctly is fundamental for its health and wellbeing. This species is not a picky eater, thus you have a variety of options to offer.

Catfish pellets and granules are a staple that should be regularly included in their diet. Opt for high-quality products to ensure a balanced nutritional composition. Likewise, flake foods make a good addition, providing an all-around feed.

Frozen foods also form part of the Flagtail Catfish diet. They will gladly consume brine shrimp, bloodworms, and other frozen treats. This not only adds variety to their meals but also aids in color enhancement and health boosting.

To feed them, sprinkle the food on the water surface. The catfish will come rushing to feast. Monitor feeding times, ensuring your pets eat their fill but avoiding overfeeding. An excess of food will not be consumed and may pollute the water, affecting the water quality.

Strikingly, Flagtail Catfish will accept live foods as well. A diet rich in live foods, like daphnia and tubifex worms, stimulates the fish, replicating natural hunting activities in the wild, and helps bring them into top condition.

Regular, balanced meals contribute to your Flagtail Catfish’s health, growth, colors, and overall vitality. Mix and match their diet to keep your aquatic pets happy and healthy.

Flagtail Catfish Care Schedule

Adopting a consistent care schedule is imperative for the well-being of your Flagtail Catfish. Take note of the following steps to ensure a happy environment for your catfish.

  • Daily Observations: Engage with your fish daily. Make sure to observe their feeding habits, their behaviour, and any physical changes. Flagtail Catfish are active and observant, so any behavioural changes may indicate stress or illness.
  • Weekly Water Testing: Conduct water tests every week. Monitor pH levels and ensure it stays between 6.0-7.8. The hardness of the water should remain up to 20 dH. Regular testing will help you maintain ideal conditions and spot any fluctuations that could be harmful.
  • Feeding Schedule: Feed your fish daily. A diet consisting of catfish pellets, granules, flake and frozen foods is preferred. Monitor their feeding and adjust quantities if needed.
  • Monthly Tank Cleaning: Clean the tank thoroughly once a month. Remove any detritus or algae to ensure a hygienic environment. This minimizes chances of water contamination and potential illnesses.
  • Regular Equipment Checks: Check equipment like filters, heaters and lights to ensure they’re working correctly. Equipment problems can stress your Flagtail Catfish, potentially causing health issues.

Following a consistent care schedule like this is crucial. It helps you stay ahead of any issues and guarantees a clean, safe, and healthy environment for your Flagtail Catfish. A routine helps maintain optimal conditions and promotes the overall welfare of your aquatic pet.

Flagtail Catfish Health Problems

Healthy flagtail catfish should be active and display bright colors. However, they can fall prey to certain diseases, common to aquariness. Facing health issues? Here are some potential problems:

  • Ich (white spot disease): Tiny white spots on its body is a classic symptom of ich. It’s caused by a parasite and can be treated with over-the-counter ich treatment.
  • Fin rot: Notice ragged fins? It could be fin rot, often due to poor water quality. Improve your water maintenance, and consider antibacterial meds.
  • Fungal infections: These are often secondary to other health issues. Look out for unusual white or grey patches. Standard anti-fungal treatments should work.
  • Internal parasites: If your catfish looks thin or isn’t eating well, it may have internal parasites. Treat with a specialized internal parasite medication.

Remember, prevention is key. Maintain a clean tank, feed high-quality foods and monitor your fish regularly. Keep a fish-specific first-aid kit – it can be a lifesaver. Healthy fish are happy fish.

Flagtail Catfish Tank Mates

When considering tank mates for your Flagtail Catfish, there are several factors to bear in mind. Firstly, it’s crucial to choose species that thrive under similar water conditions.

  • Fish Size: Flagtail Catfish reaches a maximum size of around 5.1 inches or 13 cm. Therefore, it is best to avoid keeping them with much smaller fish to prevent potential predation.
  • Behavior: As community fish, Flagtails tend to get along well with other peaceful and similarly-sized species. Aggressive or territorial species should be avoided to prevent conflicts and stress.

When choosing suitable tank companions, consider peaceful species like the cichlids, characins, cyprinids, gouramis, and loaches. They exhibit calm temperaments and are less likely to harass the Flagtail. However, the golden rule is always to observe the behavior of your fish during the initial stages of introduction.

Above all else, remember that each fish has its individual personality, and there may be exceptions to these general guidelines. Happy tank mate hunting!

Flagtail Catfish Breeding

Breeding Flagtail Catfish might seem like a challenge due to the scarce specifics available on their spawning behavior. However, successful breeding attempts have been noted in captivity. The process typically involves bubblenesting, yet there are some reports suggesting the eggs could be placed in pits dug from the tank bottom.

Start by getting a small group of 4-6 fish, and create conditions that mimic a natural habitat. Add a floating lid, such as a piece of polystyrene or a plastic lid, to provide potential nesting site. The most success with related species has been using a yellow-hued object, so consider incorporating this tip.

Feeding your group of Flagtails plenty of live food and performing large, cool water changes can encourage breeding. Remove the grown-ups once you observe eggs, as they might consume them. The fry should be ready to take Artemia nauplii and/or microworm when their yolk sacs dissolve.

Additionally, simulating dry and wet seasons replicates their natural environment. For example, during the “dry season”, lower the water volume, augment the heat by a few degrees and reduce feeding.

After a few weeks, raise the water level using cooler water and resume feeding heavily. If no spawning is observed, remember that factors like barometric pressure and time of year could influence breeding in many South American species.


Caring for Flagtail Catfish can be a rewarding experience as you watch them thrive in your care. While they may require a little more attention than common aquarium fish, with the right knowledge at your disposal, you’re all set for success. Feel free to leave a comment about your experiences or challenges with caring for these unique creatures.

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