9 Best Types of Freshwater Aquarium Catfish (2022)

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: December 15, 2021

There are many types of Catfish that can be kept in an aquarium. Most catfish, however, grow to a large size and should not be kept in home aquariums, so here we have selected the best 9 types of freshwater aquarium catfish which will do well in a small tank.

Fish make excellent pets. They are less demanding than most other types of animals and they can add a beautiful touch to any home's decor. This guide provides useful information for fish owners on some of the best types of freshwater aquarium catfish.

The fish listed below all reach a maximum size of around 14 inches (35 cm), and even then will not need a tank larger than around 55 gallons.

Things to Consider Before Selecting Your Freshwater Aquarium Catfish

Before selecting your fish, ensure that you have allowed for its adult size when planning the setup of your aquarium. The fish listed below are all fairly active swimmers, so an aquarium with either a strong current or that is large in surface area will be needed.

1. Corydoras Catfish

Freshwater Aquarium Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Corydoras aeneus
  • Size: Up to 2 inches (5 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5 years or longer
  • Nature: Peaceful, but should be kept in groups of at least 3.
  • Water Temperature: 72°F- 82°F (22°C- 28°C)
  • ph level: 6.0-7.5
  • Required Tank Size: 10 gallons for 2 fish, 55+ gallons with many more.
  • Required Water Type: Moderately hard or harder.

Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras aeneus) is one of the most popular and best types of freshwater aquarium catfish. They come from South American rivers, so they do best in soft, slightly acidic water with lots of hiding places (plants, rocks, etc.) and a strong current.

They are bottom feeders that will eat most aquarium foods, but it is essential to supplement their diet with sinking algae wafers or catfish pellets.

Amateur fish keepers often make the mistake of keeping Corydoras in tanks that are too small and so do not have enough oxygen for the fish's needs. The best tank size for Corydoras catfish is something around 30 gallons, and it should ideally be filtered with a canister filter as they prefer good water quality.

2. Bristlenose Catfish

Freshwater Aquarium Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Ancistrus Temminckii
  • Size: Up to 5 inches (13 cm)
  • Lifespan: 10 years or longer.
  • Nature: Peaceful And Shy.
  • Water Temperature: 64°F- 78°F (18°C- 26°C)
  • ph level: 6.0-7.5
  • Required Tank Size: 10 gallons for 2 fish, 55+ gallons with many more.
  • Required Water Type: Moderately hard or harder.

Bristlenose Catfish (Ancistrus temmincki) is one of the best types of freshwater aquarium catfish. With its bristles, it looks rather like an over-grown guppy, but they are actually a species of catfish that have evolved to live in fast-flowing rivers with very little water.

The Bristlenose Catfish comes from South American rivers, where it hides among the plants for most of the time, but it still needs lots of open swimming space. A tank containing a few hiding places is therefore ideal, along with some large rocks or pieces of bogwood to reduce the current.

A 30-gallon tank is sufficient for Bristlenose Catfish, and they are happiest in slightly soft water with a neutral pH (7.0). The aquarium should therefore contain lots of live plants and a substrate with rounded gravel or sand.

3. African Butterfly Catfish

Freshwater Aquarium Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Pantodon buchholzi
  • Size: Up to 5 inches (13 cm)
  • Lifespan: 10 years or longer.
  • Nature: Peaceful, but should be kept in groups of at least 3.
  • Water Temperature: 70°F- 80°F (21°C- 27°C)
  • ph level: 6.5-7.5
  • Required Tank Size: 10 gallons for 2 fish, 55+ gallons with many more.
  • Required Water Type: Moderately hard or harder.

African Butterfly Catfish (Pantodon buchholzi) are often kept in community tanks because they get on well with most types of peaceful fish, including other species of catfish.

These Catfishes are a peaceful species that will not bother any other fish in the tank, and they enjoy swimming in the open water as well as swimming among plant life.

They require at least a 30-gallon tank with an under-gravel filter, and sand is a good substrate because it will not cloud the water. African Butterfly Catfish eat almost anything, so they can be fed sinking catfish pellets or tablets twice a day.

4. Clown Plecostomus

Freshwater Aquarium Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Pterygoplichthys species
  • Size: Up to 2 feet (67 cm) in length.
  • Lifespan: 5 years or longer.
  • Nature: Peaceful, but should be kept in groups.
  • Water Temperature: 72°F- 82°F (22°C- 28°C)
  • ph level: 6.0-7.5
  • Required Tank Size: 55+ gallons with many more.
  • Required Water Type: Slightly hard or softer, but can adapt to harder water as well.

Clown Plecostomus (scientifically known as Pterygoplichthys species) are freshwater aquarium catfish that can grow as large as two feet (67 cm). Because of this, they need a very large tank and ideally should be kept with other bottom-dwelling fish such as Oscars.

If you do choose to keep Clown Plecostomus, make sure the tank is at least 55 gallons and decorate the tank with large pieces of bogwood, rocks, and plenty of hiding places. Clown Plecostomus are very peaceful fish that spend most of their time moving around the bottom of the aquarium sifting through gravel for food.

Clown Plecostomus (Pterygoplichthys joselimaianus) are also popular with fish keepers because of their natural compatibility with most other types of fish. They eat algae and other types of vegetation, so they are a good addition to the tank if you have live plants.

Clown Plecostomus requires a 30 gallon or larger aquarium that should be filtered with an under-gravel filter, and the substrate should contain rounded gravel or sand. Clown Plecostomus can be fed sinking catfish pellets twice a day, or they can be fed sinking algae wafers.

Related: The Best 15 Types Of Plecos For Your Tank (2021)

5. Kuhli Loach

Freshwater Aquarium Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Pangio kuhlii
  • Size: Up to 4 inches (10 cm) in length.
  • Lifespan: 5 years or longer.
  • Nature: Peaceful and friendly.
  • Water Temperature: 70°F- 82°F (21°C- 28°C)
  • ph level: 6.5-8.0
  • Required Tank Size: 30 gallons for 2 fish, 55+ gallons with many more.
  • Required Water Type: Hard or softer water.

Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii) is a popular type of freshwater aquarium catfish known for its striped markings and unique body shape. It is necessary to keep these fish with other bottom-dwelling species of fish because they spend most of their time on the ground searching for food (algae, inverts, etc.).

Kuhli Loach (Pangio spp.) needs a 30-gallon tank that is filtered with an under-gravel filter and sand at the bottom. They are nocturnal fish, so they come out to feed during the night. Kuhli Loaches have a very interesting behavior when being fed because they suck up all the food in the tank.

Kuhli Loach originates from Asia and their natural habitat is slow-moving streams or rivers with lots of plants. They need lots of plants and driftwood in the tank and they need lots of open swimming space.

Kuhli Loach can be fed sinking algae wafers or tablets twice a day, but they will also eat basically anything that you put in the tank.

6. Tra Catfish

Freshwater Aquarium Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Pangasius hypophthalmus
  • Size: Up to 3 inches (8 cm) in length.
  • Lifespan: 5 years or longer.
  • Nature: Peaceful, but should be kept in groups of at least 3.
  • Water Temperature: 72°F- 82°F (22°C- 28°C)
  • ph level: 6.0-7.5
  • Required Tank Size: 30+ gallons with lots of open swimming space.
  • Required Water Type: Slightly hard or softer, but can adapt to harder water as well.

Tra Catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus) are freshwater aquarium catfish that grow to about 3 inches (8 cm). Because of this, they are suitable for tanks 30 gallons or larger with lots of open swimming space. Tra Catfish are bottom-dwellers so it is recommended to keep them with other bottom-dwelling fish.

They are a peaceful species that will happily share a tank with other peaceful fish, including other catfish.

Tra Catfish originate from South America, so they prefer slightly soft water with a neutral pH (7.0). They need plenty of hiding places as well as open swimming space, so it is best to keep them in a 30-gallon aquarium that has an under-gravel filter and rounded gravel or sand at the bottom.

Tra Catfish can be fed sinking catfish pellets twice a day, or sinking algae wafers.

Also Read: The 11 Most Popular Pond Fish: Must Buy

7. Panda Cory

Freshwater Aquarium Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Corydoras panda
  • Size: Up to 2 inches (5 cm) in length.
  • Lifespan: 5 years or longer.
  • Nature: Peaceful, but they should not be kept with aggressive fish.
  • Water Temperature: 72°F- 82°F (22°C- 28°C).
  • ph level: 6.0-7.5.
  • Required Tank Size: 30 gallons for 2 fish, 55+ gallons with many more.
  • Required Water Type: Slightly hard or softer, but can adapt to harder water as well.

Panda Cory (Corydoras panda) is a peaceful bottom-dwelling fish and it comes from South America. They need lots of plants, driftwood, and open swimming space in their tank and they can grow up to 2 inches long.

Their natural habitat is slow-moving streams or rivers with lots of plants. You should keep them in schools of 6 or more fish. Panda Cory can be kept with other types of freshwater aquarium catfish in a 30-gallon long aquarium with an under-gravel filter and rounded gravel at the bottom.

Panda Cory is very peaceful, but they should not be kept with aggressive fish because they are very peaceful. They need lots of open swimming space in the tank and they should be kept in schools of 6 or more fish.

Panda Cory is omnivorous, so they will eat sinking algae wafers or tablets twice a day. They also like to eat live, fresh, or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, or daphnia.

8. Longfin Banded Shark

Freshwater Aquarium Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchos kallopterus
  • Size: Up to 10 inches long.
  • Lifespan: About 3-5 years.
  • Nature: Peaceful with other fish, but they can be timid when kept alone.
  • Required Tank Mates: Any type of fish except other species of shark and big cichlids.
  • Water Temperature: 77°F- 82°F (25°C - 28°C).
  • ph level: 6.0-7.5.
  • Required Tank Size: 30+ gallons with many more.
  • Water Type: Slightly hard to harder.

Longfin Banded Shark (Epalzeorhynchos kallopterus) is a long, deep-bodied freshwater aquarium catfish that comes from Thailand and Cambodia where they live in fast-moving streams with lots of plants.

Longfin Banded Shark (Epalzeorhynchos kallopterus) is also known as Red-Tailed Shark. They are one of the most popular types of freshwater aquarium catfish because they are very colorful. Longfin Banded Sharks need a 30-gallon tank that should be filtered with an under-gravel filter and rounded gravel or sand at the bottom. They need plenty of open swimming space, as well as hiding places among live plants.

Longfin Banded Shark can be fed sinking algae wafers or tablets twice a day, but they will also eat basically anything that you put in the tank.

9. Siamese Algae Eater

Freshwater Aquarium Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Crossocheilus siamensis
  • Size: Up to 8 inches long.
  • Nature: Peaceful with other types of fish, but they can be timid when kept alone.
  • Required Tank Mates: Other slow-moving or long-finned types of freshwater aquarium catfish that are not aggressive. They can be kept with small to medium-sized tropical fish like bettas and gouramis that are similar in size to Siamese Algae Eaters (Crossocheilus siamensis).
  • Water Temperature: 73°F - 82°F (23°C - 28°C).
  • ph level: 6.5 - 7.2
  • Required Tank Size: 30 gallons with many hiding places for each fish, but larger tanks are better.
  • Water Type: Soft to slightly hard.

Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) is a popular type of freshwater aquarium catfish that inhabits fast-moving streams in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, and Vietnam. They are called Siamese Algae Eaters because eating algae is what they do best.

Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) is a very attractive fish with an elongated body and long fins that come in lots of different colors and patterns.

Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) is also known as SAE or Siamese Flying Fox. They need a 20-gallon long aquarium with an under-gravel filter and sand at the bottom. Siamese Algae Eaters are very interesting to watch because they are extremely good swimmers.

They should be kept in schools of 6 or more fish and if you want to keep them with other types of freshwater aquarium catfish, the tank should be at least 30 gallons long. Siamese Algae Eater can be fed sinking algae wafers or tablets twice a day, but they will also eat basically anything that you put in the tank.

Conclusion

This article contains information about the 9 best types of Freshwater Aquarium Catfish. Catfish are extremely interesting to watch, so they can be very beneficial for you if you decide to keep them in an aquarium.

That is why there are lots of different types of freshwater aquarium catfish and all of them need a large tank with plenty of open swimming space.

If you want to keep them with other types of freshwater aquarium catfish, the tank should be at least 30 gallons long. We hope that this article helped you and don't forget to read our other articles about freshwater tanks.

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