15 Types of Freshwater Aquarium Catfish Species 

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Written By Fun Fish Tanks

I Love my Fishes 

Are you looking for a calm and quirky addition to your aquarium? Perhaps you should consider freshwater catfish. These feline-resembling fish are more than just unique; they’re also beneficial. They love to swim around the bottom of the tank, where they eat anything that they can salvage, like dead organic material or sometimes even algae.  

There are many exciting species that you can consider, from the Glass Catfish to the Bandit Cory. There is something for every aquarist to raise and savor. Before you pick a catfish for your aquarium, don’t forget to check if you will be able to give it the environment it needs to thrive. 

Here are 15 freshwater catfish that can be beautiful additions to your aquarium

1. Suckermouth Catfish 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The Suckermouth Catfish is a fascinating aquatic species that flaunts a face laced with scales and a mouth that has evolved to graze on algae. They are overall brown save for a few stripes or spots that can be anything from a walnut brown to yellow in color. Their distinct appearance can help them easily camouflage themselves at the bottom of any aquarium floor. However, they can grow quite large, so a small tank could harm them.  

If you’re stuck with a freshwater aquarium plagued with algae, the Suckermouth Catfish can help. Also known as the Common Pleco, these fish are perfect to use as bottom cleaners. After all, their biological features aid them in consuming algae. However, these fish can’t exist on algae alone and require a well-balanced tropical fish diet that could be achieved using fish pellets. 

Here are some details about the Suckermouth Catfish: 

  • Scientific name: Hypostomus plecostomus 
  • Temperament: Docile 
  • Adult size: 22 inches (56 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 80 gallons (363 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  68°F to 86°F  (20°C to 30°C) 

2. Glass Catfish 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The Glass Catfish have an appearance that can stun any onlooker. They have a primarily transparent body that allows you to see their bones and organs if you look closely. Ironically while they are very captivating, they tend to have a timid temperament. They feel more secure in numbers, so always introduce them to a tank in a group. Give them plenty of hiding spots with dense planting so that they feel more courageous in the tank. 

Also known as the Ghost catfish, these peculiar fish originate from fast-moving water bodies in Thailand. They tend to be quite sensitive, which makes them ideal for introducing in more well-established tanks with proper water parameters. 

Here are some details about the Glass Catfish: 

  • Scientific name: Kryptopterus vitreolus 
  • Temperament: Timid 
  • Adult size:  6 inches (15 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 8 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons (136 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  75°F to 85°F  (24°C to 29°C) 

3. Otocinclus Catfish 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Also known as ‘dwarf suckers’, the Otocinclus Catfish refers to a famous fish genus with 19 recognized species. Since most of these species are small and love to munch on algae, plants, or even substrate, they make terrific cleaners for any tank. They prefer moderate water flow and heavy plantations in a freshwater aquarium so that they can swim around gracefully. 

They are peaceful fish that can get along with other species quickly. To keep them free from stress, ensure that they get a rich plant-based diet. One thing is certain; aquarists widely adore Otocinclus catfish because of their sweet nature and serial tank-cleaning tendencies. 

Here are some details about the Otocinclus Catfish: 

  • Genus name: Otocinclus 
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Adult size: Mostly 2 inches (5cm) 
  • Lifespan: 5 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons (45 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  72°F to 82°F  (22°C to 28°C) 

4. Striped Raphael Catfish 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The Striped Raphael Catfish is a cylindrical ray-finned fish that is usually either dark brown or black in color with yellowish-white stripes on either side. They are a popular catfish variety known to be quite adventurous. Unlike other catfish, this freshwater species likes to explore its environment.  

Since they are Originating from South America, they have also been named the ‘Southern Striped Raphael.’ These curious fish are great to introduce in a mixed tank as they aren’t too territorial. They need a healthy serving of fish food and substrate to thrive, so don’t forget to provide them with sufficient food. 

Here are some details about the Striped Raphael Catfish: 

  • Scientific name: Platydoras armatulus 
  • Temperament: Playful 
  • Adult size:  9 inches (23 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 10 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 50 gallons (227 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C) 

5. Bristlenose Catfish 

Source: Spruce Pets

The Bristlenose Catfish is usually gray to brown-black in color with unusual body plates and a sucker-shaped oral cavity.  However, the most unique aspect of their appearance is the tentacles that seem to protrude out of their bodies.  

Their insatiable desire to munch on algae makes this fish a popular freshwater species amongst aquarists. Since they are smaller than common plecos, they can easily join a smaller tank. To ensure that they flourish, offer them a varied diet with plenty of algae, food pellets, spirulina wafers, and bloodworms. 

Here are some details about the Bristlenose Catfish: 

  • Scientific name: Ancistrus cirrhosus 
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Adult size: 5 inches (13 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 5 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (90 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C) 

6. Bandit Cory 

Source: Wikimedia commons 

The Bandit Cory is adored by freshwater aquarium enthusiasts for its distinctive appearance. The otherwise pale beige fish features a black stripe that runs across each either eye and resembles a mask. It also has another stripe that runs on its back from one fin to another. This appearance has earned the fish the name ‘masked cory’ as well.  

With its bony plates, this armored catfish has evolved to protect itself from others. It uses its soft barbels to locate food to consume. While they are docile and social fish, always introduce them to a tank in a group of at least three to avoid making them timid. A sole Bandit Cory may have a significantly shorter lifespan due to exposure to high stress levels. 

Here are some details about the Bandit Cory: 

  • Scientific name: Corydoras metae 
  • Temperament: Social and peaceful 
  • Adult size:  2 inches (5 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 5 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons (45 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C) 

7. Bronze Cory 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The Bronze Cory is a tiny freshwater catfish that is usually greenish bronze to blackish bronze in color. It is an armored species that protects itself with scales and a spine that locks itself in place, making it difficult for anyone to eat them. Usually, males are smaller than female bronze cories making it easier to gender these fish.  

Aquarists appreciate these adorable catfish because they are very easy to raise and can even tolerate stagnant water. The biological advantage it earned over the centuries allows it to breathe air from the water’s surface. This catfish is attractive to beginner aquarium lovers because it is hardy and easy to raise. 

Here are some details about the Bronze Cory: 

  • Scientific name: Corydoras aeneus 
  • Temperament: Calm and non-aggressive 
  • Adult size: 2.5 inches (6 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 10 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons  (45 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C) 

8. Bumblebee Catfish 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Many aquarists dealing with a freshwater tank love to host a bumblebee catfish in their tank. It is a small fish that can survive independently without the need to be with other fellow Bumblebee catfishes.  This stunning freshwater species has a rich black and yellow body with irregular patches that help it camouflage in its native habitat. 

While it usually hangs around the bottom of the tank to scavenge for food, it will come out of its hiding place if it notices any fresh treats thrown in the tank. With an endless appetite and a large mouth, this fish is poised to eat pellets, small fish, and frozen fish food rather easily. 

Here are some details about the Bumblebee Catfish: 

  • Scientific name: Microglanis iheringi 
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Adult size:  6 inches (15 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 5 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (74 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C) 

9. Pictus Catfish 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The Pictus Catfish are silvery with blackish gray spots all over their body. They have distinct white whiskers and an appetite for eating smaller fish, making them a freshwater catfish to look out for. They are more omnivorous in nature, so you can satisfy them with regular servings of brine shrimp, bloodworms, and fish food pellets.  

When chosen for a tank, they need to be kept in schools with at least four other companions. The Pictus Catfish is a beautiful specimen of nature which is why you better give it the space it deserves in your tank. Congestion may make the fish territorial and aggressive so avoid it at all costs. 

Here are some details about the Pictus Catfish:  

  • Scientific name: Pimelodus pictus 
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Adult size: 5 inches (13 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 8 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 50 gallons (227 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  75°F to 80°F  (24°C to 27°C) 

10. Upside-Down Catfish 

Source: Flickr 

The secret behind the Upside-Down Catfish’s popularity is its peculiar ability to swim upside down near the water’s surface. By doing this, this freshwater species are able to feed on food in style. This quirky fish is light brown in color with dark brown spots of various sizes laced on it. 

The Upside-Down Catfish has sharp fin spines which can injure you if you’re not careful. Despite being a very social fish, this catfish has taken a liking to smaller fish. Therefore, please don’t make the mistake of introducing it to a tank with smaller specimens in it.  

Here are some details about the Upside-Down Catfish:  

  • Scientific name: Synodontis nigriventris 
  • Temperament: Amicable 
  • Adult size: 4 inches (10 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 15 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons (136 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C) 

11. Banjo Catfish 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The Banjo Catfish, with its signature banjo-like appearance, is easily one of the most popular catfishes amongst aquarists. It is a bottom dweller who has an affinity for the sand substrate. It is easy to introduce this species to any tank because it has a very mild demeanor, and it doesn’t like eating smaller fish. 

This fish can either be light brown or chestnut brown which helps it camouflage in heavy plantations. The shyness of this fish is evident by the way it likes to hide whenever given a chance. It is essential to provide this freshwater catfish with a balanced diet including bloodworm, earthworms, and frozen fish food. 

Here are some details about Banjo Catfish: 

  • Scientific name: Bunocephalus coracoideus 
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Adult size:  6 inches (15 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 12 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 25 gallons (114 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  75°F to 85°F  (24°C to 29°C) 

12. Clown Peco 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The Clown Peco is a quirky and colorful freshwater catfish that can make any aquarium come alive. While this species is usually dark brown to black, the red, yellow, white, and orange patterns give it a distinct and aesthetically pleasing look.  

The mild nature of the clown Peco makes it a pleasure to have in any tank. These catfish love to mind their own business as a bottom dwellers. You need to provide them with the food they like, and they’ll be set. Anything from algae wafers to spirulina pellets and blanched vegetables will work in eradicating their hunger. 

Here are some details about Clown Peco: 

  • Scientific name: Panaqolus maccus 
  • Temperament: Mellow 
  • Adult size: 4 inches (10 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 12 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons  (91 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  75°F to 85°F  (24°C to 29°C) 

13. Julii Cory 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Julii Cory is a silvery freshwater catfish species that flaunts tons of dark brown spots and scutes. It is a sensitive fish that uses its whiskers to smell and locate food. However, the true genius of this catfish is owed to its unique ability to rotate its eyes.  

Due to its striking resemblance with leopards, the Julii cory has earned the nickname ‘Leopard Catfish’. They are bottom dwellers that will roam the substrate to find food and eat it. Their spikey scutes give them extra protection, saving them from other aquatic life. 

Here are some details about Julii Cory: 

  • Scientific name: Corydoras julii 
  • Temperament: Calm 
  • Adult size: 2.5 inches (6 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 5 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (91 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  60°F to 80°F  (16°C to 27°C) 

14. Asian Stone Catfish 

The Asian Stone Catfish are tiny, so they are sometimes referred to as the Dwarf Anchor Catfish. They can be anywhere from red-brown to grayish-brown in color. Primarily located in India and Bangladesh, these catfish have elongated pectoral spines that help them resemble an anchor. 

If you’re dealing with a small freshwater tank, you could consider adding the Asian Stone Catfish. It will not take up too much space, and it will cooperate with other fish in the water. They will remain docile as long as you provide them with catfish pellets, algae water, and frozen foods. 

Here are some details about Asian stone catfish: 

  • Scientific name: Hara jerdoni 
  • Temperament: Docile 
  • Adult size: 1.5 inches (4 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 5 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 5 gallons (23 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  65°F to 75°F  (18°C to 24°C) 

15. Twig Catfish 

Source: Flickr 

The Twig Catfish is also known as the Stick Catfish because of its thin and long body. These freshwater catfishes are usually light brown in color with darker brown spots on either side of the fish. All in all, they are incredibly sly fish since they can hide from predators by appearing like a mere twig. 

Aquarists can’t help but dote on the Stick Catfish for its unique look and wholesome nature. This peaceful freshwater species is easy to raise since they are pretty hardy. While you will give them meals now and then, the Twig Catfish will take the opportunity to nibble on algae and biofilm whenever it can. 

Here are some details about Twig Catfish: 

  • Scientific name: Farlowella acus 
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Adult size: 7 inches (8 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 12 years 
  • Minimum tank size: 40 gallons (181 liters) 
  • Ideal Temperature:  75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C) 

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