Catfish are a diverse group of ray-finned fish. They’re named for their prominent barbels, which resemble a cat’s whiskers. Catfish vary in size and demeanor and can be found in both marine and freshwater environments just about everywhere in the world except Antarctica.
There are over 3,000 species of catfish. Most of those kept in aquariums are colorful and spend most of their time near the substrate feeding on invertebrates and plant matter.
Aquarium catfish varieties
There are many different types of catfish kept in aquariums. The most popular species include:
Corydoras (cory catfish): Corydoras are native to South America. They’re typically small, peaceful, bottom-dwelling fish that are easy to care for. We normally recommend corydoras for beginner aquarists.
Plecostomus: Also known as plecos, these fish are fairly large and popular in aquariums. They are loved by aquarium hobbyists because they form part of the cleaning crew in the aquarium, spending time eating algae and cleaning the tank.
Otocinclus are small fish native to South America. They are classified as schooling catfish, but they are also loved for their peaceful demeanor and tank-cleaning abilities.
Synodontis: These are native to Africa and vary greatly in size and appearance within their large group. Their temperament also varies, some being peaceful catfish while others are aggressive.
Pimelodidae: Pimelodidae are native to South America. Just like their Sonodontis, these fish vary greatly in size and temperament.
Loricariidae make the largest family of catfish with 92 genera and just over 680 species. As you can imagine, their characteristics can differ to a great extent between them.