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Catfishes, Plecos, & Algae Eaters

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General Information

The Catfishes come in a wide array forms and sizes and include groups like the Plecostomus, Otocinclus, and other sucker-mouthed algae eaters. They generally have whiskers (barbels), but not every fish with whiskers is a catfish. Due to humans’ varied uses for Catfishes, including being aquacultured for food, they are likely the most valuable group of freshwater fishes in the world. Catfish species are found on every continent except Antarctica and have many adaptations that are unique among fishes. These include bony armor (with few exceptions like Synodontis Cats), very strong, serrated spines in the dorsal and pectoral fins, the absence of scales, and the ability to get supplemental oxygen from “gulping” air from the surface. The air is essentially swallowed and absorbed in their lower digestive tract. Catfishes are bottom feeders and most are either algae eaters or detritivores (eating organic wastes on the bottom of ponds, lakes, or rivers).

Aquarium Care & Feeding

Catfishes are ideal candidates for community aquariums because they inhabit niches and shelters on the bottom that are usually not occupied by other species. Also, they get along well with most all types of fish except for large, territorial Cichlids that may become the aggressor. Caves and hiding places in the aquarium are recommended since most species feel more secure when hidden. Nearly all varieties of Catfish will accept any type of dry or frozen fish foods. Be sure to include foods that settle to the bottom of the tank since they are bottom feeders.