African Catfish Care Guide
|Level of care||Easy|
|Appearance||Body elongate. Head large, depressed and bony with small eyes.|
|Life expectancy||18 years|
|Size||20 to 28 inches in length|
|Tank size||180 Gallons|
|Tank Mates||Fishes larger than 6 or 8 inches.|
African Catfish Introduction
Have you heard of the African Catfish before? It is a catfish. But might be different with the ordinary catfish you usually see.. As you see it for the first time, you will agree with what I said on this occasion. If you think that small fish are not your thing to add more life to the bottom part of your aquarium, you could consider having a African Catfish to make your tank bottom-dwelling more attractive and astonishing.
The African Catfish is also called the gentle giant because of its large size, but peaceful characteristics. This fish is not aggressive despite the intimidating size and look of the creature.
One of the reasons why it has become such a popular choice is because it can be tagged along with many other tankmates, regardless of their species difference. If you already have some fish in your current tank, you can add the catfish buddy to it and it will be beneficial for your tank community.
Thanks to its larger size, it can be a great option to accompany it with the other large tank mates.
In the wild, the size of the mature fish can reach up to 36 inches long. But in captivity, you would expect something between 20 to 28 inches. Its natural habitat is in the African areas. They learn to adapt to various conditions. That explains why your catfish buddies can tolerate various conditions in the water.
It is a large fish that comes with a heavy load of biowaste. Therefore, you will need a great quality tank and its components to make sure that the water runs clean all the time. It is very crucial to provide a strong filtration system to process the biological waste from big fish.
African Catfish Tank Requirements & SetUp/Tank Guides
The unique Catfish is simply defined as a massive fish with high requirements for ground dwelling.
First, they require a huge aquarium with numerous swimming areas, hiding locations if attacked, and enough water to suit their filtration needs. It has smooth sandy substrates, rock batteries, large driftwood or bog wood segments, and plenty of open swimming places.
Because of their thickness, the particular Catfish can not be used to decorate aquariums with plants or huge wood pieces.
Because their natural habitat is turquoise water with low light levels, they are exposed to similar conditions in the medium to low water flow home aquarium. The bio-load of such a massive species necessitates the use of an efficient filter.
The Aquarium filter mechanism
The aquarium should be turned 6-10 times per hour if it has a good mechanical and biological filter. Large canisters, beads, sand filters, or wet/dry filters are perfect for removing large amounts of fish waste.
These filters generate enormous amounts of nitrates, which must be eliminated from the closed aquarium system. Partial water changes every 2-4 weeks are the simplest strategy to reduce nitrate levels.
The African Catfish requires a large aquarium with a robust filtration system that can sustain the quality of water.
This species’ range includes much of West Africa, Lake Chad, the entire Congo River system, the Nile, East African lakes, and the Omo and Giuba rivers.
The African Catfish is known as a ‘pet fish’ because it recognizes and communicates with its owners. Young animals grow quickly, so spacious quarters are essential for preventing stunts and health problems from the start.
Because the tank’s footprint (length and width) is far more important than its height, the tank should be long and wide.
These fish are voracious eaters who produce a lot of nitrogen waste. As a result, strong filtering in the aquarium is required, ideally with two or more filters if one fails to be maintained or must be maintained.
Near the front of the aquarium, a balance of shaded caverns and a bathroom should be provided.
Soft, sandy ground is ideal for preserving the catfish’s long sensory barbels. Strong plants should not be eaten, but the catfish’s nose in the substrate will be uprooted, which will exclude most aquariums. You might see these amazing fish late at night if you shine a light on the blue moon shortly before the main lights come on.
Major changes in water are frequently required. The baby fish have a silver pattern that fades to grey brown as they mature.
They can be kept in groups, although a large aquarium and a lot of equipment are required. This fish can grow tame and live for nearly 20 years if given the right conditions.
Since the African Catfish needs other large bottom dwellers, it is safe to presume that the large aquarium needs more space for their swimming areas.
Unlike small to mid-sized fishes, they don’t need to hide unless there are much larger fishes to hunt them down. But it won’t likely happen in the aquarium. Consider adding soft sandy substrate, rock piles, as well as bogwood pieces for them to enjoy their time.
Provide more space for their swimming area. Do not add tall plants to your aquascape since it will only bother them when exploring the aquascape.
African Catfish Tankmates
You must choose the tank really carefully, although it is classified as a peaceful fish. Since it has a large size, the addition of smaller fishes is not the best option for you since there’s a possibility that they can eat these fishes.
However, the larger fish can be a great option since your African Catfish won’t be willing to devour something that is bigger than it. The good tankmates could be medium to large-sized fishes like African characins, large tetras, large barbs, and so on.
Many aquarists risk their smaller fishes with the African Catfish. Although there are some stories that tell the successful result, it does not guarantee that you will have the same result. It is a bit riskier to add smaller fish that co-habit with your particular catfish pet.
If you want to have peace of mind, consider adding more friendly fish to them. Medium to large-sized fish could be the best solution to have.
African Catfish Diets/Food/Feeding
With a healthy and balanced diet, your African Catfish will be able to survive for a long time. Being in captivity, one can expect the fish to live up to 18 years or more.
The good thing about this fish is that it is not a picky eater. These fish are ready to eat a wide array of foods. The large fish are omnivorous, so you can’t go wrong when feeding them with a combination of meat and veggies. However, the mixing of them can provide a good balance of minerals, vitamins, and overall nutrients for your fun fish to thrive. You can also give your fish buddy commercial dried foods designed for larger species.
Those usually come in larger sized pellets, wafers, or other kinds of pieces that will sink to the bottom of the tank. These are designed particularly for bottom dwellers, which is sensible since your catfish spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank.
You can also combine their diets with meaty foods like shrimp, smaller crustaceans, and many more. The feeding is usually done twice a day. You could take a look at the serving size information on the commercial food packages. Or, you could ask your sellers about the adequate portion that you can give them.
These foods, although given plenty in the tank, will be devoured in just a few minutes. They will accept more feedings per day as long as they still have space in their stomach. However, your catfish will grow too quickly so that it can worsen water quality. But if you already have a good filtration system that is ready for the heavy workload, you don’t need to worry.
You can easily find large foods like sinking pellets or tablets and frozen foods in your nearby pet stores. Combine the usual foods with bloodworm, shrimp, larvae, and other smaller prey to complete the protein intake of your fish.
Since the species is omnivorous, you will never run out of ideas to feed them with a varied menu. Your catfish buddy does not mind taking the same foods over and over. But they will appreciate it if you give them a good variety of foods. They won’t be bored and will be happier.
African Catfish Breeding
Unfortunately, it is not possible to breed fish in your aquarium. In the entire history of African Catfish domestication, no one has been able to breed them in a home aquarium.
In the wild, the male fish will guard the nest eggs. Well, you can try it at home, but we don’t recommend it if you haven’t heard any success stories from the experts.