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Giraffe Catfish (Auchenoglanis Occidentalis) Care

Have you heard of the Giraffe Catfish before? It is a catfish. But it looks like a giraffe. 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 an African giraffe catfish to make your tank bottom-dwelling more attractive and astonishing.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
AppearanceSpots and dots like a Giraffe and yellowish color
Life Expectancy18 years
Size20 to 28 inches in length
Family Claroteidae
Tank Size180 Gallons
Tank MatesFish larger than 6 or 8 inches.

The giraffe 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 tank mates, regardless of their species difference.

If you already have some fish in your current tank, you can add the giraffe 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 the other large tank mates.

Auchenoglanis occidentalis in the tank

The Adaptability

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.

Tank Setup

The Giraffe Nosed 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.

The Giraffe catfish has smooth sandy substrates, rock batteries, large driftwood or bogwood segments, and plenty of open swimming places.

Because of their thickness, Giraffe Nosed 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 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 Giraffe 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 Giraffe 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.

The 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 water changes are frequently required. The baby fish have a giraffe-like 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 giraffe 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 fish, they don’t need to hide unless there are much larger fish 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.

Nosed Giraffe Catfish Tank Mates

Giraffe catfish at tank bed

You must choose the tank carefully, although it is classified as a peaceful fish. Since it has a large size, the addition of smaller fish is not the best option for you since there’s a possibility that they can eat these fish.

However, the larger fish can be a great option since your giraffe catfish won’t be willing to devour something bigger than it. The good tank mates could be medium to large-sized fish like African characins, large tetras, large barbs, ripsaw catfish and so on.

Many aquarists risk their smaller fish with the Giraffe catfish. Although some stories 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.

Food & Diet

With a healthy and balanced diet, your giraffe 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 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.

Breeding Guidelines

Unfortunately, it is not possible to breed fish in your aquarium. In the entire history of giraffe 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.