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Whiptail Catfish Care, Tank Setup, Breeding & More

What are your thoughts about a catfish? Weird yet wonderful, right? Thus, adding a whiptail catfish, the dwarf member of the Loricariid family, will be the best choice for any aquarist.

The Whiptail Catfish belong to the Rineloricaria genus and come with a unique appearance. These types of fish are too easy to care for in a 10-20 gallon tank by keeping them in a group of 4 specimens. They live for about 5-8 years with proper care in the aquarium.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
AppearanceGrey-brown colored body with a pattern of various lighter and darker shades
TemperamentTerritorial, yet harmless
Life Expectancy5-8 years
Tank Size10-20 gallons
Tank EnvironmentHard and acidic water with sand substrate
Tank MatesSmall and peaceful

Whiptail Catfish are pretty popular among aquarists with their simple yet different appearance and tank-friendly temperament.

Their grey-brown color and a classy pattern of various light and dark shades make them distinct from others.

In terms of length, their conspicuous anus part serves to be the largest body part.

This form of fish typically belongs to the genus of Rineloricaria and the family of Loricariid catfish.

Thus, other catfish can easily be considered their cousins, and you can find quite a bit of similarity in their temperament and preferences. Dasyloricaria filamentosa is the common name for this fish species.

Whiptail Catfish usually originates from South America and are easily found in streams or flat sandbanks with strong water flow and currents.

Their natural habitat is the La Plata region, where they love to hover around in the narrow torrential streams, which are no deeper than 10 cm.

These catfish feel very comfortable staying on the sandbanks in clear water. However, you can easily keep them in your home aquariums as they are not at all problematic.


The maximum size of a whiptail catfish extends up to a length of 4-inches or 10.2 cm. They are usually dwarf and short built than any other catfish species.


Though whiptail catfish are small, they come with a longer life span. These aquatic animals can live up to 5-8 years if they receive the proper amount of care in the tank.

Behavior & Temperament

This species of catfish is very peaceful. These fish’ gregarious nature makes them do well in groups. The male fish can show a little bit of aggression to defend their nest. Hence, you can consider them to be territorial to some extent.

But their aggression is only limited to frightening other fish; these catfish do not harm others. This mild territorial behavior of these fish helps them to defend themselves from their rivals smartly.

Thus, the Whiptail Catfish species makes an excellent companionship in a community tank with their funny and quirky yet harmless behavior.

Head closeup of 2 royal whiptail catfish

Tank Requirements

These Whiptail Catfish can be very easily cared for in a community aquarium.  They do not require a too big tank size; a moderate one is fine. Also, the tank needs to have top-notch decoration.

Besides, these are relatively hardy. Though they are dwarfs, they need proper space in the tank as they are slightly territorial by nature.

If you want to do proper caring, you need to be extra careful regarding the tank’s bottom area. The substrates for them need to be soft enough.

Also, these fish are not at all regular algae eaters. So, make sure the algae build-up is limited or almost zero in the fish tank. Also, add such tank decors that are pretty easy to clean.

As these catfish tend to hide a lot, you must ensure the proper addition of sturdy plants and spacious caves.

Incorporating lots of plants and driftwoods will let them have plenty of happy times in captivity.

Also, for the well-being of this fish species, you need to adorn a large part of the tank with wavemaker reefs.

This popular form of catfish usually prefers the tank water to be a little bit hard. Also, the water quality needs to be slightly acidic to let them have a healthy life.

Whiptail Catfish prefers a lot of oxygen in the water. Also, make sure there is a good source of current in their tank water.

Besides adding a powerhead for facilitating proper filtration in the tank, you can also add other pumps to make the water move more powerfully, producing sufficient current.

Tank Setup

Do you know Whiptail Catfish do not thrive well in insufficient tank water? And this is why you must ensure a proper tank setup to maintain their good health.

So, here are some tips that you can follow to facilitate a top-notch aquarium setup for your catfish.

  • Catfish are not very large. So, housing them in a 10-20 gallon tank will be pretty suitable. If you are keeping a pair of male and female fish, you can easily pick a 10-gallon aquarium. But in the case of a group, keep them in 20-gallon tank size.
  • Keep the water temperature of the aquarium between 25-28℃. These fish will adapt well to a bit of high temperature.
  • Also, the tank water needs to be very clean. Thus, you should keep a convenient tank filter replicating whiptails’ original fields of habitat.
  • The pH range of the aquarium water needs to be within 6-7.5.
  • Make sure the general hardness of the water for these catfish lies between 2-15 DH.
  • It is better to maintain the carbonate hardness between 2-10 dKH.
  • Ensure the addition of plenty of plants in the aquarium to provide these tiny catfish have proper places to hide. You can incorporate plants like Indian almonds or Terminalia catappa to create a lovely leaf litter. The Whiptail Catfish Rineloricaria will do great with low-lying plants like the Cryptocoryne and dwarf lilies.
  • To offer them enough space to rest and hide from other tank mates, you can add driftwood to these fish tanks.
  • The substrate for this fish needs to be sand, which will not harm their barbles or dorsal fin. Also, you can add smooth silica, which is readily sold for horticulture use to replicate their original fields.
Red whiptail catfish closeup

Tank Mates

As whiptail catfish is quite popular as a Loricariid member, they gel well in a community fish tank.  Instead of keeping one, you can keep them in a pair or group.

However, while housing this type of fish with other tank mates, you need to remember a few things.

Whiptails are usually slow feeders. As a result of such nature of theirs, it becomes easy for these catfish to become a target of other nippy or aggressive fish. Thus, don’t keep them with fin nippers or large, aggressive fish.

Peaceful fish that are not at all territorial will serve to be the best tankmates.

Besides, this species does not go well with other fish like tiger barbs, pufferfish, serpae tetras, etc. So, house them with the following community cuties.

  • A small school of Corydoras catfish
  • Kuhli loaches
  • Ember and Red Neon tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Gouramis
  • Dwarf cichlids

Food & Diet

Do you know what is more interesting about these Whiptail Catfish? They can be very easily fed with staple foods, exclusively made for catfish. These open-water catfish are omnivores by nature. They will readily accept anything you give them.

You can feed this species with catfish pellets, as Loricariids love to have them. Also, this makes a very nutritious meal for them. Besides, you can supplement their food with fresh and frozen foods, bloodworms, or chopped seafood.

It is better to feed them twice or thrice a day. Also, add some variety to their diet with vitamins and proteins to keep them healthy. To add more nutrition to their diet, you can either add algae wafers or other vegetable matter, which are the most nutritious supplement for a fish.

Whiptail Catfish Care

Caring for Whiptail Catfish is not at all complex. You can easily do it without requiring any expert knowledge. These are not much demanding as other aquarium fish.

So, you must add tubes and slates to the tank to adequately care for them, which you can easily find at any pet animal store.

You might have heard that adding rocks for them will do a good job. But that’s a complete myth, as this type of fish will not at all thrive well on rocks.

They will often get injured in a rocky aquascape. So, you should add something soft, or you can even incorporate driftwood.

To offer them the proper level of care, a biotope setup will be good. Add a layer of sand, scattered with dried leaves, to let them enjoy a happy time. Also, you can offer them twisted branches or twigs and other occasional rounded stones to replicate their natural living place.

During the time of breeding, offer them a driftwood cave. Or you can even add lengths of PVC piping to create a potential spawning site.  This Loricariid does not prefer bright lighting. So, it is better to keep the illumination moderate in the fish tank.

Moreover, remember not to house whiptails with plecos or loaches. As the latter fish are bottom feeders and demanding enough, they can hamper these catfish’s diet, which, in turn, can affect their health.

Breeding Guidelines

Do you want to breed whiptail catfish as a hobby? Well, then let us tell you that these Rineloricaria species can be quickly bred in captivity. This small fish will easily spawn without requiring any intervention from the aquarists.

To breed them at ease, you need to have a pair. You can start with a group of 6 whiptails for your tank. Since the males are territorial by nature, they will claim their territories in the community aquarium, while the females will mate with them as they find a fit.

They spawn in a very similar way to the bristle nose catfish. So, if you are familiar with their breeding mechanism, then breeding whiptail catfish will not at all be a challenging task for you.

Spawning usually takes place in hollow tubes or PVC piping. The female catfish usually lay fewer than 100 eggs at once in the pipes. After that, the males seek the eggs and fertilize them. Post proper fertilization, these males guard the eggs to keep the females away.

Whiptail Catfish fries are anticipated to hatch after a week. At the initial stage, these fries will not consume any food. Instead, they will survive on their yolk sac for a couple of days.

After that, you can offer them algae for eating. They will readily accept any liquid fry food. Besides, you can offer them finely powdered flake foods too.

Whiptail Catfish usually spawn on a flat surface area. Their brooding sizes are pretty small. Thus, while ensuring proper breeding of these catfish, you need to facilitate appropriate current and oxygen in the tank water. It will not only ensure the well-being of the eggs but also let the fries stay healthy.

Besides this usual breeding method of catfish, they also sometimes rely upon an alternative way of spawning through their lips, which is quite predominant among species like Loricaria and Pseudohemiodon.

Interesting Facts

There are a few pieces of interesting information about whiptail catfish that you cannot afford to miss out on if you are thinking of petting them.

So, are you excited to learn those fun facts? Well, here you go.

  • They are quite underrated as pet catfish.
  • These are very hardy fish and come with brilliant adaptability to a wide range of aquatic environments.
  • They usually have predatory instincts towards worms or insect larvae.
  • They have two tribes -Loricariini and Harttiini.
  • These come in 30 genera.

Where to Buy?

You can easily find Whiptail Catfish at any nearby store for animals and pet fish. They are available at a very moderate price rate. But if you do not find them in your nearest stores for aquatic animals, you can look for them at a hobbyist store.

Nevertheless, you’ll readily get these catfish specimens at any online store that sells pet animals and fish.


Whiptails are usually the most suitable ones to be kept in a community fish tank. As these fish can be easily cared for, they are entirely suitable for beginners. Being omnivores, they are also effortless to feed with any food type.

Moreover, these aqua animals are not very messy. So, if you have the hobby of collecting various catfish species in your tank, then these Rineloricaria fish would be the most favorable one to pet.