11 Catfish Species to Have in Your Aquarium

Pepper corydora sifting through substrate

Catfishes are a varied group of fish, with just a few species seen in pet aquariums. The barbels, or "whiskers," that catfish utilize to find food in the substrate are called for them. Some catfish species swim in the tank like other fish, but the majority of them live at the bottom.


Many species have protective barbs on their dorsal and pectoral fins, so be careful when handling or netting.

  • 01 of 11

    Pictus Catfish

    Two swimming pictus catfish

    One of the most frequent aquarium catfish species is the Pictus Catfish. These catfish may grow up to a few feet in length in the wild, despite their modest size when purchased at a fish store. Because the Pictus Catfish is a nocturnal creature, expect little activity throughout the day. Feeding should take place later in the day, when the fish are preparing for their nighttime activity.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAME: Pictus catfish, Pictus cat

    SCIENTIFIC NAMEPimelodus pictus

    ADULT SIZE: 5 to 6 inches

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 4 to 8 years

  • 02 of 11


    Don't be startled; these catfish are intended to be on their backs! The Upside-Down Catfish is named for its exceedingly unusual body orientation and swimming style, which is the polar opposite of most other catfish species. When food is provided on the substrate, they can swim right-side-up and will exhibit regular bottom-feeding behavior. Because their swim bladder and inner ear anatomy are similar to those of other catfish, no one knows where this habit came from.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: Upside-down catfish, blotched upside-down catfish

    SCIENTIFIC NAMESynodontis nigriventris

    ADULT SIZE: 4 inches

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 5 years

  • 03 of 11

    Bandit Cory


    The Bandit Cory is a tiny, gentle catfish species named for its unusual facial "bandit" mask. These fish, like other Corydoras species, thrive in small groups. Because the Bandit Cory is a nocturnal feeder, you won't see them throughout the day.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: Bandit catfish, bandit cory, masked cory, meta river catfish, rio meta cory

    SCIENTIFIC NAMECorydoras metae

    ADULT SIZE: 2 inches

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 5 years

  • 04 of 11


    The Panda Cory is a popular Corydoras in aquariums. It is named after the Bandit Cory because of its unique white body with black markings. Water quality and upkeep are essential for cory health, and make sure they have plenty of hiding spots during the day. Because they are nocturnal, you may not spot them until it is dark.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: Panda catfish, panda cory, panda corydoras

    SCIENTIFIC NAMECorydoras panda

    ADULT SIZE: 2 inches (5 cm)

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 years

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11


    The Bronze Cory is defined by its overall colour, which ranges from dark metallic brown to grey to green. These Corydoras are excellent at concealing thanks to their color pattern, which is beneficial to nocturnal fish. Keep them in a group, like with other cory species, and give them sinking food that falls to the substrate. This is the species that is offered as the Albino Corydoras, which is an all-white fish with red eyes. It is the most prevalent Corydoras catfish species (in both the green and albino color varieties).

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: Bronze cory, green cory, albino cory

    SCIENTIFIC NAMECorydoras aeneus

    ADULT SIZE: 2.5 inches

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 5 to 10 years

  • 06 of 11


    These catfish, also known as Plecostomus, are noted for using their mouths as anchor points, hanging from plants or the aquarium glass. Their specially designed jaws can rasp surfaces, removing algae and other detritus. Plecos may grow to be rather huge, so be sure you identify them correctly before putting them in your tank. Rubber-lipped plecos (Chaetostoma milesi) and bristlenose plecos (Ancistrus cirrhosus) grow to be around 4-5 inches long.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: Suckermouth Catfish, Plecostomos, Pleco

    SCIENTIFIC NAMEHypostomus plecostomus

    ADULT SIZE: 3 inches to 2 feet

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 15 years

  • 07 of 11


    The transparent, iridescent body of the Three Stripe Cory is covered with a tangle of dark black to brown lines. This species, sometimes known as the Leopard Cory, follows the same care guidelines as many other Corydoras, such as nocturnal feeding, tight water quality needs, and a predilection for being housed in a small school of 3-5 Corys.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: False julii cory, leopard catfish, leopard cory, three-line catfish, three-lined cory, three-stripe cory, trilineatus cory

    SCIENTIFIC NAMECorydoras trilineatus

    ADULT SIZE: 2.5 inches

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 years

  • 08 of 11


    The Julii Cory looks quite comparable to the Three Stripe Cory (#7). The uniformity of the lines on the fish's head is the most important characteristic. The Julii Cory will have an interrupted design made up of dots, but the Three Stripe Cory would have a fully linked pattern. When the fish are little, distinguishing between them might be difficult.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: Julii catfish, julii cory, leopard cory

    SCIENTIFIC NAMECorydoras julii, Synonym Corydoras leopardus

    ADULT SIZE: 2.5 inches

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 5 years

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Bristlenose Catfish


    This catfish, also known as the Bristlenose Pleco, stays tiny and does not outgrow its tank like other plecostomuses. The numerous bristles, or whiskers, that encircle the head, rather than simply the mouth, differentiate these catfishes. Although they may eat algae and debris, a sinking pelleted meal will provide a more balanced diet. This species is also available in albino form, with deeper yellow markings on its pale yellow body.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: Bristlenose pleco, bristlenose catfish, bushynose catfish, bushy nose

    SCIENTIFIC NAMEAncistrus cirrhosus

    ADULT SIZE: 5 inches

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 5 years

  • 10 of 11


    The body of the Pepper Cory is mottled black or dark brown in appearance. Although the fish's underbelly, pelvic, and pectoral fins are white to transparent, the dorsal surface is shaded, which is ideal for concealing from predators during the day. The Three Stripe and Julii Cory are sometimes mistaken with this species.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: Blue leopard corydoras, peppered catfish, peppered cory

    SCIENTIFIC NAMECorydoras paleatus

    ADULT SIZE: 2 to 3 inches

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 5 years

  • 11 of 11


    The Skunk Cory gets its name from a prominent black band that runs along the fish's dorsal ridge. It's easy to mix it up with the Adolfi Corydoras (Corydoras aldolfoi), which has a black band on its head that's broken up by a bright orange patch. Given its nocturnal nature, the Skunk Cory, like other Corydoras species, works best in small groups and in a tank with plenty of hiding spots.

    Species Overview

    COMMON NAMES: Skunk cory, arched cory

    SCIENTIFIC NAMECorydoras arcuatus

    ADULT SIZE: 2 inches

    LIFE EXPECTANCY: 5 years

Before adding any fish to a new or old aquarium, do your homework on the species. Make sure any new arrivals are adequately quarantined, and that all fish have enough space and are fed a sufficient food.