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13 Catfish Varieties

This is a freshwater catfish swimming underwater.

Getting fish as pets or having an aquarium in front of which you can sit and watch the fish swim for hours on end is something of a dream. If you are considering getting a catfish, you are at the right place.

There are a lot of interesting aspects to the personalities and physical characteristics of catfish. Aquarium keepers ranging from the inexperienced to the seasoned, rely on them. However, it is critical to remember that choosing the right catfish is essential.

Origins and Early Evolution of the Catfish

The barbel catfish is one variety of catfish that can be kept as a pet. Nearly 3000 distinct subspecies of catfish have been identified so far by scientific classification. Catfish are the second or third most diverse group of vertebrates. Catfish aren’t native to Antarctica, where they’re the only thing to be found. You can find them in freshwater habitats, as well as in the oceans.

The night is the most active time for nocturnal animals, such as catfish. They can thrive in various freshwater and saltwater habitats, from fast-flowing mountain rivers to calm bays and estuaries.


Most fish species have pronounced scales that make for the most distinguishable feature. Only a few fish species, including catfish, do not have scales. The front fins of catfish are covered with spines. These fish have a fleshy “adipose fin” that lacks rays instead of scales.

These animals got their unusual name because of their slender, long, and prominent barbels. In most catfish species, there are two barbel pairs on the chin and a maxillary and a nasal pair on the head.

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Colorful patterns and designs can be seen on a wide variety of catfish species in North American rivers and streams.


Catfish are among the world’s largest and heaviest fish, with a maximum weight of 300 kilograms and a maximum length of 15 feet. Because of their enormous size and weight, they are among the world’s largest and most powerful fish.

The Mekong River is home to the world’s largest freshwater fishery, with the heaviest fish ever caught weighing nearly 293 kilograms (646 lb). According to legend, the Mekong Catfish can grow even heavier and longer; however, this is not confirmed yet.

Catfish Varieties

Catfish come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Freshwater aquariums can house a wide variety of catfish because of the wide variety of catfish species that can be found in the wild. Many popular species of catfish can be found in this area. Catfish of all sizes, including some larger varieties, can be kept in freshwater aquariums.

1. Blue Catfish

A close look at the humpback blue catfish.

This catfish has different names, such as Mississippi White Catfish, Humpback Blue Catfish, and High Fin Blue Catfish. This species of catfish has a scientific name that translates to “fish cat” in Greek and “forked” in Latin. However, their scientific name is blue catfish.

This catfish can easily be found in both the main river and its tributaries. Blue catfish migrate downstream because they like to live in warm waters; all blue catfish species migrate upstream in search of cooler waters.

National Fish and Wildlife Service reports that blue catfish can be found in the Missouri River, Mississippi, and Ohio, as well as parts of Texas and Guatemala. This fish has a slate grey upper body with a white belly.

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They have anal fins with 30 to 35 rays and can live for 20 to 30 years. These attributes distinguish this catfish species.

For their preference for eating injured baitfish, blue catfish are known to be the “opportunistic feeders.” They are known for their tendency to eat injured baitfish. Bait with a distinct scent is more attractive to them than any other kind of bait.

The largest catfish ever caught weighed between 300 and 350 pounds, but the current blue catfish world record weight is just over 140lbs (143lb).

2. Channel Catfish

They are known as Ictalurus Punctatus because of their spotted appearance. These species have forked tails that are nearly identical in appearance.

Channel catfish have a brown coloration with gray or blue undertones on either sides as their distinguishing features. Both the bellies and undersides of these creatures have white bellies. The channel catfish’s most distinctive feature is the abundance of black spots on their bodies.

Contrary to popular belief, these spots might not be found in smaller fish at all. These catfish have between 24 and 29 anal fin rays on their anal fins when compared to the blue catfish.

Streams, rivers, and reservoirs with low flow rates are all possible habitats for channel catfish.

Two factors are responsible for making a fish species popular. Cooking them turns them into a delectable and nutrient-dense meal that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Worms, baitfish, and crawfish can be used to catch channel catfish. It is a common method of catching them. Prior to releasing the baits, most fishermen prepare them with grains.

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3. Flathead catfish

This is a close look at a yellow catfish.

Flathead catfish can be found in various colors.

Mud Catfish, Shovelhead Catfish, Yellow Catfish, and Pied Catfish are some of the other names for these fish. According to the Greek and Latin names for the fish, Pylodictis Olivaris is an olive-colored mudfish.

Due to their bright yellow color, flatheads have been nicknamed “yellow cats.” Light yellow is the predominant color on their undersides, while their backs range from brown to light yellow.

They have spines on their head, which resemble cat whiskers, are even longer and more pointed than those of humans. This catfish has a shovel-shaped broadhead that can be seen frequently in the water. Because of this, the term “shovelhead cats” was coined. The tail fins on their bodies are only slightly forked and notched in comparison to the channel catfish.

All flathead catfish appear to follow the same general rule of only preying on fish that are alive. The ideal habitat for these fish is a creek with slow currents and murky water.

4. Cory Catfish

You can call it either a crow catfish or a Cory catfish. They are sometimes called armored catfish. This is because of their resemblance to bone. Catch-and-release fishing is a popular method for Cory Catfish.

If you care for them properly, they can live for 20 years with the same barbels on their mouths as other catfish.

Because of the easy maintenance, they are very popular in both fish stores and aquariums. Fearless and aggressive, they set themselves apart from the rest of the catfish family when it comes to hunting prey.

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They are curious about the tank’s food supply because they are “bottom dwellers,” so they go to the bottom to find it. As omnivores, these creatures prefer a diet that includes both plant and animal sources of nutrition.

5. Glassy-eyed Catfish

Unquestionably, this catfish is among the most intriguing and unusual in its class. It’s fitting that Glass Catfish’s name refers to their translucent bodies that reflect light. The “phantom cat” or “Ghost Catfish” moniker are some of the names it is best known by.

The hidden tail fin of these creatures can be seen through their bodies, but only with the aid of a magnifying glass. Glass catfish have a distinct advantage over other fish when it comes to predator detection because they have transparent bodies.

This species of glass catfish is easy to identify because of the large barbels on its head and the dorsal fin on its back. Small changes in their environment can be detected and responded to using the barbels that adorn their nostrils.

As a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy in people who have these conditions, researchers are studying the unique ability of glass catfish to spot electromagnetic waves in the environment.

Waters with a slow current like streams and rivers are ideal habitats for glass catfishes, which are thought to originate from Thailand.

6. Pictus Catfish

This is the pictus catfish swimming in an aquarium.

The Amazon basins and Orinoco are home to this species, which gets its name from the length of its barbels. Pet owners love Pictus catfish for their ability to feed and swim at night, which makes them a popular choice for home aquariums.

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The forked tail, downturned mouth, spines on the back, and silver coloration with stripes and various black spots set the pictus catfish apart. Because of their outgoing personalities, fish keepers highly value them as pets.

This catfish is a tiny fish with a length of only 5 inches. Their favorite foods include insects and vegetables as well as fish foods.

7. The Upside-Down Catfish

Many people have taken an interest in the new phenomenon known as the “upside-down catfish.” Keep these fish in your home, and you will surely attract the attention of guests.

It’s easier for them to get food from the surface of the water because they can swim upside down. Catfish with dark brown spots are referred to as “blotched upside-down catfish” to distinguish them from other catfish. There are white spots on the light brown body of this species.

A dwarf catfish, or upside-down fish, can grow up to four inches in length, which is not out of the ordinary for this type. On top of the large eyes, large adipose fin, and forked tail of this species, you’ll also find three sets of barbels.

8. Otocinclus Catfish

An otocinclus species is the catfish widely famous for its unusual mouth. Dwarf ottos, Dwarf sucker-mouths, Otto catfish, and a variety of other names are used to market these catfish. These “amazing little scavengers,” as they are affectionately referred to, thrive in freshwater aquariums. Their delicate nature necessitates that they are treated with extreme caution when being kept in captivity.

This catfish, despite its diminutive size, is a formidable predator unto itself.

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9. Invertebrate Species with Bristlenoses

This is a close look at a bristlenose pleco.

Named the bristlenose pleco, this fish has been hailed as the top aquarium fish because of its peaceful temperament and low maintenance requirements. Bristlenose Plecos can grow up to four to five inches long and one inch wide, making them one of the smallest Plecos.

There have been reports of their presence in Central and South America, as well as the Amazon Basin. The animal’s various parts of the body are yellow or white and have a variety of grey, green, and brown spots.

The large head, fatty body, and bony plates of this catfish species distinguish it from the rest of the catfish genus. In addition to being round, it is also flat. They make exceptional tank mates because of their social nature.

10. Raphael’s Catfish

These are juvenile striped Raphael catfish.

This fish is the striped variety of catfish. It is popular in aquariums and other aquatic settings due to its unique characteristics. High levels of endurance and armor are two of these traits.

Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and the entire Amazon Basin in Brazil are just a few of its natural habitats. These fish can live up to 15 years.

There is a large flattened head at the top of the cylindrical body. The Raphael Catfish’s physical characteristics set them apart from all the other catfish. There are large eyes on each side of the head, and their spines curve inward. They eat whatever they can find at the bottom of an ocean or aquarium.

11. Bumblebee-Looking Catfish

Fish that have emerged from their burrows in search of food can be found here.

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With its bee-like appearance, the small tropical fish is known as the bumblecat. Aquarists are drawn to these fish because of their wide-eyed smiles and bright yellow stripes. The bottoms of their fin-rays have pale triangular patches, giving them a light brown appearance.

If they are kept at a length of eight centimeters, they can live for three to five years. For example, you can make sinking granules, sinking tablets, and dried or frozen foods.

12. Tiger Fish

This is a close look at a tiger catfish.

Tiger catfish, an algae-eating catfish, is a common name in China.

In addition to their common name of algae-eater catfish, these fish are also known as honey sucker, sucker fish and Siamese algae-eater. These fish can be found in rivers, lakes, tributaries, and inflowing streams, that range in size from medium to large.

However, they can be found all over Southeast Asia and Japan, making them a popular choice for aquarium fish keepers around the world.

As the name suggests, these suckers have slender mouths and bodies that resemble those of suckers. They can live for five to ten years and can be found in a maximum length of two centimeters. These algae eaters are distinguished from other species by their golden coloration, with dark spots running down their bodies.

13. Wel Catfish

Catfish caught in Wels, Maine, are widely exported across the globe.

The second-largest catfish in the genus, the Caspian catfish, can be found in the Black and Caspian Seas of Eastern Europe. In Europe, Wels catfish can be considered highly prized because of its wide mouth, absence of scales, and flat head.

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Depending on the species, they can be found in the length of 16 feet. These catfish weigh around 300 kilograms (660 pounds) (660 pounds). They have two rather lengthy barbels on the upper jaw and four relatively shorter barbells on their low jaw.

At night, the tissues found on the skin known as the tapetum lucidum allow more light to reach the photoreceptors in their eyes, allowing them to see more clearly.

To locate and catch their prey, Wels catfish rely on their senses of hearing and smell. White undersides and extremely slippery skin are the first things you notice about these fish.

These species change their skin color in response to changes in water conditions, making it a fascinating specimen to study. They appear black in clear water and greenish-brown in muddy water.

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Final Word

Catfish can make an excellent pet. However, you need to do your research beforehand and get only those that can live under the provided conditions.