Catfish are one of largest and most diverse groups of aquarium fish. There are over 2000 different fish within the catfish group and new fish are still being discovered.
The defining feature of all catfish is their whisker-like barbels, giving them a slight cat like appearance. Other then the barbels catfish vary greater across the group, making them it very difficult to describe the general attributes of this group of aquarium fish.
In the wild catfish can be found all over the world, however the vast majority live in freshwater areas. Due to the wide range of natural environments catfish come from the care they need to be happy and healthy changes greatly depending on the each species of catfish.
Size is a big issue when keeping them, some of the larger varieties, such as the Red Tailed Catfish can grow to over one metre in length. The widely available Common Plec can easily grow to around 12 inches’.
Big catfish have been known to break the glass of the aquarium by bashing into it. For these situations an acrylic tank may be a better alternative.
They can also damage or destroy aquarium plants and decorations. They are nocturnal and enjoy racing around the tank after the lights go out. When I had my Plec (which was around 13 inches long) I never managed to keep any plants in my tank. One swoosh of his tail and the plants would be uprooted and rise to the top of the tank.