Bringing Home a Twig Catfish: A Comprehensive Care Guide

There’s a reason twig catfish are so unique. They’re native to Southeast Asia, where they swim in water with high levels of dissolved oxygen. The aquarium conditions for these fish are far from ideal for most fish, making them an interesting choice for aquarists.

The twig catfish is a freshwater fish that belongs to the family Clariidae or the tetraspids. It was first described by the ichthyologist William Beebe in 1932. Twig catfish belong to the genus Clarias and are one of the smallest catfish species in the world.

Despite its size, it can grow up to 2 inches in length and live up to 10 years when well cared for. Like many other catfish species, twig catfish is known by several common names such as twig barb or twig fish or simply twig catfish.

While twig catfish are not as popular as some other freshwater aquarium fish, they deserve more consideration due to their unique tank requirements and lifespan. In this guide, we will discuss what you need to know about caring for a twig catfish tank, diet, breeding options, tank size and water parameters.

twig catfish species summary

Species Summary

Twig catfish is a freshwater fish of the family Siluridae native to the Orinoco River basin. They live in gentle to moderately flowing water with submerged roots and riparian vegetation. In captivity, twig catfish are easy to care for and can be kept in good-sized groups. While males are a little territorial when breeding, females should be given ample hiding places or aquarium space to avoid stress. Twig catfish need efficient filtration, plenty of oxygenation, and small frequent water changes to stay healthy.

Their natural habitat is clean water with soft substrate that is not too acidic or too alkaline. The water should be filtered adequately but not overly processed or treated with chemicals.

Additionally, twig catfish require frequent meals of live food or fish pellets and a diet high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Their lifespan in captivity is around 2 years.

The twig catfish has become a popular freshwater aquarium fish due to its peaceful nature, beauty, and unique shape. It can be kept in captivity without any special requirements or conditions as long as it gets adequate water quality.


The lifespan of Twig catfish can vary greatly depending on their conditions, but they typically live for around 10–15 years in captivity. These fish can live up to 20 years or more if provided with the proper care and living conditions. To live a full lifespan in captivity, Twig catfish require an aquarium that meets their specific needs for food, water quality, and space. For example, these fish are known to be sensitive and require special care to live a long life. This is why it is essential to provide them with the right tank conditions and a nutritious diet.

Additionally, Twig catfish are known to be prolific algae eaters, so they require aquariums with water conditions that support this activity.

To ensure that Twig catfish live a full lifespan in captivity, their habitat must meet all their needs for food and water. Overall, the lifespan of Twig catfish can be greatly affected by their living conditions and care. Therefore, it is important to maintain appropriate tank temperatures, quality of water, and food supply for these fish.


Twig catfish are one of the most unusual fish in the hobby. Their long and thin body resembles a twig or stick. They grow to around nine inches in length and have small fins. Their bodies are light brown in color with dark stripes or speckles running down their sides.

There is some sexual dimorphism with males being larger and having a broader snout than females. At breeding conditions, male twig catfish develop a mass of tooth-like structures called odontodes.

When approaching breeding conditions, males develop an impressive display, with some displaying by swimming rapidly or twitching their fins. These fish thrive in aquariums with minimum water parameters or with minimal substrate or hiding places. They are typically peaceful fish that can be kept alongside other freshwater community fish.


Twig catfish are freshwater fish that can grow to an average size of 6–9 inches, although they can grow larger in captivity if given the care required. They thrive in aquariums or vats that provide stable water conditions and a steady stream of food.

In captivity, twig catfish typically live up to 10 years or more with proper care. The maximum size of a twig catfish is 9 inches, which is why they are often kept in aquariums or tanks that have a larger capacity. Twig catfish can grow between 5 and 7 inches (12.7 and 17.8 centimeters) in length, depending on their age and genetics. Overall, twig catfish size is determined mostly by genetics and the quality of care they receive as juveniles.

Common Possible Diseases

Twig catfish are a freshwater fish that is primarily found in the United States. They are known for their unique body shape and size, typically growing to between two and five inches in length. These fish are sensitive to water quality, so they can be susceptible to certain diseases.

Common possible diseases of twig catfish include holes in the head or blindness. These diseases are caused by bacteria or other pathogens and can be difficult to treat once they have progressed.

To prevent twig catfish from developing diseases, it is important to maintain good water quality and take other steps to ensure the health and safety of aquariums. Proper aquarium maintenance, including regular cleaning and replacing water, will help keep twig catfish healthy in aquariums.

Additionally, biosecurity measures such as using aquarium covers or tank filters should be taken to prevent other fish species or algae from entering an aquarium containing twig catfish.

Medications such as metronidazole can be used to treat twig catfish diseases when taken timely [105]. In addition to treating twig catfish diseases, maintaining good water quality and biosecurity within an aquarium will help ensure the long-term health of this fish species.

Twig Catfish Diet & Food

Twig catfish are freshwater fish that feed primarily on biofilm and algae found on wood and plants in the wild. In captivity, they can be fed pellets made from plant matter or vegetables, or they can be fed small pieces of wood or twigs to help them rasp at their food.

However, twig catfish have small, spoon-shaped teeth to rasp at wood and algae, which makes it extremely unusual for them to eat solid or dry food in captivity. Instead, twig catfish typically feed on a diet of pellets or other soft foods.

Understanding the dietary requirements and feeding habits of twig catfish is crucial for aquarium keepers who wish to provide them with a balanced diet. These fish have evolved unique feeding behaviors that make it difficult for them to consume more than a few pieces of wood or algae at a time. Hence, it is important to provide them with pellets made from plant matter as their primary source of nutrition.


Twig catfish, or twig catfish or catfish, are primarily adapted to feed on wood and algae. The Smithsonian National Zoo feeds twig catfish a gel diet as well as produce such as zucchini and cucumbers. Vegetables such as cucumbers, zucchini, and squash should be offered in their diet to provide additional nutritional value. They can be fed small amounts of food every other day to ensure they stay healthy and thriving.

In addition to vegetables and pellets, catfish also benefit from live feeders, such as fish or worms. This will help supplement their diet and help them grow faster.

The twig catfish can adapt to a variety of aquarium conditions, making them an ideal aquarium fish for both beginners and experienced aquarists alike. They are peaceful fish that can live in community aquariums with other peaceful fish species, making them suitable for most aquarium setups. The twig catfish are easy to care for and are considered good algae eaters in aquariums.

However, their sand-like personalities may make them difficult to feed directly from aquarium water or substrate.

Behavior & Temperament

Twig catfish are generally peaceful and mellow fish, but can be a challenge to keep in captivity. They are often shy when first introduced to the tank and may stay hidden or swim near the bottom of the aquarium. These fish are best kept in a tank with other species that will not compete for food or breeding space.

They tend to be more active at night when the lights are off, so it is important to ensure the tank is illuminated throughout the day. These catfishes typically live for about three years, so it is important to ensure they have adequate tank space and quality water to support their size. They can be charming additions to any aquarium if they are given the proper care and attention.

Twig Catfish Size

Twig catfish typically grow to a size of 6-9 inches when aquarium-bred. However, size is mostly determined by genetics and the quality of care they receive when young. If a tank is too small to accommodate larger catfish, it should be expanded or a larger tank size should be purchased. It’s also important to provide plenty of hiding places and algae-rich substrate for them to grow on.

Twig catfish can reach up to a maximum size of 9 inches in length, so it’s essential to have adequate tank space. They are beneficial fish that can help improve the quality of water in aquariums by consuming algae and bacteria.

Twig Catfish Disease

Twig catfish are a freshwater fish known for their unique teeth, which look like twigs. These catfish can be found in the Amazon, Orinoco, and Panar rivers of South America as well as coastal rivers of the Guyana Shield. They feed primarily on wood and algae, using specialized teeth to rasp at their food.

There are a number of diseases that catfish can be susceptible to, including holes in the head or blindness. This is often due to water quality issues or improper fish tank maintenance.

To prevent these issues and maintain good health, catfish require careful attention and frequent water quality testing. If you are interested in keeping twig catfish in your home aquarium or vivarium, it is important to ensure that the water quality meets their needs and parameters.

twig catfish care

Twig Catfish Care

Twig catfish require a mature aquarium with hiding places such as driftwood, slate caves, and tall robust plants. The water should be well-filtered with areas of moderate water movement and quiet resting areas for the catfish to rest.

These fish need good size aquariums of at least 30 gallons or more, but smaller aquariums might work as well. They can be maintained in groups of no more than five for optimal conditions.

Small frequent water changes will help keep the water clean and healthy for the twig catfish. A diet consisting of live foods such as crustaceans and worms is suitable, but twig catfish are also known to eat algae wafers or other prepared snacks. Twig catfish are relatively inexpensive, costing between five to nine dollars for one fish.

Water Parameters

A Twig catfish tank requires water with a constant temperature of between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The water should have a pH between 6 and 7, with a slight alkalinity. The water in a catfish tank should also have high levels of dissolved oxygen (around 5 to 15 mg/L). Additionally, the water should have low levels of carbon dioxide (less than 5%) and toxic levels of ammonia (less than 10 ppm).

The water quality for catfish tanks should be maintained through regular water changes, as well as through the use of aquarium chemicals. When maintaining catfish tank water quality, it is important to remember to correctly adjust the aquarium water temperature and pH levels to suit the fish’s natural habitat. Overall, catfish tanks require careful maintenance to optimize their health and lifespan.

What To Put In Their Tank

Twig catfish require a tank size of at She would need a tank size of at least 35-40 gallons to house its larger size and thrive. They are freshwater fish and should be provided with driftwood or plants that can be grown in the aquarium to replicate their natural habitat. Algae must be present in the tank to provide the fish with natural food sources.

Additionally, catfish prefer soft, algae-coated rocks for grazing. Feeding catfish blanched lettuce and spinach is a good idea as it is very soft and easy to eat. To ensure the catfish have sufficient algae to graze on, it is important to provide plenty of algae-covered rocks in the aquarium. As catfish grow steadily over time, they require more space for swimming and exploring their aquarium.

Tank Mates

Twig catfish can happily cohabitate with a variety of other aquarium fish, but it is important to match the species to the catfish’s natural habitat and size. While catfish are generally peaceful and hardy aquarium residents, it is always good to take care to avoid tank mates that may cause stress or harm the fish.

The best tankmates for twig catfish are fish that live in a similar habitat and size range. So, it is best to choose fish that are slow-moving or non-biting, such as cory catfish or tetras. Additionally, avoid larger or more aggressive species, as they may be too much for twig catfish to handle.


Twig catfish can be induced to breed in captivity, if in good condition. To have success breeding twig catfish, it is important to have a breeding pair and at least four adults per one hundred gallons of water. Males and females can readily be identified by their size and the odontote in older males. When breeding twig catfish, water quality must be maintained as pristine as possible, and high-quality food should be provided.

The female will lay her eggs on the glass of the aquarium, and the eggs will hatch after seven or eight days. After hatching, the fry swim freely in the aquarium before they are begin their growth phase.

One key strategy for successful breeding twig catfish is to ensure good water quality, with a hardness of at least 5-10 degrees or a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. It is also important to provide adequate food so that breeding Twig catfish are able to sustain themselves and produce healthy offspring. When breeding twig catfish in captivity, it’s essential to keep water quality high quality and provide them with a quality diet.

Tank Size

Twig catfish require a tank size of atomi at least 35–40 gallons to thrive. They grow up to 9 inches long and need an adult-sized tank. Adult twig catfish size is determined by genetics and the quality of care they receive while young. Overcrowding the tank can lead to stunted growth and deformities in fish, so it’s important to provide them with enough space to move around and adapt.

A good rule of thumb is to allow around 1 inch of water per catfish, or 10% of the tank volume. Also, provide them with plenty of hiding places and natural substrate such as ceramic pellets or algae wafers. These fish are finicky eaters so provide them with quality fry food or algae community pellets.

Twig Catfish Tank Setup

Twig catfish, also known as twig or twig cat or bony catfish, are freshwater fish that can grow up to 5–7″ in length. They are native to the United States and prefer a tank with substrate of submerged dead leaves and sticks. These fish prefer a water temperature of around 75–78 degrees Fahrenheit and pH level of 6.0–7.0. To ensure optimal tank conditions, make sure to add algae wafers or bogwood for natural camouflage and to provide hiding places for the fish.

Twig catfish can be bred in captivity, so it is possible to maintain a breeding colony in your aquarium. The breeding can be induced by providing specific breeding conditions such as lighting conditions that mimic the natural day-night cycle or by using live or frozen foods such as bloodworm or fry feeders.

Twig Catfish Tank Mates

Twig catfish are peaceful fish that need tankmates that share their natural temperament. They should be kept with other catfish species, such as cory catfish, celestial pearl danios, rummy nose tetras, and green neon tetras.

These tankmates will provide them with social and dietary requirements while not posing a significant risk to the twig catfish. However, twig catfish are known to be finicky eaters, so it is important to provide them with a variety of quality food items.

They are also natural habitat for several species of fish, so keeping them in an aquarium can be overwhelming for some fish types. For this reason, it is best to choose tankmates carefully and tailor the aquarium’s decorations and setup to suit the twig catfish’s needs.

Tank Requirements

A tank size of atighl of 35 to 40 gallons is recommended for twig catfish. An even larger tank may be needed if a larger number of twig catfish are kept in the aquarium. The twig catfish can grow up to an average size of six to nine inches, so a tank with a size suitable for their growth should be provided. Besides, a good quality aquarium substrate or water quality is essential

for the catfish to thrive and survive. The catfish is affordable and easy to maintain in the right aquarium conditions. However, good quality care is essential to ensure the Catfish reaches its full size potential. A basic setup with water quality parameters such as temperature and pH should be provided along with plant or live cover and hiding places for the fish.

twig catfish FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key considerations for caring for a twig catfish?

When looking to buy a catfish, keep in mind that they can typically be purchased for $5-$10 per fish. Additionally, these fish are more resistant to many common fish diseases due to their armoured bodies. However, if you do notice any unusual behavior, loss of appetite, or any other signs of disease, it’s important to take the fish to a vet as soon as possible.

To provide your catfish with the best habitat possible, you can purchase a tank environment or create one out of PVC pipes and aquarium gravel. It is also important to monitor water parameters such as temperature, pH, and water hardness to ensure the fish’s health.

What are the most important food items for a twig catfish?

The most important food items for a twig catfish in captivity are algae and biofilm found on wood and plants. In the wild, Catfish are sustained on a plant-based diet of algae.

What are the best ways to keep a twig catfish healthy and happy?

Keeping a catfish healthy and happy requires a bit of research and preparation. Here are some tips that may help:

– Catfish should be bought from reputable pet stores as they are not commonly stocked.

– Spawning surfaces should be flat and the male shows parental care.

– Breeding is possible in captivity, with a clutch of 60-80 eggs typically laid.

– Fry should be fed soft vegetables and algae covered rocks should be provided prior to breeding.

– Fry should be given a constant stream of food and supplements like baby brine shrimp.

What should I do if I find a twig catfish in my aquarium?

If you find a twig catfish in your aquarium, it is best not to panic. These fish are generally peaceful and will not attack other fish or plants, but overcrowding may cause aggression. If necessary, catfish can be induced to breed by providing them with a hard surface that their male can clean and the female will lay eggs on. Newly hatched larvae feed on organic and plant material, so provide them with cucumber, squashed peas, lettuce, and courgette as daily supplements.

twig catfish conclusion

What Are the Similarities in Caring for Siamese Flying Foxes and Twig Catfish?

Caring for siamese flying foxes and Twig Catfish requires attention to detail. These unique species share similarities in their care, specifically when it comes to their diet and habitat. Providing a suitable environment with ample hiding spots and a varied diet rich in vegetation and protein is essential for both species’ well-being. Proper caring for Siamese Flying Foxes and Twig Catfish ensures their happiness and optimal health.


Twig catfish are highly peaceful fish that do not require a tank of their own and can live in community tanks or as pets. They can be kept in freshwater aquariums or brackish water aquariums with a water change schedule or weekly water changes. If you want to keep them, start by setting up a tank for them and filling it with water from the tap or a tank water filter.

Hi, I'm Millie a passionate fish enthusiast and blogger. I loves learning about all kinds of aquatic creatures, from tropical fish to stingrays.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also like