Whiptail Catfish: Types and Care Guide

Whiptail Catfish
Whiptail Catfish

To those outside of the Aquarium Hobby, owning a catfish may seem like an odd notion. For a large subset of people, Catfish are mainly known as food. Those people have no idea just how amazing and interesting owning a catfish can be.

Those that are somewhat new to the Hobby Aquarium hobby may also be apprehensive about owning a catfish. They may have possibly heard a tale of how large Catfish can grow. But those deeper into the aquarium hobby know that as long as you prepare and research properly, a catfish can be a truly fulfilling aquatic companion.

If you want a Catfish to add to your tank setup or a Catfish to add to a brand new tank, look further than the Whiptail Catfish. The Whiptail Catfish tends to be one of the more popular species of Catfish in the aquarium hobby. This popularity is likely because of their smaller size and friendly disposition. This unique species of Catfish can usually be found in streams in South America. The Whiptail Catfish has a very distinct appearance; it has a long, whip-like tail, hence its name.

A Whiptail Catfish usually grow to only around 4 inches or 10 centimeters. It makes them a perfect choice for a home aquarium. While traditionally very peaceful, a male Whiptail Catfish can sometimes be a bit territorial around their nest. Despite being territorial, the Whiptail Catfish won’t attack other fish; they tend to only scare them away.

If you want an easy-to-care-for Catfish, then the Whiptail Catfish is the perfect choice for you. They don’t require any outlandish tank setups or tank parameters. Their calm demeanor also makes them the ideal choice for some community tanks. With just a bit of research, you can ensure that you create the perfect habitat for this unique and interesting fish.

Whiptail Catfish Care

Caring for any fish can either be a daunting and complex task or routine and easy. Research is the most important step, regardless of what fish you plan on adding to your tank. Research is so crucial because you can ensure that you can meet all the necessary requirements for the species of fish you wish to add. The food and diet that is recommended for your specific fish can easily be found by researching. With just a bit of research, you can determine where the temperature and pH level of your tank should be. You can also find out how big the fish will grow to ensure your tank is large enough to accommodate it. Researching is also a great way to learn how to set up a tank for your fish. As well as their expected lifespan and how to breed them if you want. The internet is a huge, essentially endless place; if you put in the time, you can easily learn anything you want. And if you want to learn how to care for a Whiptail Catfish – well, then you’ve come to the right place.

Are Whiptail Catfish easy to care for?

Caring for Whiptail Catfish is actually straightforward and pretty simple. Whiptail Catfish are demanding by any means. They can survive in a pretty average temperature range of around 25 to 28 degrees Celsius or 77 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature range is pretty average for tons of different fish, which makes the Whiptail Catfish a great choice for a community tank. They are also notably docile and friendly, another feature that makes them an ideal pick for your community tank. By nature, the Whiptail Catfish is omnivorous, meaning they will eat just about anything. Having said that, you should feed your Whiptail Catfish premade catfish food. It’s the best and easiest option for them. The Whiptail Catfish also doesn’t have any outlandish or unreasonable tank requirements. If you want an easy to care for Catfish, then you should strongly consider the Whiptail Catfish.


Temperature is an extremely important tank parameter that is sometimes overlooked by beginner aquarists. However, experienced aquarists know just how important temperature is for a tank. It can impact everything in your tank, from fish to aquatic plants and even water conditions. Whiptail Catfish are endemic to fast-moving streams in South America, which is a warm locale. The warmer weather of their home environment means that Whiptail Catfish need to be kept in warmer waters. On average, the temperature of a Whiptail Catfish tank should stay between 25 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit or 77 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll likely need a powerful heater in your tank in order to achieve and maintain the required temperatures.

Water pH

Anyone who has ever owned an aquarium knows just how important the pH level is. Just a slight fluctuation in the pH level of a tank can throw it completely out of balance, which in turn can negatively impact every aspect of the tank. An incorrect pH level can and will affect every species in your tank, including both fish and plant life. When setting up a tank for a Whiptail Catfish, you need to ensure the pH level stays between 6.0 to 7.5. It is also imperative that you ensure any other fish or plant life in your tank can thrive at the same pH level. Routinely checking the tank’s water parameters will ensure that you can catch any changes in pH level before they become a much bigger issue.

Whiptail Catfish Size

When setting up a tank, for any species, their size when fully grown is extremely important. You must ensure that you have a large tank to accommodate their fully grown size. Some fish are very small when fully grown, requiring only a few dozen gallons when it comes to tank size. On the other side of that coin, some fish grow insanely large, requiring tanks that are hundreds of gallons in volume. Fish that grow that large aren’t very feasible to keep in an at-home aquarium. Don’t fret; the Whiptail Catfish doesn’t grow large at all. A fully grown Whiptail Catfish measures in at around 4 inches, or just approximately 10 centimeters. The small size of the Whiptail Catfish means that almost anyone should have room in their home for a tank to accommodate them.

Food and Diet

Finding food that your fish will readily eat in a tank can sometimes be daunting. Many species of fish prefer to hunt for their food; some only eat plant life. And there are even some species of fish that are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plant and animal matter – the Whiptail Catfish is one of those fish. You can feed a Whiptail Catfish nearly anything, but that doesn’t mean you should. Whiptail Catfish will happily eat catfish pellets, which can likely be bought at almost any aquarium specialty store. You can also supplement their pellet diet with some fresh or frozen food such as bloodworms. Another way to supplement their diet is with fresh vegetables, algae wafers, or even some proteins and vitamins. A balanced diet can help ensure that your fish stays happy and healthy.


The lifespan of any pet, especially fish, is very dependent on the care they receive. Whiptail Catfish are no exception to this. If you carefully plan their tank, ensure the tank parameters are all where they need to be, and give them the diet they require, then you’re more likely to get a full and healthy life out of your Whiptail Catfish. On average, a Whiptail Catfish will live for around 5 to 8 years. Keep in mind that an average life expectancy isn’t a guarantee. Your fish may live longer or shorter than expected despite the care you give them. But you should always do your best to provide them with the care they deserve and require.

Tank Size

Tank size is extremely important to consider before getting any fish. You need to ensure that you have enough room in your home, or wherever your tank is, to accommodate a tank of the required size. On average, Whiptail Catfish only grow to around 4 inches, the perfect size for a small tank. Since Whiptail Catfish tend to fall on the smaller side, meaning that you won’t need that large of a tank to accommodate them. When housing a Whiptail Catfish or two, you’ll need a tank that is at least 10 gallons in volume. If you plan on housing more than 2 Whiptail Catfish, you’ll need to get a slightly larger tank, at least 20 gallons in volume.

Tank Setup

A proper tank setup is imperative not only for the health of your fish but for their happiness as well. When setting up a tank, you first need to pick out the tank. Whiptail Catfish are not very large, which means they require a small tank that is at least 10 gallons in volume. The substrate is very important for Whiptail Catfish. This is because they spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, and you need to ensure that you don’t pick a substrate that will irritate their bodies. Sand or smooth silica is the perfect substrate for Whiptail Catfish. Because this species loves to hide, you need to make sure that you give them plenty of places to do so. Plants are a great option for a Whiptail Catfish tank because they’ll hide in and among the flora. Driftwood is another great option as a hiding place in a Whiptail Catfish tank. Whiptail Catfish also prefer their tank to be very clean, so make sure you have a filter strong enough to accommodate the entire tank. The water temperature for your Whiptail Catfish tank needs to stay between 25 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit or 77 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit. A heater can help maintain that temperature range. The pH level in a Whiptail Catfish tank should stay between 6.0 and 7.5. You can ensure it stays within that range with routine checks of the water parameters. With just some research, you can ensure that your tank is perfectly set up for Whiptail Catfish and any other species you plan to add.


Most experts have attested that breeding Whiptail Catfish is quite easy in captivity. The first step is identifying your male Whiptail Catfish from your female ones. Male Whiptail Catfish tend to have more bristles on their cheeks than their female counterparts. Female Whiptail Catfish will look for somewhere to lay their eggs; they prefer PVC pipes or hollow tubes. Once the eggs are laid, the male will fertilize them and protect them until; they are ready to hatch. After about a week, the Whiptail Catfish eggs will hatch.


Disease can affect any fish, regardless of the care they are given. However, proper care and tank maintenance can reduce the likelihood of your Whiptail Catfish getting any sort of disease or illness. Whiptail Catfish are very hardy, so you may never have to worry about getting any illness or diseases. However, they may get injured. One of the most common injuries that may affect your Whiptail Catfish comes from rocks.

Tank Mates

Whiptail Catfish make great tank mates thanks to their usually docile nature. Some great choices for a Whiptail Catfish tank mates are other Catfish, such are Corydoras Catfish. Some other great options are Kuhli Loaches, Rasboras, Gouramis, and Dwarf Cichlids. There are also plenty of tank mates that are incompatible with the Whiptail Catfish. Some incompatible tank mates are Tiger Barbs, Serpae Tetras, and Pufferfish.

Where can I find Whiptail Catfish for Sale?

Whiptail Catfish can likely be found locally at any pet or in the Aquarium specialty store. If you can not find any near you, you can absolutely find some for sale only. Regardless of whether you purchase your Whiptail Catfish online or in person, make sure you only buy from respected dealers. This will ensure that your Whiptail Catfish was bred and raised properly. On average, a single Whiptail Catfish sells for around $15