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Ailiidae = ( AIL iidae )


Ailiidae is a family of catfishes native to Asia. These fishes usually have dorsal fins with a short base and a spine, but Ailia lack a dorsal fin altogether. Most of these species in the Ailiidae family were formally in the Schilbeidae family but were reclassified and moved by Wang et al in 2016. As of 2019 there are 13 genera in this family.

Akysidae = ( ah KHY sid dee )  

This Asian family of catfish are not commonly imported for the aquarium trade so husbandry information is a little thin on the ground. The common name of the "Asian Stream Catfishes" will give you an insight in that they are found in slow moving streams of Southeast Asia. This family contains four genera, Acrochordonichthys, Akysis, Breitensteinia and Pseudobagarius.
Amblycipitidae = ( am blee sip IT id dee )

This is a small family of only three genera, Amblyceps, Liobagrus and Xiurenbagrus which are very rarely imported  for the aquarium trade. These three genera are found in Southern Asia, China, Taiwan and Japan. Resembles the loaches in their body shape and also possess 4 pairs of barbels with the nasal barbels being very  prominent. Not very easy to keep as they do prefer fast flowing  water, so would need this criteria in the aquarium to survive. Commonly known as "Hillstream Catfishes"
Amphiliidae = ( am fill EE id dee ) 

Commonly known as "Loach Catfishes"or "African Whiptails" due to the resemblance that some of them have to the whiptails of the South American Loricariidae family. Not too well known to aquarists as they are only sporadically exported. A little harder to keep than their South American companions. They do like moving water hence their other common name of "African hill stream fishes".   

Ariidae = ( air EE id dee )

This family contains catfish from marine and freshwater habitats. A few practice an unusual mode of reproduction of mouthbrooding. Not popular catfishes for the home aquarium as some grow too big and boisterous with a rather dull silver colouration, but a few of the smaller varieties can be kept with larger tankmates. Most will need salt added to their water
as they grow larger.
Aspredinidae = ( az pra DIN id dee )  

This family of Catfish are termed "Banjo Catfishes" due to their banjo-like flattened shapes. Two groups are recognised, the short-tail banjo's with an anal fin the same size as the head and the  long- tail banjo's which posses a very long anal fin with a longer body.  Very nocturnal and will do better over a sand substrate where they can bury themselves.
Astroblepidae = ( as tro BLEP id dee ) 

Not commonly kept as they do need very diverse conditions as they reside in the higher mountain ranges  of the  Andes in South America. There is one genus, Astroblepus, with over 50 species recognised with identification of each species quite difficult. Was once considered a sub-family of the Loricariidae as they do posses sucker mouths, but lack the body armour. Have been known to climb the faces of waterfalls in their native habitat.
Auchenipteridae = ( ow ken ip TARE id dee )

Contains some of the more secretive members of the Siluriformes. This family is the only one to undergo internal insemination and fertilisation. Known as Driftwood or Wood Cats owing to their habit of hiding in hollow logs during the day. Confused sometimes with the members of the Doradidae family but lack the lateral bony scutes.
Austroglanididae = ( ost RO glan id idee )   

Austroglanididae catfishes, are characterised by their scaleless, elongated bodies. From Southern Africa they have three pairs of barbels (nasal pair absent); strong dorsal and pectoral spines; adipose fin small. The genus Austroglanis was formerly placed in the Bagridae family. There are three species only in this genera and all are either vulnerable or endangered due to their habitats being threatened by stream channeling, water extraction, sedimentation and introduced bass.
Bagridae = ( BAG rid dee )

These catfish are found throughout Asia and usually sport 4 pairs of barbels. The African bagrids can now be found in their own family; Claroteidae. The vast majority of this family are predators so they should not be kept with small fishes. Their bodies are naked and most posess large adipose fins and a small anal fin.
Callichthyidae = ( kal ik THEE id dee )

The most popular and best known catfishes from the South American continent. Very peaceful and mostly undemanding. Bodies covered with two rows of bony plates and possess 3 pairs of barbels. Family includes Corydoras, Aspidoras, Brochis, Scleromystax
, Callichthys, Hoplosternum, Lepthoplosternum, Megalechis and Dianema. 
Cetopsidae = ( set TOP sid dee )

Commonly known as "Whale Catfishes" because of the origin of the first  name Cetopis, meaning "looks like a whale". There are 42 species in this family and they are not too popular in the hobby due to their inactivity in the aquarium. One member of this genus the "Candiru" is a voracious predator on other wounded fish in its habitat, burying into the flesh of the animal.
Chacidae = ( CHA sid dee )

There are now four species in this family which are commonly known as "frog-mouth catfishes" or alternatively "angler catfish". The latest from 2012 is C. serica from southern Borneo. These common names give away the nature of these catfish as they are out and out predators and should really be kept in a species tank on their own. Will eat mostly live food where they will "wiggle" their short maxillary barbels, much like the marine Angler fish, and suck their unsuspecting prey into their huge mouths.
Clariidae =  ( klair EE id dee) 

This is the family commonly known as the "Walking Catfishes" owing to their ability to move overland after their previous home has 'dried up'. These catfish are unique as to have an elongated dorsal without a hard spine. Not really a species suitable for the home aquarium although very hardy. They can be kept in very large tanks or ponds. Looked on also as a food fish in its native habitat.
Claroteidae = ( CLAAR O Tee Iday) 

Was previously a sub-family of the Bagridae, this group of catfishes has now been elevated to its own family status. All from the African continent with the Giraffe or the African Big Eye Catfish being the more common species. Sizes vary in this family from the larger Chrysichthys to the smaller Lophiobagrus genera of Lake Tanganika. 
Cranoglanididae = ( Crano GLAN id dee )

There is only one genera and three species of this Chinese catfish family. They are large and the top of the head has rough bony plates and as the common name suggests - Armourhead Catfishes-. They posses 4 pairs of barbels and resemble the family, Pseudobagrus.
Diplomystidae = ( dip LOMY st dee )  

A primitive catfish family from the rivers of Chile and Argentina so would therefore be considered cool water catfishes. Very rarely seen in the trade so there is not much information on keeping the 6 known species in the
Diplomystes genera. Arratia (1987) erected the genus Olivaichthys for the Argentinian specimens but some authors still treat  Olivaichthys as a synonym of Diplomystes.
Doradidae = ( door ADD id dee )  

Commonly known as the "talking cats" due to the noise they make when removed from the water. Confused sometimes with the Auchenipteridae family ( Wood cats ) but they possess a row of scutes along their sides which is characteristic of this group. Mostly nocturnal and very secretive and range from the diminutive Physopyxis lyra to the large and friendly Oxydodorus niger.
Erethistidae = ( Err eth IST idee )

This small Asian family formally formed part of the Sisoridae family and may be again in the future. The most common species are Erethistes and Pseudolaguvia (Hara may be a synonym for Erethistes). This family tend to have a brown body colouration with various cream to white banding on their flanks. There has been numerous Scientific works carried out on this family and there may be more name changes in the future.
Heptapteridae = ( Hep tapt ER idee ) 

Another sub-family of the Pimelodidae, Heptapteridaeinae, which is now been given full family status. There are up to 200 species in this South and Central American family comprising mostly of the genera Imparfinis, Pimelodella, Brachyrhamdia and Rhamdia. Most are predators which vary in size but can be kept in an aquarium with tank mates that are chosen carefully.
Ictaluridae = ( ik tah LUHR id dee ) 

Native to the freshwaters of North America and into parts of Central America. Ictalurids are split up into three groups, the catfishes, bullheads and the smaller madtoms. Will do better in an unheated aquarium and are generally a very hardy group of catfishes. Some species can be too large for the home aquarium. The larger species of catfish are important commercial and sport fishes.
Loricariidae = ( lohr ih care EE id dee )  

This is the largest family with about 700 species and still growing with the onslaught of the L-Numbers. Can be readily recognised with their overlapping plates covering the body and the downturned suckermouth. Some, but not all, relish a vegetarian diet.
Malapteruridae = ( mahl lap tur RUHR id dee )  

Commonly known as the Electric Catfishes. There are now 19 species existing in this African family, 16 from the Malapterurus genus and 3 in the Paradoxoglanis genera. Basically a catfish for the experienced and dedicated keeper who knows how to handle a fish that can discharge up to 350 volts in short bursts.
Mochokidae = ( moh COKE id dee )   

Commonly known as "Synodontis cats" or "upside-down cats" these African catfish are recognised by the local population as "squeakers" owing to the noise they make when lifted out of the water. There are over 150 species in this family and they are noted for their feathered barbels and unique shape which separates them from all other catfish. They make very hardy inmates of an aquarium and the vast majority are peaceful apart from territorial skirmishes.
Nematogenyidae = ( nomato geny id dee )  

Contains only a single genus, Nematogenys, which contains a single species, N. inermis. The genus is endemic to some rivers in Chile. The common name for this species is "Mountain Catfish". Previously in the Trichomycteridae family with Nematogenys as the subfamily name and as such is very rare in the aquatic hobby. There was a fossil which was found and described from the Miocene, continental fluviolacustrine deposits of the upper Cura–Mallín Formation (37–39°S), Chile (Azpelicueta & Rubilar, 1997). This species was named as Nematogenys cuivi.
Pangasiidae = ( pan gas IE id dee )  

A small family commonly known as "iridescent sharks" or "shark cats" due to their shape. They consist of species from South and Southeast Asia. Includes the largest freshwater fish on earth, the "Mekong giant catfish" Pangasiandon gigas. Can get a bit too big for the basic aquarium set-up and can get very nervous if not given enough room. Possess unusually large eyes and has one pair of barbels on the chin and also one pair of maxillary barbels.
Pimelodidae = ( pim meh LOAD id dee )   

This South American family is the largest group of naked-skinned catfishes in the world. The vast majority are predatory catfishes. A few species such as the shovelnoses grow too large for the home aquarium. Distinguished from the Indian/Asian family Bagridae, as having no nasal barbels.
Plotosidae = ( ploh TOE sid dee )

Not a well known catfish family as the majority reside in Australia and New Guinea. Common name for the 30 or so species in this family are the "eel-tailed catfishes" due to the continuation of the caudal and anal fin around the body. The most common species is the marine or "coral cat", Plotosus lineatus, but the vast majority are endemic to freshwater.
Pseudopimelodidae = (seudo pim meh LOAD id dee )   

The sub-family of Pimelodidae, Pseudopimelodinae, is now considered a full family status of Pseudopimelodidae and is of course closely related to the Pimelodidae family. Mostly contains the smaller to medium pims such as the South American Bumblebee, dwarf marbled catfishes and the larger Cephalosilurus species. Relatively easy to keep in the aquarium, can be predatory to the smaller inhabitants, but if tank mates are chosen carefully they will do well.
Schilbeidae = ( SKILL bid dee )  

This family of catfish are in the main, midwater swimmers, and are commonly known as glass catfishes due to some of them having transparent bodies. They can sometimes be confused with the Siluridae family but the Silurids do not possess an adipose fin and their dorsals are usually very small. Quite easy to keep in the aquarium as the vast majority will accept flake food.

Scoloplacidae = ( scol OPLAS idee )  

Commonly known as the "spiny dwarf catfishes". They are known as one of the smallest catfishes to be found and are not common in the hobby due to there very small size and there placement amongst leaf litter in clear and blackwater habitats, including oxbow lakes, backwater pools, and well-vegetated streams.
There are only six species in this genera, Scoloplax baileyi, S. baskini, S. dicra, S. distolothrix, S. dolicholophia, and S. empousa. Scoloplax is the only genus in this family.

Siluridae = ( sy LUHR id dee ) 

This family like the Schilibidae are also called "glass catfishes" or sheath fishes. This is quite a diverse family, from the midwater shoaling Krytopterus to the predatory Wallago and the European wels, Silurus glanis. The difference between the families is quite straightforward, the Silurids do not posses an adipose fin and most of the Shilbids do. The Silurids also have a small notch between the anal and caudal fin whereas the Shilbids have this joined.
Sisoridae = ( sis SORE id dee ) 

This is the largest family of catfishes in Asia with around 100 species known. They are not too well known to aquarists as they are only sporadically exported. The most common being the genus, Gagata, Bagarius and Glyptothorax. Known collectively as "hill stream catfishes" due to many of them being found in fast flowing rivers. The Sisorids vary in body shape and are probably the hardest family for the aquarist to identify.
Trichomycteridae = ( trick oh mick TARE id dee ) 

This South American family are commonly known as Parasitic Cats or by the local indigenous populations as "candiru". Stories abound on the notoriety of this family due to their habit of lodging themselves in the gill cavities of other larger fish and biting the gill filaments, thereby feeding on the blood. There has also been instances where they have entered the human urethra, probably by mistake, of bathers and mammals urinating under water. Not a lot is known of them as aquarium fish and only experiences with them in a larger group could bring further information to the catfish enthusiast.




Identifying your catfish


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