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Catfish in a Ten Gallon Fish Tank

Updated on June 20, 2013

The choice of a bottom fish really depends on what you are planning to keep in the tank, not necessarily in fish alone, but in live plants as well. If there are no plants planned, chances of bringing in snails is minimal, so that problem is not a factor for consideration. For my most recent aquarium set-up, the Fluval Edge, which holds 6 gallons, I added a Botia lohachata.

The tank is well planted and snails were a good possibility. As a matter of fact, I found an empty snail shell floating under the top glass very soon after I added the fish! I tend to use either Botia striatus or Botia lohachata nowadays. They do fine in my high pH water and are not that common looking. The Botia Striatus I have kept for the longest, and they are invariably shy. It may be the tank they are in, which is the largest of my small community aquariums. Or, the fact that they found a great hiding place and prefer not to leave it except when they are hungry.

I have the Botia lohachata in two different tanks. One is in the Fluval Edge (a separate Hubpage on its set-up is here- ) and the other a classic ten gallon with two individuals as well as a pair of South Amercian Appistogramma aggasiz Cichlids. Thisis a heavily planted aquarium. In each, the Botia Lohochata are much more active. In the ten gallon tank, the two there feed even feed from the top!

If the pH is high, I also tend to include a Plecostomus, but be careful, they do not do well in acid water. When kept in high pH, one will help control algae formation in almost any tank. Right now one is doing quite well in the Tropiquarium where it was placed after the biological filter matured. The tank has quite number of African Cichlids and it is doing quite well in spite of hese agressive tank mates

If the tank is new, and everything was recently purchased, chances are you don't actually need to put in a catfish just yet. Let the tank begin to add some wastes as the tank matures for the first six to eight weeks. Only after the Nitrogen Cycle has been started and matured would I normally consider adding bottomfish of any kind. The tank doesn't need the added fish load, and the filter is so clean it should be able to handle the wastes while everything settles and gets into balance.

Bottomfish for the ten gallon aquarium

Plecostomus is a great all round bottomfish - in alkaline pH
Plecostomus is a great all round bottomfish - in alkaline pH
Corydoras - Armoured catfish is a dwarf catfish great for most smaller communities
Corydoras - Armoured catfish is a dwarf catfish great for most smaller communities
Corydoras - Mottled Armoured catfish
Corydoras - Mottled Armoured catfish
Corydoras - Mottled Armoured catfish from a different angle
Corydoras - Mottled Armoured catfish from a different angle
Botia Lohochata - great fish for small aquariums
Botia Lohochata - great fish for small aquariums
Botia Lohochata from a different side
Botia Lohochata from a different side

For most common community aquariums, I use one of the various Corydoras sp. armoured catfish as the bottom feeder of choice. Thereis a huge variety of choices in these drwf catfish that wil make oneo fthem the perfect complewment to a smaller aquarium community. You can pick between solids, stripes, blotches, albino and a lot of other possibilities. These are scaleless catfish. If you should have a problem with Ich or other diseases and need to treat, read the directions on any medication very carefully. Remember that they are quite vulnerable to many of the medications typically used to kill many parasites. Generally half doses are the maximum with these fish in a tank - ut always follow the written directions to be safe.

One of the main problems new aquarists face is the presence of algae. I have kept fish for forty years or so, and I have grown quite used to seeing it in the tank and accept it as natural. Many people don't. They try to use a bottomfish to eliminate it. As mentioned, the variuous Plecostomus types are the very best of these. They are so ugly; they are interesting. Personally I enjoy them immensely. The problem is that many areas use the water in the acid range, and this is deadly to alkaline loving Plecostomus. When placed in acid water they often turn white and die, so be careful and only use them in know alkaline pH.

One of the natural ways to remove algae is to ask a bottomfish, like the Plecostomus to eat it as part of his diet. This by no means a thorough way to eliminate the growths, but it can help keep the growths in check. Chinese Algae Eaters (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri), the Siamese Flying Fox (Crossochelius siamensis) and the more common Flying Fox (Epalseorhynchos kallopterus) are also used to help try to control the algae. I prefer either of the flying foxes which seem to prefer to eat algae most of the time.

The Siamese Flying fox is known to be a better algae eater – especially when this fish is kept in small schools. The Chinese Algae Eater will eat some algae when it is quite young, but often turns aggressive towards other swimming inhabitants and will try to eat the protective slime coating off their sides as a free meal, preferring to be lazy rather than work on algae as meal.


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    • blueram85 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Montreal

      I agree with all that you say, the pleco was in a 35 gallon tank - an old Tropiquarium, and he is still there, but about 10 inches now. The other fish you mention are fine for a 10 gallon tank, but I was writing about the fish I actually was keeping, and those are pictures from my personal tanks. I still have some of them in their original tanks and they have been quite good. Otocinclus is a good algae eater and useful in a smaller tank. I couldn't cover all the fish that are good for small tanks, but you can find a lot more information on my facebook page at and the information site at

    • Ardot profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      Great article... I always thought plecos were not ideal for a 10 gallon because they grew to big.

      I am also puzzled as to why there is no mention of the otocinclus or the drawf suckermouth catfish. It grows to an average of 2" and you can keep like 5 of them in a 10 gallon. Really cute and gentle fish to!

    • profile image

      Bob Loggan 

      8 years ago

      Fish farming is as important as crop farming and many must be encouraged to consider farming fish. I am hoping people of likeminds will team up to promote small and large scale fish farming. God Bless us do this.

    • blueram85 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Montreal

      Thanks for the good words. Have been working on an aquarium video site, so in case you want to see categorized videos on all things aquatic, take a look at

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Catfish in a Ten Gallon Fish Tank?!aounds good.

      A great read!, nice aquarist blog, i will return and also recommend it. good luck


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