January 19

Sarah Robertson

Care Guide for Porthole Catfish (Dianema Longibarbis)

Catfish are popular freshwater fish that have become increasingly popular as pets in recent years. They come in a variety of forms, sizes, and hues, making them ideal for both novice and expert fishkeepers. One of the most popular types of catfish is the Porthole Catfish, which is native to South America.

The porthole catfish, otherwise called Dianema longibarbis, is a tropical freshwater fish from the Callichthyidae family that is native to South America's inland waters. It may be found in Brazil and Peru's Amazon River basin. This unusual catfish has a row of dark marks down its lateral line, which look like "portholes" on a vessel. They have sleek bodies with long-sloping heads and prominent barbels around their mouths.

There are a few things you should know if you want to keep Porthole Catfish. In this care guide, we will go over everything you need to know about this fish species, including their diet, habitat, and tank mates.

A Quick Porthole Catfish Care Table

  • Scientific Name: Dianema longibarbis
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Compatibility: Peaceful
  • Ph: 6.0 - 7.5
  • Temperature: 72-79 deg F
  • Water hardness: 2 - 20 dKH
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Tankmates: Tetras, Rasboras, Danios, and other peaceful fish
  • Breeding: Bubble nest
  • Size: 3.5 inches
  • Life expectancy: 8-10 years

Porthole Catfish Size

Porthole Catfish can reach lengths of up to 3.5 inches in adulthood. The size of your fish will be determined by a variety of criteria, including the quality of care you offer and the quantity of food provided. If you want your fish to reach their full potential, giving them a nutritious diet and a clean living environment is crucial. The size of your fish is also determined by genetics. Some Porthole Catfish are born smaller than others, despite the same parents.

Porthole Catfish Lifespan 

The average lifespan of a Porthole Catfish is 8-10 years. However, if properly looked after, they might live much longer. For this reason, it's important to provide your fish with the best possible care. This includes a clean living environment, a nutritious diet, and regular tank maintenance.

Porthole Catfish Appearance 

Porthole Catfish have a unique appearance that sets them apart from other fish species. They have long, slender bodies with dark markings down their lateral line. These markings resemble "portholes" on a ship, hence their name. Porthole Catfish also have barbels around their mouths, which they use to find food. Their bodies are sleek and streamlined, making them well-suited for life in the water.

Even though they're small, Porthole Catfish are quite striking. These fish usually have dark brown or black coloring, with lighter markings on their sides. The pattern and intensity of the markings vary from fish to fish; some have more prominent markings than others, while some have very faint markings.

Gender Differences 

The easiest way to tell the difference between male and female Porthole Catfish is by their size. Females are typically larger than males, though this difference is usually only noticeable when the fish are fully-grown adults. Females also have rounder bellies than males, due to their higher levels of body fat.

Another way to differentiate between male and female Porthole Catfish is by looking at their pectoral fins. Males have longer and thicker pectoral fins than females, which they use to attract mates.

porthole catfish

Porthole Catfish Behavior 

The Porthole Catfish is sociable and may be kept alone in an aquarium. It is somewhat reclusive and enjoys having hiding places, such as driftwood or pipes, to relax. It will be more outgoing when maintained in a group. Multiple individuals may get caught in the same refuge on occasion. These catfish are not particularly defensive or aggressive, but they will attack anything tiny enough to fit into their mouths, such as small fish, dwarf shrimp, and young fry. It won't harm plants. Porthole Catfish dislike extremely strong water jets, but they enjoy somewhat sluggish to moderate water flow.

Porthole Catfish Tank Setup 

Porthole Catfish require a lot of preparation and equipment in order to thrive. There are several factors to consider while setting up their tank. The following are some pointers:

Tank Size 

The minimum aquarium size for Porthole Catfish is 20 gallons. If you have a lot of fish, though, you'll need a larger tank, such as a 40-gallon. Instead of getting a smaller tank than you require, it is preferable to err on the side of caution and get a bigger one.

There are several advantages to having a bigger tank. One of them is that it makes the water conditions more stable. A larger tank is also simpler to maintain since there is more water volume, which removes any waste or pollutants that may accumulate.

Water Parameters 

Porthole Catfish are very tolerant of different water conditions. They can live in both fresh and salt water, and they can tolerate a wide range of pH levels, from 6.0 to 7.5. The temperature of the water should be between 72-79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Porthole Catfish are also tolerant of different water hardness levels. They can live in soft water (0-6 dGH), medium-hard water (6-12 dGH), or hard water (12-18 dGH).

The best way to ensure that your Porthole Catfish have the ideal water conditions is to use a water testing kit. This will help you keep track of the levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in your tank.

It's also a good idea to use a water conditioner to remove any chlorine or chloramine from your tap water. This will make it safer for your fish to live in.


Porthole Catfish are not very demanding when it comes to filtration. A simple sponge filter will do the trick. Just make sure that the flow rate isn't too strong, as these fish prefer slower-moving water.

If you have a lot of other fish in your tank, you may need to upgrade to a more powerful filter. This will help to keep the water clean and free of debris.

Tank Décor 

Porthole Catfish require a lot of hiding places in their tank. Driftwood, rocks, and pipes may all be used to provide shelter. However, make sure the concealment sites you select are secure for the fish and won't disintegrate in the water. Anything with sharp edges should also be avoided since it might harm the fish.

Plants are also an excellent choice for a Porthole Catfish tank. Java fern, anubias, and hornwort are some of the best plants for your aquarium. Plants have a number of benefits that go beyond simply improving water quality. They help to maintain water quality by removing pollutants from the ecosystem and providing hiding places for fish. Live plants are always preferable, but you may use fake ones if necessary. Just be sure that the plants you choose are safe for aquariums and won't harm the fish.

Another significant component of tank decor is Substrate. Good, smooth gravel is the ideal substrate for a Porthole Catfish tank. This is because the fish like to rummage through the substrate in search of food. Sand can also be used, but it takes more effort to clean than gravel.

Porthole Catfish do not require as much lighting as other fish. They prefer dimmer conditions and will do well in tanks that are only moderately lit. If you have live plants in your tank, though, you'll need to provide them with enough light to photosynthesize. You can use either fluorescent or LED lighting for your aquarium. Just be sure to get a light that is designed for aquariums and won't produce too much heat.

Porthole Catfish Tank Maintenance 

Porthole catfish are rather easy to care for, but there are a few things you should remember to maintain their tank clean. To begin, once a week perform a partial water change of 20-30%. This will keep the water quality high and restore any lost water.

It's also a good idea to vacuum the substrate and clean the filter on a regular basis. This will aid in the removal of any waste or pollutants that may have accumulated in the tank.

When you're adding a new fish to the tank, it's usually a good idea to quarantine them for a few days. This will help prevent any illnesses from spreading throughout the other fish in the tank. It's critical not to disrupt the fish too much while cleaning the tank.

Porthole Catfish Tank Mates 

Porthole Catfish are sociable fish that get along well with others in the tank. They can be kept with a variety of other fish, including both peaceful and semi-aggressive species. Some of the best tank mates for Porthole Catfish include:

  • Mollies
  • Swordtails
  • Rasboras
  • Shrimps
  • Tetras
  • Gouramis
  • Danios
  • Barbs
  • Platies
  • Other invertebrates

These fish species are very peaceful, and will not bother shrimp or other little invertebrates. They will also contribute to the cleanliness of the tank by eating algae. However, there are some fish that should not be kept with Porthole Catfish. Some of them include:

  • Bettas
  • Discus
  • Cichlids
  • Guppies
  • Angelfish
  • Goldfish

These fish are either too aggressive or too small to be kept with Porthole Catfish. They may nip at the fins of these peaceful fish or stress them out. It's best to avoid keeping them in the same tank.

If you want to keep Porthole Catfish with other fish, make sure they're of a similar size. This will help avoid any fighting or bullying between the fish. Make careful to check the fish's behavior carefully to ensure that they are getting along well. If you detect any indications of violence, it is critical to remove the aggressor from the tank immediately.

porthole catfish

Porthole Catfish Diet 

Porthole Catfish are omnivores that will eat both plant and animal flesh. Their diet in the wild consists of small insects, crustaceans, and algae. In captivity, pellets or flakes may be added to their diet. These foods are high in nutrients and will contribute to the health of the fish. Check food labels to see if they're appropriate for Porthole Catfish.

You may also feed your fish live or frozen foods. Brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia are examples of this. Live and frozen foods provide great nutritional variety and will also aid in the preservation of your fish. However, don't offer them live food all the time since it can cause intestinal obstructions. Only feed life food in larger amounts if you want to breed the fish since it will encourage spawning.

Porthole Catfish can be fed spinach, lettuce, and zucchini. These veggies are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, which will aid in the maintenance of the fish. Raw or cooked veggies may be offered, but it is preferable to soften them first by cooking them.

Note: It is critical to feed the fish several times a day, but you should only give them as much food as they can consume in a few minutes. This will prevent the fish from becoming overweight and keep the tank clean. After a few minutes, remove any uneaten food from the tank to avoid it decaying and polluting the water.

Porthole Catfish diseases 

The Porthole Catfish is a tough fish that may succumb to a variety of ailments. The most prevalent diseases afflicting these fish include:

  • Ich: Ich is a disease that affects freshwater fish. As a result of this parasitic infection, white spots will appear on the fish's body. Water quality issues are frequently to blame. To cure ich, your tank's temperature should be raised to 86°F and a salt treatment administered. You'll also need on a daily basis, to vacuum any parasites out of the gravel with a net and clean it with mild water.
  • Fin Rot: suffering from fin rot is not a pleasant experience. It's a bacterial infection that causes the fins to appear to be falling off. If your cory catfish's fins are frayed, it's probable that it has fin rot. Check the quality of the water in your tank to ensure it fulfills standards. When fish become sick because of poor water quality, medicines available over-the-counter are effective. Germs grow in abundance in aquariums, causing illness among your pets. Because over-the-counter medicines work well, treatment for fin Rot is simple.
  • Dropsy: A fish's body may become bloated as a result of poor water quality or parasites. Dropsy is the medical term for this condition. Dropsy occurs when the scales on your fish stick out from its body and it has difficulty swimming. If your fish has dropsy, it will need medication. You'll also want to vacuum the gravel and perform frequent water changes to eliminate any parasite eggs that might be present there.
  • Red Blotch Disease: These species of catfish are susceptible to a variety of illnesses, including Coryndom and Corydrod, but red blotch is the most frequent. This illness causes bleeding sores on a fish's skin. The majority of these crimson ulcers are located on the belly. Ulcers can be clear or clouded with decaying flesh, and they might be visible or hidden. It's conceivable that this sort of sickness spreads at a different pace. Symptoms may appear in weeks, if not months, depending on the situation. This condition bears many similarities to fin rot. If you notice it soon enough, the fish may be saved. If you catch it late, the fish will almost certainly die. Raise the temperature of the water and administer antibiotics as well as change the water frequently to keep your pet fish alive.
  • Gill Flukes: Gill flukes are a type of parasite that attaches to a fish's gills and give it with bad energy. The tentacles of these tiny squid-like creatures bother and inflame the gills. If your fish has gill flukes, it will require parasite treatment. Vacuum the gravel and perform water changes on a regular basis to get rid of any infestations hiding in there.
  • Popeye: Popeye illness is a problem that should be treated with the same seriousness as velvet disease. Popeye sickness has an impact on fish eyes, causing them to appear puffy. A bacterial infection is to blame for PopEye disease. In rare cases, some fish may lose an eye owing to the severe effects of the condition. Popeye sickness can often be reversed in only two weeks with penicillin ointment four times a day for two weeks.


If you believe your fish may be sick, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Listless behavior
  • Hiding more than usual
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Increased mucus production
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Frayed fins
  • Red blotches or ulcers on the skin
  • Bloating

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to take your fish to the vet as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for a successful recovery.


Prevention is always the best medicine. To prevent your fish from getting sick, follow these tips:

  • Keep the water clean and well-maintained
  • Perform regular water changes
  • Vacuum the gravel regularly
  • Don't overcrowd your tank
  • Quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank
  • Avoid overfeeding
  • Provide a varied diet
  • Don't add fish to the tank if they are sick
porthole catfish


If your fish does become sick, there are a variety of treatment options available. Treatment will depend on the specific condition your fish is suffering from.

  • Water Changes: One of the best things you can do for a sick fish is to perform regular water changes. This will help to keep the water clean and free of toxins.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics can be administered in the form of pills, powder, or liquid.
  • Fungicides: Fungal infections can be treated with a variety of different fungicides. The most common is malachite green.
  • Parasiticides: If your fish is infested with parasites, there are a variety of parasiticides available to treat the problem. The most common is formalin.

Whatever the case, seeing a specialist that is experienced with fish is always a good idea. They'll be able to offer you the greatest advice based on your pet's circumstances.

Porthole Catfish Breeding 

Porthole catfish are very challenging to breed. They build bubble nests and require soft, acidic water and floating plants as well as a specialized diet.

When selecting a breeding pair of porthole catfish, it is important to choose fish that are of similar size and shape. The female should be slightly larger than the male. It is also important to choose fish that are healthy and free of any disease or parasites.

Conditioning the breeding pair is important to ensure successful spawning. This can be done by providing them with a high-quality diet and keeping the water clean and well-maintained. The water temperature should also be increased to around 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

A calm atmosphere should be established within the aquarium that does not show surface agitation. This is most likely to be where the male will construct his bubble nest. Following a chilly partial water change, he will build this nest at the water's surface and fasten it to floating plants.

If the female agrees to mate with him, the male pursues her and they swim up to the bubble nest, where they assume the T-pose. The female deposits her sticky eggs in the nest, which is fertilized by the male. This process is repeated until the female runs out of eggs. The number of eggs produced will be determined by the lady's size; however, expect around 150. A big woman may produce 500 or more eggs.

After the male has fertilized the eggs, he immediately starts defending the nest against predators with great energy. For her own safety, the female must be removed at this point as the male Porthole Catfishs have been witnessed to kill their spouse while exposing their eggs. After 72-96 hours, the male will make any necessary repairs to the nest, collecting any fallen eggs that are likely to develop after this time. It's a good idea to capture the male and transfer him to another tank once the eggs hatch since he may begin to prey on the fry. The yolk sacs of the Porthole Catfish will supply nourishment for the first 24 hours, but after that, tiny foods like microworms should be fed to them. By the fifth day, they should be able to consume brine shrimp nauplii. As they mature, you may offer them earthworms and bloodworms as snacks.

Frequent Questions 

How big do Porthole Catfish get? 

Porthole Catfish can grow to be about 3.5 inches long. However, in order to achieve this length, they need to be in optimal conditions with plenty of food and clean water.

How do you breed a Porthole Catfish? 

Porthole Catfish are difficult to breed and are not recommended for beginners. They require soft, acidic water and floating plants as well as a specialized diet. The male builds a bubble nest in which the female lays her eggs in. The male then fertilizes the eggs and protects the nest until they hatch.

How many babies do Porthole Catfish have? 

Porthole Catfish can have anywhere from 150-500 babies at a time. The number of eggs produced will be determined by the size of the female.

How often should I feed my Porthole Catfish? 

Porthole Catfish should be fed 2-3 times a day. They are not grazers and prefer to have their meals at fixed times.

What do Porthole Catfish eat? 

In the wild, Porthole Catfish eat a variety of small invertebrates. In captivity, they should be fed a diet of live foods such as brine shrimp, earthworms, and bloodworms. As they mature, they can also eat pellets and flakes.

How do I know if my Porthole Catfish is happy? 

Porthole Catfish are a peaceful species and get along well with other fish. They are active swimmers and prefer to be in school. They should be kept in an aquarium with plenty of hiding places. A happy Porthole Catfish will have a healthy appetite and will be active.

How do I care for a Porthole Catfish? 

Porthole Catfish are relatively easy to care for as long as their water is clean and well-maintained. They prefer soft, acidic water and should be kept in an aquarium with plenty of hiding places. They are a peaceful species and do well in schools. They should be fed 2-3 times a day with a diet of live foods. As they mature, they can also eat pellets and flakes.

What are the benefits of having a Porthole Catfish? 

Porthole Catfish are a peaceful species that do well in schools. They are active swimmers and help to keep the aquarium clean. They are also relatively easy to care for as long as their water is clean and well-maintained.


Porthole Catfish are a peaceful species of catfish that originate from South America. They get their name from the porthole-shaped markings on their bodies. They are relatively easy to care for as long as their water is clean and well-maintained. These are very peaceful schooling fish that do best in groups and make an excellent addition to any community aquarium. They will help keep the aquarium clean and are an active swimmer. Porthole Catfish prefer to be in soft, acidic water and should be fed 2-3 times a day with a diet of live foods. They have a lifespan of 5-8 years. However, if you are looking to breed Porthole Catfish, they are difficult to breed and are not recommended for beginners. They require special care and conditions in order to successfully breed. Overall, the Porthole Catfish is a great fish for both beginner and experienced aquarists alike!

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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