September 30

Sarah Robertson

Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Twig Catfish Healthy

Catfish are a very popular type of aquarium fish. They come in many shapes and sizes, and each has its own unique personality. One of the most popular types of catfish is the Twig Catfish. Many aquarists favor these beautiful fish for their peaceful nature and attractive appearance.

Twig Catfish have thin, flexible bodies that are comparable to a twig. This serves as excellent concealment in conjunction with their lack of activity, allowing them to escape predators. If you are thinking about adding a Twig Catfish to your community aquarium, there are a few things you need to know about their care. In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about caring for Twig Catfish, including their diet, habitat, and tank mates.

A Quick Twig Catfish Care Table

  • Scientific Name: Farlowella acus
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Compatibility: Peaceful
  • Ph: 6.8 - 7.5
  • Temperature: 75° - 80° F
  • Water hardness: 3 - 15 dKH
  • Minimum Tank Size: 35-40 Galloons
  • Tankmates: Corydoras, Danios, Barbs, Rainbowfish, Mollies, Platies, Swordtails, Tetras
  • Breeding: On aquarium walls
  • Size: 5-8 Inches
  • Life expectancy: 8-10 years

Twig Catfish Origin

Twig Catfish are found in Lake Valencia and the Toretto river basins. They are also found in the Orinoco River basin.

They are a relatively new species to the aquarium trade, having only been exported from their native Venezuela since the early 1990s.

Twig Catfish Size

The Twig Catfish is a little to medium-sized fish. They can reach up to 5-8 inches in length in the wild, but most will only grow to a maximum size of 7 inches in captivity. However, if you provide them with adequate water quality and a nutritious diet, they have the capacity to get even bigger.

Twig Catfish Life expectancy

The average lifespan of a Twig catfish is 10 years, although some have been known to live up to 12 years in captivity. Providing a clean and well-maintained habitat for your Twig catfish is crucial to their long and happy life. A healthy, balanced diet also helps them achieve their full potential.

They mature sexually at the age of 1 to 2 years.

Twig Catfish Behavior 

The Twig Catfish is a peaceful bottom-dwelling fish that rarely makes its tankmates uncomfortable. It's best to keep calm, midwater fish with this gorgeous fish in order to avoid competition for food at the lower levels.

The Twig is a sluggish fish that stays in one location for long periods of time. They are also afraid and try to avoid fights over food with other types of fish. A small flock (between 3 and 5 individuals) should be maintained, while the number of females should be greater. They will spend the majority of their time on the tank floor or hiding in caves.

The Twig Catfish is a nocturnal fish that becomes active at night. They are not very active during the day, so don't expect to see them much.

Adult males may become aggressive during the spawning cycle and target rivals or perceived competitors in the tank. They can't, however, really harm anybody; they're simply a little forceful and chase away other males. After the spawning cycle is finished, this behavior generally disappears, and they return to being calm and passive.

Twig Catfish Appearance

Twig Catfish Appearance

The Twig Catfish is named for its thin and long appearance, which is similar to that of a twig. This serves as an excellent disguise in conjunction with their immobility, allowing them to escape predators. The body has two dark stripes that run from the rostrum to the tail on each side. Some fish have stripes that break up into speckles.

These fish has armored body and they lack pigment aids in their camouflage. The body is covered in small, sharp scales that give it a tough texture.

The eyes of this long body are positioned just behind the front of the rostrum. Because these fish don't require fast or intensive swimming, they have modest fins. The tail fin is lyre-shaped, with distinct top and bottom sections.

Gender Differences

It should not be difficult to determine the sex of your fish. Males are bigger and have a wider snout than females. When a male is about to mate, his snout will develop odontodes (teeth on the surface). The females usually don't show these unless they are in spawning condition.

Twig Catfish Tank Setup

It's simple to construct a tank for your Twig Catfish. These fish are adaptable to a wide range of water conditions, making them ideal for beginner aquarists. However, they still require a few specific things to stay healthy and thrive.

Tank Size 

The Twig Catfish (Rineloricaria spp.) can be kept alone, in pairs, or in groups. If you are planning to keep them in a group, then a tank of at least 35 gallons is necessary. If you want to keep them in pairs, a tank of at least 30 gallons will suffice.

However, the larger the tank, the better. A larger tank will provide more hiding places and make it easier to maintain water quality.

Twig Catfish Tank Water Parameters

Twigs are usually tough. They want soft water with a carbonate hardness of 3 to 15 degrees. Twigs enjoy an acidic pH, but they can survive in neutral to weakly basic water. Keep the fish in water with a pH of 6.8 to 7.5. The water temperature should be between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

This fish can live in a cold water tank, but it is not recommended. A change in temperature can cause fish stress, which can lead to disease.

Tank Décor

Decorating a tank for your Twig Catfish is simple. These fish are not fussy and will do well in a variety of tanks.

The first thing you need to do is choose the right size tank. As we mentioned before, a 35-gallon tank is the minimum size for a group of Twig Catfish. If you are only keeping a pair of fish, then a 30-gallon tank will suffice.

The next thing you need to do is choose the right substrate. A soft, sandy substrate is best for these fish. They like to dig, and a hard substrate can damage their delicate fins. Do not use sharp substrate, such as gravel, as this can also damage their fins.

After you have chosen the right substrate, you need to add some hiding spots. These fish species also like a lot of hiding places. Driftwood, rocks, and plants all make good hiding places for Twig Catfish. Be sure to leave plenty of open space for the fish to swim. When selecting the driftwood and rocks it is very important to make sure that they are not sharp. A sharp object can easily damage the fish's fins.

Plants are not a necessity, but they do help to create a natural environment for your fish. Twig Catfish prefer low-light plants such as Java Ferns and Anubias. These plants will also help to keep the water quality high by absorbing nutrients and providing oxygen. Do some research to find plants that are compatible with the water parameters of your tank. If you don't want to use live plants, you can also use plastic plants.


Note: Always make sure to clean the decorative items before adding them to the tank. You can do this by boiling them in water for 10 minutes or by soaking them in a bleach solution.


Twig Catfish are a nocturnal species, so they don't need intense lighting. A low-light setup is best for these fish. If you are using live plants, then you will need to provide some additional lighting for the plants to photosynthesize.

If you are not using live plants, then you can get away with using a low-wattage fluorescent bulb. This will provide enough light for the fish to see and for you to see them. It will also help to prevent algae growth.

If you are using live plants, then you will need to provide a little more light. A moderate-wattage fluorescent bulb will provide enough light for the plants and for you to see the fish.


Because Twig Catfish are a bottom-dwelling species, they produce a lot of waste. A good filtration system is a necessity for these fish as poor water conditions may lead to various health problems. A canister filter is ideal, but a hang-on-back filter will also work. Be sure to choose a filter that is appropriate for the size of your tank. Make sure to clean the filter regularly to prevent the build-up of toxins in the water.

Aquarium Heater

An aquarium heater is not a necessity for these peaceful fishes, but it is recommended. A heater will help to keep the water temperature stable, which will reduce stress on the fish. It is best to choose a heater that is appropriate for the size of your tank.

Cleaning Your Twig Catfish Tank 

It's critical to keep your Twig Catfish's tank clean and healthy. Every 2-4 weeks, do a partial water change of 25% to help remove any pollutants that have accumulated in the water as well as replenish any nutrients that may have been lost.

You should vacuum the substrate and clean any decorations that are in the tank, in addition to doing standard water changes. This will aid in the removal of algae or other build-ups that may have accumulated over time.

Live plants in your aquarium should also be trimmed on a regular basis. This will assist to keep the plants healthy and prevent them from taking over the tank.

Twig Catfish Tank Mates

Twig Catfish is a  very active fish that can live in a variety of tankmates. Twig Catfish may be kept with a variety of tankmates, including:

  • Corydoras
  • Danios
  • Barbs
  • Rainbowfish
  • Mollies
  • Platies
  • Swordtails
  • Tetras

It's always best to avoid keeping Twig Catfish with larger fish, as they may become intimidated and hide. Larger fish may also view Twig Catfish as food. When choosing tankmates for your Twig Catfish, be sure to research the compatibility of the other fish to ensure that they will be a good fit for your tank. Do not keep them with any aggressive fish as well.

The following fish should not be kept with Twig Catfish in an aquarium:

  • Bettas
  • Gourami
  • Angelfish
  • Oscars
  • Cichlids

Also, avoid any fish that are too tiny since Twig Catfish may mistake them for food.

Twig Catfish Diet

Twig Catfish Diet 

These species of Catfish are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods. In the wild, they eat small insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. In captivity, they should be offered a varied diet that includes both meaty and vegetable-based foods.

Some good food options for Twig Catfish include:

  • Pellets: There are a variety of aquarium pellets that are available for bottom-dwelling fish. These pellets sink to the bottom of the tank, making them ideal for Twig Catfish. These pellets are usually complete and balanced, so they make a good staple diet for your fish.
  • Tablets: There are also tablets available that sink to the bottom of the tank. These tablets usually contain a mix of meaty and vegetable-based ingredients. Tablets can be offered as a supplement to pellets or as an occasional treat.
  • Flakes: Flakes can be offered as an occasional treat, but they are not the best option for Twig Catfish since they tend to float at the top of the tank. If you do offer flakes, be sure to crush them before adding them to the tank so that your fish can easily eat them.
  • Algae wafers: Algae wafers are a good source of vegetable-based nutrients for your Twig Catfish. These wafers sink to the bottom of the tank, making them easy for your fish to eat.
  • Vegetarian diet: Vegetable matter such as zucchini, cucumber, and peas are also a good food choice for Twig Catfish. Be sure to chop or puree the vegetables into small pieces so that the fish can easily eat them.

Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Twig Catfish

There are also some foods that you should avoid feeding these species of fish. These foods include:

  • Meat that is high in fat: Fatty meats such as pork or beef can cause health problems for fish.
  • Spoiled food: Spoiled food can also contain harmful bacteria that can make your fish sick.
  • Fish that are high in mercury: Fish such as tuna or swordfish can contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to your fish.

Tips for Feeding Twig Catfish 

When feeding Twig Catfish, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Offer a variety of foods to ensure that your fish are getting all the nutrients they need.
  • Feed small meals several times a day rather than one large meal.
  • Remove any uneaten food from the tank to prevent it from decaying and polluting the water.

Twig Catfish Diseases 

The Twig Catfish is a hardy fish that is not susceptible to many illnesses. However, they can be affected by a few diseases, including:

  • Ich: Ich is a disease that affects both freshwater and saltwater fish. Ich develops when a parasite attaches itself to the fish's body, causing white spots to appear. Symptoms of ich include lethargy, loss of appetite, and white spots on the fish's body. Ich can be treated with medication, but it is best to prevent the disease by keeping your tank clean and maintaining proper water quality.
  • Hole in the Head Disease: A hole in the head disease, also known as piebaldism (pleco), is a condition that can afflict plecos. The precise cause of the hole in the head disease is unknown, although it is thought to be caused by a mix of poor water quality and bad food. White patches on the body and head are signs of a hole in the head disease. This disease can be treated with medication, but it is best to prevent it by maintaining proper water quality and feeding a good quality diet.
  • Skin Flukes: Skin flukes are parasites that burrow into the skin of fish and cause itching and redness. If left untreated, skin flukes can be deadly. Quarantine new fish for a week before adding them to your tank to avoid skin flukes. If you discover any irritation or inflammation on your fish, the entire tank should be treated with a commercial skin fluke treatment. Twig Catfish are sturdy fish that can survive in a variety of conditions. There are certain diseases that they may get. The easiest method to avoid these problems is to keep excellent water quality and quarantine new creatures before putting them in with your existing fish.
  • Velvet disease: Velvet illness is a serious disease that can affect both fresh and saltwater fish. Velvet disease is caused by a parasite that adheres to the fish's body, causing white spots to appear. If left untreated, velvet disease has the potential to be fatal. To prevent velvet illness, maintain a clean tank and quarantine new fish before adding them to your aquarium.
  • Fin rot: Fish fin rot is a frequent disease that can affect both freshwater and saltwater fish. Bacteria that enter the circulation through open wounds are responsible for fin rot. Fin rot may be deadly if it is not treated promptly. Maintaining good water quality, as well as the isolation of new fish before adding them to your tank, is the greatest method to stop fin rot.
  • Dropsy: Dropsy, which refers to the condition of a fish that has accumulated too much fluid in its body, can affect both freshwater and saltwater species. Dropsy is an illness brought on by bacterial infections that enter the circulation via open wounds. Dropsy may be deadly if left untreated. Signs of dropsy include swelling of the abdomen, protruding eyes, and raised scales. The most popular options for treating dropsy are prescription drugs like antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pills.

Preventing Disease in Twig Catfish

It's always preferable to prevent disease in fish than to treat it, and this is especially true when it comes to fish health. The following are some suggestions for keeping your fish healthy:

  • You should keep the water clean as long as you can. This is the most essential thing you can do to avoid disease in your fish. Regular water changes and filtration will go a long way toward keeping your aquarium clean and healthy.
  • Quarantine new fish. It's critical to quarantine new fish for at least two weeks before adding them to your aquarium. This will aid in the assurance that they are healthy and disease-free.
  • Feed a balance of meals to your fish. A nutritious diet is an essential component in keeping your fish healthy. Make sure you feed your fish a variety of fresh, frozen foods, and live foods.
  • Keep your tank clean. A clean aquarium is a healthy one. Check your tank on a regular basis to make sure there are no uneaten meals or waste.
  • Overfeeding your fish might be harmful. Overfeeding can cause toxins to accumulate in the water, which may stress your fish and make them more prone to disease.
  • Keep an eye on your fish for symptoms of illness. The sooner you notice a problem, the better. Check your fish on a regular basis for any indications of sickness.


If you detect that your fish is ill, it is critical to act quickly. The sooner you begin treatment, the better the chances of a successful recovery for your fish. The following are some of the most common therapies for fish ailments:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are frequently used to cure fish illnesses caused by bacteria. They may be administered via the water or given parenterally.
  • Antifungals: Antifungals are used to cure fungal infections in fish. They may be given via water or added to the diet.
  • Copper: Velvet disease is treated with copper. It's critical to use copper sulfate, which is the only kind of copper that can be used in freshwater aquariums. Copper sulfate may be added to the water or given to the fish via a needle.
  • Prescription medications: There are a number of prescription drugs that can be used to combat fish illnesses. Antibiotics, antifungals, and anti-inflammatory medicines are examples of such medications.
  • Home remedies: There are a number of homeowner treatments for fish diseases. Adding salt to the water, using vinegar or lemon juice, and garlic in the diet are all options.
Twig Catfish Breeding

Twig Catfish Breeding

The Twig Catfish has been grown in home aquariums, but it is difficult to accomplish. It is, however, possible to breed the Twig Catfish if you are willing to try.

Follow these guidelines to successfully breed this fish:

  • Select a Pair of Healthy Fish: The first step is to choose a pair of healthy fish. You'll have the best probability of success if you select a pair that has all of these qualities. When looking for a pair, look for physical features that will help you decide whether or not they're compatible. Both fish should have nearly identical body shapes and sizes. The fins should be intact, and there should be no visible signs of disease.
  • Condition the Twig Catfish: When you first get a pair of fish, you must condition them for breeding. This entails feeding the fish a high-quality diet that includes live and frozen items. Bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia are all excellent options. The female should begin to fill up after a few weeks on this food, which indicates she is ready to spawn.
  • Introduce the Breeding Aquarium to the Twig Catfish: Twigs may be kept in a 20-gallon aquarium, which is big enough to breed them. It should be well-decorated with gravel substrate, foliage, and driftwood. Many possibilities for concealment should exist. Because these fish originate from regions with a lot of oxygen, a box filter is necessary to maintain the water quality high. The optimum water temperature is 25-27°C. The pH should be 6.8-7.2, and the hardness should be 10-20 dGH. In addition to this, you may give your Twigs a tube. Breeding Twigs have frequently been observed nesting in bamboo tubes. The tube should be 15-18 cm long with a diameter of 3-5 cm.
  • Place the Twig Catfish in the Aquarium: Once the aquarium is complete, you may add your fish. It's preferable to put them in the aquarium at night when they can get used to their new environment without being stressed.
  • Get the Twig Catfish Mating: You'll have to breed the Plecos after you've installed the tank. The easiest approach is to put the male first and observe him for a day or two. Then, add the female fish, and they may begin mating. The process of spawning might take several hours, but there will be little movement. However, if they aren't ready to mate, there are a few things you can try to entice them into doing so. To make the plecos feel more at ease, lower the water level in the aquarium. You may also add additional driftwood or live plants to the tank to assist with lowering pH levels. Finally, only use a dim light so the fish feel secure.
  • Spawning: The male must first build a safe haven in the tank before the female is ready to mate with him. Mating can last anything from 30 minutes to several hours. They like to lay their eggs on bamboo tubes or aquarium glass. In certain circumstances, some males may fertilize eggs from numerous females at once. The female's size and age will determine how many eggs she can produce in small clusters, ranging from 30 to 150. The male must now chase the female and any other fish away so that he may keep watch over the eggs until they hatch successfully, generally about a week later. Fanning helps to keep the eggs oxygenated and free of debris.
  • Hatching and Rearing the Twig Catfish Fry: The fry are tiny when they emerge, measuring only 2 to 3 mm. They must be fed baby brine shrimp or daphnia, which are tiny live foods. It's better to maintain them in a separate tank so that their parents or other fish don't eat them. The youngsters will develop quickly, and after a month they'll be approximately 1.25" long. They can be moved to a community tank at this point.

Note: If you detect fungus on certain eggs, remove them as soon as possible to minimize the spread of illness.

Twig Catfish's eggs are very delicate, and only a few will survive to adulthood. However, if you provide the fry with good care, you can expect a reasonably good success rate.


Twig Catfish are a fascinating species of freshwater fish that make great additions to many aquariums. They are easy to care for and are peaceful towards other tank mates. They have beautiful patterns and markings that are sure to please any aquarist.

Twig Catfish are very shy fish, so it is important to provide them with plenty of hiding places in the aquarium. When it comes to choosing the right pleco for your tank, there are a few things you need to take into account. The size of your aquarium, the other fish that are living in the tank, and your pleco's personality are all critical factors to consider.

These fish species are easy to breed and make great parents. The fry is very delicate, so be sure to provide them with the best care possible. With a little patience and effort, you can successfully rear these beautiful fish. So, what are you waiting for? Go out and get yourself some Twig Catfish today!

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

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter