1.) Have an Established Aquarium Running
Make sure that your fish aquarium is effectively running and keeping fish alive over time. Catfish are usually super hardy but it’s still a good idea to make sure your setup is ready for new fish.
2.) Feed Them the Proper Food
Buy some good algae wafers for your catfish. A lot of brands are full of “fillers” and.. just crap. Buy a reputable brand that your fish will love (maybe a couple dollars more). I personally recommend the “Omega One” brand. Here is an Amazon link – image.
3.) They Need Hiding Spots
Most catfish are going to need dark hiding spots. Small tunnels or caves work tremendously well. Amazon.com sells actual caves designed for aquarium catfish (image/link below). Or I’ve seen some people use small pieces of black pipe in their aquariums. The fish just needs to hide because they are nocturnal and get insecure without hiding spots. Here is an example of a hiding cave from Amazon.com
4.) Some Needed Protein
These fish get the nickname “garbage disposals” for a reason.. BECAUSE they eat literally everything. They are omnivores and that means they also need some meat or protein from time to time. Here are some ideas.. if you have a fish that has died and sank to the bottom.. let the catfish eat on that for a while. OR.. at night drop some “cichlid pellets” that sink to the bottom for them. They are nocturnal so do it at night so the other fish don’t eat all of them. Don’t go overboard with this.. but just some protein from time to time.
5.) Catfish vs. Catfish
I advise to only keep one pleco per aquarium but some do get along quite well. Some of them will fight to the death though! Just be careful to watch and make sure your catfish aren’t fighting.
6.) Regular Light Schedule
Some aquarium keepers keep their lights on 24-7 all the time (this is unhealthy by the way). Catfish need a regular lighting schedule because they are nocturnal and when its dark is when they come out to feed and move around. Buy a light timer and try to replicate a REAL light schedule that your fish can get used. Replicate what a natural habitat would be for when the sun rises and when it sets.
7.) Don’t Forget About Them!
It’s super easy to forget that bottom feeder is just sleeping somewhere in your tank. I personally go weeks without seeing some of my catfish because they hide all day and only come out at night time. Don’t forget to drop that food in at night when the lights are off. It seems like somewhat of a stupid thing.. but it’s very common to have happen.