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Book Excerpt: Catfishes

by TFH Magazine on October 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Lee Finely

Catfish enjoy a spotlight of their own in the aquarium hobby, famous for being a tank’s clean-up crew. There are hundreds of species regularly sold in pet stores and more varieites become available every day. The sheer number of catfish and their different requirements can seem daunting—interested fish keepers need a reliable source of guidance on these hard-working and often personable fish.

Aquarium Success: Catfishes gathers all the information an aquarist needs in one easy-to-read, completely illustrated book. Whether the huge amount of data on new catfishes has you feeling lost or you are just starting to get interested in them and want to learn more, this book is just what you need.

About the Author:

Lee Finley has been an aquarium hobbyist/professional for over 40 years. As an integral part of this, Lee has regularly written on various aquarial topics over the past 30 years and has over 335 published articles to his credit. Among these writings are included almost 12 years of a monthly book review column and almost nine years of a monthly catfish column in Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine.
Lee has enjoyed the pleasures of many different fishes over the years and many of his early experiences were predominately with cichlids. From there he moved on to catfishes and this fascinating group has kept him interested and challenged for the past 28 or so years. This interest has prompted some travel, and Lee has made four trips to South America (Brazil and Peru) to observe and catch catfishes in their natural habitat.
Lee has been involved in many other aspects of the aquarium hobby/industry. In the past he was owner/operator of an independent pet store. For the last 10 years, Lee has run a predominately mail order book business (Finley Aquatic Books) dealing in both new and used literature encompassing all aspects of the aquarium hobby and aquatic natural history.

Excerpt from Chapter 2: Foods and Feeding

On Feeding Catfishes

Once they’re settled into a given aquarium, most catfishes will not be shy when fed. But there are certain factors that you must keep in mind. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, the feeding styles of their tankmates (catfish and noncatfish) and the feeding styles, and levels of gregariousness, of the individual catfishes.

Try Several Small Meals

In general principle I don’t subscribe to any particular formula for how much food to offer at a particular feeding. This belief leaves out the various grazing catfishes who can be provided with vegetal foods (live algae, real vegetables) to eat constantly. For other catfishes, I prefer to feed a number of smaller meals throughout the day and evening. Your life schedule will have an effect on this, but ideally if you can feed two to four smaller meals a day it will be a much more natural way of eating for your catfishes. This even goes for the more predatory types that might be receiving some small live fishes.

Mix Things Up

When I feed I also like to mix up foods a bit instead of just using one food item. For example, if you’re using a flake food, which tends to sink slowly, you might also offer some commercial granules, pellets, or discs, which will sink faster. This will help to assure that catfishes feeding at the top, middle, and bottom of the tank will get their fair share of food.

I also like to use this technique when offering meaty foods. I will mix frozen brine shrimp and bloodworms and offer these together. This helps make a healthier meal. I also will mix in a bit of flakes too.

Targeted Feedings

If you have some shy catfishes who don’t respond well to feeding times during the day you might try some targeted feeding. Some of the catfishes that often tend to be slower or a bit shy (banjo cats come to mind) may not easily come out of their hiding places. If you have an idea where the shy catfishes are hiding you can deliver whatever foods you’re using directly to them with the use of a small food baster or one of the larger baby animal feeding droppers that are available.

While a great majority of catfishes are generally thought of as nocturnal, this isn’t the whole story. There are definitely some that are more light-shy than others and this needs to be considered when feeding. Consequently, it’s a good idea to do at least one feeding at night after the lights in the aquarium have been out for a while. In a more general community situation most of the fishes will respond to the dark by hiding away and/or sleeping. This will allow the catfishes, especially those that might be more shy, to come out and eat.

Observe Your Catfishes

There are no hard and set rules on how and when to feed your catfishes. Although they are a highly diverse group, many will easily fall into whatever feeding schedule you set up. But there are always going to be a few that may not readily fit into such a plan. Observe your catfishes closely and see what they like to eat and when they like to eat it. A little observation can go a long way in guaranteeing a healthy and well-fed catfish.

Excerpted from Catfishes: The Complete Guide to the Successful Care and Breeding of More Than 100 Catfish Species by Lee Finely © T.F.H.  Publications. Used by permission.

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Posted in Aquatic Books by TFH Magazine on October 19th, 2011 at 12:07 pm.

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