The whiptail catfish is a very peaceful, at time shy and retiring, fish that will do very well in any community tank. There are probably a variety of different closely related fishes that are sold as whiptail cats, but they are all the same in disposition and care. They are available on a fairly regular basis, both imported wild fish from South America, and fish raised commercially in the Far East. In an aquarium they prefer soft acid water, and should be provided with plenty of places to hide. Natural (or natural looking) caves and rock crevices are ideal for them, and if you are not offended by “unnatural” objects in your tanks, pieces of PVC piping are ideal.
Whiptails should be kept in groups of at least five or six fish, and when kept that way they will almost always pair off. A male (males grow spiny/spiky odontodes on the head and pectoral fins) will pick a cave, defend it and clean it vigorously. He will select a female, they will spawn inside his cave, and then the male will guard the eggs, and the fry until they are free swimming. At this point the fry need to have vegetable foods available to them on a constant basis; zucchini, spinach, Romaine lettuce and such need to be in with the babies all the time.
Adults will do fine if they are offered flake foods high in vegetable matter (spirulina disks are ideal), and they should also have fresh veggies available to them on a regular basis. They will pick at algae, but whiptails are not known for their algae cleaning abilities. They make an interesting addition to any community tank, and since they spawn readily they are a good breeding project.-David Lass