Nature has given us so many choices as pets. Every category of animals has a sub category and so on. People can go on and on with the list. Sometimes it even surprises us with a two in one package. Like what if you like a cat but can keep a fish as a pet? There are family and parents who don’t like the chaos and mess a pet can create. Hence, it becomes difficult to convince them keeping a pet. At such times, you need to gamble your wish list and satisfy both – your parents and yourself. Yeah you heard it right, you can do so!
There is a certain pet that let you enjoy the traits of both a fish as well as a cat – the Catfishes. Well, the name itself suggests the prior explanation. Catfishes are a distinct type of ray-finned fishes. They are called so because of their striking features like the barbells, which resemble much like a cat’s whiskers. They come in various sizes and shapes, right from the largest being the Mekong giant fish to the tiniest being a tiny parasitic species known as the Candiru. Catfishes are of great commercial importance. Many are shipped for flesh and smaller fishes are of aquarium importance value.
Catfishes are generally found in freshwaters; however there are some species that may inhabit shallow, flowing water. These are mostly seen in every continent except Antarctica. Their most diverse species are encountered in Asia, Africa and South America. Catfishes are designed in way that they generally sink instead of float, unlike other fishes. The main reason for this is their condensed gas bladder and a heavy, skeletal head.
The most nurtured catfish as a pet is the ‘Bullhead Catfish’. These fishes have a very peculiar way of living that keeps you entertained throughout the period of petting. Following are the steps involved in petting a catfish:
- THE SIZE: It is very important to decide how big your bullhead is going to be. Because that decides the size of the tank and other corresponding apparatus. Every inch of a bullhead requires 5 gallons of water i.e. 18.9litres approximately. At the initial stage of its life let the tank have at least 10 gallons of water, 40 gallons for the adult and 55 gallons if the fish grows anymore than 10 inches.
- THE FAKE ENVIRONMENT: See to it that you make the catfish feel home. Prep the tank with a layer of gravel. This helps the fish to dig nests and even dig out for food as a result keeps them active. Add leaves and sand for substrate and do not forget some rock caves or chunk of wood as hiding space for the fish. This prevents the bullhead from acting paranoid.
- FILTER IT OUT: Everyone enjoys a clean and healthy home. Make it a point your pet does too. Bring a filter that can consume 20-30% more than what your tank already has. For example if your tank has 40 gallons of water, see to it that the filter can cycle 60 gallons. The best choice for this is the canister filter. These have high bio load capacity.
- FEEDING TIME: Bullheads are considered as opportunistic feeders. This means they eat whatever that is available at that particular time. They eat from flesh to leaves everything. Their major variety of diet may include frozen worms, shrimps, fish flakes, fish fillets, minnows, live bluegills, tadpoles, frogs, salamanders, scuds, flies, crickets, crayfish etc. Anything that can fit into their mouth. The key to a healthy and a fit billhead is their flexible diet. If you aim at growing your catfish bigger and stronger feed them with frozen blood worms and minnows. Bloodworms provide good amount of fat and minnows an excellent source of protein. You can even hold the food at the top of the tank and let the catfish come towards it instead of putting it directly into the water.
- THE SURVIVAL TIME: At a minimum rate, a bullhead can survive for 5-12 years approximately. They grow the maximum in their very first year i.e. up to 8 inches. In later years they can grow till more 12-18 inches. They weigh up to 1-5 pounds. The survival period of a bullhead even depends upon the species you are petting.
- BASIC INJURY: It is always suggested to keep a catfish with a catfish only. Or else it creates territorial issues, which ultimately leads to injuries. A bullhead usually gets injured in three basic places. First is the tail. If a bullheads’ tip of the tail is lost in the battle, it’s not much of an issue as it can regrow it. However, if it loses the tail from the bone, it has to live a tailless life. Although it hardly affects its swimming abilities. The second place includes the barbells. This once lost is gone forever. But as the bullhead has eight whiskers, a loss of one might not matter that much. The third and the last will be the injury to its eye. This is again an unfixable injury, which makes the bullhead dependent on its whiskers for the rest of his life.
So these were some of perquisites of keeping a bullhead as a pet. A bullhead usually requires a darker environment as compared to other fishes. Hence, do not illuminate your tank for no reason. They even eat at nights or in low lights which ultimately helps the feeding process. A bullhead even has extremely pointed and sharp spikes on their fins that can harm you be painful, causing you an infection if not handled properly. Make sure you remember the dos and don’ts once you have had your catfish. Irrespective of the name and the looks, it has nothing in common to a cat; thus, do not treat it like one!