Predatory catfishes are interesting creatures and many species are today successfully kept in aquariums. Just as with any fish, it is very important that you research certain species to find out its specific requirements. Before you buy a predatory catfish it is also important that you find out its maximal size, since several species of predatory catfish can become very large and outgrow most hobby aquariums. Many aquarium shops will offer you young predatory catfish without mentioning how big it actually can become when fully grown.
Predatory catfishes will naturally appreciate live food since they are capable predators, but most specimens will accept pellets after a little coaxing from the aquarist. Make sure that the pellet has been created to fit the dietary requirement of predatory fish species and has a high protein content.
A problem with predatory catfish is that they sometimes thrust themselves violently against the aquarium glass. It is not uncommon for predatory catfish in aquariums to have damaged noses as a result of such panic attacks. A predatory catfish can also become nervous and jumpy when you move it to a larger aquarium, but this behavior will usually go away as the fish become more used to its new home.
The Tiger Shovelnose catfish (Platystoma fasciatum) is a good choice if you want to keep a comparatively small predatory catfish. This species will usually stay below 40 inches (100 centimeters) in the wild, and when it is kept in an aquarium it rarely reaches a length of more than 24 inches (60 centimeters). It can, however, grow significantly bigger than this. As you can see, it is still a very large species compared to more commonly kept aquarium fish and will require a big aquarium. A young Tiger Shovelnose catfish that is no bigger than 6 inches (15 centimeters) in length can be housed in a 55 gallon (209 litres) aquarium, provided that the aquarium is a least 48 inches (122 centimetres) long. As your fish grows larger, it will need an aquarium of at least 180 gallons (680 liters) to do well. While decorating the aquarium it is important to leave a large open area for the catfish to move around in. If you are offered a hybrid Tiger Shovelnose Catfish you should be suspicious. Fish disguised as hybrid Tiger Shovelnose Catfish sometimes occur in the aquarium trade, but as of 2005 none of these have been true hybrids. It is usually a completely different species, Hemisorubim platyrhynchus, that is sold as hybrid Tiger Shovelnose Catfish.
Another predatory catfish that rarely exceeds 24 inches (60 centimeters) in length in the aquarium is the Ashara catfish (Perrunichthys perruno). Just like the Tiger Shovelnose catfish, this species will do best in an aquarium with plenty of room to swim around in. Keeping it in a totally barren aquarium is however not a good idea since this can make it stressed and skittish. Rocks, caves and other forms of sheltered spots will be highly appreciated. Ensure that the aquarium decoration is stable enough to withstand the force of a strong, predatory catfish. If you build unstable rock constructions and caves, your catfish can become injured.