The porthole catfish is a very nice fish that has been available for many years, but has never really been all that popular. The problem is probably that they have never been bred in large numbers commercially, so virtually all of the fish that come into the hobby are wild-caught. They come from many areas of the Amazon River basin in South America, and are found in waters that range from being very acid to slightly alkaline.
Porthole catfish come from slow-moving creeks and streams, and they do not like a great deal of water movement. If the water movement is too strong for them, they will often simply lodge themselves in amongst plants, or under a piece of wood or driftwood. For these reasons, their tank should have plenty of plants, as well as rocks and driftwood that make cave-like places for these fish to hide. Even though all porthole cats come from the wild, they are a very hardy fish, and will do well in a community tank with any similar size fish. One word of caution – they are not as good at cleaning up the bottom of the tank as other catfish, especially cory cats, so don’t depend on them for that function. Also, be sure that they are getting enough food on their own with the other fish in the tank.
Feeding porthole catfish is very simple, as they will eat whatever you are feeding to the tank they are in. If you want to give them a real treat (and you can keep the other fishes from getting to it first), frozen bloodworm are eaten with great gusto. Porthole cats reportedly are bubble nest builders when it comes to spawning, but they do not breed that easily in captivity. Occasional spawning are mentioned, but not on a regular basis, as there being no porthole cats from commercial breeders will attest.-David Lass