Chocolate frogmouth catfish Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The chocolate frogmouth catfish is a beautiful and unique freshwater fish that is native to South America.

This species is not commonly seen in the aquarium trade, but they are becoming more popular as hobbyists learn more about them.

If you’re thinking about getting a chocolate frogmouth catfish, you’ll need to know how to care for them properly.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about chocolate frogmouth catfish care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

The chocolate frogmouth catfish (scientific name: Centrarchus macropterus) is a species of freshwater fish that’s native to the island of Madagascar.

They are commonly found in rivers and streams throughout the island, and prefer habitats with a lot of vegetation.

This fish gets its name from its large mouth, which is said to resemble that of a frog. The “chocolate” part of their name comes from their dark brown coloration.

Chocolate frogmouth catfish are generally peaceful fish, but can be territorial toward their own species. They are also known to be quite shy, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of places to hide in their tank.


Chocolate frogmouth catfish

The chocolate frogmouth catfish is a very unique and interesting looking fish. These fish have a long, thin body that is chocolate brown in color.

As the name suggests, these fish have a wide mouth that is shaped like a frog’s. This gives them a very distinctive appearance.

Their eyes are large and black, and they have barbels on their chin and around their mouth.

The chocolate frogmouth catfish has a dorsal fin that is situated towards the back of their body. This fin is tall and thin, and it has a spine at the front.

Their anal fin is also tall and thin, and it is located towards the back of their body.

The chocolate frogmouth catfish has a long, thin tail that is chocolate brown in color.

The chocolate frogmouth catfish is a peaceful fish that is suitable for community tanks.


The chocolate frogmouth catfish is a long-lived species with a lifespan of up to 20 years in captivity.

This fish is not for the beginner aquarist. They’re very delicate when young and require special care to survive.

As they mature, they become increasingly difficult to care for and their diet becomes more specialized.

Only experienced aquarists should attempt to keep this species.


Chocolate frogmouth catfish can grow to be up to 18 inches long, though they are typically only about 12 inches long. These fish are some of the largest in the freshwater aquarium world and need plenty of space to swim and hide.


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for a chocolate frogmouth catfish is at least 75 gallons. These fish are semi-aggressive and can grow to be about a foot long, so they need plenty of space to roam.

They’re also a nocturnal species so you might not see them much during the day. If you want to keep more than one chocolate frogmouth catfish in your tank, we recommend adding at least another 50 gallons for each additional fish.

Water Parameters

These bottom-dwelling fish prefer warm water with a neutral to slightly acidic pH. They’re not terribly picky when it comes to water hardness, but prefer softer water.

Aquariums with a sandy substrate are ideal for these fish. This allows them to sift through the sand and find small food items to eat.

Chocolate frogmouth catfish are social creatures and do best in groups. A good rule of thumb is one fish per five gallons of water.

  • Water temperature: 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.2
  • Water hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

The chocolate frogmouth catfish is a species that comes from fast-moving waters in South America. Because of this, they do best in aquariums that have a strong water current.

This can be accomplished in a number of ways. The first is to simply use a powerful filter with a high flow rate. The second is to add an aquarium powerhead to the mix.

We recommend going with the former if you can. Too much water movement can be stressful for some fish (especially those that don’t come from fast-moving environments).

As for the substrate, these fish don’t really have any preferences. You can use gravel, sand, or even a bare-bottomed tank if you want.

When it comes to decor, it’s best to keep things on the minimal side. A few pieces of driftwood or some rocks should be plenty.

Plants are a bit of a mixed bag with this species. They’re not known to eat plants, but they might uproot them while scavenging around the bottom of the tank.

If you want to include plants we recommend something that can attach to driftwood or rocks (like Java moss or Anubias). This will minimize the risk of them being uprooted.

Common Diseases

Chocolate frogmouth catfish are actually quite hardy and durable fish. They’re not prone to too many illnesses, and the ones they are susceptible to can usually be treated quite easily.

The most common disease that these fish get is ich. Ich is a very common parasite that can become quite serious if it’s not dealt with.

The most obvious sign of this disease is the series of white spots that will begin to cover the body of your fish.

There are plenty of other potential diseases that can affect this species as well, but they’re not as common.

Another thing to look out for is infection from cuts. The most common cause of this is keeping your chocolate frogmouth catfish in a tank with a rough substrate (or aggressive species that want to fight).

In general, the best way to prevent these fish from getting sick is to maintain the quality of the water in their tank. A tank with clean and stable water conditions always leads to healthier fish who are more resistant to disease.

Behavior & Temperament

The chocolate frogmouth catfish is a unique creature that is often misunderstood. These fish are very shy and reclusive, which can make them seem unfriendly. The truth is, they’re just extremely timid.

In the wild, these fish live in fast-moving waters. This means they’re constantly on the lookout for predators. As a result, they’ve developed a skittish nature that carries over into captivity.

The good news is, these fish will eventually warm up to their owners and become more comfortable in their environment. It just takes some patience and time.

Once they feel safe, chocolate frogmouth catfish are actually quite playful. They love to explore their tanks and will often play with toys and decorations. They’re also known to be very gentle when handling them.

Tank Mates

Chocolate Frogmouth Catfish are relatively peaceful fish. They will do well with most tank mates as long as those tank mates are not too small.

These catfish are nocturnal, so they may not be seen much during the day. They like to hide in caves and under rocks.

Some compatible tank mates for Chocolate Frogmouth Catfish are:


The chocolate frogmouth catfish is a pretty rare find in the aquarium world. They’re not the easiest fish to breed, but it can be done with some patience and knowledge.

The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 30 gallons and filled with soft, acidic water. You can use an aquarium with a sponge filter.

Then, you need to add some live plants. The chocolate frogmouth catfish likes to lay its eggs on plants. So, the more plants you have, the better. Java fern and java moss are good choices.

When ready, add a group of six chocolate frogmouth catfish to the breeding tank. Two of them should be males and the other four should be females.

The next step is to wait. These fish can be pretty shy and it may take them a while to get comfortable in their new environment. Once they’re acclimated, the males will start to chase the females.

When a female is ready to spawn, she’ll release her eggs. The male will then fertilize them. After that, he’ll guard the eggs until they hatch.

The eggs will hatch in about a week. When they do, you can remove the adults and start feeding the fry live food. Baby brine shrimp is a good choice.


The chocolate frogmouth catfish is a great addition to any freshwater aquarium. They’re peaceful, easy to care for, and add a unique look to your tank.

We hope this care guide has been helpful and that you feel confident enough to add one of these beautiful fish to your aquarium.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always happy to help!