July 20

Sarah Robertson

Meet the Most Social Catfish : Pictus Catfish

Catfish are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish for new aquarium owners. The Pictus Catfish is one of the most prevalent species of catfish found in aquariums all over the world.

The whiskers of these fish are quite long, as you would expect from any catfish species, and the fins and tail are sharp, allowing them to swim at high speeds. The colors you'll see on a Pictus Catfish are silver with black marks running the length of the body.

The dorsal fin is usually black throughout, but like all fish, there are many exceptions.The whiskePictus Catfishrs that distinguish all species of catfish are referred to as barbels and are what the catfish use to explore muddy water for any spare food they can find.

The Pictus Catfish's long barbels make them entertaining to observe as they swim around the tank. They are known for being one of the most social species of catfish, often seen swimming in large groups in the wild. It is very important to maintain a high water quality when keeping Pictus Catfish because of their long barbels.

Pictus Catfish are highly sensitive to ammonia and nitrites, so regular water changes are essential. To take care of your Pictus Catfish, start by providing them with a large tank. These fish can grow to be about a foot long, so they need plenty of space to swim. A minimum tank size for a single Pictus Catfish is 50 gallons, but 75 gallons or more is ideal. When choosing tank mates for your Pictus Catfish, it's important to select fish that are of a similar size. Smaller fish are at risk of being eaten by these voracious eaters.

Quick Facts About Pictus Catfish 

  • Scientific Name : Pimelodus pictus
  • Family Name : Pimelodidae
  • Nicknames : Angel Cat
  • Distribution : Venezuela to Peru
  • Color Form : Black, white
  • Care Level : Easy
  • Temperament : Peaceful
  • Size : Up to 5 inches
  • Lifespan : 8 to 10 years
  • Diet : Omnivore
  • Tank Size : Minimum 55+ gallon.
  • Experience Required : Cichlid keeping, aggressive species.
  • Tank Temperature : 72°F to 80°F.
  • Water pH : 7.0 – 7.5
  • Tank Mates : Danios, Angelfish, Rummy Nose Tetra, and Gouramis
  • Tank Set-Up : Freshwater - driftwood and caves
  • Breeding : Egg spawner that are known to be difficult to breed in captivity.
  • Disease : May be susceptible to Ich.
Pictus Catfish Appearance

Pictus Catfish Appearance 

Pictus Catfish are silver-colored catfish with numerous black markings. It has translucent fins and white barbels. It has a long, thin body that grows to 5 inches in length in captivity.

The ‘whiskers' of the Pictus Catfish are one of its most distinguishing features. Barbels may extend all the way down to a fish's caudal fin.The barbels of the catfish are utilized to help them navigate muddy water in the wild.

They have sharp spines and fins, which have been observed to hurt other fish. The Pictus, like many other Catfish, has a forked tail and a large, downturned mouth. The distinctions between male and female are almost imperceptible, with females growing slightly larger and rounder when they reach sexual maturity.

Finally, they are frequently mixed up with Angelicus Catfish. Angelicus Catfish are a distinct species of upside-down catfish that have shorter barbels than other upside-down catfishes.

There are several distinct types of Pictus Catfish. Some of them are:

Spotted Pictus Catfish: The Spotted Pictus Catfish is a subspecies of the regular Pictus. The only difference is that the Spotted Pictus has black spots on its body, whereas the regular Pictus does not. There are large-spotted form and a small-spotted form. Only the large-spotted variety is commonly seen in the aquarium industry; it does not grow as big as the small-spotted form.

Four Line Pictus Catfish: The Four Line Pictus Catfish is a subspecies of the regular Pictus. The only difference is that the Four Line Pictus has four black or white lines running down its body. The Four Line Pictus Catfish is a medium-growing, active schooling fish that may be found throughout much of South America's Amazon, Orinoco, and Guyana Shield. In the wild, they live in shallow water with a moderate to rapid current and congregate in large clusters.

Polka Dot Pictus Catfish : These fish has polka dot throughout their bodies and are very fun to watch. They will also add some excitement to your aquarium with their constant movement.

Pictus Catfish Size 

The average length of a pictus catfish is around 5 inches (largest). It's rare for these fish to grow larger than this size when fully grown, but it's not impossible.

The size of fish is determined by several factors, including their quality of care and diet. The state of the fish when you bought it will also have an impact on how big they can grow.

Pictus Catfish Behavior 

Both Male and female Pictus catfish are quite peaceful fish that don't want to cause any problems.This is one of the reasons why freshwater aquarists adore them. They may be put in any place you choose.

Because they are peaceful, these fish will spend a lot of time hiding in the lower half of the aquarium. Some days, you may miss seeing some of them! This is what makes them feel at ease and secure, which is why you must offer them with lots of hiding places where they can be alone.

The interesting thing about pictus catfish is that they are timid and peaceful, but also extremely energetic. There may be times when your fish is hiding out and appears to be disinterested in returning.

However, when feeding time or something exciting happens in the tank, you may notice them zipping about at breakneck speed! Then they'll return to their spot.

When it comes to their activity levels, they're a very up and down bunch, which we find enjoyable. It's thrilling to spot them during a flurry of swimming.

Pictus Catfish Lifespan

Pictus Catfish Lifespan 

The typical lifespan of a pictus catfish is eight to ten years. When compared to other popular aquarium catfish, such as the Otocinclus, this is rather lengthy.

Although the pictus catfish can live for a long time, this is dependent on how well you care for them. The duration of their life may be shortened by a poor diet, water quality problems, and even breeding attempts.

That is why good pictus catfish care is so crucial. In our opinion, it is your duty as a person who keeps an animal in captivity to do everything possible to ensure that they flourish.

Pictus Catfish Food & Diet 

It's simple to feed the pictus fish. However, it's critical to understand their natural and preferred diet in order to ensure they are receiving all of the nutrients they require.

In the wild, pictus catfish are omnivores that forage and spend their time hunting for a wide range of foods in the water.This includes all types of plant life and algae, as well as various meat and protein sources.

That's why your job will be more about ensuring they get a nutritious diet than encouraging them to eat. They'll try anything as long as it's edible!

Because these fish spend the bulk of their time at the bottom of the tank, it's critical that you feed them food that will float to their level. It also implies that any pellets must sink so they may truly consume! You'll also need to offer them with high-quality sources of protein in addition to pellets. Here are some of the most common choices:

  • Daphnia
  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms

You may give them a combination of frozen and live prey for the sake of variety. Though frozen foods are more convenient, but live foods typically offer more enrichment and invite more movement.

Pictus Catfish Care 

If you know the fundamental instructions, caring for Platycephalus pictus is not difficult.These fish are passive and low-maintenance, making them ideal for the aquarist who doesn't want to deal with any problems.

For proper care, you should focus on these key areas:

  • Water quality : This is always important, but it’s especially crucial for pictus catfish since they’re very sensitive to changes in water quality. Be sure to do regular water tests and perform partial water changes as needed to maintain stable conditions. Pictus catfish prefer water on the cooler side, so aim for a temperature between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. pH level should be between 7 and 7.5 and water hardness should be between 5 and 15 dGH.
  • Habitat : Pictus catfish need a spacious tank with plenty of hiding places. They’re active fish, so provide them with enough room to swim around. A good rule of thumb is at least 50 gallons per fish.
  • Diet: As pictus catfish are opportunistic eaters and will try just about anything. However, it’s important to provide them with a diet that is nutritionally balanced. Sinking pellets or flakes are a good base, and you can supplement with live or frozen foods for variety.

Now that you know the basics of pictus catfish care, you’re ready to add these interesting fish to your aquarium! Just be sure to do your research and set up their habitat properly before bringing them home.

Pictus Catfish Tank Mates 

Due to their laid-back nature, the list of potential pictus catfish tank mates is lengthy. It may be difficult to find tankmates that are a poor match in some cases.

The most essential thing to bear in mind while selecting pictus catfish tank mates is size. Your pictus might eat fish that are significantly smaller than it.

When they're hungry, the chances of aggression rise a lot. So, it's best to avoid smaller tank mates in general. You should also stay away from any fish that are excessively aggressive and may attack your pictus. Tank mates like African cichlids or the Jack Dempsey fish, for example, are not a good choice.

Some examples of suitable tankmates include:

  • Rainbow sharks
  • Larger platies
  • Catfish of similar size or larger
  • Giant danios
  • Opaline gourami

You should also be aware that their fins' sharp spines could cause them to unintentionally harm other fish. Though this is unusual, it has been documented. So, always keep a watch on all of your aquarium's fish.

Pictus Catfish Tank Setup

Pictus Catfish Tank Setup 

We always recommend that your aquarium replicate as closely as possible the natural living conditions of your species. These fish are found in South America's warm rivers and streams, generally in sandy riverbeds.

They do best in an aquarium with a sandy substrate, plenty of hiding places, and some driftwood for them to graze on. You should also aim for the same water flow as that of a river, so invest in a decent hang-on-back filter.

This can produce enough current to maintain your Catfish healthy. Because Pictus Catfish produce a lot of waste, the filtration system is essential. As water conditions are highly vulnerable to nitrates, a reasonable amount of filtering aids in maintaining stable water parameters.

The next items on the list are plants and decorations. You should provide lots of hiding places for them, such as driftwood, river rocks, and caves. It will also require a lot of open areas to swim and exercise in.

The tank should be dimly illuminated as this Catfish is mostly nocturnal. Because of their low light needs, you may also grow live plants such as Hornwort and Java Moss. Live plants not only look great and provide more hiding places but also help with nitrate levels by absorbing them.

Tank Conditions 

In the wild, Pictus Catfish congregate in schools, so keep this in mind when setting up your aquarium. If you want to keep a shoal, you'll need a tank with at least 150 gallons; this will accommodate 3-4 Pictus Catfish.

A 55-gallon tank is the bare minimum size required if you intend to keep a single fish, but we recommend a 75-gallon tank if you have the space. Your Pictus Catfish will be happier and healthier in a larger tank and it will help to prevent aggression issues.

Since they are an active swimmer, your Pictus Catfish will appreciate a tank with plenty of swimming space. They are not fussy about plants, but they will uproot them if given the chance, so choose plants that are securely rooted in the substrate.

Because they are a scale-less species, they are more susceptible to typical aquarium diseases, so you must maintain strict track of water conditions. You should maintain a water temperature of 75-81°F, and the pH level should be between 7.0 and 7.5.

Pictus Catfish Breeding 

The Pictus Catfish, like other freshwater fish, is also difficult to breed in a home aquarium.

This is due to the fact that typical house aquariums are too little for them to reach reproductive maturity; in order to do so, they need a lot of room.If you want your Catfish to reach sexual maturity, the ideal tank should contain at least 200 gallons. Anything less than this and your Catfish's chances of reaching maturity are very slim.

Here is everything you need to know about breeding Pictus Catfish;

  • Size and age are the two most important factors when trying to breed Pictus Catfish; they need to be big and old enough before they can start reproducing.
  • The next thing you need to do is set up a spawning tank. This should be at least 200 gallons and contain plenty of plants, as well as a sandy substrate.
  • Create a schedule for feeding your fish; during the breeding season, they will need to be fed more often than usual.
  • Once everything is set up, you will need to wait for the Pictus Catfish to reach sexual maturity. This can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
  • When the time is right, the female Pictus Catfish will lay her eggs in the plants. After this, the male will fertilize them.

  • It is important to remove the parents from the tank after they have spawned, as they may eat their own eggs.

  • The eggs will hatch after about a week and the fry will need to be fed small amounts of food multiple times a day.

Pictus Catfish Fry 

If you’re one of the very few people that have managed to breed your Pictus Catfish, then congratulations! The next step is raising the fry.

As with all fry, they are extremely vulnerable and need lots of care and attention. They also need to be in an aquarium that’s been setup specifically for them with the correct water parameters.

Your Pictus Catfish fry should be kept in an aquarium with a temperature between 77-81°F, and the pH should be slightly acidic at 6.5-7.0.

As they are so small you will need to feed them very small foods such as microworms, baby brine shrimp or daphnia.

To avoid harming your fry, you should also remove any larger fish from the aquarium as they may see the fry as food.

Pictus Catfish Diseases

Pictus Catfish Diseases 

The Pictus Catfish is a scaleless fish, which means it is more susceptible to typical aquarium diseases such as Ich and White Spot. The best way to avoid these diseases is to maintain good water quality and to quarantine any new fish before adding them to your aquarium.

If your Pictus Catfish does happen to contract a disease, the most common treatment is raising the temperature of the water which will speed up their metabolism and help them fight off the infection.

If the water conditions aren't maintained, or the fish isn't as healthy as it should be, other illnesses might develop. Not only have pictus catfish been observed to deteriorate rapidly once the infection has begun, but they may also die suddenly as a result of it. For this reason, the Pictus Catfish is not a good choice for beginners.

If you notice any unusual behavior or changes in appearance in your Pictus Catfish, it’s best to seek advice from a qualified aquarium vet as soon as possible.

It’s also a good idea to buy your Pictus Catfish from a reputable dealer that can provide you with a health guarantee.When buying your fish, look for ones that are active and have clear eyes and fins. Avoid any fish that look sick or have any visible signs of disease. It is also recommended to quarantine any new fish before adding them to your aquarium.

Alternatives To Pictus Catfish 

If you're not quite ready to make a commitment to a Pictus Catfish, there are other similar catfish available. Here are some more options for you to consider:

  • Pleco Catfish  : They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the smaller ones being more beginner-friendly. The Catfish are not only great custodians, but they're also available for almost every tank setup.
  • Oto Catfish  : The Oto is a tiny algae eater that can be utilized in a variety of aquarium environments. They perform the same function as thePictus on a smaller scale and even appear to be quite similar. Otos are non-predatory, easy to maintain in groups, and make an excellent beginner Catfish.
  • Cory Catfish  : Corydoras are fantastic for beginners. They come in a variety of species and some are poisonous.
  • Striped Raphael Catfish  : The Striped Raphael is a lovely alternative to the Pictus. While their upkeep is similar, this species is more hardy and able to withstand pushy tankmates.

However, if properly maintained, a Pictus Catfish is an attractive addition to a freshwater aquarium. They can be kept alone or in groups, but they will feel more secure among their own species.

FAQ: 

How Big Will a Pictus Catfish Get? 

The average length of a pictus catfish is roughly 5 inches (largest). When these fish are fully grown, it's exceedingly rare for them to grow larger than this. Their size is greatly impacted by the quality of care and diet.

How Many Pictus Catfish Should Be Kept Together? 

We recommend that you keep them in groups of at least 5, but ideally more. The Pictus Catfish is a highly energetic fish, So if you provide patients with enough room to swim, they will be healthier and happier in the long run.

How Big of a Tank Does a Pictus Catfish Need? 

Ideally, a 55-gallon tank is best for a single fish. If you plan on keeping more than one, you'll need an additional 10 gallons for each fish. The more space you can provide, the better.

What Can Live With Pictus Catfish? 

Pictus Catfish are relatively peaceful fish. So there are a number of different fish that they can be kept with.

They should not be kept with other aggressive fish or those that may try to eat them. Some good tank mates include: Tetras, Rasboras, Danios, and Barbs, gourami, Rainbow Shark..etc

Can Pictus Catfish Be Kept Alone

They prefer living in schools, and they should always be kept with others. They should not be kept alone. However, as these fish are very active, more pictus catfish necessitate additional swimming area for them to properly swim about.

Are Pictus Catfish Peaceful? 

Yes, they are peaceful fish. They get along well with other fish that have a similar temperament. Pictus catfish can be kept with a variety of species, as long as they are not overly violent during the day while the Pictus catfish is hiding.

Can a Pictus Catfish Live With a Rainbow Shark? 

Yes, Rainbow sharks are less territorial, and they can make good tank mates for the Pictus catfish. Rainbow Sharks adore having a cave or other home to call their own. When it comes to Red tail sharks, It will compete with the Pictus Catfish for food and may ultimately dominate the aquarium's bottom, giving it a hard time.

How Long Does The Pictus Catfish Live? 

The Pictus Catfish may live for up to ten years if properly cared for. Ideal lifespan is between 8-10 years.

Is Keeping Pictus Catfish Together a Good Idea? 

It's not unusual for people to keep Pictus Catfish as a single individual; they'll be fine on their own. Many people, however, keep them in a group as they are shoaling species by nature.

The advantage of keeping a shoal is that they are much more active and outgoing. They thrive in a group of three to four individuals, although you can keep up to six at a time as long as your aquarium is big enough. When keeping a shoal, we recommend a tank of at least 150 gallons.

Final Thoughts:

It's simple to care for a Pictus Catfish. Anybody can do it as long as they have the appropriate tank size, tankmates, and water conditions.

Pictus Catfish are a pleasure to have and one of our favorite freshwater fish. They're quite stunning, have a distinctive catfish appearance, aren't aggressive in your aquarium, and can be fascinating to watch. Pictus catfish are peaceful, social creatures that enjoy the company of their own kind. They are best kept in groups of 4 or more fish.

A 55-gallon aquarium is requited for a single fish, but you'll need an additional 10 gallons of water for each fish if you plan on keeping more than one. When it comes to tank mates, Pictus Catfish can be kept with a variety of species. They should not be kept with other aggressive fish or those that may try to eat them.

These fish are active swimmers and prefer to have plenty of space to move around. Providing them with the best possible care will ensure that they have a long and happy life. We hope you enjoyed this care guide and feel confident enough to add pictus catfish to your freshwater aquarium!

Sarah Robertson


I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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