Pictus Catfish


Pictus Catfish are medium-sized, nocturnal fish with a sleek, silver body covered in black spots. They are active and fast swimmers, often seen darting around the tank. Known for their unique appearance and lively behavior, Pictus Catfish add both intrigue and activity to the aquarium.

Pictus Catfish Care


Where Do Pictus Catfish From?

Pictus Catfish, also known as Pimelodus pictus, originate from the warm river basins of South America. They’re primarily found in the Amazon and Orinoco rivers.

These rivers provide a habitat rich in vegetation and submerged roots, ideal for the Pictus Catfish’s hiding and hunting habits.

They are native to countries like Brazil, Peru, and Colombia.

In the wild, Pictus Catfish thrive in fast-moving waters with plenty of oxygen. This explains their preference for clean, well-aerated aquarium setups.

Their natural environment includes murky, sandy bottoms where they can forage for food.

Their striking appearance, with silvery bodies and distinctive black spots, mimics the dappled light filtering through their native rivers.


What Is the Natural Habitat of a Pictus Catfish?

Pictus Catfish are native to South American river basins, preferring environments with moderate to strong water flow. You should mimic this by ensuring good water circulation in their tank.

They thrive on sandy substrates with plenty of hiding spots, like driftwood, caves, and thick vegetation. This helps them feel secure, as they are naturally shy, especially when kept alone.

Despite their nocturnal nature, they can be active swimmers in groups, so providing ample swimming space is crucial. Tanks with a length of at least 4 feet are ideal for accommodating their active behavior.

Dim lighting is recommended to imitate their natural habitat, which encourages them to be more active. Additionally, maintaining stable water conditions will help keep your Pictus Catfish healthy.


What Do Pictus Catfish Eat?

Pictus Catfish are primarily omnivorous, enjoying a varied diet. In the wild, they forage for insects, crustaceans, and plant matter.

In your aquarium, a balanced diet can include high-quality flake or pellet foods, supplemented with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms.

Vegetable matter is also essential. Offer blanched vegetables such as zucchini or cucumber slices to ensure they get necessary nutrients.

Feeding them once or twice a day is typically sufficient. Avoid overfeeding to maintain water quality and prevent health issues.

Using sinking foods can be beneficial, as Pictus Catfish are bottom dwellers. This helps ensure they get their share of the food.


Pictus Catfish are active and social, especially during feeding times. They’re nocturnal, meaning you’ll see them most active at night. Despite their energetic nature, they tend to be peaceful with tank mates.

They’re known for their curious behavior, often exploring every nook and cranny of the aquarium. When kept alone, they can be quite shy and prefer to hide.

In groups, you’ll notice they swim more confidently and actively. Adding more Pictus Catfish to your tank can help reduce their skittish behavior. They often prefer the bottom of the tank, scavenging for food with their barbels or “whiskers.”

It’s common for them to engage in playful chasing, both among themselves and with other fish species. However, their playful nature can sometimes be misunderstood as aggressive, which usually isn’t the case.

Are Pictus Catfish Aggressive?

Pictus catfish are generally not aggressive. They’re known for their peaceful nature, making them suitable tank mates for community aquariums. You’ll find that they coexist well with other non-aggressive species.

That said, these fish can display territorial behavior if their space feels cramped. Ensuring they have enough room to swim and hide will minimize stress and aggressive tendencies.

They are nocturnal creatures, most active during the night. This behavior reduces the chance of conflicts with more active daytime species. By providing plenty of hiding spots, you can further reduce any potential aggression.

Sometimes, younger or smaller fish might be perceived as food by larger pictus catfish. It’s best to avoid housing them with tiny tank mates to prevent any accidental predation. Overall, their peaceful disposition makes them a favorite in many community tanks.

Tank Size

How Big of a Tank Does a Pictus Catfish Need?

When it comes to Pictus Catfish, size matters. These active fish need ample space to swim and explore. A single Pictus Catfish requires at least a 50 to 55-gallon tank. If you’re housing a group, you’d need a larger tank—about 150 gallons for three fish.

These fish are quite social and enjoy schooling, so providing enough space will enhance their well-being. It’s crucial to avoid overcrowded tanks as this can cause stress and health issues for your fish.

While they are low-bioload fish, ensuring a spacious environment helps maintain good water quality. Make sure the tank is well-decorated with hiding spots to mimic their natural habitat.


What Are the Best Tank Mates For Pictus Catfish?

The best tank mates for the Pictus Catfish are those that can thrive in similar conditions and won’t provoke aggressive behavior. Considering this, options like Corydoras Catfish and Silver Dollars make excellent companions. Corydoras Catfish are peaceful bottom-dwellers that can live in the same water conditions, while Silver Dollars are similarly sized, peaceful fish that are compatible with the spacious environment preferred by Pictus Catfish.

When choosing companions for your Pictus Catfish, it’s crucial to consider their natural habitat and behavioral patterns. Pictus Catfish are active and social but can be predatory towards smaller fish. Selecting similarly sized, calm tank mates that can coexist without causing stress is key to maintaining a harmonious community tank.

To create an ideal home for your Pictus Catfish and their companions, ensure you’re setting up a tank that meets their specific requirements. A 55-gallon tank with plenty of hiding spots and open swimming areas is perfect for mimicking their natural environment. This setup not only provides ample space for swimming but also helps reduce stress by offering plenty of places to explore and hide.


How Big Do Pictus Catfish Get?

Pictus catfish need a spacious environment to thrive. A single pictus catfish requires a minimum of 50-55 gallons. If you plan on keeping a shoal, you’ll need at least a 150-gallon tank. These fish are active swimmers and benefit from the extra space.

When considering the tank dimensions, ensure there’s ample room for hiding spots and open swimming areas. This balance helps mimic their natural habitat. Young pictus catfish may start small but will grow quickly, so plan for their adult size right from the start.

Pictus catfish grow to about 5 inches in length. Although they aren’t the largest catfish, their active nature and social behavior mean they still need a generous tank size. Always avoid overcrowding to prevent stress and health problems.

How to Take Care of a Pictus Catfish

Ensure Proper Tank Size

A proper tank size is crucial for the well-being of your Pictus Catfish. These active swimmers need ample space to move around and explore. For a small group of 5-6 Pictus Catfish, a tank size of 55 to 70 gallons is recommended.

Smaller tanks can cause stress and health issues for your fish. Overcrowding can lead to aggression and poor water quality. Always opt for a larger tank if possible to provide a comfortable environment.

When setting up the tank, consider the length and width of the aquarium more than height. Pictus Catfish prefer the added horizontal swimming space. Choosing a spacious tank helps mimic their natural habitat and keeps them healthy and happy.

Maintain Clean Water

Keeping the water in your Pictus Catfish tank clean is crucial for their health. Regular water changes are essential—aim for at least 25-30% of the tank every two weeks. This helps remove waste and toxins that can build up over time.

A good filtration system is also a must. Since Pictus Catfish are active and produce a fair amount of waste, choose a filter that can handle the tank’s bio-load efficiently. Make sure to clean or replace the filter media according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Don’t forget to vacuum the substrate regularly. This helps in removing uneaten food and debris that can deteriorate water quality. Using a gravel vacuum, you can easily clean the bottom of the tank during water changes.

Testing the water parameters frequently will ensure that the environment stays stable. Utilize a reliable water test kit to monitor levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and adjust as necessary.

By maintaining clean water, you’ll create a healthy and stable environment for your Pictus Catfish, promoting their overall well-being and longevity.

Provide Hiding Places

You should ensure your Pictus Catfish feels secure by providing plenty of hiding places in the tank. Use decorations like caves, driftwood, and dense plants to create shaded areas. These fish are nocturnal and appreciate dark spots to retreat during the day.

Consider adding rocks and artificial structures to give your fish ample hiding spots. This minimizes stress and mimics their natural habitat.

By offering multiple hiding places, you encourage natural behavior and ensure your Pictus Catfish remains healthy and happy.

Feed a Balanced Diet

Feeding your Pictus Catfish a balanced diet is crucial for their health and vitality. They’re omnivorous, meaning they’ll eat both plant and animal matter. Include high-quality pellets and flakes as the mainstay of their diet. You should also supplement with frozen or live foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms to give them variety.

Juvenile Pictus Catfish need to be fed twice a day, while adults only need one meal per day. Offering food at consistent times helps establish a routine. Make sure to place food in multiple spots within the tank to reduce any potential aggression and ensure all fish get their share.

It’s also beneficial to occasionally offer vegetable matter, like blanched spinach or zucchini. This not only provides needed nutrients but also gives them something different to nibble on. Regular observation during feeding times can help you spot any potential health issues early on.

Monitor Water Parameters

Keeping an eye on water parameters is crucial for the health of your Pictus Catfish. These fish thrive in water temperatures between 75-81°F. Ensuring the water temperature stays within this range will help your fish stay healthy and active.

Pay attention to the pH level in the tank. Pictus Catfish prefer a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5. Use a reliable water testing kit to check these levels regularly and make adjustments as needed.

Water hardness is another factor to consider. Aim for a general hardness within the range of 5-15 dGH. Stable water conditions, without drastic shifts, are essential for keeping your Pictus Catfish happy and stress-free.

Avoid Overcrowding

Overcrowding your tank can cause significant stress for Pictus Catfish. These fish need plenty of space to swim and hide since they’re active and often skittish. Aim to provide at least a 55-gallon tank if you’re planning to keep multiple catfish to ensure they have enough room to thrive.

Each fish you add increases the demand on your aquarium’s filtration system. More waste in the water means it’s harder to maintain a clean and healthy environment. Overcrowding often leads to poor water quality, which can make your fish more susceptible to diseases.

Beyond just the Pictus Catfish, avoid adding too many other species that occupy the same space. A harmonious tank with carefully chosen tank mates reduces stress and aggression. Always research and plan your fish population adequately to avoid complications from overcrowding.

Offer Various Foods

Feeding your Pictus Catfish a varied diet is vital for their health. They thrive on commercial catfish pellets or omnivore flakes. These should form the base of their diet.

Supplement their meals with treats a few times a week. Options include algae wafers, brine shrimp, bloodworms, Daphnia eggs, and mosquito larvae. Live foods are particularly enjoyed, adding enrichment to their diet.

Remember to mix it up and observe your fish’s preferences. A well-rounded diet helps maintain their energy and overall vitality.

Give Sufficient Hiding Spots

Pictus catfish are naturally shy and need plenty of hiding spots to feel secure. Providing caves, driftwood, and dense plant cover in your tank will make them more comfortable. These hiding places replicate their natural environment and help reduce stress.

You can use aquarium-safe decorations to create additional shelters. Think about arranging items so there are multiple hiding spots throughout the tank, ensuring all fish have access to a safe space. This setup also encourages natural behaviors and makes your tank more visually appealing.

Using a mix of live plants and synthetic caves can help create a balanced environment. Just make sure there’s enough space for your pictus catfish to swim freely while still having plenty of options to hide. This balance is key to their overall well-being.

Conduct Regular Health Check-Ups

Regular health check-ups are crucial for keeping your Pictus Catfish in top shape. Observe them daily for any signs of distress or illness. Check for abnormal behaviors, such as excessive hiding, lack of appetite, or erratic swimming.

It’s important to inspect your catfish for physical signs of illness. Look for spots, discoloration, or unusual growths on their body. Examine their fins for fraying or clamping, which could indicate an issue.

Monitor their breathing patterns. Rapid or labored breathing might suggest poor water quality or a disease. Keep an eye on their weight as well; sudden weight loss can be a red flag.

By staying vigilant and conducting these routine checks, you can ensure your Pictus Catfish stays healthy and happy.

Maintain Stable Water Temperature

Keeping the water temperature steady is crucial for the health of your Pictus Catfish. They thrive in a range of 75-81°F (24-27°C). Temperature fluctuations can cause stress and increase the risk of disease.

Use a reliable aquarium heater to maintain a stable temperature. Regularly check the water temperature with an accurate thermometer.

Avoid placing your tank near windows or vents, as external temperature changes can affect the water. By maintaining a consistent environment, you’ll ensure your Pictus Catfish remain healthy and active.