How To Care For the Pictus Catfish

The pictus catfish, also known by its scientific name Pimelodus pictus, has been a beloved choice for freshwater fish enthusiasts for a long time.

This fish belongs to the Pimelodidae family and is native to the Orinoco and Amazon river basins in South America.

Pictus catfish are known for being quite active swimmers, especially when you compare them to their more laid-back catfish relatives. Many new owners are often caught off guard by the impressive speed at which these fish swim regularly.


What Does the Pictus Catfish Look Like?

Pictus Catfish
Picture of the Pictus Catfish

When you first see a pictus catfish, the most noticeable feature is their barbels. While some individuals may refer to them as whiskers, we will use their correct names throughout this guide.

Their barbels give them a unique appearance resembling that of a catfish, which makes them easily noticeable in any aquarium.

It is quite normal for them to grow in proportion to the length of their bodies. It is also enjoyable to observe them swaying as your fish swiftly moves around the tank!

These barbels serve the purpose of assisting them in navigating and sensing their surroundings in murky water. Although it’s not something they will need to use frequently in your aquarium, it still gives them extra spatial awareness.

The pictus catfish has a beautiful shiny light silver color that covers its entire body evenly. Their stomach is slightly lighter, but not significantly so. These fish do not have scales either.

Their bodies are covered in dark dots that are evenly spaced, although they have fewer dots on their stomachs. You can also find these black spots on their back and tail fins.

The pictus catfish has semi-translucent caudal and dorsal fins. The dorsal fins are slightly clearer than the caudal fins. It looks cool when you view it from the right angle!


Read also: How To Care For the Firemouth Cichlid


What is the Pictus Catfish Size?

The typical size of a pictus catfish is about 5 inches long at most. It is uncommon for these fish to grow larger than this size, but it can happen.

The size of an individual is greatly influenced by the quality of care they receive and the diet they follow. Additionally, the condition of the fish at the time of purchase will also have a significant effect on their potential size.


What is the Pictus Catfish Colour?

The Pictus catfish is known for its smooth, silvery body adorned with black spots. Similar to other species of catfish, they lack external scales.

These fish have barbels that they use to taste food deep in the substrate. They also have sharp spines on their pectoral and dorsal fins.


What is the Behaviour of the Pictus Catfish?

These fish are known for being peaceful, so it’s common to see them spending most of their time hiding in the lower half of the tank. Some days, you might not be able to see all of them!

Providing ample hiding places for your pets is important because it helps them feel comfortable and safe. It gives them a sense of privacy, which is something they need.

It’s interesting how pictus catfish have this unique combination of being shy and peaceful, yet also quite active. I understand that this might be a bit confusing initially, but let me explain it in the best way possible.

Sometimes, your fish may choose to stay in a hiding spot and not show any interest in coming out.

But, when it’s time to eat or something exciting happens in the tank, you might notice them darting around really fast! They will camp out once more.


Read also: Why is the Telescope Fish a Special Breed of Fish?


Can the Pictus Catfish Be Kept as a Pet?

Breeding Pictus catfish can be quite challenging. A lot of experienced hobbyists find it challenging to create the right environment for these fish to lay their eggs.

It’s a good idea to have a big tank if you want to keep fish, and having a group of fish can definitely improve your chances of success.

It’s important to remember to quarantine your new breeding fish before introducing them to your existing ones, especially if they come from different sources.

When setting up an indoor aquarium, it’s a good idea to have a separate tank for breeding or spawning. This allows you to control the water chemistry and create a safe space for the baby fish.

To encourage spawning in indoor aquariums, it is often necessary to make adjustments to the water temperature or other water chemistry factors.


What is the Pictus Catfish Food Requirement?

The Pictus catfish is an omnivore, which means it can eat both plants and animals. It is known to easily adjust to a diet that consists of pellets.

Make sure to leave some food out for the fish when you turn off the tank lighting, as they are nocturnal and will need to be eaten during the night.

If you have tanks with low lighting, you might notice that your fish come out to eat alongside the other creatures in your tank. Feel free to give your Pictus catfish a variety of treats, including both meaty and veggie options.

Please don’t expect this particular species to take care of cleaning up after your other fish. Even though they are bottom-feeders and might eat some leftover food, it’s not their main diet.

Because they are active at night, they often need to be fed separately.


Read also: What Do Marine Fish Eat?



There are two known forms of this species: one with large spots and another with small spots. In the aquarium trade, it is common to see only the large-spotted form out of the two.

Generally, they are not aggressive and won’t harm fish that are too big for them to eat. These fish are agile and fast swimmers, so they need a larger tank.

Ensure to follow the above mentioned care tips to provide adequate care for your pictus catfish. Tap that share button as well!

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