Pictus Catfish Care 101: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

If you’re looking for a beautiful and unique addition to your aquarium, the Pictus Catfish is an excellent choice. These fascinating fish are known for their striking patterns and active personalities. However, before bringing one home, it’s important to understand their specific care requirements.

Pictus Catfish require a large aquarium with good filtration and hiding places. They are peaceful and should be kept in groups of at least six. They feed on high-quality pellets and frozen foods, and their diet can be supplemented with live foods. Regular water changes and maintenance are essential for their health.

As an aquarium enthusiast, I’ve had the pleasure of keeping Pictus Catfish in my own tank.

From my personal experience, I can tell you that these fish require a bit of extra attention compared to other species. They thrive in a specific environment and need a well-balanced diet to stay healthy and happy.

In this article, I’ll provide you with everything you need to know about Pictus Catfish care. From their ideal tank setup to their feeding habits, I’ll cover all the essential information to help you keep your new fish thriving.

Pictus Catfish Care 2

Species Summary


Pictus Catfish, scientifically known as Pimelodus pictus, are native to South America. They are found in the Amazon River basin, particularly in the Orinoco and Rio Negro rivers.

I have always been fascinated by the Amazon River, and it’s amazing to know that these beautiful catfish come from such a unique and biodiverse region.


Pictus Catfish have a relatively long lifespan compared to other fish. They can live up to 8-10 years in captivity with proper care.

I have had my Pictus Catfish for a few years now, and I hope to have them for many more to come.


These catfish have a unique appearance that sets them apart from other fish. They have a silver body with black spots, and their fins are adorned with white tips.

They also have long barbels that help them navigate their environment. I love watching my Pictus Catfish swim around the tank and show off their distinctive appearance.


Pictus Catfish are relatively small compared to other catfish species, but they can still grow up to 5-6 inches in length. It’s important to keep this in mind when choosing the appropriate tank size for them.

Growth Rate

The growth rate of Pictus Catfish can vary depending on their environment and diet. In general, they grow relatively quickly and can reach their full size within a few years.

I have noticed that my Pictus Catfish have grown significantly since I first got them.

Behavior & Temperament

Pictus Catfish are social fish and thrive in groups of three or more. They are active swimmers and enjoy exploring their environment.

They are also known to be peaceful and get along well with other fish species. However, it’s important to note that they can become aggressive towards their own species if they feel threatened or overcrowded.

Male vs Female

It can be difficult to determine the sex of Pictus Catfish, as they do not have any noticeable physical differences. The only way to determine their sex is through breeding behavior or by examining their genital papilla.

However, this is not recommended for novice fish keepers. In conclusion, Pictus Catfish are a unique and fascinating species that require proper care and attention.

By understanding their origin, lifespan, appearance, size, growth rate, behavior, and temperament, you can provide them with the best possible environment to thrive in.

Tank Setup

Setting up the perfect tank for your Pictus Catfish is crucial for their health and happiness. Here are some important factors to consider:

Tank Size

The minimum recommended tank size for a Pictus Catfish is 30 gallons. However, I personally recommend a larger tank of at least 50 gallons to provide ample swimming space and to accommodate their active nature.


Pictus Catfish do not require any special lighting requirements. However, it’s important to provide a consistent day/night cycle to mimic their natural habitat.

A timer can be used to ensure a consistent schedule.

Filtration & Aeration

Proper filtration and aeration are crucial for the health of your Pictus Catfish. A hang-on-back filter or canister filter is recommended for a 50-gallon tank.

Additionally, an air stone or bubbler can be used for extra aeration.


A heater is necessary to maintain a consistent water temperature between 75-80°F. Make sure to choose a heater that is appropriate for the size of your tank.


Pictus Catfish prefer a sandy substrate, which allows them to sift through the sand in search of food. Avoid using sharp gravel or rocks, as they can injure their delicate barbels.


Provide plenty of hiding spots and caves for your Pictus Catfish to explore. Avoid using decorations with sharp edges or small holes, as they can get stuck or injured.


Live plants can provide a natural look to your tank and can help improve water quality. Pictus Catfish do not eat plants, but they may uproot them while swimming.

Choose hardy plants that can withstand their active nature.

By following these guidelines, you can create a comfortable and healthy environment for your Pictus Catfish to thrive in.

I personally have a 75-gallon tank with plenty of hiding spots and live plants, and my Pictus Catfish are always active and playful.

Water Quality

As a Pictus Catfish owner, maintaining the water quality of your aquarium is crucial for the health and well-being of your fish.

In this section, I will cover the different aspects of water quality that you need to pay attention to.

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for Pictus Catfish is between 75-82°F (24-28°C). I personally keep my aquarium at 78°F (26°C) as it seems to be the sweet spot for my fish.

Make sure to use a reliable aquarium thermometer to monitor the water temperature regularly.

Water pH

The optimal pH range for Pictus Catfish is between 6.5-7.5. However, they can tolerate a pH range of 6.0-8.0. I maintain a pH level of 7.0 in my aquarium.

Keep in mind that sudden changes in pH can be stressful for your fish, so make sure to make any adjustments gradually.

Water Hardness

Pictus Catfish prefer slightly hard water with a range of 5-15 dGH. I personally keep my water hardness at 10 dGH. You can use a water hardness test kit to monitor the hardness level of your aquarium water.

Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential for maintaining good water quality. I recommend changing 20-30% of the water in your aquarium every 1-2 weeks.

However, if your aquarium is heavily stocked, you may need to change the water more frequently. Make sure to use a good quality water conditioner to remove any harmful chemicals from tap water.

Overall, maintaining good water quality is crucial for the health and happiness of your Pictus Catfish.

By paying attention to water temperature, pH, hardness, and performing regular water changes, you can create a healthy and thriving aquarium environment for your fish.

Personally, I had to learn the hard way about the importance of water quality. When I first started keeping Pictus Catfish, I neglected to perform regular water changes, and my fish became sick and lethargic.

After consulting with a fish expert, I realized my mistake and started performing regular water changes. Within a few weeks, my fish made a full recovery, and I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of water quality.

Tank Maintenance

Maintaining a clean and healthy tank is crucial for the well-being of your Pictus Catfish. As an owner, I have learned that regular maintenance is necessary to keep the tank environment safe and comfortable for my fish.

One of the most important aspects of tank maintenance is keeping the water clean. I recommend changing 25% of the water in the tank every two weeks. This helps to remove harmful toxins and waste products that can accumulate in the water over time.

It’s also important to vacuum the gravel at the bottom of the tank during water changes to remove any uneaten food or debris.

In addition to water changes, it’s important to regularly clean the tank’s filter. I clean my filter once a month by rinsing it with water from the tank.

It’s important not to use tap water or any cleaning agents as this can harm the beneficial bacteria in the filter.

Another important aspect of tank maintenance is monitoring the water temperature and pH levels. Pictus Catfish prefer a temperature range of 75-80°F and a pH range of 6.5-7.5. I use a thermometer and pH test kit to monitor the water regularly and make adjustments as needed.

Finally, it’s important to keep the tank free of algae and other unwanted growth. I use an algae scraper to remove any algae that forms on the glass, and I also clean any decorations or plants in the tank regularly to prevent buildup.

Overall, maintaining a clean and healthy tank is essential for the well-being of your Pictus Catfish. Regular water changes, filter cleaning, and monitoring of temperature and pH levels are all important aspects of tank maintenance. By following these steps, you can ensure that your fish live in a safe and comfortable environment.

Personally, I have found that regular maintenance not only keeps my Pictus Catfish healthy but also provides me with a sense of satisfaction and pride in taking care of my pets.

Tank Mates

Compatible Fish Species

When it comes to choosing tank mates for your Pictus Catfish, it’s important to consider the size and temperament of the other fish.

Some good options include Corydoras Catfish, Tetras, and Guppies. These fish are small enough to not pose a threat to your Pictus Catfish, and they have similar water temperature and pH requirements.

I personally have had great success keeping Pictus Catfish with Neon Tetras. They add a nice pop of color to the tank and the Pictus Catfish don’t bother them at all.

Incompatible Fish Species

While there are many fish that can coexist peacefully with Pictus Catfish, there are also some species that should be avoided.

Avoid keeping Pictus Catfish with larger, aggressive fish such as Cichlids or Oscars. These fish may see the Pictus Catfish as prey and attack them.

I made the mistake of adding a Jack Dempsey Cichlid to my tank with Pictus Catfish, and it didn’t end well. The Cichlid ended up attacking and killing my Pictus Catfish.

How Many Pictus Catfish Should be Kept Together

Pictus Catfish are social creatures and should be kept in groups of at least three. Keeping them in groups will help them feel more comfortable and reduce stress. However, it’s important to not overcrowd your tank.

Based on my personal experience, I would recommend keeping no more than five Pictus Catfish in a 55-gallon tank. This will give them plenty of space to swim around and establish their own territories.


Feeding your Pictus Catfish is an important part of their care. Here’s what I’ve learned about their diet:

What To Feed

When it comes to feeding your Pictus Catfish, you have a few options. They are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. I like to feed my Pictus Catfish a combination of sinking pellets and frozen foods. Some good options include:

  • Sinking pellets
  • Frozen brine shrimp
  • Frozen bloodworms
  • Frozen daphnia

It’s important to vary their diet to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.


I feed my Pictus Catfish twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. I give them only what they can eat in about 2-3 minutes.

Overfeeding can lead to health problems, so it’s important to be mindful of how much you’re giving them.


Here are a few tips to keep in mind when feeding your Pictus Catfish:

  • Make sure the food sinks to the bottom of the tank where the Pictus Catfish can easily find it.
  • Remove any uneaten food after a few minutes to prevent it from fouling the water.
  • Consider using a feeding ring to keep the food in one place and make it easier for your Pictus Catfish to find.

Overall, feeding your Pictus Catfish is a simple and enjoyable part of their care. With a little bit of attention and variety in their diet, your Pictus Catfish will thrive.

Personal Anecdote: I used to only feed my Pictus Catfish sinking pellets, but I noticed they weren’t very interested in them. I started adding frozen foods to their diet, and they became much more active and playful during feeding time. It’s been a fun way to interact with them and see their personalities shine.

Common Diseases


I’ve been keeping Pictus Catfish for years and I can tell you that they are generally hardy fish. However, like any fish, they can still be susceptible to certain diseases.

One of the most common diseases that Pictus Catfish can get is Ich, also known as white spot disease. This is caused by a parasite that attaches itself to the fish’s skin and fins, causing small white spots to appear.

Another disease that Pictus Catfish can get is Fin Rot. This is caused by a bacterial infection that attacks the fins, causing them to become ragged and frayed.


The symptoms of Ich include white spots on the fish’s skin and fins, flashing (scratching against objects in the aquarium), and rapid breathing. The symptoms of Fin Rot include ragged and frayed fins, as well as a loss of appetite and lethargy.


If you notice any of these symptoms in your Pictus Catfish, it’s important to act quickly. For Ich, you can use an over-the-counter medication that contains malachite green or formalin.

For Fin Rot, you can use an antibiotic medication like tetracycline or erythromycin. It’s important to follow the instructions on the medication carefully and to remove any carbon from your filter before treating the tank.


The best way to prevent diseases in your Pictus Catfish is to maintain good water quality. Make sure to perform regular water changes and test the water regularly for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.

You should also avoid overfeeding your fish, as uneaten food can lead to poor water quality. Finally, make sure to quarantine any new fish before adding them to your tank to prevent the spread of disease.

Overall, taking good care of your Pictus Catfish can help prevent diseases and keep them healthy and happy. By following these tips, you can ensure that your Pictus Catfish thrive in your aquarium.

Personally, I’ve had to deal with Ich in my Pictus Catfish before. It was a stressful experience, but I was able to treat it successfully with medication and good aquarium maintenance.

Since then, I’ve been extra careful to maintain good water quality and to quarantine any new fish before adding them to my tank.

Signs of a Healthy Pictus Catfish

As an aquarium enthusiast, I have come to learn that keeping fish healthy is not always easy. In fact, it can be quite challenging. However, with the right knowledge and attention to detail, it can be done. Here are some signs that your Pictus Catfish is healthy:

  1. Active Behavior: A healthy Pictus Catfish will be active and swim around the tank. They will not be lethargic or sit at the bottom of the tank.
  2. Good Appetite: A healthy Pictus Catfish will have a good appetite and eat regularly. They will not refuse food or show signs of malnutrition.
  3. Clean Appearance: A healthy Pictus Catfish will have a clean appearance. Their scales should be bright and shiny, and they should not have any wounds or discoloration.
  4. Clear Eyes: A healthy Pictus Catfish will have clear eyes that are not cloudy or bulging.
  5. Smooth Fins: A healthy Pictus Catfish will have smooth fins that are not torn or frayed.

It is important to note that these signs are not exhaustive. They are simply indicators that your Pictus Catfish is healthy. If you notice any changes in your fish’s behavior, appetite, or appearance, it is important to take action immediately. This could involve changing the water in your tank, adjusting the temperature or pH level, or seeking the advice of a veterinarian.

Overall, keeping a Pictus Catfish healthy requires a lot of attention and care. By monitoring their behavior, appetite, and appearance, you can ensure that they are thriving in their environment.

Signs Your Pictus Catfish is Sick

If you’re a Pictus Catfish owner, you know how important it is to keep your fish healthy and happy. Unfortunately, sometimes even the best care can’t prevent illness. Here are some signs to look out for that may indicate your Pictus Catfish is sick:

  1. Loss of appetite: If your Pictus Catfish is refusing to eat, it may be a sign that it’s not feeling well. Keep an eye on this, as a lack of food can lead to other health issues.
  2. Unusual swimming behavior: If your Pictus Catfish is swimming erratically, or seems to be struggling to swim, it may be a sign that it’s experiencing discomfort or pain.
  3. Changes in appearance: If you notice any changes in your Pictus Catfish’s appearance, such as discoloration, spots, or growths, it could be a sign of illness.
  4. Labored breathing: If your Pictus Catfish is breathing heavily or seems to be gasping for air, it may be a sign that it’s not getting enough oxygen.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action right away. A sick Pictus Catfish can quickly deteriorate, and may even die if left untreated.

I once noticed that my Pictus Catfish was not eating and was swimming erratically. I immediately took it to the vet, who diagnosed it with a bacterial infection. With the proper treatment, my fish made a full recovery.

Remember, prevention is always the best medicine. Keep your Pictus Catfish’s tank clean and well-maintained, and feed it a healthy and balanced diet. If you notice any signs of illness, don’t hesitate to seek veterinary care.


Pictus Catfish Care

Breeding Setup

I have found that Pictus Catfish are relatively easy to breed. The first step is to set up a breeding tank that is at least 20 gallons in size.

The water should be soft and slightly acidic with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. The temperature should be around 78°F.

You will need to provide a suitable breeding site for the Pictus Catfish.

I prefer to use PVC pipes or clay pots, as they provide a safe and secure place for the fish to lay their eggs. You should also provide plenty of hiding places for the fry to hide in once they hatch.

How To Breed

Once you have set up the breeding tank, you will need to introduce a male and female Pictus Catfish.

The male will begin to court the female by chasing her around the tank and making clicking noises. Once the female is ready to spawn, she will lay her eggs inside the breeding site.

The male will then fertilize the eggs, and the female will guard them until they hatch. It usually takes around 2-3 days for the eggs to hatch, and the fry will be free-swimming within a week.


Once the fry are free-swimming, you will need to provide them with small live foods such as brine shrimp or microworms. You should also perform frequent water changes to keep the water quality high.

It is important to note that Pictus Catfish are not great parents, and they may eat their own fry. To prevent this, you should remove the fry from the breeding tank and place them in a separate grow-out tank.

Overall, breeding Pictus Catfish can be a rewarding experience. With the right setup and care, you can successfully breed these beautiful fish and watch as the fry grow and develop.

Personally, I have bred Pictus Catfish several times and have found it to be a relatively easy process. The most rewarding part is watching the fry grow and develop their own unique personalities. It’s amazing to see how much they change in just a few short weeks.

Product recommendations for Pictus Catfish:

  1. Hikari Sinking Wafers – This is a high-quality fish food that is perfect for Pictus Catfish. It contains all the essential nutrients that your fish need to stay healthy and vibrant.
  2. API Aquarium Test Kit – It is important to keep an eye on the water quality in your aquarium, and this test kit makes it easy to do so. It includes tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.
  3. Seachem Prime – This is a water conditioner that helps to detoxify ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in your aquarium. It is safe for use with Pictus Catfish and other fish.
  4. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum – If you plan on keeping live plants in your aquarium, this substrate is a great choice. It provides the nutrients that plants need to thrive, and also helps to maintain a stable pH.
  5. AquaClear Power Filter – This filter is highly effective at removing debris and maintaining water quality in your aquarium. It is also very quiet and easy to maintain.
  6. Aqueon Aquarium Water Changer – This device makes it easy to perform regular water changes in your aquarium. It is designed to be safe and easy to use, and can help to keep your Pictus Catfish healthy.
  7. Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter– This is a small and efficient filter that is perfect for smaller aquariums housing Pictus Catfish. It is easy to install and maintain, and will keep the water in your aquarium clean and healthy.
  8. Marina LED Aquarium Kit – This is another great aquarium kit that is perfect for Pictus Catfish. It includes a filter, heater, and LED lighting, and is easy to set up and maintain.


After researching and caring for my own Pictus Catfish, I can confidently say that these fish can make a wonderful addition to any aquarium. They are active, playful, and full of personality. However, they do require a bit of special care to keep them healthy and happy.

If you’re considering getting a Pictus Catfish, be sure to provide them with a spacious tank, plenty of hiding spots, and a varied diet.

They also prefer a slightly acidic pH and a temperature between 75-80°F. Keep in mind that they are social creatures and should be kept in groups of three or more.

It’s important to note that Pictus Catfish can be sensitive to water quality, so regular water changes and maintenance are crucial.

Additionally, they are known to be jumpers, so a tight-fitting lid is a must to prevent any escape attempts.

Overall, I highly recommend Pictus Catfish for any aquarium enthusiast who is up for the challenge of providing them with the proper care.

With the right conditions, they can live for up to 10 years and provide endless entertainment and enjoyment.

Personally, I have grown quite attached to my Pictus Catfish and love watching them swim and play.

They have even learned to recognize me and will swim up to greet me when I approach the tank. It’s a small but rewarding bond that I have formed with these amazing fish.


As a Pictus Catfish owner, I have been asked many questions about these fascinating fish. Here are some of the most common questions I get:

Q: Are Pictus Catfish easy to care for?

A: Yes, Pictus Catfish are relatively easy to care for. They require a tank of at least 30 gallons, a pH between 6.5 and 7.5, and a temperature between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. They are also omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods.

Q: Do Pictus Catfish get along with other fish?

A: Yes, Pictus Catfish are generally peaceful and get along well with other fish. However, they may eat smaller fish, so it’s best to keep them with fish that are similar in size.

Q: How often should I feed my Pictus Catfish?

A: Pictus Catfish should be fed once or twice a day. They are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods such as flakes, pellets, and frozen or live foods. It’s important not to overfeed them as this can lead to health problems.

Q: Do Pictus Catfish need a lot of hiding places?

A: Yes, Pictus Catfish are nocturnal and like to hide during the day. Providing them with plenty of hiding places such as caves, plants, and driftwood will help them feel secure and reduce stress.

Q: How long do Pictus Catfish live?

A: Pictus Catfish can live up to 8 years in captivity if they are well cared for.

Overall, Pictus Catfish make great pets for those who are willing to provide them with the proper care. They are fascinating to watch and can be a great addition to any aquarium.

Personally, I have found that my Pictus Catfish are very active and curious fish. They are always exploring their tank and interacting with other fish. I love watching them swim around and play together. If you’re thinking about getting a Pictus Catfish, I highly recommend it!

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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