Pictus Catfish Care Guide – Diet, Breeding & More

Pictus Catfish in an aquarium

The Pictus Catfish is known for its colorful appearance and personality, which makes for a great overall pet to have. 

There are a number of unique things about this fish that are worth considering before making a decision either way.

Pictus Catfish Appearance

This catfish has a silver body with lots of black spots. It also has transparent fins and long whiskers, which makes for an interesting look to say the least. There are also the white barbells, which reach to their caudal fins.

While there are some differences in physical appearance between males and females, they are fairly subtle. These females tend to be a little bigger with a more rounded shape once they have stopped developing. These fish can grow up to five inches and live as long as 10 years.


These catfish are not territorial or aggressive like some other varieties of this species. They are also quite active, so you’ll likely see your swimming around quite a bit. This is just one of the many things that make them excellent overall pets.

Natural Habitat

The Pictus Catfish can be found in warm rivers and streams throughout South America. These fish also favor sandy riverbeds with strong water flow.

Pictus Catfish

Pictus Catfish Care Guide

1. Tank Setup

It is important that you have a tank with a capacity of at least 45 gallons for these catfish. As we mentioned above, they are very active swimmers and therefore require a good amount of space in their habitat.

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You should also put in a sandy substrate, as this mimics their natural habitat. A more abrasive gravel substrate can work, but it’s not quite as good. You should have a number of plants as well, but make sure they are spaced out appropriate so your fish has plenty of room for swimming. They should have a good amount of shady areas in their tank.

driftwood is another important thing to have in your catfish’s aquarium, so you’ll want to keep that in mind. You’ll need a filter that is fairly powerful, as you need to simulate the water flow of a river.

You don’t want the tank to be brightly lit, as these fish are nocturnal by nature. Some subtle lighting might get them to swim around during the day.

2. Water Conditions

The water in your catfish’s tank should always be between 75 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 7 to 7.5. You will want to clean the tank fairly regularly, as these fish are particularly sensitive to nitrates. Installing a high-quality filter that is fairly powerful will help to keep the water clean so your fish stays healthy over time.

3. Pictus Catfish Tank Mates

Since these catfish aren’t very aggressive or territorial, you won’t have to worry about them fighting your other fish. You should, however, be careful when it comes to keeping smaller fish in the same tank with them. There is a chance that they could eat fish that are significantly smaller in size.

Some of the best fish to keep these ones include the striped Raphael Catfish, Loricaridds, and Doradidae. All of these fish are decently large and not in any danger of being eaten by this catfish at all.

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Pictus Catfish swimming e1580761217550

4. Pictus Catfish Food

You should keep your Pictus Catfish on a steady diet of high-quality pellets that sink, as these fish tend to spend a lot of time at the bottom of their tank. This will make it easier for them to get to their food.

It is also a good idea to give these catfish the occasional invertebrates, including brine shrimp. Frozen and live foods are also acceptable, including blackworms and Bloodworms. A good, well-balanced diet can go a long way towards keeping your fish healthy for years to come.

Common Health Problems

These fish can develop problems with White Spot and Ich, which are both fairly common among this species. It is important that you lookout for signs of illness, including lethargic behavior and lack of appetite. Both of these things are strong indications that something is very wrong with your fish. 

Catfish in general have a reputation for getting sick very quickly once they contract a disease, so you must keep this in mind. The sooner you identify a problem and provide them with treatment, the better off they are going to be.

Pictus Catfish Breeding

If you are interested in breeding these catfish, you need to keep in mind that doing so at home is very hard for numerous reasons.

One of the biggest obstacles in breeding these fish is having a tank that is large enough. You will need a minimum 200-gallon tank for this, which is not a viable option for everyone. Keeping your Pictus Catfish in a tank that is smaller than this drastically reduces the chances of them breeding.

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Sexing these fish can also be quite problematic, though females tend to be a little bigger than their male counterparts. There aren’t a lot of other noticeable physical differences between the two sexes though. The best thing you can do is to put a lot of these fish together and hope for the best.


  • The Pictus Catfish is characterized by a silver body with black spots and transparent fins.
  • These fish are not aggressive or territorial like some other members of this species.
  • The active overall nature of these catfish means that you’ll need a minimum 45-gallon tank for just one of them.
  • Make sure that you put a good amount of vegetation and shady areas in this fish’s tank.
  • Smaller fish don’t make for very good tankmates, as these catfish might eat them.
  • You should give your catfish a high-quality pellet diet with some alive and/or frozen food.
  • Brine shrimp make for good food to give these catfish sometimes.
  • Whitespot and Ich are two common diseases these fish can contract.
  • Breeding Pictus Catfish is very difficult and requires a minimum 200-gallon tank.