site logo

Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Catfish > Pictus cat
14 visitors reading profiles


This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

South America


Pictus cat

Pimelodus pictus


    One of the most active fish I have seen the Pictus cat needs a large tank as it can suffer from lack of exercise In smaller aquariums.

Quick stats:


    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: up to 5" (12cm)
    Tank: 48 inches
    Strata: Bottom-middle
    PH: 6.5 to 7.5
    Hardness: Soft to hard. dH range: 2.0 - 15.0
    Temperature: 73°F to 82°F (23-26°C)


    Order: Siluriformes
    Family: Pimelodidae
    Genera: Pimelodus
    Species: Pictus

TPictus cat


Common name:

    Pictus cat, Pimelodella, Pim

Image gallery:

    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    South America, The Amazon and Orinoco river basins.

General Body Form:

    An elongated catfish that has long barbels extending from the mouth. It has a large head and a wide mouth.


    The basic body color is sliver spattered with many black spots. These spots are also seen on the transparent fins. The three pairs of barbels that extend from the mouth area are white.


    The tank should be fairly large as the Pictus is an active swimmer and needs plenty of open spaces. Although a 36 inch may suffice I believe the standard 48 inch, 55 gallon would be better. Generally an easy to care for fish the Pictus cat should present few problems. Preferring to be kept in schools when young, they tend to form smaller groups when mature. When kept in small groups this nocturnal fish will be seen out and around more often during the daylight hours. Feeding is not an issue as the pictus will accept all types of food, being an insect eater it is beneficial to feed live food on occasion and frozen bloodworms or brine shrimp when live is not available. The tank should be planted toward the rear and include large areas of open space for swimming as well as areas for hiding such as caves, driftwood and roots. The substrate should mimic its home and consist of fine sand or gravel. Clean, soft and slightly acidic water with strong filtration and a good current is ideal. They are great tankmates for the larger community cichlid aquarium, smaller species such as neons will be eaten. A note of caution, the spines are very sharp and can cause injury to you and the fish if mishandled. It is better not to use a net but rather some sort of plastic container (or bag, watch for leaks) when buying or moving this fish.

    photo courtesy of Aqualand pets plus

    The spikes are very sharp!



    Found swimming above all types of bottom substrates: muddy, sandy and even small pebbles of shallow small tributaries of its home range.


    Unknown, may be do to not reaching sufficient size or sexual maturity in the home aquarium. It is thought that the females are larger and more plump than the males.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: BritandChris
Not normally aggressive they can certainly defend themselves I've always kept them in threes. Oh and a note on the barbels, They are incredibly sharp and seem to get sharper still with age I have my typical set of three and at three inches long for the largest they're already slicing up the plastic plants. Related Note: They slice PLASTIC plants, when adding new live plants consider hardier specimens and surround them with plastic plants until well established, also consider their location, because a cruising Pictus with excess energy is a force to be reckoned with. As far as netting is concerned use an appropriately sized plastic bottle, From a 20oz Gatorade bottle or even a 2Ltr. Cut the top off and punch a whole bunch of holes in it from the inside out with an icepick or awl. I promise you will never cut another net or injure another long whiskered catfish like this one ever again! When they get big, and they will, a good deep plastic colander and possibly a mesh splash guard work awesome too. Both can be borrowed from the kitchen. Boil them before you use them and never use them for anything else ever!
From: Audrey
I have 2 pictus in a 36 gallon tank. They are very active, constantly chasing each other and circling on one side of the tank from top to bottom. After I had one of them get a side fin stuck in a traditional net I found a 6 inch brine shrimp net with none of the large holes like a regular net, and I have had no more problems with them getting stuck in the net. If it helps I found it at PetSmart and it has an extra long handle to make it easier to catch fish that also hang out at the bottom of the tank. I hope this help for anyone having problems with their spiny sides getting stuck in the net!
From: Colleen
I just picked up my first Pictus yesterday and wow what a lively fish. The person at the pet store said that they weren't the kind of fish that need their own company. I'll see how it does before I get another. It seems to get along fine with my tiger barbs. (My cats go crazy over this new addition to the tank.)
From: Dan Strecker
If you take the plastic mesh bag onions come in,and a coat hanger and shape it like a net. Then sew the plastic mesh netting on to it. You will have a net that the catfish wont get tangled in.
From: Tim Holyoake
I have 6. Swimming in a 5 ft 110 (Imperial)gallon tank. They are VERY Active and VERY sociable. 5 angles live with them, and because they are above them they are left alone. 3 African giant shrimp make up the clean up crew, along with a bristlenose (Nobody bullies a Bristle Nose, Not even a pictus).
These are not aggressive fish, but anything small enough to go into the mouth will do so. And the mouth is VERY large. Also they do not go around anything that they can go through. Other bottom dwellers are not really happy with these as tank mates.
They are stunningly beautiful fish, and easy to care for. Great fun to watch and great characters. I think that mine is possibly the smallest set up for them and would really like an extra foot on the tank.
"An only Pictus is a lonely Pictus"
From: Joe
These fish are very active. I have 3 fully grown pictus cats in my 75 gallon tank. I have very strong filtration. Two AquaClear 110's. And lots of air pumps. The pictus cats thrive in the tank, I only have 3 other fish with them!!! I feed them small cut up chunks of beef heart and color bits. They are all 8 inches long. I recommend good filtration for these fish because they love the current. And please don't jam them in a little 20 gallon or less, At least a 35 gallon please!!!
I've had my pictus for a year and a half now.(I bought him at a size of 2 inches. He's now over 5 inches long!) The poor guy has survived a wide (and sometimes dangerous) range of ph balances. A long power outage where the tank temperature dropped to 50 degrees. An unplanned "walk" across my carpet. And a whole host of other tough scenarios. He currently resides as the "king of the lower realm" in my 55 gallon long. His tankmates include 2 albino cory cats,an albino chocolate pleco, and anywhere from 40 to 60 fancy guppies. Keeping to himself during the day, you can see him in his log "home". But when it's lights out - he wants his algae and shrimp pellets! Very docile, and I never had any problems with him and the other fish. I love how this catfish seems to have developed his own personality.
From: Kevin
I love my pictus, where he's a brute he's pretty fun to watch hoot around the tank. He's pretty active, but likes to be left alone at times. Right now I have him in a 20 Gallon but I need to get him into a new tank. I've had some issues with mine, it's eaten a sucker fish, killed a great danio, and a tiger barb and eaten 3 other smaller fish as well. But other than his eating's the man. My first fish, and I love it
I had two of these amazingly beautiful fish in a 110 Gal 5ft tank. I bought some dodgy stock from my LFS and one of them died. An only pictus is a lonely pictus. He /She just went off and hid under a large (He / She is about 6 inches long and because of the inactivity rather fat...)piece of bog wood. I have waited about 6 months to rid myself of the pestilence and make sure that all has settled down again. About two weeks ago I bought two new young fish (about 1 1/2 inches) and these two are really beating the place up (in a VERY nice way). The older Pimelodus pictus however is still sulking. I hope it will join in at a later date. But maybe the young oiks are just a little too much for this very respectable old lady or gentleman. It shows itself at feeding time, and at night when it is dark. When it does, it is a really beautiful sight. Date:07/14/2006
I have 3 of these Fish and they are very active and love to play on my bubble blower that I put in my 45gl tank, they zip right to the food that I feed them .I like to feed them bloodworms. (They love bloodworms)and also flake food. They go pretty much with any 3 inch fish without long flowing fins. DO NOT PUT NEON TETRAS WITH THIS FISH OR THE PICTUS WILL HAVE A LITTLE SNACK!!!.They also grow very fast. I bought them at 2 inch little boogers and they grew into 6 inch monsters in just 5 months. I keep mine with 2 Dwarf Gouramis and 2 blue Gouramis in a 45 gl tank. They are also very hardy and make them great fish for beginners....and one last thing, dont ever catch them with a net.
From: Dennis B.
These fish are a wonderful addition to my cichlid/mixed community tank. They coexist with Jack Dempsey pair, giant danios, large bala sharks, gold algae eaters, bristle nose plec, and a leporinus fasciatus. These two pictus cats are usually on the move (towards evening) or resting together in a rock cave. Being predators I feed them frozen blood worms and brine shrimp at least once daily, although I have observed them taking other foods. They eat to excess and one always gets a round belly after feeds. I did get the net caught when adding the second fish to my tank. Having read that it is easier to cut the net section off that is stuck to the fish, I carefully cut around the spine to free the fish. A few minutes after releasing him the net was off his spine without stress or difficulty. I agree that if the fish gets caught, just destroy the net and cut the section off...your fish will free himself promptly!! Make sure your tank is roomy so they have appropriate swimming space and your fish will provide you with hours of activity to enjoy. Add that to their beauty and it makes an excellent fish to own.
From: DJ Cancer
I have 2 Pimelodus. I agree with them being great with cichlids. I see them chasing the cichlids from time to time. They like to go belly to belly in a vertical state and start twisting about each other. Im not sure what this does. I can only think of one reason they would do this since they don't seem to do it with any other fish. The whisker on these fish are huge. It looks like they are as long as the fish themselves. I do use a net to catch them but I have a net just for them the holes are bigger and I don't mind cutting the net if they get tangled. I have only had two occasions on where they have gotten caught. Its mostly the top fin that gets stuck but what ever you do make sure you hold back the front side fins. If you don't you will get a nice surprise and a Band-Aid.







Privacy Policy | Contact Badman's Tropical Fish
Copyright ©
All rights reserved. Reproduction of any portion of this website's content is forbidden without written permission.