Are Pictus Catfish Aggressive: 5 Sneaky Signs & Quick Fixes!

Pictus Catfish, also known as Pimelodus Pictus, is a popular pet fish for many aquarium enthusiasts due to their unique appearance and active nature. But are pictus catfish aggressive towards other tank mates?

However, there is a common misconception that these aquariums catfish are peaceful and non-aggressive. In reality, pictus cats can exhibit aggressive behavior under certain circumstances, which can become a cause of concern for their tank mates and even for their keepers.

In this article, we will explore the various signs of aggression in Pictus Catfish and provide quick fixes to handle the situation effectively. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced aquarium fish keeper, it is crucial to understand the behavior of your fish to maintain a harmonious tank environment.

By recognizing the subtle signs of aggression and implementing simple solutions, you can ensure a peaceful coexistence among your aquatic pets.

So, if you have Pictus Catfish in your tank or are considering adding them to your aquarium, read on to learn about the sneaky signs of aggression and how to address them before they escalate into a problem. 

Are Pictus Catfish Aggressive?

No, Pictus catfish are generally not aggressive towards other fish. They are even considered to be good community fish, meaning they can peacefully coexist with other non-aggressive species. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Pictus catfish are opportunistic feeders. This means that they will eat any fish that is small enough to fit in their mouths. This includes smaller fish, shrimp, and invertebrates. If you are planning on keeping pictus cat with other fish, make sure that the other fish in the tank are large enough to avoid being eaten.
  • Pictus catfish can be territorial with each other. This is especially true if you have multiple males in the same tank. If you find any signs of aggression, such as chasing or fin-nipping, you may need to separate the fish.
  • Pictus catfish are active fish. They may outcompete other bottom-dwelling fish for food and resources. It is best to keep only pictus catfish with other active fish that can hold their own.

Here are some tips for keeping pictus fish with other fish:

  • Provide plenty of hiding places. This will help the fish to feel secure and reduce stress.
  • Feed the fish regularly. This will help to reduce aggression and competition for food.
  • Keep the water clean and well-oxygenated. This will help to keep the fish healthy and reduce stress.

With proper care, pictus cats can be a great addition to your community aquarium.

Will Pictus catfish eat other fish species?

Yes, Pictus catfish are known to be peaceful community fish and generally will not eat other fish species. They are omnivores, and their diet consists of small insects, larvae, and small crustaceans.

In a well-maintained home aquarium with plenty of hiding spaces and suitable tank mates, Pictus catfish will not pose a threat to other fish species.

Pimelodus Pictus Catfish

However, it is essential to note that if a Pictus catfish feels threatened or if they are not provided with enough food, they may exhibit predatory behavior towards smaller fish.

It is also possible that they may mistake smaller fish for food if they are hungry. It’s best to provide a balanced diet and monitor the tank closely to ensure the well-being of all fish species present.

Overall, if properly cared for and provided with appropriate tank mates, Pictus catfish should not pose a threat to other fish species in the aquarium. 

Remember: Pictus catfish are highly active and can rapidly stress out other bottom-dwelling tank mates. It’s advisable to populate the bottom of the tank solely with other pictus catfish to ensure a harmonious environment.

5 Main Reasons Why Pictus Catfish Become Aggressive

While generally peaceful fish, Pictus Catfish can get aggressive in different situations. Here are five main reasons why:

1. Insufficient Space: Pictus Catfish are highly active and social freshwater fish. They require a spacious tank, preferably at least 75 gallons for a single fish or a group. When kept in cramped quarters, they become stressed and territorial, leading to aggression towards other fish and even their kind.

2. Inadequate Shoaling: Pictus Catfish thrive in large groups, ideally a minimum of 5-6 but preferably 12 or more. In smaller groups, they may feel insecure and become aggressive to establish dominance. A larger group provides a sense of security and helps distribute aggression more evenly.

3. Competition for Resources: When competing for food, hiding places, or other resources, Pictus Catfish may exhibit aggression towards each other or other tank mates. Ensure ample food is available for all fish, provide enough hiding spots like caves and driftwood, and choose compatible tank mates with different feeding habits and territory needs.

4. Poor Water Conditions: Fluctuating water parameters, especially high ammonia or nitrate levels, can stress Pictus Catfish, leading to aggression. Maintain stable water conditions within the ideal range for Pictus Catfish (pH 6.0-7.5, temperature 75-82°F) and perform regular tank water changes to keep the tank clean.

5. Incompatible Tank Mates: Certain tank mates can trigger aggression in Pictus Catfish. Avoid aggressive fish species, fin nippers, or fish that compete for the same resources. Opt for peaceful, bottom-dwelling companions like Corydoras catfish or Otocinclus catfish. Additionally, be wary of introducing new fish too quickly, as this can disrupt the established hierarchy and cause aggression.

Additional factors:

  • Age and Size: Pictus Catfish become more territorial and aggressive as they age and reach their full size.
  • Illness or Injury: A sick or injured Pictus Catfish may become aggressive due to pain or stress.
  • Breeding Season: During the breeding season, Pictus Catfish may become more aggressive to protect their territory and offspring.

By understanding the causes of aggression in Pictus Catfish, you might take steps to prevent it and create a peaceful and harmonious environment for your fish.

pictus catfish aggression (Quick Fixes)


  • Larger tank: Pictus catfish are active swimmers and need ample space. If your tank is crowded, it can lead to aggression. Consider upgrading your tank size if necessary.
  • Hiding places: Provide plenty of hiding places like caves, driftwood, and plants. This gives them space to retreat when stressed or overwhelmed.
  • Dim lighting: Pictus cats are nocturnal and prefer subdued lighting. Bright lights can stress them, leading to aggression.
  • Regular water changes: Maintain good water quality by performing regular water changes. Ammonia and nitrate buildup can stress the fish and increase aggression.


  • Introduce new fish slowly: When adding new fish to the tank, do so slowly and gradually. This allows the pictus catfish time to adjust and establish their territory.
  • Quarantine new fish: Quarantine any new fish before adding them to the main community tank to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Choose compatible tankmates: Do your research and choose tankmates that are peaceful and compatible with pictus catfish. Avoid aggressive fish or fish that compete for the same resources.
  • Maintain a balanced gender ratio: In a group of pictus catfish, it’s best to have a balanced ratio of males to females. This can help to reduce competition and aggression.


  • Feed them a varied diet: Provide a balanced diet of high-quality sinking pellets, frozen foods, and live foods like bloodworms. This ensures they get the proper nutrients and reduces competition for food.
  • Feed them regularly: Feed your pictus catfish twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. This helps to prevent aggression that can arise from hunger.
  • Avoid overfeeding: Overfeeding can foul the water and lead to aggression. Only feed them what they can eat in a few minutes.

Monitor and Address:

  • Monitor their behavior: Pay close attention to your pictus catfish and observe their behavior. Identify any signs of aggression, such as fin-nipping, chasing, or cornering other fish.
  • Remove aggressive fish: If a particular pictus catfish is consistently aggressive, it may need to be removed from the tank and housed separately.
  • Seek professional advice: If you’re struggling to control your pictus catfish’s aggression, consult an experienced aquarist or veterinarian for advice.

Additional tips:

  • Dither fish: Adding small, fast-moving fish like dither fish can distract the pictus catfish and reduce aggression.
  • Plants with thick leaves: Choose plants with thick leaves, like Anubias or Amazon Sword, as they can withstand the occasional nip from a pictus catfish.
  • Salt baths: In extreme cases, a short salt bath can be used to treat stress and aggression. However, consult a veterinarian before using this method.

By following these quick fixes and monitoring your pictus catfish closely, you can help to create a peaceful and harmonious tank environment for all your fish. Remember, patience and consistency are vital in managing aggression in your aquarium.

How Big of Tank Does a Pictus Catfish Need?

The Pictus Catfish is a popular freshwater aquarium fish known for its sleek, silver body and striking black spots. When it comes to tank size, Pictus Catfish requires a minimum of a 55-gallon tank. These fish species are active swimmers and need plenty of space to roam and explore.

A larger tank is always better as it provides more room for the Pictus Catfish to swim around and reduces the chances of territorial disputes with other tank mates.

Additionally, a larger tank allows for better water quality and easier maintenance. It’s important to provide hiding spaces and plenty of plants and decorations to mimic their natural habitat.

A well-maintained, spacious tank will help ensure the health and well-being of the Pictus Catfish, as well as create a visually pleasing environment for the hobbyist. Overall, a larger tank with plenty of swimming space and hiding spots is essential for the proper care of these active and friendly fish. 

Here’s a breakdown of recommended tank sizes based on the number of Pictus Catfish:

  • 1 Pictus Catfish: 55 gallons minimum
  • 2-3 Pictus Catfish: 75-100 gallons
  • 4-5 Pictus Catfish: 150 gallons
  • 6+ Pictus Catfish: 200+ gallons

Remember, these are just guidelines. It’s always best to consult with a knowledgeable fishkeeper or aquarist before setting up your Pictus Catfish tank. They can help you determine the ideal tank size based on your specific needs and setup.

Recommended Pictus Catfish Tank Mates

Pictus Catfish are generally peaceful bottom feeders that can make fantastic additions to a community tank. However, it’s essential to choose tank mates carefully due to their size and potential temperament. Here are some recommended Pictus Catfish tank mates:

Peaceful Fish:

  • Giant Danios: These active fish are similar in size and temperament to Pictus Catfish and can occupy the upper water column.
  • Rainbow Sharks: These peaceful fish are also similar in size and temperament and can add color to the tank.
  • Opaline Gourami: These large, peaceful gouramis are beautiful and can beat a wide range of water parameters.
  • Bucktooth Tetra: These schooling fish are peaceful and can add activity to the tank.
  • Rubber Pleco: These algae eaters will help keep your tank clean and are peaceful enough to cohabit with Pictus Catfish.
  • Blue Gularis Killifish: These small, colorful fish are peaceful and can add interest to the tank.
  • Zebra Danio: These peaceful and active schooling fish are a good choice for larger tanks.

Other Considerations:

  • Tank Size: Pictus Catfish can grow up to 12 inches, so they need a large tank with plenty of swimming space. A minimum fish tank size of 55 gallons is recommended for a single Pictus Catfish, and larger tanks are needed for groups.
  • Temperament: While Pictus Catfish are generally peaceful, they can be territorial towards other fish, especially fish of similar size or shape. It’s essential to monitor your fish closely and be prepared to separate them if necessary.
  • Diet: Pictus Catfish are omnivores and need a varied diet of high-quality pellets, flakes, and live or frozen foods.
  • Water Parameters: Pictus fish prefer warm water (72-82°F) with a slightly acidic pH (6.0-7.0).

Pictus Catfish Care & Pet Fish pictus catfish diet

Pictus catfish are popular aquarium fish known for their sleek silver bodies and attractive spotted patterns.

When it comes to their care, Pimelodus pictus need a large aquarium with plenty of hiding spots and clean, well-oxygenated water. They are social creatures and should be kept in groups of at least three to prevent stress.

Pictus catfish are omnivores, so their diet should include a variety of fish foods such as high-quality sinking pellets, frozen or live food like bloodworms or brine shrimp, and some plant matter. 

It’s important to provide a balanced diet to ensure their overall health and well-being.

Overfeeding can be a concern with pictus cat fish, so it’s important to monitor their food intake and not overfeed them. With proper care and a well-balanced diet, pictus catfish can thrive and make a beautiful addition to any aquarium. 

Breeding the Pictus Catfish: A Challenging Task

Breeding the Pictus Catfish (Pimelodus pictus) is notoriously difficult in captivity. While it is an egg-laying species, replicating the specific conditions needed to trigger breeding is a complex and often unsuccessful process.

Here’s what we know about breeding Pictus Cat fish:


  • Difficult to sex: Differentiating between male and female Pictus fish is challenging, making it difficult to set up a breeding pair.
  • Specific environmental requirements: They require warm water (75-82°F), a neutral to slightly acidic pH (7.0-7.4), and moderate water hardness (5-15 dGH).
  • Sensitive to changes: Fluctuations in water parameters can stress the fish and hinder breeding attempts.
  • Large group preference: Some believe they require a large group to spawn, making dedicated breeding setups necessary.

Conditions for breeding:

  • Large breeding tank: Mimic their natural environment with a spacious tank (minimum 55 gallons) and plenty of hiding places like caves, driftwood, and plants.
  • Dim lighting: Pictus fish prefer subdued lighting conditions.
  • Water quality: Maintain pristine water quality with regular water changes and filtration.
  • Live food: Offer a varied diet rich in live foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and blackworms to condition the fish for breeding.
  • Triggering spawning: The specific trigger for spawning remains unclear, but some speculate that simulating seasonal changes in water temperature or introducing dither fish could be helpful.

Breeding process:

  • Egg laying: The female lays eggs on flat surfaces or inside caves.
  • Fertilization: The male fertilizes the eggs.
  • Parental care: Both parents care for the eggs, fanning them with their pectoral fins to keep them oxygenated.
  • Hatching: The eggs hatch after 4-6 days, depending on water temperature.
  • Fry care: The fry is initially tiny and requires infusoria or finely crushed food for several weeks.

Additional notes:

  • Successful breeding in captivity is rare, so be prepared for setbacks.
  • Patience and meticulous attention to detail are crucial for success.
  • Researching and learning from experienced breeders is highly recommended.
  • Consider contacting Pimelodus pictus breeding groups or forums for specific advice and support.

Will Pictus Catfish Fight Each Other?

Yes, Pictus catfish can fight, especially males or in cramped spaces. Provide a larger tank and ample hiding spots to minimize aggression.

What is the maximum Pictus Catfish Size?

The maximum size of a Pictus Catfish is 6 inches (15 cm). However, in captivity, they typically only grow to 3-5 inches (7.5-12.5 cm). 

What is the most aggressive catfish?

The redtail catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) is often considered one of the most aggressive catfish species. Its territorial nature and predatory instincts contribute to its reputation for aggressiveness.

Can Pictus catfish sting you?

Yes, Pictus cats have a mildly venomous sting in their dorsal fin. It feels similar to a bee sting and is harmless to humans but can cause pain and swelling. Handle with caution!

Why is my catfish attacking my other fish?

Your catfish may be attacking other fish due to territorial behavior, hunger, or stress. Ensure proper tank size, hiding spots, and feeding to minimize aggression and promote a harmonious environment.

Are Pimelodus Pictus catfish good community fish?

Pictus catfish can be good community fish for medium-sized or larger peaceful species, but avoid keeping them with small fish as they may become prey. They are active at night and need ample space to swim. Consider keeping them in a group of 3 or more for their social needs. 

How big do Pictus catfish grow?

Pictus catfish typically grow between 3-5 inches (7.5-12.5 cm) in captivity. In huge tanks, they can reach a maximum size of 6 inches (15 cm).

Can pictus catfish live in a community tank?

Pictus catfish can live in a community tank, but they may prey on smaller tank mates. Provide hiding spots and choose tank mates wisely to ensure compatibility and minimize potential aggression.

What fish can you keep with a Pictus catfish?

Pictus catfish prefer peaceful, larger fish like giant Danios, opaline gourami, or Raphael striped catfish. Avoid small fish like tetras as they may be eaten.

Can you keep 2 pictus catfish together?

Yes, you can keep 2 Pictus catfish together, but it’s important to provide enough space and hiding places to prevent aggression. Aim for a planted tank size of at least 55 gallons and ensure there are plenty of caves, driftwood, and plants.

Where do pictus catfish live?

Found in South America, pictus catfish call the warm, flowing waters of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins home.


With their mesmerizing striped pattern and peaceful demeanor, Pictus Cats are a popular choice for freshwater aquariums. But are you worried they might be too aggressive for your peaceful community tank? Fear not! These gentle giants are known for their calm and non-territorial nature. While they can grow quite large, they are primarily scavengers and pose no threat to other fish their size. In fact, they make excellent tankmates for a variety of species, adding both beauty and personality to your underwater world.

So, are Pictus Catfish aggressive? The answer is a resounding no! These fascinating fish are an excellent choice for aquarium hobby fans of all levels, offering a unique and delightful addition to your aquatic ecosystem.

You might also like

About Me

I am the founder of, a devoted wife and mother, and an avid fish enthusiast. My aim is to assist fellow fish lovers worldwide in understanding how to properly care for and breed their pet fish.

Recent Posts

Stay Updated

Get outdoor trends, data, new products, and tips delivered to your inbox.

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top