Pictus Catfish Size: 5 Astonishing Facts You Won’t Believe!

Pictus catfish, or Pimelodus pictus, are popular aquarium fish known for their striking appearance and active behavior. They are native to South America and are commonly found in the Orinoco and Amazon river basins. One of the most frequent questions prospective owners ask is about pictus catfish size.

These unique and beautiful fish can grow considerably, making them an impressive addition to any aquarium. In this article, we will explore the typical size of Pictus cats and how to ensure they have enough space to thrive in a home aquarium.

Understanding their size and space requirements is essential for providing a healthy and comfortable environment for these stunning fish. 

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced aquarist, learning about the size of Pictus catfish will help you make informed decisions when choosing tank mates and designing their habitat. So, let’s dive into the world of Pictus catfish and discover more about their size and care needs. 

What is the Maximum pictus catfish size?

The pictus catfish max size is approximately 5-8 inches in length. These popular freshwater aquarium fish are known for their sleek, silver bodies and distinct black and white spotted patterns.

Pictus catfish is one of the active swimmers and is commonly found in the Orinoco and Amazon river basins in South America. They are known for their peaceful nature and can be kept in community tanks with other non-aggressive fish species.

Pictus Catfish

In their natural habitat, pictus catfish are omnivorous and feed on small fish, insects, and crustaceans. In captivity, they typically consume meaty foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and small pellets.

These fish require a well-maintained aquarium with plenty of hiding spots and open swimming areas. Given the proper care and environment, pictus catfish can live up to 8-10 years in captivity and make a lively addition to any freshwater tank. 

The pictus catfish full size depends on its environment:

pictus catfish size In captivity:

  • Average: 3-5 inches in length
  • Maximum: 6 inches in length (rarely achieved)

pictus catfish size In the wild:

  • Maximum: Up to a yard long (although rare)

Here’s a breakdown of the size variations:

  • The most common size in home aquariums is 5 inches
  • Unlikely to exceed 5 inches in a home aquarium
  • Possible size with ideal conditions: 6 inches in a giant aquarium
  • Maximum size in the wild: Up to a yard long (documented cases exist)

It’s important to remember that these are just estimates, and individual fish may grow larger or smaller than average. Factors like tank size, diet, and water quality can also impact their final size.

5 Astonishing Pictus Catfish Size Facts!

The Pictus Catfish, with its vibrant black and white markings, is a popular choice for freshwater aquariums. But beyond their beauty, these fish have some surprising facts about their size. Here are five of the most astonishing:

Captive vs. Wild Size:

While wild Pictus Catfish can grow up to 12 inches long, those in captivity typically reach only 5-6 inches. This difference is attributed to the limitations of aquarium size and diet.

Late Bloomer:

Pictus Catfish are slow growers, taking several years to reach their full adult size. You can enjoy their unique personality and markings long before they outgrow your tank.

Schooling Behavior:

Despite their relatively small size, Pictus Catfish are schooling fish. They prefer to be kept in groups of at least 5-6. This social behavior can be fascinating to observe in your aquarium.

Maximum Potential:

Pictus Catfish have been known to reach up to 8 inches in length in exceptionally large aquariums with ideal conditions. However, this is rare and requires significant commitment and resources.

Importance of Pictus Catfish Tank Size:

While the average Pictus Catfish may only grow to 5 inches, they are active swimmers and require a spacious tank. A minimum of 55 gallons is recommended for a small group, with larger tanks preferred for larger groups.

Bonus Fact:

Pictus Catfish are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active at night. This can be a fun fact to share with fellow aquarists or curious children.

If you’re considering adding a Pictus Catfish to your aquarium, remember these astonishing facts about their size. By providing them with the proper care and environment, you can enjoy these beautiful and fascinating fish for many years to come.

Is the Pictus Catfish Right For Your Aquarium?

The Pictus Catfish (Pimelodus pictus) is a small, attractive, and active species of catfish that can make a great addition to many freshwater community aquariums.

Their unique spotted pattern and playful behavior make them popular among hobbyists. However, specific requirements must be met to keep these fish happy and healthy.

The pictus catfish boasts semi-translucent caudal and dorsal fins, with the dorsal fins exhibiting slightly greater transparency than the caudal fins.

Here are some things to consider before adding a Pictus Catfish to your aquarium:

Size and tank requirements:

  • Pictus Catfish grow to be 5-6 inches long as adults. They need a minimum tank size of 30 gallons, but a larger tank is preferred as they are active swimmers.
  • They are nocturnal fish and appreciate a dimly lit tank with plenty of hiding places like driftwood, caves, and plants.

Water parameters:

  • Pictus Catfish prefer slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.0-7.0 and a hardness of 5-15 dGH.
  • The water temperature should be kept between 72-82°F.


  • Pictus Catfish are omnivores and will eat various foods, including pellets, flakes, frozen, and live food, such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and blackworms.


  • Pictus Catfish are generally peaceful fish but can be aggressive towards smaller tankmates. They should not be kept with fish that are much smaller or slower than them or fish that are fin-nippers.
  • They are schooling fish and do best in groups of 3-5.

Pictus catfish Lifespan:

  • Pictus Catfish can live for 4-8 years with proper care.

Here are some pros and cons of keeping Pictus Catfish:


  • Unique and attractive appearance
  • Active and entertaining to watch
  • Peaceful community fish
  • Relatively easy to care for
  • Can help control snail and algae populations


  • Need a large tank
  • Require specific water parameters
  • Can be aggressive towards smaller fish
  • Nocturnal fish, so may not be seen as much during the day

Overall, the Pictus Catfish can be a great addition to a freshwater community aquarium if you can meet their specific needs.

Pictus Catfish Care Guide Tips & Species Profile

The Pictus catfish (Pimelodus pictus) is a beautiful and exciting freshwater fish native to South America’s Amazon and Orinoco River basins.

They are popular pets in the aquarium trade due to their striking black-and-white coloration, peaceful nature, and relatively easy care requirements.

When it comes to their care, it’s essential to ensure they have a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat, including plenty of hiding spots and open swimming space.

Pictus catfish are best kept in groups of five or more, as they are social fish and thrive in the company of their kind. They are omnivorous and should be fed a varied diet of high-quality flake or pellet food and live or frozen food such as bloodworms or brine shrimp.

Maintaining good water quality and providing regular water changes are essential to keep these fish healthy and thriving. Overall, with proper care and attention to their specific needs, Pictus catfish can make a stunning and entertaining addition to any freshwater aquarium. 

Here is a comprehensive guide to caring for Pictus catfish:

Habitat and Tank Requirements:

  • Tank size: Pictus catfish are relatively large fish, reaching up to 12 inches in length. They require a large tank of at least 55 gallons for a single fish, and larger tanks are recommended for multiple fish.
  • Water parameters: Pictus catfish prefer warm, soft, acidic water with a pH of 6.0-7.5 and a temperature of 75-82°F.
  • Filtration: A powerful filter is essential for maintaining good water quality in a Pictus catfish tank.
  • Substrate: Pictus catfish prefer a soft sand substrate.
  • Decorations: Provide plenty of hiding places for your Pictus catfish, such as caves, driftwood, and plants.

Pictus Catfish Diet and Feeding:

Pictus catfish are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods, including sinking pellets, flakes, frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, and live food.

  • Feed them twice daily, once in the morning and once at night.
  • Pictus catfish are nocturnal feeders, so feeding them after the lights are turned off is important.

As these fish spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, you must provide them with food that will drift down to their level. This could include sinking pellets, bottom feeder tablets, or frozen foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp.

Pictus Catfish Tank Mates:

  • Pictus catfish are peaceful fish and can be kept with other community fish.
  • However, they are unsuitable for small fish tanks, as they may eat them.
  • Good tank mates for Pictus catfish include Giant Danios
  • Opaline gouramis
  • Raphael striped catfish
  • Other Pictus catfish

Breeding pictus catfish:

  • Pictus catfish are relatively easy to breed in captivity.
  • A breeding tank should have soft, acidic water and plenty of hiding places.
  • The fish will spawn after a water change and a decrease in temperature.
  • The parents will care for the eggs and fry, which will hatch in about a week.

Common health problems for Pimelodus pictus:

  • Pictus catfish are generally healthy fish, but they are susceptible to ich and other parasitic infections.
  • Stress can also lead to health problems.
  • Maintaining good water quality and quarantining new fish are important before adding them to your tank.

Additional Tips:

  • Pictus catfish are sensitive to changes in water parameters. It is important to make water changes slowly and carefully.
  • Pictus cats can be shy and may not come out during the day. Provide them with plenty of hiding places and avoid overlighting the tank.
  • Pictus catfish are social fish and do best in groups of 3 or more.

Is Breeding the Pictus Catfish easy?

No, breeding Pictus Catfish is extremely difficult in captivity. They require large groups, specific water conditions, and a large tank to spawn.

Are Pictus catfish aggressive?

No, Pictus catfish are generally not aggressive but may eat small fish that can fit in their mouths. They are non-territorial and do best with peaceful tankmates. They’re cute, and we love their long barbels.

Can a Pictus catfish live in a 10-gallon tank?

No, a 10-gallon tank is too small for a Pictus catfish. They need 55-75 gallons to swim around comfortably and should be kept in groups of 5-6.

How many Pictus catfish can I put in a 40-gallon tank?

A 40-gallon tank needs to be bigger for even one Pictus catfish. They need 55 gallons minimum and are best kept in groups of 5-6, making a 40-gallon tank overcrowded and unsuitable.

What is the minimum tank for a Pictus catfish?

The minimum tank for a single Pictus cat is 55 gallons. 75 gallons is ideal for groups, with additional space for each fish.

What is the best catfish for a 10-gallon tank?

The best catfish for a 10-gallon tank is the Corydoras Catfish. They are peaceful, grow only 2-3 inches, and come in many varieties. Otocinclus Catfish are also a good option, as they are small and algae-eating.

Can glass catfish live in a 10-gallon tank?

No, glass catfish need at least 30 gallons. They are active, need space to swim, and thrive best in groups of 5+. A 10-gallon tank would be too small and stressful.

Why is my catfish attacking my other fish?

Catfish may attack other fish due to territorial behavior, hunger, or stress. Ensure adequate hiding spots proper feeding, and monitor tank conditions to minimize aggression in your aquarium.

Are Pictus catfish predators?

Yes, Pictus catfish are predators. They will actively hunt and eat small fish that fit in their mouths. While generally peaceful, they are not suitable for community tanks with small, docile fish.


In conclusion, the Pictus Cat is truly a fascinating creature that captivates aquarium enthusiasts worldwide. Its unique appearance, with its shimmering silver body and striking black spots, adds a touch of elegance to any tank. Beyond its beauty, this aquarium catfish species also possesses an energetic and playful nature, delighting observers with its lively antics. However, it’s important to note that the pictus catfish size can be large, reaching up to six inches. So, if you’re considering adding this stunning fish to your aquarium, provide ample space to accommodate its growth. Remember, a happy and healthy Pictus Catfish starts with giving it room to flourish!

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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.

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