Introduction

The Pictus cat is a small sized freshwater ray finned fish which is also known as Angelicus catfish, Polka Dot Pictus or Polka Dot Catfish. It is very popular fish among the aquarium hobbyist due to their hardiness and beautiful color pattern. It is a native to the Amazon and Orinoco River in Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Brazil. It is a shoaling fish which form shoal in groups of 6 or more individuals. It is found in shallow flowing water over sandy or muddy substrate including both major river channels and their tributaries.

Pictus Catfish’s Overview

The pictus cat has an elongated body with moderately large head. Body is silver in color with black colored marks and lines. Black spots are also present on dorsal, caudal and adipose fins. Due to the markings, the Pictus Catfish is also known as Polka Dot Pictus or Polka Dot Catfish. It has down turned mouth with three pairs of whiskered barbels. The barbels are long and cylindrical that can extend up to the base of the caudal fin. Dorsal fin bears one strong spine with 6 soft rays. The caudal or tail fin is large and deeply forked with sharply pointed lobes. There are two color forms are seen such as the Peruvian and Columbian forms. The Peruvian variety has dalmatian-like spots which are larger on the body and smaller around the head. The Columbian variety has much smaller less defined spots. It is omnivorous fish and in wild, it mainly feeds on aquatic invertebrates. In captive condition it readily accepts meaty items such as live or frozen bloodworm, beef heart, vegetables, prepared fish foods, Tubifex or small earthworm. They also eat very small fish such as Neon Tetras depending on the size of Pictus Catfish. It prefers water chemistry with pH of 6.5-7.5, hardness of 4-15 dH and water temperature of 72-77°F. It grows up to 12 cm in length and its average lifespan ranges from 4 to 8 years.

Scientific Name: Pimelodus pictus

Common Name: Pictus cat, Polka Dot Pictus or Polka Dot Catfish, Angelicus catfish

Origin: South America

Adult Size: 12 cm in length

Behavior: Peaceful

Tank Level: Bottom dweller

Minimum Tank Size:  70 gallons

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Egg layer

Care level: Easy

Water pH: 7.0-7.5

Water Hardness: 4-15 dH

Water Temperature: 72-77°F

Water Movement: Strong

Lighting:  Dim lighting

Lifespan:  4-8 years

Background Pictus Catfish

Pimelodus pictus was first described by Austrian zoologist and ichthyologist Franz Steindachner in 1876. It belongs to the family Pimelodidae under order Siluriformes of Class Actinopterygii. The genus name “Pimelodus” derives from the Greek ‘pimele’ meaning fat and ‘odous’ meaning teeth. The species name “pictus” derives from Latin words which literally means painted and it refers to the spots on its body.

Housing Pictus Catfish

The Pictus cat is very popular among the aquarium hobbyist due to their bright silver coloration on their body, head and fins. It requires at least 50 gallons tank or larger is recommended. It is a very active swimmer and the aquarium should have shaded areas like plants, driftwood or rock caves with plenty of swimming spaces. It prefers clean, soft and slightly acidic water with strong filtration with a good current. Pictus Cats should be kept in small groups of 3 or more individuals in a community tank.  They are not aggressive fish and can be kept with other Pictus cat. Suitable other tank mates include Rainbowfish, medium to large-sized characins, cyprinids and tough catfish such as Loricariids or Doradids. 25 – 50% of the tank water should be changed at least once a month. If the tank is densely stocked, 20-25% should be replaced weekly or every other week.

Recommended Plants

Check out recommended plants for Pictus Catfish

Feeding Pictus Catfish

The Pictus Catfish is omnivorous fish and in wild, it mainly feeds on aquatic invertebrates. In captive condition it readily accepts meaty items such as live or frozen bloodworm, beef heart, vegetables, prepared fish foods,  Tubifex or small earthworm. They also eat very small fish such as Neon Tetras depending on the size of Pictus Catfish. Feed should be offered twice a day.

Breeding Pictus Catfish

The pictus catfish is the most attractive among the aquarium enthusiasts. There is no available information about the breeding of this species.  It is an egg-laying catfish that is very difficult to breed in captive condition. In captivity, this Pictus Catfish prefers a soft water environment to breed. Under suitable condition the female lays eggs that are then fertilized by the male. Parents do not take care of their eggs or young.

Sexing Pictus Catfish

It is not easy to make differences between male and female. The female pictus catfish is slightly bigger and bulkier than a male.

Pictus Catfish for sale and where to buy

Pictus catfishes are one of the more peaceful fish that adds beauty to your aquarium. There are two color forms appear for sale. The first one is Peruvian variety which has large dalmatian style spots all over its body with smaller spots around the head. The other one is Colombian variety that has many more spots that are smaller, less clearly defined and almost pin-prick size on the fish head. You can buy it from online aquarium fish shop from your home by ordering them. To buy your favorite variety, see below online vendor that I would recommend from.