Pictus Catfish

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Pimelodus pictus - Steindachner, 1876
Pictus Catfish

A natural schooler that needs to be kept in groups of three or more to thrive. Aaron Norman


The Pictus Cat or “Pim” is a striking silver and black catfish with a wide mouth and long, flowing barbels. It is an active schooling catfish and reportedly pines away if not kept in groups in the aquarium.

It will also happily eat small fish it encounters and is thus suited to a community of larger species.

Occasionally called "Pim Angelicus," but this is a misnomer.

Family: Pimelodidae

Other common name(s):

  • Pim
  • Polka-dot Catfish
  • Pim Angelicus

Native range:

Habitat: Pimelodus pictus prefers a tank that is densely planted but with ample open space in the center and strong filtration to create water movement. Gravel should be fine grained and smooth.

Maximum length: 10 cm (4 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 114 L (30 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Bottom to midwater


Carnivore. In the wild, feeds on small fishes, insect larvae, assorted aquatic crustaceans and other invertebrates. Provide a diet of more meaty commercial catfish fare, such as flakes, sinking wafers with shrimp, and live and frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp and white worms. They eagerly accept chopped earthworms. Feed first thing in the morning and just after the lights are extinguished at night.

Aquarium Compatibility

The “Pim” is a popular aquarium fish because it is so active. When kept in groups of at least three, this nocturnal catfish will be seen swimming in the open during the day.


Not known in the aquarium.


Maintain with larger fishes, as smaller fishes may be eaten. Use only nets with a tight weave to capture these fishes, as they have sharp spines that may be damaged or injure the aquarist.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: AN
Text credit: KW