Pimelodus pictus

9. January 2023

Among the large antenna catfishes (Pimelodidae) Pimelodus pictus belongs to the dwarfs. Scientifically proven are 11-12 cm length, but in the aquarium, where these fish can become very old, also 25 cm are said to have occurred. In nature these fishes probably do not live longer than 2-3 years, the keeping record in the aquarium is 18 years. 

Anyway, P. pictus is a very attractive fish, if kept correctly. This includes a lot of swimming space, because the catfish is highly active, and company of at least 5, better 10 or more conspecifics. Individually kept specimens are shy. P. pictus, also known as Angel Catfish, is a diurnal catfish. Older specimens become calmer and appreciate retreats (roots and caves). Aquaristically, the species, which was scientifically described as early as 1876 and is very widely distributed in Amazonia (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela), was not discovered until 1968. Aquaristic expeditions to Colombia led to the fish being initially imported into the United States. The fanciful name “Pimelodus angelicus” (i.e. “Angel-like Pimelodus”), which promoted sales, certainly contributed to its popularity, but also the fact that in the USA less importance was traditionally attached to planted aquariums. People preferred to keep relatively large, herbivorous, representative fish like the Silver Dollars (Metynnis and Myleus) and cichlids. There the Pimelodus pictus fitted well to it.

Pimelodus pictus leaves plants and even relatively small fish completely alone. However, to be on the safe side, by-fish should not be much smaller than about one third of the body length of the Pimelodus. No one has tried to breed these fish so far, which are free spawners without brood care, at least no breeding reports have become known.

For our customers: the fish have code 279804 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesale.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer