What Do Pictus Catfish Eat? (Not what you think!)

Affiliate Disclaimer:

FishKeepingAnswers.com is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site we may earn a commission.

Pictus Catfish are omnivores by nature. This means they will eat almost anything they can fit in their mouths. In the home aquarium, Pictus Catfish should be fed a varied diet which includes sinking pellets and a mixture of live and frozen bloodworm, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae.

I keep a small group of Pictus Catfish in with my Lemon Oscars. The Pictus catfish do not stop swimming from the moment the lights come on until they go off again. Pictus Catfish bring constant movement to an aquarium.

Pictus Catfish (Pimelodus pictus), is an active, bottom-dwelling catfish native to the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. Pictus catfish spend most of their time searching for food using their elongated whiskers.

Below is a list of foods that can be fed to a Pictus Catfish

  • Bloodworm
  • Daphnia
  • Mosquito Larvae
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Mysis Shrimp
  • Sinking Pellets
  • Algae Wafers

Can Pictus Catfish Eat Flake Food?

Pictus Catfish are essentially scavengers and as such, they will happily eat any flake food they come across. Flake food itself is not designed to provide a Pictus Catfish with enough goodness to keep it going.

I previously kept a 155-gallon tank which was a mixed community and one of the foods I fed was a flake, but that wasn’t intended to be the Pictus Catfish main meal, they just hoovered up all the leftovers for me.

What Pellets Should Pictus Catfish Eat?

Pictus Catfish will eat any sinking pellets intended for tropical fish. I have had great success with both Carnivore Sinking Pellets and Vibra Bites, both of which are made by Hikari. I also feed my Pictus Catfish a lot of Fluval Bug Bites.

Will Pictus Catfish Eat Algae Wafers?

Pictus Catfish will happily eat small algae wafers. The vitamins and nutrients in the algae wafer make a useful addition to the Pictus Catfish overall diet. Whilst they will eat algae wafers, Pictus Catfish will not eat algae in any other forms.

They won’t eat hair algae or beard algae and they do not have the right-shaped mouth to remove algae from the aquarium glass like a pleco would do.

Do Pictus Catfish Eat Plants?

Pictus Catfish won’t eat plants, either live plants or dead and decaying leaves. Be aware though, if you have live plants in the aquarium with your Pictus Catfish, make sure the plants are a tough variety (like Amazon Swords or Java Fern) and they are well rooted or anchored down.

Whilst the Pictus Catfish are swimming around, and especially if they find a tasty bit of food, they will break or uproot delicate plants.

Will Pictus Catfish Eat Other Fish?

Yes, Pictus Catfish will eat other fish. Any fish small enough to fit into the mouth of a Pictus Catfish will end up there. Pictus Catfish will cruise around the tank at night and use their long whiskers to find a meal. That meal will certainly include a sleeping Neon Tetra or small Rasbora.

If you are wanting to feed your Pictus Catfish small baitfish (either whole or chopped up), then the answer is still yes. Pictus Catfish will relish the addition of some fish to their diet.

Will Pictus Catfish Eat Shrimp?

Yes, Pictus Catfish will be more than happy to eat any shrimp they come across. Pictus Catfish should not be kept with cherry shrimp as all your shrimp will disappear overnight.

How Often Should I Feed My Pictus Catfish?

As with all fish, feeding your Pictus Catfish 3 or 4 small meals a day is better than one large meal. The second advantage of feeding your Pictus Catfish several times a day is it gives you the opportunity to vary the food you feed them.

I feed my Pictus Catfish pellets first thing in the morning, then during the day, I feed them either frozen bloodworm or daphnia. In the evening I feed Vibra Bites sinking sticks.


How Much Should I Feed My Pictus Catfish?

You should feed your Pictus Catfish as much as they will consume within a few minutes. Start by dropping in a couple of pinches of food. If they are consumed quickly, drop another couple of pinches of food in. Repeat 3 or 4 times. If the Pictus stop feeding, don’t add any more food until later.

In Conclusion

Pictus Catfish spend their entire day looking for food. They cruise around the substrate looking for anything that will fit in their mouths. Feed them little and often and make sure you feed them a variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James

Article Sources