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Pimelodus pictus   Steindachner, 1876

he "Pictus cat" is the most popular member of the 300 or so species of the Pimelodidae family and as such is well recommended for a community tank of mid-sized fish as long as they are not "Neon Tetra" size as they will be picked off when they are enjoying their night-time cruises.

Pimelodus pictus

They use their very long barbels for rooting around the bottom for food and they may cause a bit of disruption in their quest for a bite to eat! Another point to take into consideration is their sharp pectoral and dorsal spines as they can puncture your skin if handled carelessly and of course they can easily puncture the fish bags that they are transported in from the aquarist shop to your home, so a plastic container would probably be best for this task. I found out first hand of the difficulty of transporting "Pims" from Peru when on a collecting trip last year (2000) as they were constantly piercing the sides of the plastic bags and I lost the specimens that I was transporting due to this trait.

You can sometimes see this fish captioned in the aquatic outlets as "Angelicus cats" which is a bit of a misnomeener as Synodontis angelicus from Africa is usually given this common name and it would seem that this name was given when they were first imported in the 1960's with the invalidated scientific name of "Pimelodella angelicus".

Pimelodus pictus

The picture above shows you the extreme lengths of the maxillary barbels which can sweep back to the end of the caudal fin.This genus has been in confusion for a good number of years now especially with another close member of the family, Pimelodella, below are the following characteristics from the two genera.

Pimelodella : Adipose fin long, low with a curved margin. The humeral process is long and spikey. 
Body usually plain with a dark lateral stripe; rather depressed body.

Pimelodus: Adipose fin short, high, with a straight or sloping margin. Humeral process broad, triangular. 
Body variously patterned, usually quite deep, like Synodontis.

Surface of head covered with thin skin. The occipital process has a broad base then tapers posteriorly where it comes in contact with the predorsal plate. The frontal fontanel does not extend posteriorly beyond the level of the eyes. The barbels are long and cylindrical, the maxillary barbels extending to the base of the caudal fin. Dorsal fin has a strong spine and 6 rays. The caudal fin is large, deeply forked and the lobes sharply pointed.

Silver body with black spots and reticulations. Spots smaller on head. Black stripes to caudal fin. Black spots in dorsal and adipose fins.

They do make a nice addition to a mid-sized community tank. A few journals quote that you can keep them singly but in my experience they are never very happy in this scenario and do prefer a few of their own companions , at least 4 should suffice. They apparently don't take too kindly to hard water, as my own supply is very soft I don't have that problem. Not recommended for a community tank of mid-sized fish as long as they are not "Neon Tetra" size as they will be picked off when they are enjoying their night-time cruises.

No instances have been recorded as yet.

Not a problem as they will eat just about anything. They do like earthworms and other meaty foods such as whiteworm, and frozen bloodworm. Tablet food is also greedily taken.

Pimelodus: Pimel = fat; odus = tooth.
pictus : Painted

Glossary of Terms:
Maxillary barbels : Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)
Humeral process : Bony extension of the pectoral girdle.
Occipital process : A median bone on the upper surface of the back of the head; pertaining to the occiput.
Fontanel : The space(s) between the bones on top of the skull covered by skin.

Howes, Gordon. A Note on Pimelodella and Pimelodus, C.A.G.B.
Baench, Aquarium Atlas 2, 1993.
Burgess E.Warren Dr. Atlas of Freshwater & Marine Catfishes 1989.

Photo Credits
Leigh Murphy
Factsheet 061

Common Name:
Pictus Cat
South America: Amazon and Orinoco River basins
11.5cm. (4½ins)
20-26°C (67-79°F)    
up to 10° dGH
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                                                                                                        Factsheet 61= updated December 15, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top