Do Pictus Catfish Need a Heater?

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One of the most common question that new pictus catfish owners pose is whether their fish needs a heater. If you read more into the information about the catfish, you’ll find that they are tropical fish that like to live in relatively warm waters. And the tap water you might use is only heated up by the room temperature, which is usually not enough for the pictus catfish.

Yes, pictus catfish need a heater. That’s because they require fairly high temperatures to survive and thrive (between 75-81 degrees Fahrenheit – 23-27 degrees Celsius).  And a heater is especially needed if you keep the tank in fairly low temperatures that are lower than recommended temperatures here.

While the catfish can survive in lower temperatures, it is not recommended to keep them in such conditions. That’s because they are not physically used to lower temperatures, and might suffer as a result. They might start to catch diseases and get conditions, and they will endure fairly high levels of stress. In worst-case scenario, they might even die if they are kept long enough in low temperatures.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why a heater is a necessary piece of equipment if you own a pictus catfish.

What Heater Do You Need for Pictus Catfish?

So now that we’ve established that you do need a heater for the catfish, you might be wondering what type of heater should you get. The choice is pretty straightforward, although there are many heaters out there that you can choose from.

First of all, you will have to consider your tank size and how the heater can handle your aquarium. For larger tanks, you’ll need a more powerful heater, and that’s especially the case if you have several of these fish in the tank.

For example, if you have a 50-gallon tank, you’ll need a 250-watt heater. That’s a fair estimate. But which one to choose exactly?

If you’re looking for a fantastic 250W heater, then you simply can’t go wrong with Eheim Jager. It’s incredibly simple to use, durable and sturdy, and will get the job done. You can adjust the temperatures between 18-34 degrees Celsius (65 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit), giving you plenty of room to play with.

In addition, it’s durable as it’s made from shatterproof glass, and you can install it very easily with the suction cups on the side of the heater. For a 50-gallon tank, this heater is possibly the best choice when it comes to performance and price. This one offers both.

Besides heating, pictus catfish also require clean water, which can be achieved, using a good aquarium filter.

How to Calculate Heater Size for Your Aquarium?

As we’ve already shown, you can use a fairly simple calculation. For every gallon of water, you’ll want to add 5 watts to the heater. That way, you can calculate the heater power very simply – just use your tank size in gallons, and multiply it by 5. That way, you’ll get the number of watts the heater should have.

Can You Keep Pictus Catfish in Outdoor Pond?

One of the most popular questions that many pictus catfish users have is whether you can keep the catfish in the pond. That’s especially typical in the summer, when you want to give your catfish some more breathing space and prevent them from staying in the aquarium all year round.

The answer is yes, you can easily keep the pictus catfish in a pond. But, there are some necessary circumstances that you will need to ensure before you do so.

Firstly, the pond temperatures should be optimal for the catfish. That means that they should be between 23 and 27 degrees Celsius (75-81 degrees Fahrenheit). But that’s certainly not the only thing you’ll need to consider when keeping the catfish in a pond.

There’s also the water conditions, such as the acidity and softness – keep them in check as well. But that may not be that easy if you have a big pond. Additionally, you’ll need to be mindful of the tank mates in the pond. Avoid having smaller fish in the pond, which the catfish can eat. And, you might also want to avoid larger fish that can prey on the pictus catfish.

Can Pictus Catfish Survive in Lower Temperatures?

The pictus catfish can adapt to a degree, and will survive to slightly lower temperatures than normal for a short period of time. They can survive temperatures of up to 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), but only for short periods.

However, exposing the catfish to lower temperatures than that for longer periods can be fatal for the fish. Firstly, it will start to show off as diseases and health problems; after some time, you might see your fish succumb to the diseases and die due to the lower temperatures in the water.

In any case, you should always try to keep the temperatures in the ideal levels – and for that, you might need to get a good heater.

Pictus Catfish Health Effects of Inadequate Water Temperature

Both low and high temperatures can have severe negative impacts on your pictus catfish, which is why you should always try and keep the temperatures in the ideal realms. What can you expect to see if the water temperatures are wrong? What are the effects on the pictus catfish?

  • Low water temperatures will cause bacterial infections, fungus, and they will also compromise the immune system of your catfish. These temperatures can have bad consequences quite quickly if you’re not careful, so try to avoid this scenario.
  • High water temperatures can result in oxygen depletion, causing your catfish to struggle to get enough oxygen. After some time, their health gets compromised, as will their immune system.

Avoid both extremes, and try to keep the temperatures within the recommended numbers. It may be hard to do so, but not with a good heater.


Pictus catfish are tropical fish that need relatively high water temperatures. When you want to keep these fish in your tank, you’ll have to consider buying a heater for the aquarium.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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