Why Is My Pictus Catfish Hiding all the Time?

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Pictus catfish are an interesting fish species. They are an energetic fish species, as they like to swim around a lot and keep everything interesting. They are also very interesting to look at, with their long barbels and the subtle, elegant colors that they wear on their bodies.

They are also very natural hiders. Often, they will move around the tank, looking for some natural hiding spots that you have created for them. It’s not unusual to see your catfish hide in those hiding spots without a particular reason.

However, in a lot of cases, there is an underlying reason for this excessive hiding. And as a new owner of the fish, it might be frustrating to see this happen. Sometimes, it’s the natural thing that the pictus catfish just do.

In other cases, you will have to investigate further and find possible reasons for this behavior. It might be due to stress, or maybe just because your fish aren’t fully adapted to the new conditions just yet.

Whatever the reason is, we’ll take a look at the most common reasons why pictus catfish hide, and how you can solve them.

Reasons Why Pictus Catfish Hide

Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why pictus catfish hide.

1. Aggressive Tank Mates

One of the primary reasons why your catfish might start to hide is due to aggressive tank mates. Every animal species will get intimidated by larger, more aggressive species. And the same goes for fish, especially catfish, which can be easily agitated by aggressive fish species.

The main solution for this is obviously to keep only the friendly fish next to the pictus catfish. Also, larger fish than the catfish can be an intimidating prospect. So you should aim to keep the fish with the catfish that are friendly, and of a similar size to the catfish.

2. Overcrowded Tank

When a tank is overcrowded, it’s pretty easy to spot that. You will see an increasing hiding behavior with your catfish; some fish might also get more aggressive and territorial.

And the catfish will usually require quite a lot of space to live. If you are keeping them for breeding, then you should aim for very large aquariums. But in most cases, you will need relatively large tanks in order to accommodate your pictus catfish.

If you’re keeping a pictus catfish, then you might want to keep several of these fish together. They are shoaling fish, and they feel much safer when they are kept in a group. So a larger tank will be required in order to keep them safe, but also to give them more space to live.

3. Feeling Insecure

One of the more common problems is that the catfish might feel insecure as a result of the fact that they are kept alone in the tank. As they are a shoaling fish, they want to have company of at least 4 or more other pictus catfish.

That might require you to add more tank size, which ties nicely with point 2. Both go hand in hand, and you will want to keep the tank large enough for all the fish while also giving the fish more security by keeping around several other pictus catfish.

And the problem might start to show even more when you keep other fish with the pictus catfish. That’s when they can start to hide, but they can also start hiding away from you as they will feel insecure and intimidated of you. Keep 5 or more pictus catfish together in the tank, and you’ll see much less of this hiding from your fish.

4. Poor Water Conditions

It might surprise you, but poor water conditions can have several effects on your pictus catfish. One of the most common ways that this might start showing is when the fish start hiding. That may be due to the poor water conditions – temperature, pH. levels, poor water quality, or other water problems that might be causing them to hide.

Just like with other fish, you will have to keep constant maintenance and make sure that the water parameters are in check constantly. What is more, you’ll want to take constant measurements of the pH., temperature, and softness to get a clear idea of what you need to do.

You will need a filter to keep ammonia out of the water, and to make sure there is no dirtiness. Also, you’ll probably need a heater, since the pictus catfish require slightly higher temperatures as they are tropical fish.

5. Sickness or Parasites

Last but not least, the hiding might be due to a sickness or parasites that your fish might be carrying. When they start to hide excessively, and you also start to notice other health problems or behavioral changes (avoidance, they stop eating, they appear lethargic or agitated), then you should really start to consider a visit to your vet.

In some cases, the hiding might happen naturally as a completely natural behavior. But, when you notice other symptoms of sicknesses and diseases, that’s when you should start to worry about the hiding and start to consider a vet.

How to Keep Your Pictus Catfish Happy?

Keeping your catfish healthy and happy is your ultimate goal. But for this, you will need to keep constant maintenance, good diet, and the proper water conditions.

  • Keep the catfish in shoals of five. That way, they’ll start to feel more secure and won’t hide as much.
  • Make sure you place friendly and non-aggressive fish next to them.
  • Give them more than enough space to live comfortably.
  • Make regular water maintenance and checks, which should go without saying. That includes the temperature, the acidity, the water hardness, and other key elements that constitute a quality of water.
  • If needed, take them to the vet and consult with your vet.


Seeing your beloved pictus catfish hide around your tank is not a pleasuring sight. You want to see it more, because they are so beautiful. And when they start to hide around, it might be due to several reasons. Hopefully, you have a better idea of what you can do to stop them from hiding.

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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