Pictus Catfish Tank Size – Important Things to Consider

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It is quite important for this black dotted silver beauty called the Pictus Catfish to have enough space for itself in the tank. People started to keep this species at home a long time ago. After many years of sharing their experiences, it has become crystal clear how big the aquarium should be.

The Pictus Catfish needs at least a 50-gallon fish tank in order to thrive. In case the tank is smaller than that, then your little pet is still going to live, but he is not going to have a good time. It is important to aim for the best conditions if you want to ensure that your fish stays healthy and striving.

After all, you should want them to live a long and enjoyable life. We are going to show you exactly how to do that by helping you choose the perfect aquarium size for your fish.

What is the Best Size Aquarium for Pictus Catfish?

Now first off, the Pictus Catfish is a schooling fish. You should keep them in a group of 5 or 6 so that they can feel calm and secure. This is also what they got used to out in the wild. For a school like that one, it is best to buy a fish tank that is bigger than 100 gallons.

This might seem a bit too large for you, but that’s the correct answer to the question. At home, you need to try your best to replicate their natural habitat. This includes providing them enough space so that they feel less constrained. The bigger the tank, the better the conditions.

You can also fit more driftwood, hiding places and live plants into the tank. There will be a larger surface area covered by fine gravel or sand as well. Your Pictus Catfish will have much more to explore.

How Many Pictus Catfish Can You Keep Together in 50 Gallons?

We could almost say that no matter how small the tank is, you would still need to keep at least 5 Pictus Catfish together. Since they are shoaling fish, it is simply not good for them to keep them in smaller numbers. If you insist on buying on a 50-gallon tank, then feel free to keep them in a group of 5.

It leaves you some room to add a couple tank mates as well. You can end up with a pretty decorative aquarium with 3-4 species in it. Of course, a smaller tank requires more frequent water changes. Otherwise, contaminants can quickly build up and it will eventually make your little pets sick.

If you want to set up such a community tank, then it is definitely not a good idea to go below 50 gallons.

Will Pictus Catfish Fight in Overcrowded Tank?

The Pictus Catfish is not an aggressive species in general. An overcrowded tank doesn’t make them aggressive either. The lesser space they have for swimming around, the higher the chance that they are going to get stressed about it. In that case, instead of attacking other fish, they will swim against the glass more and more often.

If you notice them head-butting the aquarium, then you should start thinking about buying a larger tank. The other alternative is to remove some of the other fish from the community and place them into a separate tank. Either way, the Pictus Catfish needs a big enough territory of its own in order to thrive.

The only semi-aggressive behavior you will notice from them is when they start to chase each other. This only happens if you keep them in a group of less than 5.

Can Pictus Catfish Live in a 10 Gallon Tank?

The Pictus Catfish is rather small, reaching only 5 inches in size when it becomes an adult. So why is a 10-gallon aquarium not enough for them? You might ask. The truth is that different fish species require different tank conditions and this doesn’t always depend on their size.

You should take into account how much space they need out in the wild. In the case of the Pictus Catfish, it turns out that you need to buy at least a 50-gallon tank for a small school. You definitely don’t want to see your fish stressfully head-butting the aquarium glass over and over again.

In a 50-gallon tank, they can live a healthy life and thrive rather comfortably. It will be a delight to watch how they interact with each other and swim around in normal conditions. In a 10-gallon tank, on the other hand, they would be mad pretty much all the time.

Can You Keep One Pictus Catfish in 30 Gallon Tank?

Now here comes the interesting part. If a 50-gallon tank is ideal for a school of 5 Pictus Catfish, then why can’t you just keep a single one in a 30-gallon tank? Well, because it doesn’t change the fact that we are talking about a very active species. If you keep them in a school, they thrive together.

If you keep the Pictus Catfish alone, it wants to thrive the same way and requires a territory of the same size. Therefore, a 30-gallon tank would be too small for a single fish in the same way it would be for a group of 5. Even if you want to keep only one of them, you will still need to buy an aquarium of at least 50 gallons of size.

This way, you can easily ensure stable water parameters and enough swimming space as well.


As you can see, you need to learn a bit more about the nature of the fish in question in order to buy the perfect aquarium. Every fish breed has unique needs and the Pictus Catfish is no exception. They are very active schooling fish that need plenty of space, especially if you want to mix them with tank mates.

In the end, we can conclude that they require an aquarium that is somewhere between 50 and 100 gallons in size. Of course, if you buy one that is bigger than 100 gallons, it will be even more enjoyable for them.

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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