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Catfish of the Month Right Arrow March 1997 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded March 01, 1997



Pictus, Engelwels (Germany), Pictus Cat, Pictus Pimelodus, Pimpictus - Pimelodus pictus   Steindachner, 1876

Moving catfish can be a tricky business. Most have spiny rays leading their dorsal (top) or pectoral (shoulder) fins. These rays can get entangled and as a result the fish become difficult to separate from the net. Pimpictus, along with the Doradiids (Talking Catfish) and Synodontis are major culprits when it comes to net destruction. Personally I find the best way to deal with this is to put the captured catfish and net into the intended destination, put out the lights and let the fish disengage itself. This seems to work well, but if after an hour or so the fish is still stuck then a pair of scissors will do the job at the cost of a net.

The Pim Pictus is a scaleless catfish and so seems to be more susceptible to White Spot (Ich) than many other catfish. Make sure when you are purchasing this fish that it and its tankmates are entirely free of White Spot and that they are well fed. This fish is easy to feed, but often they are imported in an underfed state and never fully recover from this.

The fish swims gracefully yet will become almost hyperactive at feeding time. As you can see below a large shoal is quite a sight! Two colour forms appear for sale. The first, Peruvian, variety has large ''dalmation'' style spots all over its body with smaller spots around the head. The other, Colombian, variety (which reportedly grows larger) has many more spots that are smaller, less clearly defined and almost pin-prick size on the fish's head. This differentation should only be used when comparing fish of a similar size as both patterns change with age. Although the beautiful colouration changes with age, older fish have the same brilliant blue-silver colour and graceful appearance.


Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Pimelodus pictus  Steindachner, 1876
Common Name(s) Pictus
Engelwels (Germany), Pictus Cat, Pictus Pimelodus, Pimpictus
Type Locality Rio Hyavary, Peru-Brazil border.
Synonym(s) Pimelodella picta, Pimelodella pictus
Pronunciation pim ee LOW duss - PICK tuss
Etymology (Greek)Pimele=Fat + (Greek)odous=teeth. This specific epithet literally means painted(pictus=painted) and refers to the spots on its body.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 120mm (4.7") SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification Two colour forms appear for sale. The first, Peruvian, variety has large ''dalmatian'' style spots all over its body with smaller spots around the head. The other, Colombian, variety (which reportedly grows larger) has many more spots that are smaller, less clearly defined and almost pin-prick size on the fish's head. This differentiation should only be used when comparing fish of a similar size as both patterns change with age.
Sexing Unknown.
General Remarks Pimelodus pictus have small hooks on the dorsal and pectoral fins that are notorious for getting stuck in nets. It's best to use a plastic container to catch the fish, rather than a net.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
Distribution Amazon and Orinoco River basins: Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.
Amazon (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Orinoco (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
pH 5.8 - 6.8
Temperature 22.0-25.0°C or 71.6-77°F (Show others within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding An unfussy general carnivore. Most prepared are taken and the fish will gorge itself on live or frozen foods to a point where the aquarist must be careful not to feed too much in one sitting. Bloodworm induces a feeding frenzy and is good for acclimatizing new acquisitions. The fish will eat huge amounts in one day, its belly swelling to resemble a marble and can happily live off this for up to a week.
In nature the diet consists largely of invertebrates (such as insect larvae and crustaceans), but also found to eat fish.
Furniture Swimming space is needed as this fish likes to swim especially around feeding time. You will see much more of this fish during the day if you have relatively dim lighting.
Compatibility Peaceful, but will soon eat smaller fish, such as neon tetras, but otherwise harmless. It is considered good to keep these fish in a group of at least five fish. When kept alone, they do not appear quite as happy and active as when kept in a group.
Suggested Tankmates Larger active fish such as tetras and gouramis. Most barbs are no good company as they tend to nip fins and barbels. They should be kept in (small) groups. Most singly kept specimens will pine away eventually. Angelfish and other ''graceful'' fishes may be bothered by this species' barbels particularly during lights-out.
Breeding Unreported.
Jump to next section Further Information
References Sitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Wienv. 74 (1. Abth.) - pp144 [96]
Registered Keepers (1) MatsP (k: 5), who also notes: "Unfortunately, I lost these interesting fish one after another due to some mystery illness problem during a few months.", (2) synoguy, (3) chris 1, (4) Trident2004, (5) jenny, (6) cats4me, (7) GreenSynoMan, (8) Topaztas, (9) crewfish13, (10) lazymf, (11) Jackp1ne (k: 3), (12) fishie650, (13) Cicolid, (14) ElectricYellowPlecostomus, (15) kcmt01, (16) Chi-Chi, (17) Igowoof, (18) smithrc, (19) Dawg57, (20) k1ttyme0w, (21) Hammerhead (k: 2), (22) ranmasan (k: 4), who also notes: "Very active swimmers; much happier in a shoal of at least 3 or 4 of similar size", (23) AngelicusFish, (24) Occellatus, (25) icekiki, (26) Plecofanatic1989, (27) nuth88, (28) H-TRAIN, (29) daniel60 (k: 3), (30) TJD911 (k: 2), (31) Walter, (32) GoGoCactus, (33) unblinded (k: 2), (34) Mrs.JP, (35) RedTail Cat, (36) rosemarydawn, (37) tezr (k: 2), who also notes: "lots of fun to watch feed. Very fast little bottom skimmers.", (38) steelhead99 (k: 3), (39) alderfish, (40) griffl (p: 8, k: 9), who also notes: "Lived about ten months without its maxillary barbels.", "Added second pictus. Immediate positive reaction from first pictus. Appears to be true that species is happier with companion.", "Added another pictus to make a pair. Both fish are very happy.", "Decided to have a happy trio.", "From past experience, they prefer more than one to have running partner.", "Prefers being in group. More active than if solo.", (41) midnightrider (k: 2), (42) CubCariboo (k: 5), (43) Plunt (k: 2), (44) corycat, (45) Cdn Glenwood, (46) San, (47) Guanlong_wucaii, (48) joe.juice13, (49) synosteve (k: 2), (50) luv4jjt, (51) wardcorp (k: 2), (52) Scythy (k: 2), who also notes: "Very active and playful!", (53) Fishaliciousfish (k: 2), (54) aledk85 (k: 6), (55) austinb420 (p: 5), (56) kubastanik, (57) GixxerBabe, (58) JDogg, (59) abradley, (60) launcap (k: 2), (61) AimsPink, (62) Ebisu (k: 6), (63) Clammage (k: 3), (64) pokerbunny, (65) Auscat17 (k: 2), (66) flowaz (k: 2), (67) catfish hippy man DS, (68) Waterboy, (69) Tasplec (k: 2), (70) iam1ru12 (k: 3), (71) Birger, (72) novice (k: 5), (73) Sumners83, (74) ali12345 (k: 3), (75) EagleC, (76) GT_ERE95, (77) abaigael04 (k: 3), (78) bapachu, (79) andycapdnz (k: 2), (80) chemma (k: 5), (81) willis30, (82) darkhighlord, (83) neelhound (k: 2), (84) nlabe6 (k: 6), (85) Minty23, (86) shadowcat (k: 4), (87) OddOscar, (88) Greg Curtis, (89) HaKkEr, (90) dean30bb, (91) ewurm, (92) lnumbers63 (k: 2), who also notes: "Had these 2 fish when I first started stocking my tank. Had three but lost one after about 6 months. Very interesting catfish that you see all the time. Always on the move. The large barbels are a talking point.", (93) stuart henson, (94) arcsb (k: 5), (95) ayrtoninst (k: 18), (96) Patzee (k: 2), (97) Jyynx, (98) LowClassCC, (99) pickles4601, (100) Fish (k: 3), (101) Tigerlily08, (102) Viktor Jarikov, who also notes: "Quite shy and elusive. Good eater, when not picked on. Ours does not have that many spots as on the pic.", (103) samoht333, (104) danny.450, (105) jscoggs27 (k: 5), (106) ocnluv13, (107) Dalek Tzet (k: 3), (108) after (k: 2), (109) Cory_lover (k: 4), (110) taninsama, (111) highoctane500 (k: 2), (112) manlyfish, (113) Mqktandy, (114) michiganraised, (115) cmoney, (116) MichaelC95, (117) 000, who also notes: "Only one now :(", (118) markhinch, (119) mrfishydude, (120) Ughmental, (121) Brisch, (122) Mezel, (123) hankinswood, (124) Rtyrpics, (125) jimlaroche83 (k: 2), (126) Shaun, (127) araceae (k: 2), (128) Quo, (129) Buddiechrist, (130) snowflake311, (131) maynard1982 (k: 8), (132) JamesStuddart, (133) nerdoutlaw, (134) DeepFriedIctalurus (k: 2), (135) sasdrum, (136) linden09, (137) Starfish42 (k: 5), who also notes: "Two of the fish are distinctly fatter and generally larger than the others. I'm pretty certain these are female. Nice, active fish, always chasing each other. Amazing whiskers!", (138) browny85, (139) TheInfamous, who also notes: "Gorgeous. Life of the tank.", (140) ibis, who also notes: "Fast active and pretty looking fish. has taken up residence with bristlenose catfish.", (141) Seagirt (k: 5), who also notes: "They never stop moving. Always fun to watch bumping into the other fish.", (142) xakkan, (143) catfishkemp, (144) Elwood, (145) Sargy60, (146) ellohcee, (147) Acanthicus, (148) fahaka, who also notes: "I was given one with the tank and other fish. Lives with firemouths which have bred in the tank (feeding him probably).", (149) kitty2234 (k: 3), (150) poopfaceman, (151) Jason.G, (152) sterna (k: 2), (153) indiCa, (154) Hedorah (k: 3), (155) rcjkirk, (156) Fruityscone, (157) Struggsmom, (158) jc_jc, (159) mosin nagant147, (160) technogeek (k: 3), (161) stealth77, (162) Colin Keightley (k: 2), (163) psyk1, (164) Sciencehero (k: 3), (165) thereverendturtle (k: 2), (166) dvdrew, (167) FerocactusLatispinus, who also notes: "Picasso. I forgot I had him a while back, so he's posted here now! I had traded the little Colombian back to the LFS, since it was getting very territorial and aggressive. Cute little stinker, though.", (168) dav, (169) mamoo (k: 3), (170) mjh712, (171) Misiak, (172) rizla75, (173) Animusartificio, (174) Baked Wafl3, (175) Mruaru, (176) Jdmcfast, (177) schant, (178) booitsme3109 (p: 2, k: 2), (179) TimO93, (180) Sean B, (181) PiggyCutie, (182) slayer5590, who also notes: "Colombian variant", (183) RichardD, (184) Tamcon83 (k: 2), (185) QuantumManiac, (186) thecameraguy, (187) KGlo, (188) Katking, (189) mr bulldog, (190) sleepyhead, (191) miguel mitchel (k: 2), (192) o_beas.

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Last Update 2013 Jul 19 00:17 (species record created: 1997 Mar 01 11:22)

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