Freshwater Fish

Striped Catfish (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum): Aquarium Care Guide

The Striped Catfish is a very interesting freshwater fish that has captured the attention of aquarists for many years. Their unique appearance has made them one of our favorite big fish to keep!

However, there are a few things you should know if you want one of your own:

Due to their size and temperament, it is recommended that beginners avoid these fish until they have a bit more experience. Good striped catfish care requires you to be familiar with their needs a little more than the average fish.

Fortunately, this guide covers everything you need to know. You’ll learn about their size, growth rate, diet, and more!

Species Summary

The Striped Catfish (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) is native to the waters of South America. You can usually find them in the deeper areas of large rivers, where they have room to move freely and find food for each other (mostly other fish).

These fish like places that are a bit shadier. There will often be a significant amount of vegetation present in these waters, and it is common to find them in flooded forests for this reason as well.

The shovel-nosed tiger uses its barbels to navigate the dark, murky waters they occupy. This helps them understand not only where they are going, but also where their prey is.

Because of their size and flavor, these fish are sought after by local fishermen.

Life expectancy

The lifespan of a Striped Catfish can range from 18 to 25 years.This range can be significantly affected by genetic factors and the quality of care they receive in captivity.

It is rare for these fish to reach the upper limits of that lifespan in captivity. This is not unusual for large freshwater fish, but you should be aware of it before getting one.


The appearance of the Striped Catfish is what makes them stand out so much in the first place.

As expected from their name, these fish have a long, wide, flat mouth. This is a great design that allows them to gobble up prey and also skim the river bed when needed.

They have fairly long barbels that protrude from the front of their mouths and are slightly angled forward. These help them feel their way through murky water.

The dorsal fins of these fish are medium in size and open backwards in the shape of a shell. The Striped Catfish has forked tail fins that contain black spots. Its pectoral and anal fins are on the smaller side and contain a similar pattern.

Its body coloration and pattern is dark silver with large black stripes running vertically (usually) from front to back. These fish also have spots, so you will usually see spots in different areas between the rays.


The average size of the Striped Catfish is around 2.5 to 3 feet in captivity.These fish can grow even larger in the wild, but rarely exceed 4 feet in their natural habitat.

There is a lot of misinformation when it comes to its growth rate. These fish grow quite quickly and you will have to be prepared to handle that. No matter how little you feed them or how small their tank is, they will grow fast and end up quite large.

Striped Catfish Care

There are some elements of striped catfish care that are easy and others that require some knowledge and preparation. This section will introduce the essential things you need to know if you want to help these fish thrive and live long and happy lives.

tank size

Since the Striped Catfish are quite large, it is important to ensure that they have a tank that is large enough for them to be comfortable with.

The ideal tank size for these fish is 180 to 200 gallons for juveniles and 250+ for adults.If you cannot provide them with a tank of this size, then these are not the fish for you.

A big part of striped catfish care is making sure these fish are comfortable and don’t feel cramped. This will make them live in a state of stress that can shorten their lifespan (and it’s not fair to them on a moral level).

water parameters

The Striped Catfish is a hardy species of freshwater fish that can tolerate a flexible range of water parameters. This gives you a small margin of error, but you should still try to keep things as consistent as possible.

  • Water temperature: 75°F to 82°F
  • pH levels: 6-8
  • Water hardness: 6-20KH

Always make sure to do constant water level checks with a reliable test kit to make sure everything looks good. This will help you catch unwanted changes before they become a problem and affect the health of your fish.

Author’s Note: Don’t forget to do regular water changes as well. Water quality is one of the most important parts of good fish care, and taking it seriously will ensure your fish live a long and comfortable life.

What to put in your tank

Striped Catfish are fairly low maintenance, but it is important to set up your tank in a way that keeps them happy and enriched. These fish can be prone to stress or aggression if kept in a bland or empty tank.

Try to include items in your tank that mimic its natural environment as much as possible.For the most part, this means a mix of vegetation, driftwood, and rocks.

You can experiment with a variety of plants when setting up your tank. Hornwort and water wisteria are two of our favorites due to the flexibility they offer.

Placing some decent sized rocks and driftwood on top of the substrate can also make a big difference. The rivers they are used to have plenty of these, so your tiger shovel nose will feel right at home!

Possible common diseases

The Striped Catfish does not have any single disease or illness that it is prone to contracting. Instead, you should take a more general approach when monitoring your health.

Like other freshwater species, the shovelnose tiger can contract common diseases such as ich. This is often caused by poor water quality or the inclusion of another fish with ich in the tank.

In general, your best bet is to follow the fundamental principles of fish care. Stay on top of water quality, feed them a healthy diet, and reduce stress. If you do these things, there’s a good chance your tiger shovel nose will live for quite some time.

Food and Diet

In the wild, these fish primarily eat smaller fish and crustaceans. They have been known to nibble on plants here and there, but they spend most of their time foraging for meaty, protein-rich foods.

This means that it is important that you have a significant amount of food in stock at all times. Since these are large fish, they will obviously eat much more than the traditional smaller freshwater species.

Aim for a mix of frozen food, worms, and pellets to give them a balanced diet. As a gift, you can also leave them pieces of fish. We like to do that once in a while because it’s a nice snack and a good source of enrichment (Striped Catfish likes variety just like we do).

Author’s Note: It’s important to make sure you’re giving these fish the right amount of food. Due to their size, it can be easy to be tricked into overfeeding them.

Always keep an eye on the amount of food they eat and if anything will go to waste. This can lead to health problems and a decrease in water quality. Monitor this especially closely while they are still growing.

behavior and temperament

The Striped Catfish is an active species that can show aggression in certain circumstances. While this is always something to consider, its size makes it an even higher priority.

As we mentioned earlier, these fish are used to deep rivers. The fact that they are catfish should not be confused with those that feed exclusively on the bottom. These huge fish will spend a lot of time active and swimming at all levels of the tank.

This makes them a lot of fun to watch, but also easy to monitor when it comes to health. Unlike passive aquarium catfish that sit most of the day, the shovelnose tiger will be on the move frequently. This means that if you see them acting lethargic, you should seriously consider the possibility that they may be sick.

Tiger shovelnose catfish are on the aggressive side of things, so plan for this before you buy one. They will pick on other fish that cannot fend for themselves and become territorial (especially if there is not enough space).

Striped Catfish Tankmates

The most important thing to remember when it comes to choosing the right tank mates for these fish is size and temperament.The Striped Catfish is quite large, which means that it can easily injure other smaller fish (or even eat them).

This means that other freshwater fish that are large enough to fight back or not be considered a target are a must. Obviously this will also affect the size of tank you need because two large fish need room to stretch out.

You’ll also want to try to find tank mates that aren’t too aggressive. Any fish that is extremely territorial or feisty will not fit in well. While your shovel nose will likely be able to hold its own, you never want a tank where there are frequent fights.

Some examples of fish that make good tank mates are arowana, other large catfish like redtail (if you have enough room), giant gourami, pacu, and even Oscar fish. Iridescent sharks have been recommended by some people, but we think they are too skittish to consider.

Author’s Note: Making sure your Striped Catfish is well fed is something that can also affect its ability to get along with other species. While you never want to overfeed them, a hungry shovelnose is more likely to be feisty in the tank.

Breeding viability

If you’re thinking of trying to breed tiger shovelnose catfish, you’re in for a challenge. While it’s definitely possible, there isn’t much information floating around online about the process.

This means that as well as sticking to best practices and replicating their natural habitat as much as you can, there is an element of uncertainty that you need to accept. It’s also worth noting that breeding can shorten the lifespan of your fish, so it’s not something we recommend trying just for fun.

From the beginning, he faces two major challenges. The first is that you will need space to accommodate a large breeding tank. You will likely also need to transition from adults once the process is over, so there should be room for another tank as well.

The second challenge is finding fish to mate with. Determining the sex of Striped Catfish is not easy, and you will probably run into a few bumps in the road just trying to find a male and a female. If you do, there is no guarantee that they will be compatible and even try to breed in your tank.

In short, there are many “ifs” when it comes to breeding this species.It is our recommendation that you just don’t try it at all.Just enjoy the beauty of these creatures and leave it at that.


You should now have a better understanding of the Striped Catfish and how to care for them. These fish are impressive specimens that are a delight to watch in your tank.

The raw size, power and unique appearance will instantly make them stand out no matter what other fish you have. Their activity level also makes them fun to watch as they are always up to something!

If you want to learn more about the Striped Catfish or ask specific questions, you can always contact us directly. We love talking to the farming community, especially when it comes to less common fish like this one!

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