How long do pictus catfish live? When given the best care, a pictus catfish can live for up to 8 years or even 10 years.
It lives longer than many aquarium fish species including killifish, betta fish, neon tetras, mollie, and others.
But it’s not at the top of the pack when it comes to lifespan. Species like goldfish, oscar, rainbow shark, and clown loach live for more than 10 years, with others even reaching 15 or 25 years.
In this quick fishkeeping guide, we explain how long pictus catfish live, what affects their lifespan, and how to make sure yours live a long happy life.
What’s the Lifespan of Pictus Catfish?
When kept in a proper environment within the right parameters, pictus catfish can achieve a lifespan of 8-10 years.
But you’ll need to regularly check the quality of the water, have a powerful filtration system, and keep the fish well fed.
Another important factor that affects the lifespan of pictus catfish is tank size. They are active swimmers that thrive with lots of open space to swim in.
If placed in an aquarium smaller than 50-55 gallons, they’ll be stressed and may not achieve their full lifespan.
If you have a shoal of 4-6 pictus catfish, you’ll need an even bigger space (at least 150 gallons).
In less than optimal environments – small tank, inadequate food, low quality water, etc. – a pictus catfish may live for as little as half its normal lifespan.
Are Pictus Catfish Hardy?
Pictus catfish are not extra-sensitive; they won’t die on you with the tiniest change in temperature or water quality.
But prolonged exposure to poor water quality can cause illness. Because they lack scales, pictus catfish are especially sensitive to chemicals like ammonia and nitrates from organic waste.
So you need to stay on top of aquarium maintenance.
Change the water weekly (pictus catfish produce a lot of waste), and regularly test various parameters such as pH and water hardness.
Inadequate feeding can also affect pictus catfish, slowing down growth or limiting how big they can get. Provide a meal of sinking pellets at least once daily and supplement with vegetables and meat from your kitchen.
Because pictus catfish are nocturnal, only feed them when you turn off or dim the aquarium lights. If it’s too bright, they won’t come out to eat.
How Big Does a Pictus Catfish Get?
Considering the relatively long lifespan of pictus catfish, you may expect yours to get big over time.
In reality, pictus catfish remain fairly small throughout their lifespan. They measure about 2 inches when young, and grow to 4.3-5 inches in 8-12 months.
Most don’t get any bigger than that. You can see some adult pictus catfish in the video below. Also, note how active they are, hence the need for a big tank.
Do Pictus Catfish Live Longer in a Shoal?
In nature, pictus catfish are a shoaling species. That means they swim as a group of several fish.
So it makes sense that they tend to live longer in an aquarium when you have several of them. Just keep in mind that you’ll need an even larger tank.
If you have only a 50-55 gallon tank, you can still keep a single pictus catfish. They’ll live for several years even on their own.
Can I Breed Pictus Catfish?
So far, there hasn’t been a successful case of anyone breeding a pictus catfish.
The main challenge is that it’s almost impossible to differentiate between the male and female, as pictus catfish lack external sex characteristics.
It’s also very difficult to replicate natural breeding conditions in an aquarium. For one, you’d need an extra-large tank of 200 gallons or more for the pictus catfish to grow fully to sexual maturity.