Though generally non-aggressive and non-predatory, Pictus catfish will eat other smaller fish in the aquarium if not properly or adequately fed.
It’s important that you feed this bottom feeder species the right type of food and the right amount as well (they have a large appetite).
Here’s a quick primer on what to feed pictus catfish, and everything else you need to know about their nutrition requirements and feeding habits.
What Do Pictus Catfish Eat?
Pictus catfish are omnivorous. They’ll happily eat a wide range of foods including bloodworms, shrimp, and krill.
They can also thrive on a pellet diet, but feel free to supplement with vegetable, insect and meat treats.
If hungry, pictus catfish will turn on other smaller fish in the tank and feed on them. That’s why it’s important to keep them well fed. But just in case, it’s best to have pictus catfish as the smallest fish in your aquarium. They don’t eat fish bigger than themselves.
Something else to note is that even though pictus catfish are bottom feeders, detritus and algae in the substrate forms a very small portion of their diet. That’s another reason to provide adequate food.
Will Pictus Catfish Eat Fish Flake Food?
Yes, pictus catfish can eat flake food. However, depending on the makeup of your aquarium, flake food is probably not the best source of nutrition for the catfish.
Remember that pictus catfish are bottom feeders. They are shy and nocturnal, meaning they spend a lot of time hiding in logs and caves. They rarely venture upwards to grab food.
Flake food floats at the top of the tank for some time. As the flakes absorb water, they start to sink slowly.
If you have a variety of top and mid-level fish, they’ll eat most of the food before it reaches the bottom where the pictus catfish is.
In addition to flaked food, we recommend adding some sinking catfish pellets (also called bottom feeder pellets/tablets) to the aquarium. This will give the pictus catfish a chance to eat before the other fish grab all the food.
If you have only pictus catfish in your tank, both flakes and pellets are okay since they’ll end up at the bottom of the tank.
If you opt for flakes, supplement them with meat and vegetables since flakes are not as nutrient-dense as pellets.
How Often Should I Feed My Pictus Catfish?
Because pictus fish are active and have a large appetite, you need to keep them full. A daily feeding routine is recommended.
Otherwise, the fish might get hungry and begin feeding on other smaller fish. They could also become aggressive and stress out other fish.
You may also opt for two smaller feedings per 24 hours.
Pictus catfish are nocturnal, so they feed mostly at night. Add food to the aquarium just before you turn off the lights.
If you prefer feeding them during the day, make sure the tank is away from sunlight and use dim lighting to encourage the fish to come out and eat.
Keep in mind that pictus catfish produce lots of waste, so you’ll need to do water replacement (10%) weekly and a 25% replacement once a month.
What Should You Not Feed Fish?
Pictus catfish will eat almost anything edible in the aquarium. This includes pellets, vegetables, meat, algae and limited detritus.
As long as it is safe and edible, you can feed pictus catfish just about anything.
The most important thing is to keep their diet balanced with plenty of protein, as well as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. That’s why fish pellets are the easiest way to keep your pictus catfish well fed. Good quality pellets will contain everything the fish needs in the right proportions.
Avoid relying too much on flake food, especially if there’s other fish in the tank. The pictus catfish may not get a chance to feed.
Also, do not expect your pictus catfish to survive on algae or the waste from other fish. While they may nibble on waste and algae in the substrate, they need a proper balanced diet. Here is our guide on how to care for them.