Are Pictus Catfish Aggressive? (6 Reasons They Get Aggressive)

Peaceful Pictus catfish

Pictus catfish aren’t aggressive. However, they get aggressive due to stress, food scarcity, overcrowded tank, fewer hiding places, and when kept in small groups. The best ways to curb their aggression are to provide a stress-free environment, keep them in large groups, and provide an adequate diet.

Let’s now discuss the various reasons why pictus catfish can become aggressive.

6 Reasons Why Pictus Catfish Become Aggressive

In general, pictus catfish are docile under favorable aquatic conditions.

They also co-exist peacefully with most fish of similar size and temperament.

However, they aren’t always peaceful. There are times when they can display aggression.

Given below are the prominent reasons for pictus catfish to become aggressive.

1. Stress

Stress is the primary reason for pictus catfish to become aggressive.

Stress can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Overcrowding,
  • Poor water quality,
  • Low oxygen levels,
  • Incompatible tankmates,
  • Sudden or drastic changes in water parameters, and
  • Inadequate hiding places.

A stressed pictus catfish may show signs of aggression and even try to pounce on other timid tankmates.

Signs of stress in fish include:

  • Appetite loss,
  • Constant hiding,
  • Anxiety,
  • Erratic swimming, or
  • Crashing on the glass walls.

2. Overcrowding

Overcrowding is another significant reason for pictus catfish to display aggression.

When there are too many tank inhabitants in the tank, it leads to space constraints.

Pictus catfish need ample space to swim freely. Lack of space can irk them, which can lead to aggressive behavior.

An overcrowded tank also leads to competition for food, territorial disputes, and a dip in oxygen levels.

All of these can also trigger aggression in pictus catfish.

3. Small Tank

Housing pictus catfish in a small tank can lead to aggressive behavior.

These fish are shoaling fish. So they prefer to stay in groups.

However, keeping a group of these fish in a small tank can lead to space constraints.

A small-sized tank can restrict their movements and make them aggressive.

Pictus catfish can also become territorial and pounce on other fish due to insufficient space.

4. Small Group

Pictus catfish are shoaling fish. They thrive in large groups as it makes them feel comfortable and secure.

These fish are also social and enjoy the company of their kind.

Hence, keeping them in small groups of less than 4 fish can lead to aggression because they will feel threatened.

Moreover, keeping pictus catfish in a small group can stress them and lead to aggressive behavior.

They may try to assert dominance over other tank inhabitants by being aggressive.

5. Less Hiding Places

Although very active, pictus catfish are timid fish. They need ample hideouts to feel secure.

If there aren’t enough hiding places, pictus catfish can become aggressive toward other fish in the tank.

This is especially true if the tank is too small or overcrowded because there will be less space for each fish to hide.

6. Food Scarcity

Food scarcity is another significant reason for pictus catfish to display aggression. The fish will start competing for limited food.

When there is competition for food, the fish can become aggressive toward each other.

The timid pictus catfish will suffer the most in these cases as they will get deprived of food.

How to Curb Pictus Catfish Aggression?

Pictus catfish in a large tank

Although pictus catfish are naturally docile, they can sometimes display aggressive behavior.

Beginner aquarists may find it challenging to control their aggression.

Given below are some of the ways to stop pictus catfish aggression.

1. Keep Them in Groups

Pictus catfish are found in large groups in their natural environment.

Hence, keeping them in groups of 6 or more is advisable.

Pictus catfish can become aggressive if kept in small groups or alone.

Keeping them in groups will limit their aggression and make them feel comfortable.

2. Get a Large Tank

Pictus catfish thrive in groups. Hence, an appropriately-sized tank is necessary to house them.

They can become aggressive if the tank is too small.

Space constraints can lead to overcrowding and territorial disputes.

Besides, small tanks are more prone to water quality issues.

Hence, housing pictus catfish in a spacious tank will curb their aggression.

3. Provide Ample Hiding Places

Pictus catfish need ample hiding places to feel secure.

They prefer to rest in hiding places, especially when they are sick or feeling threatened.

Hiding spots provide security, which makes them feel comfortable and thus reduces their aggression.

You can provide hiding spots by adding driftwood, rocks, caves, ornaments, and plants to the tank.

However, you must be careful while providing ample hiding places. The tank shouldn’t get overcrowded with objects.

It shouldn’t stop the fish from swimming freely.

4. Give an Adequate and Nutritious Diet

Pictus catfish need an adequate food supply to stay healthy and active. Food scarcity can make them aggressive.

Feeding a well-balanced diet such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried food can help to keep them healthy and content.

It also ensures that your fish get the required nutrition for optimum growth.

Furthermore, proper nutrition can help reduce the aggressive behavior of your fish.

5. Create a Conducive Environment

Pictus catfish are docile fish. They aren’t temperamental by nature.

However, they can become aggressive if the environment isn’t conducive.

Hence, a stress-free environment is vital to keep them peaceful and curb their aggression.

You can do this by:

  • Maintaining the water parameters,
  • Providing adequate space for them to swim freely,
  • Avoiding overcrowding,
  • Providing adequate filtration and food supply,
  • Keeping compatible tankmates, and
  • Creating plenty of hideouts to make them feel secure.

Do Pictus Catfish Pounce on Other Fish?

Pictus catfish are peaceful fish. Most of the time, they are happy with their group and don’t bother other fish.

However, they are predatory. They will most likely pounce on other smaller fish and try to eat them, especially if they are starving.

You should avoid keeping small fish species that can easily fit in their mouth.

Pictus catfish are also fast and energetic swimmers. They are very active and like to explore the tank.

So they can pounce on slow-moving fish if their paths cross.

Other times when pictus catfish can pounce on other fish are when the living conditions aren’t conducive.

You can provide them ample space, hiding places, and a stress-free environment to stop their aggression toward other fish.

Are Pictus Catfish Venemous?

Pictus catfish are venomous. However, their sting isn’t fatal to humans.

The spiny dorsal and pectoral fins of pictus catfish contain venomous spines that they use as a defense mechanism.

Their sting feels similar to a wasp sting. These fish mainly use their sting in the wild to ward off predators.

They may also use this defense mechanism in an aquarium if they feel threatened or stressed.

Hence, you need to ensure that the tank is well-maintained and the fish are kept in a stress-free environment.

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