What Do Pictus Catfish Eat? (In the Wild and Aquarium)

Pictus catfish searching for food

Pictus catfish are omnivores. In the wild, they feed on algae, small insects, snails, small fish, and other tiny crustaceans that fit in their mouth. In an aquarium, you can feed them a balanced diet consisting of sinking pellets, flakes, live and frozen food, algae-based food, and veggies.

Let’s now talk about the various food that you can feed a pictus catfish in captivity.

What Can You Feed Pictus Catfish in Aquariums?

Pictus catfish aren’t fussy eaters. Hence, there are a lot of options available to feed them in captivity.

These fish are omnivores. So, a balanced diet of plant and meat-based food is recommended.

Feeding them a diet that is close to what they eat in their natural habitat is best for their optimal growth.

Given below is a list of food items that you can feed your pictus catfish.

1. Sinking Pellets

High-quality pellets should be the staple food for pictus catfish in aquariums.

Pellets rich in protein and other essential nutrients can ensure that your pictus catfish stay healthy.

Look for pellets explicitly designed for omnivores since these will have the right balance of nutrition for pictus catfish.

Also, make sure that the pellets you choose can sink to the bottom because pictus catfish are bottom-feeders.

These fish spend a lot of time hiding in shaded areas at the tank’s bottom.

Hence, the food needs to reach the bottom so that your pictus catfish can easily find and consume it.

2. Flakes

Flakes are the most widely used food for captive fish.

Fish flakes contain the essential nutrients that pictus catfish need to stay healthy.

You can choose high-quality flakes made of natural ingredients.

However, flakes shouldn’t be the only food that your pictus catfish eat.

Variety is the key to ensuring that your fish stay well-nourished.

3. Live Food

Live foods are an excellent source of protein for pictus fish. They also help to replicate the diet of their natural habitat.

You can feed live food twice or thrice a week to pictus catfish as a treat and supplement to their regular diet.

Although live foods are protein-rich, there is a risk in feeding live food to your fish.

Live food can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can harm pictus catfish.

So avoid feeding live food that is caught directly in the wild or backyard.

Instead, you can culture live food or purchase it from reputed breeders and sellers to avoid the risk of transmitting diseases to your pictus catfish.

Always feed the live food within 3 to 4 days from the date of purchase.

Some of the live food that you can feed to pictus catfish are:

  • Bloodworms,
  • Brineshrimp,
  • Daphnia,
  • Mysis shrimp,
  • Krill,
  • Mosquitos and Insect larvae,
  • Tubifex worms, and
  • Other finely chopped meaty food.

4. Frozen and Freeze-Dried Food

Freeze-dried krill

Frozen and freeze-dried foods are good alternatives to live food, especially if you want to avoid the risk associated with live food.

These foods are easy-to-feed, affordable, and readily available in pet stores and online retailers.

The most important thing is that they are equally nutritious as live food.

However, you must ensure that the food you buy is free of additives and preservatives.

You can feed frozen and freeze-dried food to pictus catfish as a treat twice a week to meet their protein requirements.

Frozen foods should be thawed before feeding them to your fish. Otherwise, pitcus catfish will find it difficult to digest the food.

Similarly, freeze-dried food should be soaked in water for at least 10 minutes before feeding to pictus catfish.

This will ensure that your fish can easily digest the food.

Some of the popular frozen and freeze-dried food that you can feed your pictus catfish are:

  • Bloodworms,
  • Brine shrimp,
  • Blackworms,
  • Krill,
  • Daphnia,
  • Tubifex worms, etc.

Although frozen and freeze-dried foods are nutritious, they must be fed in moderation.

Feeding fresh food to pictus catfish is always recommended for optimal nutrition and growth.

5. Veggies

In addition to meat, pictus catfish also need greens in their diet for optimum health.

Veggies like spinach, cucumber, broccoli, lettuce, and peas are excellent food choices for pictus catfish.

Vegetables contain the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that fish need for healthy growth.

You can blanch the veggies as it helps release the nutrition from the vegetables, making it easier for the fish to digest the food.

Avoid feeding raw veggies as they are difficult to digest for pictus catfish. It’s better to cook them before feeding your fish.

In addition to vegetables, you can also feed algae wafers and tablets to bring variety to the regular diet of your catfish.

Algae-based food can strengthen your fish’s immune system as they contain anti-inflammatory benefits.

What Do Pictus Catfish Eat in The Wild?

Pictus catfish are omnivores. They feed on both plant and animal matter.

These fish are scavengers and are found foraging for food in the wild.

They aren’t fussy eaters and are happy to eat anything they find.

In the wild, pictus catfish primarily feed on:

  • Algae,
  • Aquatic vegetation,
  • Small insects,
  • Dragonfly larvae,
  • Snails,
  • Small fish, and
  • Other aquatic invertebrates that easily fit in their mouth.

How Frequently Should You Feed Your Pictus Catfish?

You should feed pictus catfish at least twice a day.

This will ensure that they get the essential nutrients for their healthy development.

These fish have a huge appetite.

So it’s vital that you feed your pictus catfish adequately to curb their aggression toward their smaller tankmates.

You can feed your pictus catfish the amount of food that they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes.

You can gradually increase the quantity if you notice that your fish are still hungry after finishing the given food.

Avoid overfeeding your pictus catfish since it can lead to obesity and other digestive issues.

The optimal feeding time for pictus catfish is just before dawn and early morning because these fish are nocturnal.

It’s also the time when they are active and searching for food.

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