Tiger Shovelnose Catfish Care Guide: Simple Tips for a Happy Pet

Caring for a Tiger Shovelnose Catfish can be a rewarding experience if you’re looking for a unique and impressive addition to your freshwater aquarium. These fascinating creatures can be found in rivers and murky waters throughout South America’s flooded forests, flaunting their distinct beauty and capturing the attention of aquarists worldwide.

Before diving into the world of Tiger Shovelnose Catfish care, it’s essential to understand the basics. A minimum tank size of 180 gallons is recommended to ensure your fish has ample space to swim and hide, with additional gallons needed if you plan to add more catfish to the tank. Water parameters and feeding habits are also crucial for their health and happiness.

Throughout this guide, you’ll discover detailed information about the ideal tank conditions, proper diet, and other important aspects of Tiger Shovelnose Catfish care. By learning the essentials, you can successfully create a comfortable environment for these captivating fish and enjoy their exotic presence for years to come.

Species Overview

The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is an attractive freshwater fish known for its unique appearance and interesting behavior. They belong to the Pimelodidae family and can be primarily found in the deep waters of South America. The large rivers where they are usually found provide them with plenty of room to swim and hunt for food. As an aquarist, you’ll need to pay close attention to their needs and requirements to ensure their health and well-being.

These fish have an elongated, torpedo-shaped body, which allows them to glide effortlessly through the water. Their stunning pattern draws attention and admiration from fish enthusiasts. Caring for a Tiger Shovelnose Catfish requires an adequately-sized aquarium, appropriate water conditions, and a suitable diet to keep them healthy and happy.

To help you understand the key requirements for the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, here’s a table containing crucial information:

Property Information
Scientific Name Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum
Common Names Tiger Shovelnose Catfish
Distribution South America, Amazon Basin
Size Up to 4 feet
Lifespan 15-20 years
Diet Carnivore
Temperament Semi-aggressive
Minimum Tank Size 180 gallons
Temperature 72-82°F (22-28°C)
pH 6.5-7.5
Water Hardness Soft to moderately hard
Care Level Intermediate
Filtration/Water Flow Moderate
Water Type Freshwater
Breeding Egg layer
Breeding Difficulty Difficult
Compatibility Compatible with similar-sized fish

Remember, providing the appropriate care for your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish will contribute to their well-being and longevity. Make sure to monitor the water conditions, maintain proper tank size, and regularly feed them with a carnivorous diet to ensure a healthy and thriving aquatic environment.

Origins and Natural Habitat

The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) is a fascinating and attractive freshwater fish species originating from the waters of South America. In their natural habitat, you would typically find them in the deepest areas of large rivers, where they have plenty of room to move freely and find food to eat. These fish tend to prefer locations that are a bit shadier.

As a keeper of Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, it’s important to understand their native environment to recreate the most suitable living conditions in your aquarium. Knowing where they come from and the conditions they prefer will help you provide the best possible care for your new aquatic friends.

In the wild, Tiger Shovelnose Catfish inhabit murky waters surrounded by flooded forests. This backdrop plays a crucial role in their hunting strategies, as they use the cover of vegetation and dimmed lighting to camouflage themselves while stalking their prey. To replicate these conditions in your home aquarium, consider adding live plants and driftwood to provide a similar environment for your fish to thrive.

Lastly, maintaining friendly interactions with other experts and enthusiasts in the aquarium community can be an invaluable resource when it comes to sharing knowledge and experiences on keeping Tiger Shovelnose Catfish. So be sure to explore online forums and social media groups to connect with others who share your passion for these amazing creatures.

Remember, by understanding the origins and natural habitat of Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, you will be better equipped to provide the best possible care for your pet fish. Now, it’s time for you to translate this valuable knowledge into action and create a beautiful home for your new aquatic friends.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Shape

The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) has an elongated, torpedo-shaped body which allows it to glide smoothly through the water. In an aquarium setting, you can expect them to grow up to 2.5 to 3 feet in length. However, in the wild, they can grow even larger, reaching up to 4 feet.

Color and Markings

One of the most striking features of the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is its stunning color and pattern. It has a dark silver body adorned with large black stripes and spots among the stripes. This distinct patterning, combined with its unique shape, makes it an eye-catching and popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts.

Lifespan and Growth Rate

Tiger Shovelnose Catfish are known for their remarkable lifespan, living anywhere from 18 to 25 years. It’s essential to keep in mind that the quality and level of care they receive, along with genetic factors, will have a significant impact on their lifespan.

In the wild, these fascinating fish typically live for about 15 to 20 years. However, in captivity and with proper care, they can live even longer—one might reach 20 years or more, making them a long-term commitment for any dedicated aquarist.

Their growth rate can be quite impressive as well. With optimal conditions, proper diet, and adequate space, a Tiger Shovelnose Catfish could grow up to 4 feet in size. This rapid growth means that you’ll need to ensure their tank is big enough to accommodate their size. Ideally, they should have a minimum tank size of 180 gallons.

When it comes to water parameters, it’s vital to maintain the ideal environment to ensure a healthy growth rate. Here are some of the main water parameters to keep in mind:

  • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Hardness: Soft to moderately hard

To promote healthy growth and prolong their lifespan, it’s essential to feed your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish a carnivorous diet. You should feed them 2-3 times daily with a mix of high-quality protein sources such as shrimp, fish, and other meaty foods suitable for aquatic carnivores.

In summary, to ensure the long and healthy life of your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, make sure to provide them with the appropriate tank size, optimal water parameters, and proper diet. Providing your fish with a suitable environment and attentive care will lead to a thriving and happy life for your aquatic companion.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish a proper diet is essential to maintaining their health and well-being. These fish are carnivores and enjoy a variety of meaty foods. Provide them with a balanced, high protein diet to help them grow and stay healthy.

You can feed your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish various food options such as frozen or live foods, including shrimp, krill, earthworms, and small feeder fish like goldfish or guppies. It’s essential to alternate the types of food you offer to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.

Feeding frequency is also essential. Feed your catfish two to three times a day, offering only as much food as they can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues and negatively affect your catfish’s health. Remember to remove any uneaten food after feeding to maintain proper water quality.

Make sure to monitor your catfish’s weight and adjust portion sizes accordingly. A healthy Tiger Shovelnose Catfish should have a full, rounded belly but not appear overfed or bloated.

To sum up, provide your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish with a varied diet, lots of meaty options, and feed them two to three times daily. By following these guidelines, you will help ensure that your captivating fish stays healthy, thrives, and graces your aquarium with their unique beauty for many years.

Behavior and Temperament

Tiger Shovelnose Catfish (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) are fascinating fish with a unique appearance and behavior. They are native to South America, specifically the Amazon Basin. In your aquarium, you will notice that these fish enjoy exploring their environment and can be quite active when comfortable.

Their temperament can be described as semi-aggressive. They tend to be relatively peaceful, especially when they are given enough space and compatible tank mates. However, keep in mind that Tiger Shovelnose Catfish are predators in the wild and may display some hunting behavior in your tank. As a result, choose your tank mates carefully, ensuring they are not small enough to be perceived as prey.

Although these fish are not particularly social, providing them with hiding spaces and ample room to roam will help them feel more secure. When setting up your aquarium, include structures like caves, driftwood, and large rocks that can serve as refuges.

Remember that Tiger Shovelnose Catfish are nocturnal and more active during the night. You may observe them resting or hiding during the day, and they might be more inclined to come out and explore in dim lighting conditions. So keep this in mind when you plan your aquarium’s lighting options.

In summary, by understanding the behavior and temperament of the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish and adjusting your aquarium conditions accordingly, you can help create a comfortable environment where these captivating fish can thrive. Just ensure you choose compatible tank mates and provide them with ample space and hiding spots.

Care and Tank Requirements

Caring for your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is essential to ensure its health and well-being. In this section, we will cover the necessary requirements for your fish, including tank size, water parameters, tank setup, and filtration.

Tank Size

It’s crucial to provide adequate space for your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish. A minimum of 180 gallons is recommended, as these fish can grow quite large and require ample room to swim and explore.

Water Parameters

To maintain the health of your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, keeping the water parameters in check is crucial. Here are the suggested temperature and pH levels:

  • Temperature: Maintain a range between 72-82°F (22-28°C).
  • pH: Keep the pH level between 6.5-7.5, with a preference for soft to moderately hard water.

Tank Setup and Decorations

Creating a comfortable and stimulating environment for your catfish is essential. Here are some suggestions on how to set up and decorate your tank:

  • Provide hiding spots using logs, PVC pipes, or large rocks.
  • Add plants for extra cover and to enhance the tank’s appearance. Make sure the plants are sturdy, as your fish may uproot them.
  • Leave open spaces for your catfish to swim freely.

Filtration and Aeration

Proper filtration and aeration in your tank are vital to maintaining the water quality and ensuring the well-being of your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish. As these fish produce a significant amount of waste, you should opt for a powerful filtration system. You can also use an air stone or additional air pump to improve water circulation and increase oxygen levels in the tank.

By following these guidelines and providing a suitable environment, you can ensure that your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish thrives and lives a healthy, happy life.

Suitable Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, it’s essential to consider their size, temperament, and dietary needs. These fish can grow up to 3 feet long in captivity and may exhibit aggressive behavior as they mature. To ensure a harmonious tank environment, here are some suitable tank mates for your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish:

  • Other large catfish species: Many larger catfish species can live peacefully with Tiger Shovelnose Catfish. Examples include Plecostomus, Bristlenose, and Synodontis Catfish.

  • Cichlids: These large, robust fish can hold their own against the sometimes aggressive Tiger Shovelnose Catfish. Consider South American Cichlids, such as Oscars and Jack Dempseys.

  • Characins: Species like Silver Dollars and Black Pacu make excellent tank mates due to their size and calm demeanor.

  • Bichirs: These prehistoric-looking fish are large and can coexist well with Tiger Shovelnose Catfish. They are bottom-dwellers, so they won’t compete for space in the middle or upper parts of the tank.

Always remember to avoid fish that are too small or have a slow-swimming behavior, as they might become prey for the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish. Similarly, ensure that the tank mates you choose share similar water parameters and environmental needs. Happy tank-mate selection!

Breeding Process

Breeding Tiger Shovelnose Catfish can be a challenging task, but with patience and proper care, you can successfully achieve it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

Step 1: Prepare the Breeding Tank

Prepare a separate breeding tank with a minimum capacity of 180 gallons to ensure enough space for the fish to swim freely. Maintain the water parameters within the desired range: a temperature between 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C), a pH of 6.0 to 7.5, and soft to moderately hard water.

Step 2: Choose Healthy Breeding Pairs

Select healthy and matured Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, at least two years old, to form the breeding pairs. Keep a close eye on their behaviors and physical characteristics to identify the male and female fish. Males tend to be larger and more colorful, while females develop a more rounded belly when they’re ready to breed.

Step 3: Condition the Fish

Gradually increase the feeding frequency and provide them with a varied diet rich in proteins, including live or frozen shrimp, bloodworms, and small fish. Conditioning your fish will ensure they are in good health and encourage spawning.

Step 4: Mimic their Natural Habitat

To trigger spawning, replicate their natural habitat conditions by simulating the rainy season. Gradually lower the water temperature to around 75°F (24°C) over a few days and increase the water flow in the tank. Perform regular water changes during this time.

Step 5: Observe Spawning Behaviors

Once the environment is suitable, the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish will display courting behaviors. The male will chase the female around the tank, and when they’re ready, the female will release her eggs. The male then fertilizes the eggs, which will attach to surfaces in the tank.

Step 6: Care for the Eggs and Fry

After spawning, it’s best to separate the adults from the eggs to prevent any potential predation. Keep an eye on the eggs and maintain the water parameters to ensure optimal conditions for hatching. The eggs will generally hatch within a week, and the fry can be fed freshly hatched brine shrimp or other suitable micro foods.

By following these steps, you can successfully breed your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish. Make sure to be patient, and closely monitor the process to address any issues promptly. Good luck!

Common Diseases and Treatments

As a responsible tiger shovelnose catfish owner, it’s essential to be aware of the common diseases that may affect your fish and the treatments which can help them recover. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common diseases and their corresponding treatments.

Ich: This is a common parasitic infection in fish, causing white spots on your catfish’s skin and gills. To prevent and treat ich, maintain optimal water conditions, and use an ich medication available at your local pet store.

Fin rot: Caused by bacterial infections, fin rot results in fraying and discolored fins. Address this issue promptly by improving water quality, removing any dead plant material or waste, and treating the tank with an appropriate antibacterial medication.

Fungal infections: Characterized by fuzzy white patches on the body, fungal infections occur when your fish’s immune system is weakened. To combat this disease, clean the tank, maintain good water conditions, and use a reliable antifungal treatment.

Internal parasites: If your tiger shovelnose catfish loses weight rapidly and has a sunken stomach, it may be suffering from internal parasites. Treat this issue with anti-parasitic medications specifically formulated for fish.

To maintain your catfish’s health, it’s important to regularly monitor water parameters, keep the tank clean, and provide a well-balanced diet. Prevention is always better than cure, so stay attentive and address any issues early to keep your tiger shovelnose catfish happy and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for these catfish?

A Tiger Shovelnose Catfish requires a spacious tank to accommodate its large size. Since they can grow up to 3 to 4 feet (90-120 cm) long, a minimum tank size of 180 gallons is recommended. As they grow, upgrading to a larger tank might be necessary to provide ample swimming and hiding spaces.

How to properly feed them?

Tiger Shovelnose Catfish are omnivorous and enjoy a varied diet. You can offer them live or frozen food such as worms, shrimp, insects, and small fish. Additionally, you can provide prepared foods like sinking pellets or flakes to ensure a balanced, nutritious diet. Feed them once or twice a day, adjusting the portion size based on their activity and growth rate.

What are the suitable tank mates?

Choosing suitable tank mates for the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is essential, as they may prey on smaller fish. Look for larger, non-aggressive species to cohabitate with them, such as Silver Dollars, Pacus, or larger Cichlids. Avoid keeping them with small or highly aggressive fish to prevent conflicts or predation.

What water temperature is best?

To maintain a healthy environment for your Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, keep the water temperature between 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C). They prefer soft, slightly acidic water with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. Regular water changes and the use of high-quality filters can help maintain these conditions.

What is their average lifespan?

The lifespan of the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish typically ranges from 18 to 25 years. However, under aquarium conditions, they tend to live for about 15-20 years. This will largely depend on the level of care, water quality, and individual genetics.

Are they aggressive with other fish?

While Tiger Shovelnose Catfish are not particularly aggressive, they might prey on small fish due to their predator instincts. Ensure that their tank mates are larger and non-aggressive to avoid any conflicts. By offering a balanced diet and providing suitable companions, you can reduce the chances of aggression and predation.


Tiger Shovelnose Catfish can be a great addition to your aquarium, but they require proper care and attention. Providing them with a spacious tank of at least 180-200 gallons for juveniles and over 250 gallons for adults is crucial for their well-being.

Make sure to feed them a diverse diet with live or frozen foods like worms, shrimp, insects, and small fish, as well as prepared foods like sinking pellets or flakes. Remember, these active fish can display an aggressive streak once they reach maturity, so choose their tank mates wisely.