Tiger Shovelnose Catfish Appearance, Size, Care, & Tank Mates

The tiger shovelnose catfish is a captivating freshwater fish that has held the interest of aquarists for a long time.

As an aquarist with experience with these fascinating creatures, I am excited to share my knowledge on caring for them properly.

This article will cover everything you need about tiger shovelnose catfish care, including their size requirements, ideal tank mates, feeding habits, and water parameter guidelines.

Understanding the ins and outs of tiger shovelnose catfish care ensures their well-being and longevity.

Species Overview

The tiger shovelnose catfish (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) is native to South American waters.

These fish prefer to swim in the deepest parts of larger rivers to roam around and find food – mainly other fish.

They typically inhabit slightly shaded areas with plenty of vegetation and even flooded forests.

The barbels on the tiger shovelnose help it to navigate in the dark and murky waters and to locate its prey.

As they are large and tasty, these fish are a favorite catch of local fishermen.


With its long, wide, flat mouth, unique dorsal fins that fan backward, and impressive size, this freshwater fish is sure to catch the eye of any aquarist.

The tiger shovelnose catfish is a striking species that boasts a range of unique features that make it stand out in any aquarium.

These fish come in various colors and color variations, adding to their beauty.

Aside from their distinct appearance, tiger shovelnose catfish are known for their predatory behavior and hunting habits.

They are active predators that tend to hunt at night when they use their keen sense of smell to locate prey.

They feed on small fish, crustaceans, and insects in the wild, but captivity requires a varied diet, including frozen foods and pellets.



As with any living creature, it’s essential to provide proper care for the tiger shovelnose catfish to ensure they live a long and healthy life ranging from 18-25 years.

This lifespan expectation is impacted by several factors, such as their environment and breeding challenges.

While these fish are hardy and can tolerate a range of water parameters, poor water quality can lead to common diseases like ich that can shorten their lifespan.

It’s important to keep their tank clean and well-maintained with plenty of plants, driftwood, and rocks for them to hide in.

Breeding is a challenge and can also impact the lifespan of tiger shovelnose catfish by shortening it.


If you’re considering adding a tiger shovelnose catfish to your aquarium, it’s important to understand that these impressive fish can grow quite large and require a tank that matches their size.

In captivity, they typically reach an average size of 2.5-3 feet, but some can grow up to 4 feet or more.

Growth rates depend on water quality, diet, and tank size. It’s imperative to provide ample space so they can swim freely without feeling cramped.

Size comparison is essential when choosing suitable tank mates for tiger shovelnose catfish.

Large freshwater fish need much room to move around comfortably, making smaller tanks unsuitable.

Tank Size Recommendations

Providing a spacious and suitable tank is crucial for those who want freshwater fish to thrive.

Regarding the tiger shovelnose catfish, this means having a tank of at least 180-200 gallons for juveniles and over 250 gallons for adults.

This may seem like a lot of space, but these fish can grow up to 3 feet long in captivity and need room to swim comfortably.

Additionally, the tank should be equipped with proper Aquarium filters and lighting options for optimal water quality and plant growth.

Catfish compatibility is also important when considering tank size recommendations.

Tiger shovelnose catfish are active and can show aggression towards other fish, so it’s important to choose appropriate tank mates based on size and temperament.

It’s also recommended to perform regular water changes (usually once a week) as part of your maintenance routine for the optimal health of all the inhabitants in your aquarium.

Water Parameter Guidelines

Maintaining a suitable environment for your fish is crucial to their health and longevity.

This includes maintaining a pH level range and temperature range that mimics their natural habitat and closely monitoring water quality control.

Here are some guidelines to follow when setting up and maintaining your tiger shovelnose catfish tank:

  1. pH level range: 6-8
  2. Water hardness: 6-20 KH
  3. Temperature range: 75°F to 82°F
  4. Use a high-quality filter system to maintain water quality.
  5. Regularly test the water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  6. Consider adding live plants or driftwood to help regulate pH levels.

These guidelines will help ensure your tiger shovelnose catfish thrives in its environment.

Tank Decor and Substrate

To create a visually appealing and comfortable environment for your aquatic pet, you’ll want to consider the decor and substrate options available.

Aquarium substrate options range from sand to graves.

Choose a substrate suitable for your fish’s natural habitat and can provide a good base for live plants.

Decorating with live plants adds aesthetic value and helps maintain water quality by absorbing nitrates and producing oxygen.

Tiger shovelnose catfish prefer dimly lit tanks, so choose low-light plants like Java ferns or Amazon swords.

Using driftwood in the tank can also help create a natural-looking environment while providing hiding spots for your fish.

Driftwood will slowly release tannins into the water, which can slightly lower pH levels and create a brownish tint.

This effect may be undesirable for some aquarists, but it mimics the natural environment of South American rivers where tiger shovelnose catfish originate

Be sure to soak any driftwood before adding it to your tank, as this removes any excess tannins or chemicals that could harm your fish.

Overall, creating an aesthetically pleasing environment is important for visual appeal and the well-being of your aquatic pets.

Common Diseases to Watch For

As an aquarist, it’s crucial to be aware of common diseases affecting your freshwater fish and take preventative measures to ensure their health.

Tiger shovelnose catfish don’t have any special diseases that plague them – it’s better to take a general approach to their well-being.

Like other freshwater fish, they can suffer from a common condition such as Ich. This is commonly caused by inadequate water quality or fish with Ich in the same tank.

To keep the tiger shovelnose healthy, follow the fundamentals of fish care.

Keep a close eye on the water quality, feed them a nutritious diet, and reduce any stress that may be present.

Following these steps ensures your little tiger shovelnose will have a long and happy life!

Feeding and Diet Suggestions

Maintaining a healthy diet for these freshwater fish is essential to prevent illness and ensure their longevity, so it’s important to provide them with a mix of frozen foods, worms, and pellets.

Feeding options should be varied to meet their nutritional needs.

It’s recommended that they receive several small meals throughout the day instead of one large meal.

This will help mimic their natural feeding behavior and prevent overeating.

When feeding tiger shovelnose catfish, observe their behavior to determine how much food they need.

Overfeeding can lead to health issues such as obesity and digestive problems.

On the other hand, underfeeding can result in malnourishment and stunted growth.

Finding the right balance regarding feeding frequency and portion size is essential.

With proper care, including a well-balanced diet, your tiger shovelnose catfish will thrive in your tank for years!

Tiger Shovelnose Catfish Care

Tiger shovelnose catfish care is not too complicated, but having the right information and taking the necessary steps are key for their well-being.

Here are the basics to keep these fish happy and healthy in the long run.

  • First, provide them with a clean environment. Make sure the tank water is free of toxins and pollutants, and keep the temperature at a range that is comfortable for them. Also, feed them with the right diet, giving them a balanced mix of proteins and other nutrients.
  • Second, give them plenty of space to swim. Tiger shovelnose catfish need a sizable tank to move around and explore, so give them enough room. Additionally, provide them with hiding spaces, such as caves and plants, to feel secure.
  • Third, keep an eye on the water parameters. Test the pH and ammonia levels regularly to ensure everything is in order. In addition, watch out for signs of diseases and quickly take action if needed.
  • Finally, spend time with your fish. Interact with them and observe their behavior, which will help you understand them better and ensure they’re content.

In sum, tiger shovelnose catfish care can be easy if you have the right knowledge and take the necessary steps. Following these basic guidelines will ensure your fish live long and happy lives.

Behavior and Temperament Traits


It’s important to note that these freshwater fish can be active and aggressive, so choosing suitable companions for your aquarium is crucial.

Tiger shovelnose catfish have aggressive tendencies, and their territorial instincts may cause them to bully smaller or more passive tank mates.

However, they also exhibit social behavior and can thrive with larger, similarly-sized fish that can hold their own.

To keep your tiger shovelnose catfish content in their habitat, providing enough hiding spaces and plants in the tank is important.

This will allow them to retreat from other fish when they feel threatened or stressed.

Additionally, feeding habits are major in how these fish behave towards other tank mates.

A well-fed catfish is less prone to being feisty or combative, so ensure you provide plenty of variety in their diet, including frozen foods, worms, and pellets.

These fish, as we previously discussed, are accustomed to deep rivers.

Don’t be fooled into thinking they’re just bottom feeders; these formidable creatures are constantly active and swim around the entire tank.

They don’t spend all their time at the bottom, as some might believe.

Their size is remarkable, and they use it to their advantage when navigating the aquatic environment.

They are even known to explore different levels of the tank. It’s quite an astonishing sight to see these fish moving in the depths.

It’s easy to see why they are so popular, especially among aquarists. These fish bring life and vibrancy to any aquarium.

Overall, by taking into account the Behavior and temperament of your tiger shovelnose catfish and the needs of potential tank mates, you’ll create a harmonious environment for all aquatic inhabitants.

Compatible Tank Mates

If you want to add variety to your aquarium, you’ll want to know which large freshwater fish are compatible with your aquatic pets.

When it comes to tiger shovelnose catfish, the key is aggression management.

These predators need enough space in their tank and peaceful tank mates that won’t disturb them.

Additionally, they are not recommended for beginners as their size and social dynamics can be challenging.

Predator-prey relationships must also be considered when choosing suitable tank mates for tiger shovelnose catfish.

Avoid smaller fish that could become prey or overly aggressive fish that may attack them.

Instead, consider other large freshwater species like

  • Arowana
  • Redtail
  • Giant Gourami
  • Pacu
  • Oscar fish

These fish have similar needs and can coexist peacefully with the tiger shovelnose catfish.

Properly managing interspecific interactions will ensure a healthy community of aquatic pets in your home aquarium!

Breeding Possibilities

Breeding tiger shovelnose catfish might seem like an exciting challenge, but it’s important to understand the complexities and uncertainties involved.

Breeding challenges include finding a male and female pair suitable for breeding and replicating their natural habitat conditions in the breeding tank.

Additionally, breeding can shorten the lifespan of your catfish due to the stress and energy expended during the process.

Breeding tank size is also crucial when attempting to breed tiger shovelnose catfish.

A large tank with plenty of hiding places and appropriate water conditions is necessary for successful breeding.

However, even with proper care, there is always some degree of uncertainty involved in breeding any fish species.

Therefore, it’s recommended that only experienced aquarists attempt to breed these fascinating but challenging fish.


Taking care of tiger shovelnose catfish can be a rewarding experience for aquarists with space and resources.

They are an eye-catching addition to any large freshwater tank with their unique appearance and impressive size.

However, it’s important to remember that these fish require diligent care and attention to ensure their health and well-being.

When considering adding tiger shovelnose catfish to your aquarium, it’s crucial to research their specific needs and requirements.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can create a thriving environment for these fascinating fish.

This will ensure that they live happy, healthy lives under your care.