The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish

The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish or Pseudoplatystoma Fasciatum originates from the Amazons where it lives in flooded forest areas and also from the Essequibo, La Plata, Corintijns, Essequibo, Orinoco and Paraná River basins. During the day it normally hides underneath logs or stones, preferring to venture out for its food at night, where it will scout around near the bed looking for smaller fish and crustaceans. It is now found in many places around the world where it has been introduced over the years. There are several parts of South Africa for example where they are quite popular. Tiger Shovelnose Catfish breed in January. One female fish can produce several million eggs which become fertile as released into the water. In the early stages of its life, the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish will stay hidden in-between roots to avoid being eaten by predators.

The name Pseudoplatystoma Fasciatum is constructed from – Pseudos = fallacy; platys = broad; stoma = mouth; Fasciatum: Banded. They have a distinctive bronze/brown pattern of blotchy marks and bold stripes along their flanks. Although it isn’t until they reach a length of around 15cm (6 inches) that this design begins to form. The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish can grow to a length of 1.2m (4ft), although some people claim to have seen them being up to twice that size. When kept in an aquarium though, it is unusual for them to grow any larger than 1m (3.3ft) in length. Their eyes are small but, as is common to the catfish family, the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish have barbels and sensitive whiskers surrounding their mouths. This enables them to detect prey in murky waters or darkness.

It is not advisable to considering getting a Tiger Shovelnose Catfish unless you have had a lot of experience of keeping fresh water fish. You will need a large aquarium. It will have to be 1000ltr (200 gallon) as they will grow to be large fish. It is quite normal for a fish that is only one year old to measure in the region of 40cm (1.3ft). If you reduce the amount of food that you give them then you might be able to slow their growth but remember that these fish will still become very large! As for food, the fish like earthworms, scraps of meat, tablets and other fish that are smaller (bear this in mind and stick to companion fish that are not much smaller.) Do not give them feeder fish as a main food but they will benefit from the occasional one.

You should have some large areas for your fish to have plenty of room to swim. These fish have been known to jump out or to even have broken the glass when they are too cramped. Don’t bother with any small plants as they will more than likely end up getting buried or pulled out, you will need larger ones with good, strong roots. For a natural environment you should introduce some wood or rock, creating hiding places. It is advisable to use fine sand and not gravel as the fish may eat it whilst foraging and not pass it through its digestive system. You need to maintain a water temperature of 22-26c (72-79f). Ideally, water hardness should be 4-30dH. The pH level should be 6-7.5. Make sure you have good filtration as these fish are affected by poor water quality. With these conditions your catfish should be quite happy. It is advisable to make water changes twice each week. Do not keep them with other fish of a nervous disposition as they are naturally jumpy.

There is no known way to breed a Tiger Shovelnose Catfish and breeding them is very difficult as they need so much space. Some people believe that breeding may be possible in a pond and that muddy water is beneficial, although this is not definite.