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FAQs on Pimelodid Catfish Foods, Feeding, Nutrition

Related Articles: Pimelodid Catfishes

Related FAQs: Pimelodid Catfishes 1, Pimelodid Cats 2, & FAQs on: Pimelodid Identification, Pimelodid Behavior, Pimelodid Compatibility, Pimelodid Selection, Pimelodid Systems, Pimelodid Disease, Pimelodid Reproduction, & Red Tail Cats (Phractocephalus), Pictus Cats, Shovelnose Catfishes (Pseudoplatystoma, Sorubim, Sorubimichthys...), & Catfish FAQs:  Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

For small species, more frequent, smaller meals... perhaps of lower protein content. For large/r species, specimens, sea foods, earthworms et al. that are disease free and digestible. I.e. NOT goldfish, beef heart...

Redtail Shovelnose Cross... mis-stkg, sys., fdg., reading    /BobF      5/11/11
Hi, I have a red-tail shovel nose hybrid catfish and I bought him about 5 and a half months ago. He started out in a 37 gallon aquarium so he could get big enough to go into my 75 with a 13 inch brown bullhead catfish.
<Mmm, these two "like" very different water quality... soft/acidic and tropical, vs. hard/alkaline and cool temperature. Not really compatible>
The 75 is linked to a 40 gallon reservoir tank using an overflow box in order to increase the volume of the tank so that it can handle the catfish producing their heavy waste. In the forty gallon is a small 6 inch bullseye catfish. I do about 50 gallons worth of water changes every week on the system. I know that a 75 is way to<o> small for him but since he is only about 8.5 inches and the levels are fine
<What levels? Numbers please>
I figured it is okay until I get him into the tropical pond in about a week and a half. The levels are fairly good in the system. The pH is usually between 6.5 and 7.2 and the ammonia never gets above 0.25.
<Toxic! Has to be 0.0>
The nitrates are about 30
<Too high as well; should be kept under 20 ppm. Read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm
and the linked files above>
and the nitrites are 0. I recently have started hand feeding the hybrid every other day frozen beef
<... a very poor idea. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/TerrAnimalsAsFWFud.htm
hearts until his stomach is somewhat bulged. I am wondering if I am doing something wrong because some places on the internet have said their growth rate should be faster than his is. When I got him he was about three inches and now he is about 8.5 inches so that's like an inch a month. Is that a slow growth rate?
<Not in my experience, no>
Within about a week and a half I am transferring him to an outdoor heated tropical pond in my backyard.
<Wow! Where do you live? How will you heat, pay for heating this volume throughout the year?>
The pond is about 350 gallons and it is 8 feet long, 5 feet wide at the top, and at the deepest point of about 17 inches about 18 inches wide.
<Mmm... do cover this system. These Pimelodid crosses can launch themselves out>
It is going to have heating on it for up to 500 gallons and filtration on it for up to a 1600 gallon pond along with 2 to 3 heavy power heads and a UV sterilizer. I know once he gets into that pond he will probably be good for a long time. Thanks, Alex
<Mmmm. Do learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM ahead of writing us... Bob Fenner>
Redtail Shovelnose Cross   /Neale   5/11/11
Hi, I have a red-tail shovel nose hybrid catfish and I bought him about 5 and a half months ago. He started out in a 37 gallon aquarium so he could get big enough to go into my 75 with a 13 inch brown bullhead catfish. The 75 is linked to a 40 gallon reservoir tank using an overflow box in order to increase the volume of the tank so that it can handle the catfish producing their heavy waste.
<For a few months, anyway. These catfish get gigantic. Expect at least 120 cm/4 ft, and quite likely much more than that, perhaps as much as 180 cm/6 ft. Adults weigh about as much as German Shepherd Dog. So realistically, we're talking about a 400 gallon aquarium, quite possibly rather more, 750 gallons being about the minimum for humane, sensible maintenance. Your 75 gallon tank has no long-term value here at all.>
In the forty gallon is a small 6 inch bullseye catfish. I do about 50 gallons worth of water changes every week on the system. I know that a 75 is way to small for him but since he is only about 8.5 inches and the levels are fine I figured it is okay until I get him into the tropical pond in about a week and a half.
<I see. Now, the thing with saying levels are "fine" is that it doesn't tell me much. In any case, even if fine today, it might not be tomorrow, and there's a delay between water quality problems and health problems.>
The levels are fairly good in the system. The pH is usually between 6.5 and 7.2 and the ammonia never gets above 0.25.
<This is too much ammonia.>
The nitrates are about 30 and the nitrites are 0. I recently have started hand feeding the hybrid every other day frozen beef hearts until his stomach is somewhat bulged.
<Beef heart is okay now and then, but shouldn't be the staple. Mix things up with earthworms and whole river shrimps for their indigestible matter, much the same as fibre helps us keep healthy. Use good quality catfish pellets at least once a week for their vitamin content. Strips of tilapia fillet are good too. Remember, these fish shouldn't be fed as much as they want! A healthy catfish will have a very gently rounded belly, but shouldn't look "full". It's safer to offer daily small meals than to gorge them on big meals every 2-3 days, even though the latter is what happens in the wild.
Why? Because catfish are prone to regurgitating food if overfed, messing up water quality.>
I am wondering if I am doing something wrong because some places on the internet have said their growth rate should be faster than his is.
<Growth rate is difficult to predict with these fish.>
When I got him he was about three inches and now he is about 8.5 inches so that's like an inch a month. Is that a slow growth rate?
<Not really. An inch a month is about right if given a moderate diet. The aim isn't to grow the fish too fast, but to keep it healthy.>
Within about a week and a half I am transferring him to an outdoor heated tropical pond in my backyard. The pond is about 350 gallons and it is 8 feet long, 5 feet wide at the top, and at the deepest point of about 17 inches about 18 inches wide.
<That should be adequate for the first year or so.>
It is going to have heating on it for up to 500 gallons and filtration on it for up to a 1600 gallon pond along with 2 to 3 heavy power heads and a UV sterilizer. I know once he gets into that pond he will probably be good for a long time. Thanks, Alex
<Sounds like you have a good idea of what you need to do here. So basically stick with what you're doing, don't worry too much about growth rate, and instead focus on ensuring your catfish receives a healthy, balanced, moderate diet. Don't use those foods likely to introduce parasites, such as live feeder fish, as internal parasites such as tapeworms can indeed cause slow growth rates alongside various other problems. Move the catfish to the bigger tanks or ponds as soon as practical; the bigger the home, the healthier the fish will be. Cheers, Neale.>

Tiger Shovelnose Mr. Fenner, We have a large Tiger Shovelnose whose belly has been swollen for about a week now. We only feed him goldfish, but were afraid that he may have swallowed some rocks in his frenzy.  <Maybe... more likely the goldfish themselves. Please read the following: http://wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm> What could it be and what can we do? Thank you for your help, Christine and Tony <Not much... the trauma of handling this pimelodid catfish at this point is likely worse than just waiting, hoping. If the animal were small (let's say a foot or so in length) it might be advisable to give it a bath in Epsom salts and tank water (not in the main tank) or even administer vegetable oil down its buccal cavity (past the constriction to the rear) with a plastic pipette... Have seen these problems resolve w/o intervention many times before. Let's hope this one does as well. Do look into other foods. Bob Fenner>

Porky South American Catfishes I have two small angelica catfish and when I feed them their bellies swell. is this usual and if so is there a point at which you stop feeding them. <Not unusual... these Pimelodid catfishes are voracious feeders in the wild (where food is scarce seasonally) and in captivity. Do try to "fill them up" with lower protein foods (sinking pellets of various sorts are a good choice) to allow your other fishes, livestock to get enough to eat.> they are very happy and in good condition. thanks <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Overfeeding (Same Cats, different responder) I have two small angelica catfish and when I feed them their bellies swell. is this usual and if so is there a point at which you stop feeding them. they are very happy and in good condition. thanks <yes... it is possible to overfeed fishes this way. Not all fish will stop eating when too much food is offered. In fact... most don't "know" any better. It is best to offer several (3-5) tiny feedings per day rather than one large feeding that bloats their bellies. Anthony>

Red-tailed Catfish Hello, I bought a baby redtail catfish about 4 weeks ago and it doesn't seem to be eating much. My catfish is about 3 inches long and it seems to only eat earthworms and hotdogs. I have tried feeding it a number of other pellet form foods and it still will only eat the earthworms. I have tried withholding the earthworms for a couple of days and it still doesn't eat any of the other foods that I feed it. I have tried feeding it Hikari sinking pellets, Algae wafers, and a few other types of sinking pellets but they all seem to not get eaten. Is this a problem? Would there be any other types of food that you would suggest feeding my baby redtail catfish? <Hotdogs? Let's do a few water changes to remove the grease and spice from your water. Then try some frozen fish food like Mysis Shrimp and Bloodworms. You can also try any human saltwater seafood. Small shrimp, scallops, squid and the like, cut bite size of course. No land mammal meats. Try teasing him with a worm held up to the glass. When he gets interested, remove the worm from view and throw in whatever you are tying to feed him. Right now he does not recognize unnatural foods. Soon enough he will eat anything, and anyone, in his tank. Please test your water often. He can make a mess of things very quickly. Do as many water changes as needed to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero, nitrates below 20ppm. That will become a real chore as this fish grows. But there is a bigger problem here. That is the keeping of this fish in captivity in the first place. In my personal opinion no one should keep a redtail. They are awesome fish, striking colors with personality to boot. But there is simply no home aquarium that can house an adult. Your baby will grow to over 5 feet and will need thousands of gallons of water. Unless you have a large pond in a warm weather climate, you can't keep one into adulthood. They should therefore be left in the wild. Don>

Large FW Catfish fed feeders... I just found out you guys existed! Boy I could have used your help a long time ago. I didn't really have a question for ya, but wanted to tell you a story. I know you hear this a lot but I was also the victim of poor pet store knowledge (more than once) and ended up with a Pseudoplatystoma  corruscans (shovelnose catfish). <Cool cat, but very large with a larger mouth> The guy told me at the store that at about 6 inches the little guy was pretty much full grown. <LOL> I know now that that was completely false. Anyway we kept the little fella in our 33 gallon and he is was one of my favorites in the tank. Loved to eat and has really unique patterns. We were planning on keeping him till he got closer to a foot long. Unfortunately he never made it that far, he inherited what I think was a bacterial disease from some feeder comets, <Please, Please, PLEASE! No feeders unless you're willing to QT them. Garden worms and human seafood (shrimp, mussels, etc.) is far safer for these large cats.> even though we wouldn't have had him for very long I was really mad that he died so quickly (3 months). He quit moving around and had his feelers pulled back to his side. A usually quite knowledgeable fish keeper told us to just let it ride for a couple of days, thinking he might just be shedding, <Shedding??? Catfish don't shed there skin>> since he was the only one in the tank that was sick. He died the next morning. The other fish I was misinformed about is our fire eel. He lives in the same 33 gallon tank (don't worry I've treated the tank with Pimafix because whatever the catfish had it affected our leopard leaf fish, he got some body slime and cloudy eye but everyone is healthy now) and looking at your website I found out that he may get 2-4 feet long. The pet store told me he would be max a foot and a half. Right now he is just about a foot long and happily resides under a large piece of driftwood, coming out at night and to eat out of my hand, he loves frozen shrimp!<Great, safe food. But vary it somewhat.> I was wondering how long it will take for him to get too big for the tank and have to be given away. <Not really sure.> I'll miss him but it's not fair to cage him in such a small tank. <True> Will he really get 4 feet in captivity <possible, over 3 for sure.> or could we maybe get away with keeping him in a 100 gallon or more? <Would surely allow you to keep him far longer. Min. recommended size is around 80 gallons. Upgrade your plan to a 125 or 150 and you could have him for life.> Sorry to write you a novel. Pet stores should be forced to have accurately knowledgeable staff, the losers are the poor fish and pissed off purchasers. Don't rush to write me back, Amber <Don> Lima Shovelnose not feeding and other questions - 7/20/07 Dear WWM crew - <Hello!> I recently bought a 6 - 7" Lima shovelnose (about 5 days ago) from a LFS and put it into a 125 gallon (long) tank with a 7 - 8" clown knife. While at first the clown knife would nip at it (only the first day), it has stopped and I have not observed it biting the shovelnose at all in the last few days. <Ah yes, Clowns are famous for being intolerant of tankmates. Let's hope they've settled down now. Sometimes they do... sometimes they don't. So watch carefully. That poor Lima will be simply taken apart by an angry Clown Knife!> In any case, as can be inferred from my subject line of this email, the shovelnose has not eaten anything yet. <Not unusual with predatory catfish immediately after import and transport to a new aquarium. The lack of dither fish (e.g., large characins) will be making the catfish feel very exposed and consequently unsettled. They're also somewhat sociable, and on their own are definitely more nervous than otherwise.> I have been offering it live earthworms dug from my yard (no pesticides, no herbicides, nothing artificial in my lawn). <Sounds ideal. An "organic" garden is a wonderful source of live foods!> Even when I drop the earthworm right on top of it, the catfish doesn't eat it. <Give it time.> Instead, it seems startled and darts away to the other side of the tank, or just ignores the earthworm as it falls by it, even when it brushes its whiskers. <Sorubim lima is one of the more nervous of the Pimelodidae, and it isn't going to eat until it feels settled. Don't worry -- adult predatory cats can go many days, if not weeks, without food.> I've tried feeding both with and without the lights on in my tank with the same result (when the lights are off, there is an external light on in the room). However, when I fed my clown knife a monster earthworm a couple days ago (literally around 5" long) and it was having a little difficulty getting it all down, the shovelnose did try to take the bit of earthworm dangling out the clown knife's mouth away from it. All subsequent attempts at feeding it have failed. <Well, it sounds as if he is getting peckish. Try some alternative foods. Frozen bloodworms are always good value with catfish. Bits of prawn and white fish are also good. Mealworms are worth a shot. When I've kept predatory cats one food that always goes down well is a small bit of raw salmon or mackerel. The oils in these fishes sends them wild! The downside is they heavily pollute the tank, so schedule a water change right afterwards. Basically, try all sorts of different things.> In regards to tank conditions, pH is 7.0, ammonia, nitrate and nitrites are all 0 though the water is a bit hard (well water from New England). I was wondering if there was anything that I could do to try and get this the shovelnose to eat. <Add another shovelnose and some dither fish might be one good idea. But failing that, just be patient and persistent.> The shovelnose also just sits there in the tank, hovering slightly above the gravel, though at times it will go up and down the side of the tank that it is on, which is a bad thing - I think. <Completely normal. These fish are famous for resting at odd angles, even head downwards, with their bodies pressed against some solid surface. It's apparently what they do.> Is this normal behavior for a lima shovelnose or am I just being a bit paranoid? <A little from column A, a little from column B...> Also, when I toss in the worms, if the clown knife or the catfish don't eat them, I usually remove them by hand. However, I am worried that this is stressful for the fish and so I was wondering if maybe you have a suggestion as to how to feed them the earthworms instead of just dropping them in or dangling them at the top of the water. <Well, you should certainly try not to add too much food at once. But I agree, sticking your hand in a few minutes later may well upset a catfish in two minds about whether to feed or not. But if you add only small earthworms to begin with, then either the cat or the knife will eat them, so there's no real risk of pollution.> I also have another question. I know that clown knives can get up to around 3' in an aquarium and I was wondering how compatible the shovelnose would be with the clown knife once they are fully grown. <Clown Knives are notoriously unreliable as community fish. Some specimens are fine, others less so. The males (if I recall correctly( guard a nest in the wild, so possibly its the males that are more territorial. Really, all you can do is wait and see. Aquarium specimens of Chitala chitala typically reach about 60cm/2' in aquaria.> I do plan to buy a 300 gallon long tank, for the clown knife at least, and if need be I always figure that I could just keep the shovelnose in the 125 gallon tank. <Sounds like a plan. You can easily keep two or three Sorubim lima in the 125 gallon tank, plus a few midwater dither fish like spanner barbs to make everyone feel comfortable. Add some big plastic plants and a few bits of wood, and it'd be a really attractive aquarium as well.> Also, in a 300 gallon tank, and before that the 125 gallon tank, would it be alright to introduce 1 silver / black arowana and 1 fire eel? <Fire eel yes, though they are *far* from easy to keep. Arowana also possible, but although widely traded they are rather more demanding animals than people expect, and can be extremely territorial.> I realize that an arowana by itself should have 300 gallons, but I figure that it's a primarily top swimming fish while the shovelnose and fire eel are bottom inhabitants and the clown knife is a mid to bottom level inhabitant. <That's the theory, anyway. Certainly such combinations have been done. But there are no guarantees. Silver arowana are the least aggressive arowanas, so that's one thing in your favour. Fire eels generally keep out of everyone's way, but they do demand a cave to call home, so you'll need to find a way to create territories for the eel and the Knife.> In any case, the shovelnose could be kept in the 125 gallon while the other fish are in the 300 if that would be too much fish. <Indeed. I'd actually keep the Sorubim lima as a group in their own tank. They're relatively small animals and very gentle. Fire eels would work well with them. Arowanas, possibly. The Clown, I'm less confident about.> Finally (I know, it's a lot of reading. Thanks for bearing with me), I was wondering if it would be alright if I took an uprooted tree trunk, probably pine or oak, from my backyard and put it into the tank (first the 125 and then transferring it to the 300). <This is really, REALLY difficult to answer. In theory, you can put wood into aquaria without too much harm. Done it myself, primarily as a source of food for my Panaque catfish. But, wood that hasn't been "cured" rots, and the rotting messes up water quality and also reduces the pH significantly (both through normal decay and the release of tannic acids). So while I've certainly added small bits of wood lifted from streams and not had problems, I wouldn't expect a whole tree stump to be safe. This is one of those times where being cautious probably makes sense. A big bit of bogwood may be expensive, but at least its safe. For what it's worth, you can get some bargains on eBay and the like when it comes to bogwood. Artificial tree stumps are also worthwhile, and can look very realistic once a bit of algae has covered them up.> Obviously I would soak it in water for a day or two first to get rid of all the insects living inside. The only problem that I could see is it slowly rotting in the tank, but I don't know for sure what this would do. <Curing wood for use in aquaria takes more than a day or two! Even sticks an inch in diameter are leaching acids months after I've collected them. So a tree stump would probably need curing for a couple of years!> Thanks in advance (and for reading this very long email), - Raymond <Hope this helps, and good luck. Neale>



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