tiger shovelnose catfish drawn as an abstract artistic image and its vibrant tank set-up

Tiger Shovelnose Catfish: All You Need to Know About Caring For This Species

Are you thinking about adding a tiger shovelnose catfish to your aquarium?

This species of freshwater fish is very popular among aquarists due to their unique, tropical look and interesting behavior.

But it’s important to do your research before deciding if they are right for you.

Tiger shovelnose catfish care requires some preparation and knowledge about their needs and necessary requirements.

Fortunately, this guide outlines everything you need to know to give your tiger shovelnose the best life possible!

You’ll learn about their size, growth rate, diet, and more, so read on to find out if this species is right for you.

tiger shovelnose catfish
tiger shovelnose catfish are drawn as an abstract artistic image and its vibrant tank set-up

Species Summary

The tiger shovelnose catfish ( Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum ) has its origins in the waters of South America, where it can be found in the depths of rivers and in flooded forests. They have a wide, flat mouth which helps them to scoop up prey and also to detect vibrations in murky waters using their barbels.

But be aware that these fish are also a commonly-caught target of fishermen, so they should be avoided in the wild.


The average tiger shovelnose catfish lifespan is 18-25 years, although it can be significantly affected depending on the quality of care they receive and their genetic makeup. In captivity, it’s not uncommon for them to live slightly shorter lives due to the difficulties of maintaining the ideal environmental conditions.


One of the things that make tiger shovelnose catfish so interesting is their appearance. This species has long barbels protruding from the front of the mouth and angled slightly forward. The dorsal fins fan back in a shell-like shape, with forked caudal fins containing black spots.
Their bodies have a dark silver coloration, covered with stripes that run vertically from the head to the tail. Spotting is also common, giving these fish a beautiful, vibrant look.


Tiger shovelnose catfish typically reach 2.5-3 feet in length in captivity, although they can grow much larger in the wild. They have an incredibly fast growth rate, so you must be ready to accommodate them in a tank of sufficient size.

Tiger Shovelnose Catfish Care

When it comes to tiger shovelnose catfish care, there are some straightforward needs that are easy to meet, as well as some which require more understanding and preparation.

Tank Size

A large part of shovelnose catfish care is providing them with a tank of the correct size. 180-200 gallons is adequate for juveniles, while adults need at least 250 gallons. Anything less than this will leave them feeling cramped and stressed, which will lead to poor health and a shorter life.

Water Parameters

Tiger shovelnose catfish are relatively hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. The ideal temperature is 75°F to 82°F, with a pH level of 6-8, and a water hardness of 6-20 KH. To ensure your pet stays healthy, you should test the water regularly and perform regular water changes.


Tiger shovelnose catfish are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything they can get their mouths around. In captivity, they can be fed frozen food as well as live foods such as earthworms, insect larvae, and small crustaceans.

These fish can also benefit from high-quality sinking pellets, which will provide essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Meaty foods should form part of their diet, but don’t forget to feed them a variety of other items.

Tank Mates

Tiger shovelnose catfish are generally peaceful fish, but they should not be kept with any other species of similar size or temperament. Smaller fish that can’t hold their own against a larger, more aggressive species might be intimidated or even eaten by a tiger shovelnose catfish.

Tank mates like large cichlids, plecos, and catfish can be a great choice – just make sure that everyone has enough room and no one is too overbearing.

Breeding Tiger Shovelnose Catfish

Breeding tiger shovelnose catfish is not impossible, but it is a difficult task. Even if your tank meets all the necessary environmental requirements, it may still not be enough.
You’ll need a tank of at least 600 gallons if you want to attempt breeding.

The pH should be 6-7, and the temperature needs to be between 79°F-82°F. Fish that might fight for territory And, in most cases, it isn’t realistic to have the resources and expertise needed to achieve successful breeding in captivity.


Aquascaping for tiger shovelnose catfish care is critical for providing them with the ideal environment and encouraging natural behavior. They like plenty of caves, hiding spots, and areas with plants and driftwood, as these items provide them with food and shelter.

Adding rocks will also provide them with suitable surfaces to rest upon and create a more natural-looking tank.


A powerful and efficient filter system is also essential for tiger shovelnose catfish care. These fish produce lots of waste which needs to be quickly and effectively removed in order to maintain a healthy home.

We recommend utilizing a canister filter with a high flow rate, which will keep the water clean and free of any harmful toxins.


Tiger shovelnose catfish care doesn’t require a particularly high level of lighting, but it is still important to provide them with enough light to stay active and healthy. LEDs, T5s, and fluorescent lights are all suitable options.

Aim for a light that produces 8-10 hours of illumination per day, and make sure you have a timer or automatic system in place.

Water Changes

Tiger shovelnose catfish are very sensitive to fluctuations in water quality, so regular water changes are necessary to ensure their health and well-being.

Aim to perform at least 20-30% of the tank volume every two weeks, and make sure you are replacing old water with treated/conditioned water of similar temperature and pH.


Tiger shovelnose catfish need to be fed several times a day in order to meet their nutritional requirements and prevent obesity. The feeding behavior of this fish is mainly carnivores, so feed a combination of live, frozen, and sinking pellets to meet their dietary needs.

Avoid overfeeding, as this can cause excess waste, uneaten food, and an unhealthy environment for your fish.

Tank Maintenance

Maintenance for tiger shovelnose catfish care is relatively straightforward but should be done on a regular basis. Make sure you’re performing regular water tests, checking for algal growth, cleaning the filter, and removing any excess waste. Doing so will make sure your fish remain healthy and ensure the longevity of their home.

Health Concerns

Tiger shovelnose catfish are generally hardy and resilient, but they can succumb to common health issues from time to time. Some of these include ich, bacterial infections, parasites, and fungal diseases. Signs of ill health can include lethargy, loss of appetite, discoloration, and labored breathing. If you notice any of this, it’s important to take action as soon as possible.

Medical Care

If you suspect your tiger shovelnose catfish is unwell, you should take them to a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet will be able to diagnose any underlying issues and come up with a plan to better the health of your fish. Diagnostic tests, medication, and proper diet may be recommended to assist in recovery.


Adding live plants to your tank can be beneficial for tiger shovelnose catfish. Plants not only look aesthetically pleasing, but they also provide oxygenation and additional hiding spots for your fish. Some suitable species for this species of fish include Java ferns, Anubias, and Amazon swords.

Final Thoughts

The tiger shovelnose catfish is an interesting and unique species of freshwater fish that can provide lots of joy and entertainment in an aquarium setting. With the right level of knowledge and dedication, these fish can be successfully kept in captivity.

Just make sure you have adequate tank size, water quality, and tank mates, and you should be able to keep them healthy and happy.