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Tiger Shovelnose Cat

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Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, Pseudoplatystoma Fasciatum

Region:          Brazil, Amazon River Basin, Argentina, Peru & Venezuela     More Tiger photos:

Desirability:   This is a fun fish to own, especially when displayed in pairs.  It will come to the same place for food and likes attention even when not feeding.  Tigers are an excellent choice for large fish enthusiasts with adequate facilities for keeping them. 

Durability:      Very hardy, easy keepers, must have adequate space to swim.

Environment: Water temperature:     72-82f, 23-28c
                        Water quality PH:        6.5-7.8, mine do well in the 6.6-6.8 range.
                        Water quality, NO:      Nitrate level, below 200 PPM, try for under 100 PPM.
                        Water quality NH:       Ammonia, up to .5 PPM sustained but best at zero. 
                        Tank size minimum:    180 gallon or larger aquarium, 72" by 24" by 24" tall.
                        Ted's aquarium is:       A heated 2,400 gallon outdoor tank, 12' by 8' by 4' high,

Growth rate:   Varies depending on environment and food.  The typical pet shop offering is a 3 inch fish which can grow to 12 inches or more within a year.  In 2 years these fish can reach 24" in length.  Mine are about 10 years old and reached 30"  in their 4th year.  They appear to continue growing throughout their life span which may reach 20 years or more.  They can attain a length in excess of 4 feet at maturity.

Behavior:       Aggressive toward smaller fish which can be eaten.  The mouth is enormous as compared with the fishs overall size and it is easy to misjudge how large a fish it can actually swallow.  This fish is sometimes spooked and can easily jump out of the aquarium; it must be covered at all times.  The Shovelnose antenna is vulnerable to damage, especially from young Pacu which snap at everything just for fun.  The  antenna will usually grow back in 6 - 9 months.  When frightened, these fish have been known to break 1/4" aquarium glass; larger tanks with 1/2" glass should be ok.  With an adequate size aquarium for the Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, (tank length = 3 times length of fish, tank width = 1.5 times fish length and tank depth = the length of the fish, 24 30), they should remain active most of the day and night.  When there are two Tigers together you will always be entertained with their swimming antics.  If they are not active then the aquarium tank is too small.  Their natural instinct is to lurk  in a concealed place wait for food to swim by.  In their native habitat they find food with their antenna as the visibility is often poor in the muddy water.  My Tigers rarely rest on the bottom; in fact they are almost always swimming in front of their window.

Food:              Initially small feeder fish, guppies and goldfish, earthworms, fresh shrimp raw or cooked and dried krill.  After the fish is eating well try introducing small chunks of beef heart and or hot dogs.  If the fish is healthy you can starve it for 3-4 days which should be sufficient time to get it interested in trying other food.  My Tigers have been eating hot dogs, the chicken turkey and sometimes containing pork variety, for the past 6 years;  which represents approximately 95% of their total food intake.  These 30 long Tigers eat every 3-4 days; each fish consuming 3-4 hot dogs within 5 minutes.  Others have questioned the advisability of feeding hotdogs, long term, right out of the package as I do.  Although hotdogs are not considered as nutritious as beef heart, for example, and may not provide the captive tropical fish everything needed in it's diet, my big tropical fish have done very well eating hotdogs over the years.   The only drawback I have found to feeding hotdogs is the elevated nitrate, NO, levels in the water which necessitates frequent water changes.   Sometimes there is a slight sheen on the surface after feeding hotdogs.  The skimmer type overflow box  draining into a sump is an ideal system when feeding hotdogs.  Although the fish will accept the more expensive beef type hotdogs, I do not recommend them as they leave a significant amount of residue on the water's surface and along the edges of the aquarium glass.

Disease:        The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is very hardy and mine have never appeared in any way sick.  When I left the garden hose running in their 2,400 gallon tank the temperature dropped from 77˚f  to 60˚f within 2 hours.  Their twelve Pacu tank mates, ranging in size from 24"-36", became covered with an Ich infestation within a few days.  The Tigers did not appear to have been infected with Ich and had none of the telltale white spots.  I treated the Ich infestation with a .3% salt solution attained by adding 3 pounds per 100 gallons and raising the temperature to 84f for a period of thirty days.  None of the other 6 varieties of fish showed any ill effects and all continued eating well.  I have treated all the fish in the 2400 gallon aquarium  for worms and gill flukes, Gyrodactylus, using Trichloracide in the exact dosage recommended by the manufacturer, Argent chemicals, http://www.argent-labs.com/ These fish can tolerate pet store medicines containing formalin so long as there is very little or no salt in the water being treated.

Other:             The Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is considered a game fish in the Amazon River Basin and those who have eaten Tiger Shovelnose Catfish report it is very tasty.  http://www.greentracks.com/Peacock-Bass-Fish.htm The Tiger Shovelnose is often found for sale in South American fresh fish markets.  Virtually all of my large fish were donated when they outgrew their aquariums and likely had eaten all of their tank mates as well.