Striped Raphael Catfish 101: Care, Diet, Tank Size, Tank Mates & More

If you’re looking for an exciting fish to add to your aquarium, you can’t go wrong with a Striped Raphael Catfish. This unique-looking fish will surely add some personality to your tank, and its unusual sound will turn heads.

Native to South America, the Striped Raphael Catfish is found in a variety of habitats, including the Orinoco basin in Colombia and Venezuela, the Essequibo river in Guyana, and the coastal drainages of Suriname and French Guiana. It’s also a common sight in the Amazon basin in Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.

These fish also go by Humbug Catfish and Striped Talking Catfish (Platydoras armatulus). As you might have guessed, they get their name from their unique body shape, similar to that of a catfish. 

Additionally, they have large flat bellies and rounded backs and are flanked by a pair of rows of spines. Their eyes are positioned on the top of their heads, which gives them a somewhat primitive and frightening appearance.

In this guide, we will help you understand the basics of caring for a striped Raphael Catfish, including diet, tank size, tank mates, and more.

Species Summary

These tropical freshwater fish belong to the Doradidae family. They are found in slow-flowing waters throughout much of South America, typically near the roots of plants or among submerged vegetation. They are relatively uncommon in more open spaces or cleaner habitats. 

They are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a large catfish to keep in your aquarium. They can grow quite large, making them an impressive addition to any tank. But size isn’t the only thing that makes these fish so popular – they are known to be quite vocal, so be prepared for some noise!

Striped Raphael Catfish Care Guide

This section of the guide will provide primary care instructions for Striped Raphael Catfish.

Tank Size

One of the most appealing things about the Striped Raphael Catfish is their low-maintenance nature. These fish are very peaceful and don’t require a lot of space, making them ideal for smaller tanks.

They are also low-active fish, meaning they spend most of their time lurking in their caves. As a result, they don’t require a very spacious tank. However, a 48″ x 12″ aquarium or 28 gallons is a good size for an individual fish.

Tank Mates

These bottom-dwelling fish are relatively peaceful and get along well with other tank mates. They are best kept in groups of 3 or more. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when adding a Striped Raphael Catfish to your aquarium.

First, these fish are bottom-dwellers, so they should be added to the aquarium after all other fish have been added. This will help prevent them from being bullied by other fish. 

Second, avoid keeping these fish with smaller fish that could be eaten. The Striped Raphael Catfish is a voracious eater and will not hesitate to eat smaller fish.

Finally, avoid keeping these fish with other territorial and aggressive bottom fish. The Striped Raphael Catfish is a peaceful fish, but other aggressive fish may see it as a threat.

Some good tankmates for the Striped Raphael Catfish include:

Congo Tetra


● Oscar Fish

● African Butterfly Fish

Pictus Catfish

Jaguar Cichlid

● Bristlenose Pleco

● Black Skirt Tetra

Same Species Tanks

Striped Raphael Catfish is rarely used as a single species in any assembly.

In any case, it is a suitable species to be kept alone in a well-decorated aquarium in a themed or biotope style.

Water Parameters

They are highly resistant fish, which can live with outstanding quality in different parameters. The perfect temperature for its maintenance is 76 to 86 F. The ideal pH range is between 5.8 and 7.5, and the hardness is between 2 and 20°H.

What to Put in Their Tank

Striped Raphael Catfish must be kept in a well-maintained tank with clean water, as with all aquarium fish. A good filtration system is essential, and the tank should be equipped with an aquarium heater to maintain a consistent water temperature. 

Your Striped Raphael Catfish will also need some hiding places in their tank. These fish are nocturnal and will spend most of their time hiding, so you’ll need to provide them with some places to do so. You can add some logs, plants, and other decorations that form caves and hiding places.

Common Diseases

While the Striped Raphael Catfish is disease-resistant, some common diseases can still affect this fish. The most common conditions include mouth fungus, fin rot, and white spot disease.

Of course, the best way to keep your fish healthy and disease-free are to provide them with a clean and healthy environment. This means regular water changes, plenty of hiding places, and a well-balanced diet. But if you do all that, you’re well on your way to having a healthy and happy Striped Raphael Catfish for years to come.

Food and Diet

As an omnivorous species, Striped Raphael Catfish enjoy a variety of different foods, from small invertebrates and algae to fruits and small fish. However, their diet is mainly based on small fish and invertebrates in their natural environment.

However, they have no problem accepting commercial rations in aquariums as well. This is because they are great eaters! So, if you’re looking to provide your Striped Raphael Catfish with a nutritious and balanced diet, dry, live, and fresh foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and mosquito larvae are all excellent options.


These fish don’t usually live as long in the wild due to diseases, predators, and other environmental factors. But in a well-maintained aquarium with good water quality and a nutritious diet, these fish can live for over 10 years – though the average lifespan is closer to 6 years.


With a row of spines on each side of the body, a long dorsal fin, and side fins that are shaped like large spines, this fish is sure to stand out in your aquarium. The body of the Striped Raphael Catfish is grayish-brown with a yellowish-white belly.


The Striped Raphael Catfish can grow up to 9.4 inches in length, which is a good size for most tanks.

Behavior and Temperament

These bottom-dwellers are relatively inactive, staying hidden in caves or other tank areas. They come out primarily at night to feed so they won’t bother other fish in the tank.


There are no reports of its breeding in captivity.

This fish is an oviparous species, meaning the female lays eggs. In the wild, she will spawn among surface vegetation or nest on the riverbank. Once the eggs are laid, they are left to fend for themselves.

Gender Differences: Male vs Female

When it comes to Striped Raphael Catfish, there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable difference between genders. However, experienced fish enthusiasts claim that adult females are typically wider and more robust when viewed from above – especially in the ventral area. So, if you’re ever wondering whether that Striped Raphael Catfish you’re looking at is a male or female, remember to check for these subtle differences!

Striped Raphael Catfish Fun Facts

● This species is prevalent in the aquarium hobby in several countries and is not reproduced commercially, being all animals from the wild collection.

● The nickname “talking fish” comes from from the fish’s ability to produce sounds when communicating with conspecifics or threatened. It can make these sounds in two ways. The first involves partially blocking the pectoral fins at their bases, where the fish can then scrape the pectoral spines. 

The second is contracting and relaxing a muscle wedged between the back of the skull and the front of the swim bladder. This causes the bladder to resonate and produce a slightly deeper sound. Noises are audible.

● Interestingly, juveniles of this species participate in the “cleaning” of larger fish, precisely one species of Wolffish (Hoplias cf. malabaricus). Wolffish is usually an admiringly fish eater, but they allow this catfish to roam around their body, eating parasites in behavior reminiscent of some marine species.

● In the aquarium trade, it is commonly sold under the name Catfish Raphael or Striped Platydora and is widely confused with Platydoras costatus. Only in 2008 was it recognized as P. armatulus. Its distinction can be made by the longer snout and the longer adipose fin. In addition to these, Platydoras costatus has a more restricted distribution and is uncommon in aquarium trade.


Burgess, W.E., 1989. An atlas of freshwater and marine catfishes. A preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey (USA).

Garcia-Ayala, J.R., E.M. Brambilla, F.A. Travassos, E.D. Carvalho and G.S. David, 2014. 

Garcia‐Ayala, J. R., Brambilla, E. M., Travassos, F. A., Carvalho, E. D., & David, G. S. (2014). Length and weight relationships of 29 fish species from the Tucuruí Reservoir (Tocantins/Araguaia Basin, Brazil). J. Appl. Ichthyol.

Romero, P., 2002. An etymological dictionary of taxonomy. Madrid, unpublished.