Striped Raphael catfish is also known as Platydoras armatulus and is part of the family of fish called Doradidae. The fish is native to South America, mainly found in Amazon, Paraguay Parana, as well as in lower Orinoco basins.

The catfish is called other names, such as talking catfish, chocolate doradid, chocolate catfish, and thorny catfish.

This fish is larger in size compared to other catfish and has a cylindrical, arrow-shaped body with stripes that go up to its head. It is easy to confuse this fish with other similar fish, which also have pale stripes, but the stripes don’t go up to their heads. One species of fish that striped Raphael catfish has been confused with is Platydoras costatus of Suriname and French Guiana. It is also a catfish.

In this article, we deliver almost everything that you will need to know about striped Raphael catfish. We are almost sure that this guide can make you an expert in this fish and how to take care of it, which is quite easy, believe it or not.

Stats of Striped Raphael Catfish

Here’s a list of all the important details about the striped Raphael catfish. If you want quick information on this fish, this table will provide you with it.

Scientific name Platydoras armatulus
pH of water 5.5 – 7.5
Hardness of water 4 to 20 dKH
Diet type Omnivores
Temperature of water 75 F to 80 F
Temperament of fish Quite peaceful
Size 20 – 24 cm (7.9 – 9.4 in)
Life span 15 to 20 years

These are the basic as well as scientific statistics of this species of catfish. This is a simple knowledge that will help you identify the fish as well as know its basic characteristics. Needless to say, striped Raphael catfish is a very chill fish that does not get the recognition that it deserves.

Striped Raphael Catfish Care

This species of catfish is pretty chill and much easier to care for compared to other fish. You can find this fish almost everywhere, and it is quite popular as a freshwater tank fish. Did you know these fish can also make peculiar sounds like no other fish?

The fish likes to burrow in the soft sandy bottoms of the river. Moreover, they have rigid pectoral fin spines and tiny and curved protective spines all over their bodies.

Although the average size of the fish is about 6 inches in length, it can get much bigger. In fact, the bigger the tank, the bigger the fish gets. Allegedly, in the wild, when striped Raphael catfish is fully grown, it can get up to 17 inches long. However, these claims have not been verified yet.

Keeping these things in mind, here are some things to keep in mind when you decide to make striped Raphael catfish your pet. Thankfully, these fish are pretty peaceful as they can survive harsh environments; it is easy to care for striped Raphael catfish. However, their comfort is still very important because, in poor condition, the fish can get sick and depressed.

– The Diet

Knowing what this type of catfish eats is one of the most important things for a fish owner who wants to care for their striped Raphael catfish properly. Make sure to do research and find what they eat before you decide to house one so that you know you have the ability to feed these curious not-so-little fish.

The striped Raphael catfish eat whatever they find at the bottom of the river or ocean in the wild. These omnivorous fishes feed on mollusks, organic debris, crustaceans, detritus, and dead plant matter. Anything that the fishes can easily find in their habitat.

However, in captivity, they eat some different things. It is very important to feed them daily and make sure that the food you have for them reaches them at the bottom of the tank. An unsatisfying diet can lead them to get sick and other such problems. Some of the things that you can feed a striped Raphael catfish are listed below.

  • Detritus
  • Leftover fish food
  • Good quality sinking pallets
  • Freeze-dried bloodworms
  • Freeze-dried tubifex
  • Earthworms
  • Flakes
  • Algae wafers
  • Brine shrimps
  • Feeder shrimps
  • Snails
  • Krill
  • Pollock
  • Tilapia

As you can see, there is a huge variety of food that you can feed the fish. Make sure to give them enough protein, though. Moreover, they need to be fed daily and only when the lights are out, as they are nocturnal, so they will most likely hunt for food at night. Either feed them at night or turn the light off of your room and make sure the room is dark before you feed them.

One thing to keep in mind is not to overfeed these fish. The thing is, striped Raphael catfish have a very big appetite, and they will keep on eating the more you feed them. This can shorten their lifespan as these fish can eat themselves to death! So how do you know if you have overfed them? Well, if their bellies look overly expanded, and they look bloated, it means you have overfed the fish. In this case, all you need to do is not to feed the fish for a couple of days until you think they look normal again!

– The Lifespan of Striped Raphael Catfish

A Striped Raphael Catfish has a projected lifespan of 10 years. There are, however, many variables to consider. Fish that have been kept in ideal circumstances have been reported to live for up to 15 years! Their lifespan may be substantially shortened as a result of poor living circumstances. So if you want your fish to live as long as possible, you’ll have to monitor them for years.

– Common Diseases

Although rare, it is always best to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. The worst thing that can happen to this catfish is injuries while catching them or transporting them, so you need to be careful in that regard. However, in the tank, they are susceptible to fungal infection, Ich, and parasitic infestation. To avoid this, the water quality needs to be good, and you need to change the water every week along with following other care routines.

Keep the following in mind when you set up your tank for this species.

– Tank Size

Tank Size: If the tank size is too small, it increases their stress level so having a tank of at least 50 gallons is essential. Although usually these fish don’t get too big and are not that active, they still need a place to swim around to explore and hide. If you choose a too-small tank, it can stress the fish and stunt their growth. Furthermore, the water movement needs to be weak in the tank as well.

– Water Parameters

The fish are very tolerable and can adapt to quite a range of water parameters and severe water conditions. This doesn’t mean that they can’t get sick, though, so keeping them in optimal water pH, temperature, and hardness is essential.

The fish like to stay at the bottom of the tank, around plants and vegetation, so they need slightly hard and warm water to survive in. Moreover, the tank needs to be obscure as they usually move around at night, at least when they are young. To make sure that the water is optimum for them, running water tests every day is good until you think the water is perfect for them and changing water every month.

– Places to Put

As you know, these fish like swimming at night and are always closer to the sandy bottom. So the tank you choose needs a nice sandy bottom and plenty of places to hide. This doesn’t mean that they don’t swim to the top; they do swim to the top, sometimes looking for food or just to explore. Basically, have a soft and sandy substrate with lots of caves, stones, snags, pipes, driftwood, and some live plants to keep them happy.

– The Tank Mates That Striped Raphael Catfish Can Have

The striped Raphael catfish, as mentioned above, are nocturnal, so they will spend most of the time hiding during daylight. Moreover, they are known to be pretty peaceful. Although once comfortable, they can explore in the morning as well! This means that the fish can have other fish mates.

However, this catfish is not suitable for a community tank. Why? Sometimes, when the catfish are exploring at night, it might mistake smaller fishes and shrimps for food and eat them. So it is better to keep the fish with similar-sized fish. It will not mistake a fish that is the same size or bigger as food at all.

The fishes are the nicest among the Thorny catfish category, but they do have a lot of defense mechanisms. This means that they can be kept with some aggressive fishes, such as some listed below.

  • Flowerhorn
  • Oscar fish
  • Black skirt Tetra
  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Pictus catfish
  • Jaguar Cichlid
  • Bichir
  • African Butterflyfish
  • Congo Tetra

Just make sure to have enough space in the tank when you keep these fishes together. If you are wondering what defense mechanism these peculiar fishes have, then keep on reading.

  • The fish has curved spines that run along the entire body of the fish.
  • Sharp and rigid fins pop up whenever they feel threatened.
  • It makes sounds that keep the predators away, although also used to attract mates.
  • They are tough-skinned with well-developed nuchal shields in front of their dorsal fins.

Needless to say, this catfish is completely capable of taking care of itself. When picking it up, you can get pricked by the pectoral fins, which can cause serious damage. But, the fish is not venomous at all; still, it is better to pick them with a glass jar, plastic, or other similar things to stay safe.

Breeding of Striped Raphael Catfish

The breeding of this catfish is pretty interesting. Once you buy one fish, you don’t have to worry about it producing offspring, as the fish has rarely been bred in captivity.

In the wild, however, they do breed quite often. The fish is said to lay eggs in fast-moving rivers in the wild for fertilization. This condition or environment is very difficult to replicate in confinement, which means that they can’t successfully breed on their own yet. The fish that you get from the pet stores is always wild-caught. Remember that!

There have been attempts at breeding the fish through other means. The most common way is through commercial hormonal injections, which cause the “spawning” of the fish.

Although there have been some successful breeding attempts of this catfish in large aquariums, they were due to accidents. So there has not been much information regarding their breeding behavior. This is both a good and a bad thing since the owner doesn’t have to deal with the overpopulation of one kind of fish but also can’t breed them if they want to either.

This is an interesting behavior displayed by the fish scientists who are still studying to understand better and find a way to breed them successfully in captivity without any injections.

Another interesting thing is that these fishes are very slow growers. This means that they grow very slowly over their lifetime. Especially once they are about 6 inches long, the fish only grow by an inch over a year or two. So you don’t have to worry about them growing inches in one night!

– Difference Between the Different Sexes of Striped Raphael Catfish

Although both sexes of this interesting fish have the same behaviors, there are some ways to know the sex of your striped Raphael catfish.

Both genders of the fish vary in color from dark brown to black with white stripes. Furthermore, they have large eyes, big heads, and big mouths. They have three pairs of barbells. The younger fish is said to have more vibrant and distinguished colors, and as they grow older, the color gets more faded.

So how do you differentiate between a female and male fish, though? Well, this is not something that an inexperienced person can tell since they are almost similar in every way. However, it is said that a male striped Raphael catfish is slimmer and more brightly colored than a female one.

This means that a female catfish has more cream color between the stripes while the male ones have more of a yellowish-tan color. There are still no defined rules by which you can distinguish the fish yet.

You don’t have to worry about their gender, though; they both behave pretty similarly, as mentioned above. The reason you might want to know their gender is for your own interest!

And if you can still not tell if the striped Raphael catfish that you own is a female or a male, you could just ask a professional. Most professionals, like vets, will immediately be able to tell the gender of your fish.


So this is all the important information that you will need regarding housing the striped Raphael catfish before deciding to adopt one. To make things easier, here are all the important things that you need to remember before you decide to buy this intriguing catfish!

  • Striped Raphael catfish is also known as Platydoras armatulus. It is part of the family of fish called Doradidae; it is also known as talking catfish, chocolate doradid, and chocolate and thorny catfish.
  • The fish are nocturnal, so they are active at night, and also they stay closer to the bottom of the tank, near the sand, and eat food from there.
  • These catfish in captivity can get around seven to nine inches long, and in the wild, they can get much bigger, so they need a huge tank.
  • They can’t be bred in captivity, so the fish you get from pet stores are wild-caught, or you can catch them yourself in the wild.
  • Striped Raphael has a very strong defense mechanism to live with aggressive tank mates but not with small fish as it might mistake them for food.
  • There are many things that this fish can eat, and it is important to feed them daily but not overfeed them either.
  • The fish are very strong and can withstand a lot of harsh conditions, but they can still get sick and depressed, so keeping them in clean water is essential.
  • There is not much difference between the different sex of the fish, and they are more vividly colored when young, which means the color dulls as they grow older.

In conclusion, these fish are affordable and can be found in a lot of different pet stores.

In addition to that, they have a pretty long life expectancy, and they also have peculiar behavior, which makes them a very loving and interesting pet to have.

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