Spotted raphael catfish Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: October 27, 2022

The Spotted Raphael Catfish is a beautiful freshwater fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are relatively easy to care for and are very peaceful, making them a great addition to any community tank.

However, there are a few things you need to know before adding one of these fish to your tank. In this guide, we will teach you everything you need to know about Spotted Raphael Catfish care. We will cover topics such as diet, tank mates, tank size, and more!

Species overview

The spotted Raphael catfish (scientific name: Platydoras armatulus) is a freshwater fish that’s native to the Amazon Basin in South America. As you might expect from its name, this fish is a member of the catfish family.

They are a popular choice for aquariums because they are relatively easy to care for and are compatible with a wide variety oftank mates.

One of the most notable things about the spotted Raphael catfish is its diet. In the wild, this fish is a predator and will eat just about anything it can fit in its mouth. This includes other fish, invertebrates, and even smaller mammals if given the opportunity.

While they are not typically aggressive toward humans, it’s important to be careful when handling them as they can give a nasty bite.


Spotted raphael catfish

The Spotted Raphael Catfish is a very striking freshwater fish that is easily recognizable thanks to the large black spots that cover their bodies.

These spots are actually part of their black stripes, which run vertically down their entire body. There are usually 3-5 of these stripes, with the spots existing where the stripes intersect.

This fish has a very long and thin body shape that is common among many catfish species. They have a set of barbels on their face (4 pairs in total) that they use to help them find food in the water.

The Spotted Raphael Catfish also has a very long and thin dorsal fin that runs almost the entire length of their body. This fin is slightly transparent and has a black border.

The rest of their fins are also fairly long and thin. Their pectoral and pelvic fins are located close to their head, while their anal fin is located further back towards their tail.

All of the fins on this fish are black, except for their caudal fin which is transparent.

The Spotted Raphael Catfish is a nocturnal fish, so they are most active at night.


Spotted Raphael catfish have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. However, there have been reports of these fish living up to 20 years in captivity!

Of course, the level of care they receive will play a big role in how long they live. Things like water quality, diet, and stress can all shorten their lifespan.

But if you take good care of them, you can expect your Spotted Raphael catfish to stick around for a very long time.


Spotted Raphael Catfish can grow to be up to 12 inches long, but are more commonly around 8 inches. They are a slender fish, so they don’t require a lot of width in their aquarium, but they do need enough length to swim around and explore.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a spotted raphael catfish is 50 gallons. If you want to keep more than one fish, you should add at least another 50 gallons for each fish.

These fish are semi-aggressive and can be territorial, so it’s important to give them enough space to establish their own territory. They’re also active swimmers and will need the extra space to swim around.

Water Parameters

Spotted Raphael catfish are one of the more challenging freshwater fish to keep. They’re very sensitive to water quality and parameters that are outside of their comfort range.

This is a fish that does best in an established aquarium. The more stable the environment, the better.

As for specific water parameters, here’s what you need to provide.

  • Water Temperature: 72°F to 82°F
  • pH Levels: 6.0 to 7.8
  • Water Hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 3 to 8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

Spotted Raphael Catfish are a species that does best in a heavily planted aquarium.

While they will still do well in a more sparsely decorated tank, they will thrive in an environment that has plenty of places to hide and explore.

The plants you choose to include in their tank should be robust and able to withstand a little bit of abuse. These fish are known to uproot plants as they explore their habitat.

We recommend using plants that are either fast-growing or have a strong root system. This will help to offset any damage that’s done and keep your plants looking healthy.

Some great choices include Hornwort, Water Wisteria, and Java Moss.

The substrate in their tank can be either sand or gravel. These fish aren’t particularly picky when it comes to this. Just make sure that it’s not too rough or sharp.

You can also add some driftwood or rocks to their tank if you want. Just make sure that any rocks you use are smooth and lack any sharp edges.

Common Diseases

Spotted Raphael Catfish are actually very hardy fish. They’re not immune to disease, but they don’t seem to fall ill as often as other freshwater species.

That being said, there are still a few diseases that you should be on the lookout for. The most common one is ich. This is a parasite that can affect any fish, and it’s especially dangerous to smaller fish like the Spotted Raphael.

This will present itself as white spots on the body of your fish. If you notice this, it’s important to act fast. There are a few different treatments for ich, but the sooner you start the treatment the better.

Other diseases that can affect this species include bacterial infections, parasites, and fungal infections. These are all relatively rare, but they can still happen from time to time.

The best way to prevent your Spotted Raphael from getting sick is to simply keep the tank clean. A clean and well-maintained tank will go a long way in keeping your fish healthy and disease-free.

Behavior & Temperament

Spotted Raphael Catfish are one of the most peaceful species of freshwater catfish. They’re known to coexist well with other fish, and they rarely cause any problems.

These fish are nocturnal, so you won’t see them much during the day. They’ll spend most of their time hiding in caves or other dark places in the tank. When the lights go out, they’ll come out to scavenge for food.

Spotted Raphael Catfish are opportunistic feeders, which means they’ll eat just about anything they can find. They’re not picky eaters, so you don’t have to worry about them being finicky.

Overall, these fish are very easy to care for. They’re not demanding and they don’t require any special care. As long as you provide them with a good environment, they’ll be happy and healthy.

Tank Mates

Spotted Raphael catfish are peaceful and make great tank mates for a variety of different species.

These fish are relatively small, so they can be kept with other small to medium-sized fish. They’re also not aggressive, so they won’t bother other fish either.

To help get you started, here are some compatible tank mates that tend to work well:

  • Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Mollies
  • Platies
  • Swords
  • Rainbows
  • Danios


Spotted Raphael Catfish reproduce by laying eggs. The female will lay anywhere from 50 to 100 eggs at a time. Once the eggs are laid, the male will fertilize them and then guard them until they hatch.

The gestation period for these fish is around two weeks. After that, the fry will start to hatch. They will be very small, so you will need to set up a breeding tank with a sponge filter. This will help to keep the fry from getting sucked into the filter.

Once the fry have hatched, you can start to feed them baby brine shrimp. You can also add some vegetables to their diet. Continue to feed them this way until they are big enough to eat regular-sized food.


The Spotted Raphael Catfish is a beautiful and unique fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are very easy to care for and will do well in most community tanks.

The only thing to be aware of is that they can be a bit shy, so be sure to give them plenty of hiding places.

Other than that, we think they’re a great fish and would recommend them to anyone looking to add something a little different to their tank.