Striped Raphael Catfish (Platydoras Armatulus): Care Guide

Common NameStriped Raphael Catfish, Chocolate Doradid, Thorny Catfish
Scientific NamePlatydoras Armatulus
OriginSouth America – Amazon, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru
Temperature75°F to 80°F
Water Parameters6.0 to 8.0 pH
Adult Size8 to 9.5 inches
Striped Raphael Catfish
Striped Raphael Catfish (Platydoras Armatulus)

Striped Raphael Catfish Facts

  • Striped Raphael Catfish are found throughout Amazon, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Peru in South America.
  • These fish are not easily bred in captivity, so they are wild-caught when you see them for sale.
  • The scientific name Platydoras is Greek, meaning wide and armored.
  • Striped Raphael Catfish will grunt or squeak when out of water. For this reason, some keepers of these fish even refer to them as talking cats.

    Striped Raphael Catfish Care

    Striped Raphael Catfish have a more rounded body shape with pointed heads and tails. They have beautiful striped silver and black bodies with flat bellies. Striped Catfish have 3 sets of barbels on their mouths. One set of barbels is located on the top lip, and the other 2 sets are located on the bottom. Barbels act like taste buds and help them find food in murky waters. Striped Raphael Catfish also have spines on their backs and sharp fins. The spines serve as a form of defense against predators.

    Food & Diet

    Striped Raphael Catfish are omnivorous, opportunistic feeders who will eat almost anything they can find. This means that they eat meat as well as plant matter. In the wild, Striped Raphael Catfish feed on crustaceans, mollusks, and plant debris that settle at the bottom of the substrate. In captivity, they readily accept high-quality sinking pellets, frozen, live foods, leftover fish food, and detritus or waste material.

    Do Striped Raphael Catfish Eat Snails?

    In their natural habitat, Striped Raphael Catfish often eat snails found in the substrate. In captivity, you can expect them to do much of the same thing. They are excellent at getting rid of snails if you have an infestation. However, keeping snails in a community tank with Striped Raphael Catfish is not a good idea.

    Do Striped Raphael Catfish Eat Algae?

    Striped Raphael Catfish are omnivorous, opportunistic feeders that will eat algae that they find in the tank. This can be helpful in keeping your aquarium clean, but it should not be the only thing you rely on to keep it clean.

    Striped Raphael Catfish Size & Lifespan

    Striped Raphael Catfish can grow from 8 to 9.5 inches at full maturity. Striped Raphael Catfish have a rather slow growth rate, and you can expect them to grow around 1 to 2 inches per year in captivity. Striped Raphael Catfish can live for roughly 15 to 20 years in the wild. In captivity, they have been known to live closer to 10 years. Their lifespan greatly depends on the conditions that they are kept in. If Striped Raphael Catfish are kept in the right conditions, you can expect them to live longer.

    Tank Requirements

    If you plan on keeping Striped Raphael Catfish, you will want to consider a setup that allows you to keep more than one. It has been suggested that you could possibly keep Striped Raphael Catfish in a 30-gallon tank. However, they would be happier in a tank of at least 50 gallons.

    Striped Raphael Catfish require a temperature of around 75F to 80F. This may require you to purchase a heater to maintain the correct temperature at all times. Striped Raphael Catfish are considered easy to keep because they will accept a wider range of water parameters. Their tank needs to have 6.0 to 8.0 pH.

    Even though Striped Raphael Catfish are considered an easy fish to care for, you will want to monitor your aquarium setup regularly to catch any problems that may occur before your fish are affected.

    Tank Setup

    When setting up an aquarium for Striped Raphael Catfish, you first want to consider the tank size you plan to use. Striped Raphael Catfish are fish that occupy mostly the bottom of the tank. It is for this reason that you will want to choose a tank that is wider as opposed to taller. This will give them more space to claim and more chances that they will show off their interesting behaviors.

    Since Striped Raphael Catfish spend most of their time on the bottom of the tank, you also want to consider using a fine sandy substrate. When choosing substrate and decor, you will want to go with a setup that more closely mimics their native habitat.

    Include in their aquarium several places to roam, hide, and destress. You can achieve this with plants, driftwood, and rocks. Try to set up the decor so that it gives your Striped Raphael Catfish small caves to explore.

    Tank Mates

    The best tank mates for Striped Raphael Catfish are other fish of the same species. They tend to do best when they live in a small group together.

    Something to consider when choosing tank mates for Striped Raphael Catfish is part of the water column that they occupy. Since Striped Raphael Catfish occupy the bottom of the water column, choosing other fish to cohabitate with them that occupy the middle or the top would be a good idea. Tetras and Plecos are good choices for tank mates for Striped Raphael Catfish.

    Since Striped Raphael Catfish are opportunistic feeders that will eat pretty much anything they can get, it is not a good idea to include them in a community setup with smaller fish, as the Striped Raphael Catfish will consider them food and eat them. You will also want to avoid aggressive, territorial, or competitive fish for food.

    How Many Striped Raphael Catfish Should Be Kept Together?

    Striped Raphael Catfish do best when kept in a small grouping of around 3 to 5 fish. This will not only make them feel more comfortable but make them show off their interesting personalities.

    Are Striped Raphael Catfish Aggressive?

    Striped Raphael Catfish are not considered aggressive so much as they are territorial. You will not see them actively going after other fish unless they threaten their territory. You will see this territorial behavior increase the closer they are to spawn.


    There have been some cases of breeders getting this fish to be able to spawn in captivity, but for the most part, breeding in captivity is triggered by hormonal injections. It is for this reason that most Striped Raphael Catfish are wild-caught.

    Striped Raphael Catfish Male or Female

    At full maturity, Striped Raphael Catfish can be distinguished male from female simply by looking at them. The females have slightly more rounded bodies than the males. The males have a more yellowish tint to their white stripes, while the females have a more cream coloration.

    Do Striped Raphael Catfish Lay Eggs?

    Striped Raphael Catfish are egg-laying fish, and in the wild, the females release their eggs into the water for males to fertilize. It has also been suggested that Striped Raphael Catfish also build nests like other members of the Doridad family.


    Striped Raphael Catfish are susceptible to many of the same diseases as other freshwater fish. You can expect them to get fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections. Some of these ailments can be treated and cured if caught early. Ick is an example of this. White spots on the body of the fish can identify ick. These ailments can spread to other tank mates, so it is advised that you quarantine new fish before introducing them into your tank and quarantine any fish that you find affected.

    You will want to make sure that you are keeping Striped Raphael Catfish in a clean environment. Regular water changes and monitoring are very necessary. Striped Raphael Catfish are fish that produce a lot of waste, and you should invest in a good filtration system for them.

    Are Striped Raphael Catfish Poisonous?

    Striped Raphael Catfish are not poisonous fish. However, that does not mean that they do not possess defenses. They have tough scales on their bodies that act as a kind of armor defense against predators, and Striped Raphael Catfish have spiky spines on their bodies. These can inflict injury and pain to the unlucky recipient of the sharp end of their spines.

    Where Can I Purchase Striped Raphael Catfish?

    If you want to add Striped Raphael Catfish to your home aquarium, you can find them at local pet stores or online. You will want to make sure you purchase them from a reputable seller to ensure you receive healthy fish. It is a good idea to quarantine any new fish before you put them into your aquarium so that they do not spread any illness.

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