Striped Raphael Catfish Care Guide

Striped Raphael Catfish


The Striped Raphael Catfish, scientifically known as Platydoras armatulus, is a fascinating species of catfish originating from South America. It can be found in the Amazon River Basin and the Orinoco River Basin. This catfish species possesses unique characteristics that make it an interesting addition to freshwater aquariums.

Unique Characteristics and Features

The Striped Raphael Catfish stands out with its distinctive striped pattern adorning its brown or gray body. These stripes give the fish an eye-catching appearance and make it easily recognizable. Additionally, it has long barbels protruding from its mouth, adding to its unique appearance.

Apart from its visual features, this catfish has a flattened body shape, which allows it to maneuver and navigate with ease in the water. The flattened body, along with its sleek profile, helps the fish find hiding spots among rocks, caves, or driftwood, where it can retreat and feel secure.

With its peaceful temperament, the Striped Raphael Catfish is an excellent choice for community aquariums. It gets along well with other peaceful fish species, making it an ideal addition to a community tank setup. However, it’s important to avoid keeping it with aggressive or fin-nipping species to prevent any potential conflicts.

Summary Table

Common NameStriped Raphael Catfish
Scientific NamePlatydoras armatulus
Origin / DistributionSouth America: Amazon River Basin, Orinoco River Basin
SizeUp to 6 inches (15 cm)
Aquarium SizeMinimum 30 gallons
Water ParametersTemperature: 72-79°F (22-26°C), pH: 6.5-7.5, Hardness: 5-15 dGH
DietOmnivore – Prefers live or frozen foods, but will also accept sinking pellets or flakes
Feeding FrequencyOnce or twice daily
TemperamentPeaceful and nocturnal
TankmatesCompatible with other peaceful fish, avoid keeping with aggressive or fin-nipping species
BreedingDifficult to breed in captivity, limited information available
LifespanUp to 10 years
Care LevelBeginner
Unique Features / AppearanceStriped pattern with a brown or gray body, long barbels, and a flattened appearance
Conservation StatusNot evaluated (NE)
Additional NotesThe Striped Raphael Catfish is a bottom-dwelling species that prefers hiding spots like caves or driftwood. They are known to be excellent scavengers and can help keep the tank clean by consuming leftover food and debris. It’s important to provide them with plenty of hiding places to make them feel secure. They have a peaceful nature and are generally compatible with other community fish. However, they may become territorial during breeding.


  • Common Name: Striped Raphael Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Platydoras armatulus
  • Family: Doradidae
  • Order: Siluriformes

The Striped Raphael Catfish belongs to the family Doradidae within the order Siluriformes. Its common name, “Striped Raphael Catfish,” is derived from its distinctive striped pattern. The scientific name, Platydoras armatulus, further identifies the species and highlights its taxonomic classification. As a member of the Doradidae family, this catfish is related to other catfish species with similar characteristics. Its placement within the Siluriformes order signifies its classification among the diverse group of catfish species found worldwide.

Natural Habitat & Distribution

The Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, is naturally found in South America. Its geographical range includes the Amazon River Basin and the Orinoco River Basin. Within these regions, the catfish can be encountered in various countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela.

In terms of its natural habitat, the Striped Raphael Catfish typically inhabits freshwater environments. It is commonly found in slow-moving or stagnant waters, including rivers, streams, and flooded areas. These catfish are known to seek shelter and hiding places among submerged vegetation, rocks, caves, and driftwood. Such hiding spots provide them with protection and mimic their natural environment.

The Striped Raphael Catfish is well-adapted to the diverse aquatic habitats of South America, and replicating similar conditions in captivity can contribute to their well-being in aquarium setups.

Physical Appearance


The Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, typically reaches an adult size of up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length. While weight can vary, it is not a commonly reported measurement for this species.

Coloration and Patterns

This catfish species exhibits a captivating striped pattern on its body, which gives it its common name. The base coloration of the body can range from brown to gray, providing a neutral background for the prominent stripes. The stripes themselves are typically dark brown or black in color and run horizontally along the body. These stripes contrast sharply against the lighter body color, creating a visually striking appearance.

Body Shape and Fin Structures

The Striped Raphael Catfish has a relatively flattened body shape, which enables it to navigate easily through the water and find shelter among rocks and crevices. Its body is elongated and streamlined, contributing to its agility in various aquatic environments. Additionally, this catfish species possesses a set of prominent pectoral and dorsal fins, which aid in maneuverability and stability.

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Striped Raphael Catfish can be challenging as sexual dimorphism is not clearly pronounced in this species. However, in some cases, mature males may exhibit slightly longer and more developed pectoral fins compared to females. Observation of breeding behavior or examination of the genital papilla, which is more prominent in males, can assist in sexing the individuals. It is important to note that these differences might be subtle, and professional expertise may be required for accurate determination.

Behavior & Temperament

General Behavior

The Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, is known for its peaceful temperament. It is a generally calm and non-aggressive fish that tends to exhibit nocturnal behavior. During the day, it often hides among rocks, caves, or driftwood, only becoming more active and visible once the lights are dimmed.

Social Interactions with Other Fish

In terms of social interactions, the Striped Raphael Catfish can coexist peacefully with other fish species in a community aquarium. It tends to be non-confrontational and rarely shows aggression towards tankmates. However, as with any fish, individual personalities can vary, so it’s essential to monitor their behavior and ensure suitable tank conditions for all inhabitants.

Suitable Tankmates

When selecting tankmates for the Striped Raphael Catfish, it is important to consider compatible species that share similar water parameter requirements and peaceful dispositions. Suitable tankmates can include other peaceful community fish such as tetras, rasboras, gouramis, dwarf cichlids, and other catfish species. Avoid pairing them with aggressive or fin-nipping fish that may harass or stress the Raphael Catfish.

Aquarium Requirements

Minimum Tank Size

The Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, requires a minimum tank size of 30 gallons (113 liters). Providing an adequately sized aquarium ensures ample swimming space and allows for the inclusion of appropriate tankmates.

Water Parameters

Maintaining suitable water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of the Striped Raphael Catfish. The recommended water temperature for this species is between 72-79°F (22-26°C). The pH level should ideally be in the range of 6.5-7.5, while the water hardness (measured as dGH) should be around 5-15 degrees.

Filtration and Aeration Needs

Proper filtration and aeration are essential to maintain water quality and oxygenation within the aquarium. A reliable filtration system, such as a canister or sponge filter, should be employed to remove debris and maintain a stable nitrogen cycle. Adequate aeration, through the use of an air pump or airstone, ensures sufficient oxygen levels for the fish.

Substrate Preferences

The Striped Raphael Catfish is not particularly picky when it comes to substrate preferences. It can thrive in aquariums with a variety of substrates, including sand, gravel, or a combination of both. Providing a substrate with a fine to medium texture will allow the catfish to exhibit natural foraging behaviors.

Lighting Requirements

The lighting requirements for the Striped Raphael Catfish are not specific or demanding. It prefers subdued lighting conditions, as it is naturally more active during the night. A standard aquarium lighting system, with adjustable intensity or a dimmer option, can help create a suitable environment.

Decorations and Hiding Places

To create an optimal habitat for the Striped Raphael Catfish, include decorations and hiding places within the aquarium. Rocks, caves, and driftwood serve as essential hiding spots and mimic their natural environment. Adding live or artificial plants can provide additional cover and create a more naturalistic setting. These decorations and hiding places not only fulfill the catfish’s need for security but also contribute to the overall aesthetics of the aquarium.

Diet & Feeding

Type of Diet

The Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, is an omnivorous species. In the wild, it primarily feeds on a variety of small aquatic invertebrates, insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. In the aquarium, it is important to offer a well-rounded diet that includes both animal-based and plant-based foods.

Feeding Frequency

The Striped Raphael Catfish should be fed once or twice daily, depending on its appetite and activity level. It is generally recommended to feed them small portions that they can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding should be avoided to maintain good water quality and prevent potential health issues.

Tips for Providing a Balanced and Varied Diet

To ensure a balanced diet for the Striped Raphael Catfish, it is recommended to provide a combination of live or frozen foods, sinking pellets, and flakes. They have a preference for live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and small insect larvae. These foods should be the primary component of their diet to mimic their natural feeding habits.

Supplementing their diet with high-quality sinking pellets or flakes formulated for omnivorous catfish can provide essential nutrients. Additionally, incorporating vegetable matter into their diet, such as blanched spinach or zucchini, helps meet their plant-based dietary needs.

It is crucial to maintain a varied diet to ensure optimal health and to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Offering a mix of different food items, both in terms of protein sources and plant matter, helps provide essential vitamins and minerals. Observing their feeding behavior and adjusting the diet accordingly can also contribute to their overall well-being.

Tank Mates

Compatible Species

The Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, is generally compatible with a variety of peaceful fish species in a community aquarium. Suitable tank mates can include:

  • Tetras (such as Neon Tetras, Ember Tetras, or Rummy Nose Tetras)
  • Rasboras (such as Harlequin Rasboras or Chili Rasboras)
  • Gouramis (such as Dwarf Gouramis or Honey Gouramis)
  • Dwarf Cichlids (such as Apistogramma species)
  • Other Peaceful Catfish species (such as Corydoras or Plecos)

These species share similar water parameter requirements and peaceful dispositions, making them suitable companions for the Striped Raphael Catfish.

Incompatible or Potentially Problematic Species

While the Striped Raphael Catfish is generally peaceful, there are some species that may not be suitable tank mates due to aggression, fin-nipping tendencies, or incompatible water requirements. It is advisable to avoid keeping the Striped Raphael Catfish with:

  • Aggressive Cichlids (such as larger Central American or African Cichlids)
  • Fin-nipping species (such as some Barbs or Tiger Barbs)
  • Highly territorial fish (such as certain species of Betta or larger territorial catfish)

These species may cause stress, aggression, or damage to the Striped Raphael Catfish or other tank mates, leading to potential conflicts or health issues.

Recommendations for Creating a Harmonious Community Tank

To create a harmonious community tank, consider the following recommendations:

  • Choose peaceful and compatible fish species that share similar water parameter requirements.
  • Avoid overstocking the aquarium, ensuring sufficient space for all inhabitants to swim and establish territories.
  • Provide ample hiding places, such as caves, rocks, or driftwood, to accommodate the natural behavior of different fish species, including the Striped Raphael Catfish.
  • Monitor the tank regularly to ensure that all fish are behaving normally and there are no signs of aggression or stress.
  • Maintain excellent water quality through proper filtration, regular water changes, and appropriate maintenance routines.


Breeding Behavior

Breeding the Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, in captivity can be challenging and limited information is available regarding their breeding behavior. However, in their natural habitat, these catfish are known to engage in reproductive behaviors during the rainy season.

Males may exhibit territorial behavior and engage in courtship displays to attract females. They may also become more active and vocal during the breeding period. Females typically lay adhesive eggs on submerged surfaces, such as rocks or plant leaves, while males guard and aerate the eggs.

Ideal Breeding Conditions

Creating ideal breeding conditions in the aquarium can increase the likelihood of successful breeding. Consider the following factors:

  1. Water Parameters: Maintain stable and optimal water conditions. This includes maintaining a temperature around 75-79°F (24-26°C), neutral to slightly acidic pH levels (6.5-7.0), and water hardness suitable for the species.
  2. Spawning Site: Provide suitable spawning surfaces such as flat rocks, broad leaves, or artificial spawning mops. These surfaces should be smooth and accessible for the catfish to lay their adhesive eggs.
  3. Dim Lighting: Mimic natural conditions by providing subdued lighting in the breeding tank. This can help stimulate breeding behavior and create a conducive environment.
  4. Separation: Creating a separate breeding tank or using dividers within a larger tank can help isolate breeding pairs and provide a controlled environment.

Raising Fry and Specific Care Requirements

Raising the fry (offspring) of the Striped Raphael Catfish requires attention to specific care requirements. After spawning, it is advisable to remove the adults to prevent predation on the eggs or fry.

The fry can initially be fed infusoria or commercially available liquid fry food until they are large enough to consume newly hatched brine shrimp or micro worms. Provide appropriate-sized food and ensure it is easily accessible for the growing fry.

Maintain optimal water quality, provide hiding places or fine-leaved plants for the fry to seek shelter, and perform regular water changes to keep the environment clean and healthy. Ensure that the fry receive sufficient space to grow and thrive.

Health & Disease

Keeping the Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, in optimal health involves understanding common diseases, recognizing their symptoms, and implementing preventive measures and treatment strategies when necessary.

Common Diseases and Their Symptoms

  1. Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis): Symptoms include white spots resembling grains of salt on the fish’s body and fins, flashing against objects, and increased mucus production.
  2. Fin Rot: This bacterial infection causes the deterioration of the fins, which appear ragged, frayed, or discolored. Fin rot may be accompanied by behavioral changes and loss of appetite.
  3. Fungal Infections: Fungal infections manifest as cotton-like growth on the fish’s body, fins, or mouth. Affected areas may appear fuzzy or have a white or grayish color.

Prevention and Treatment Strategies

To prevent diseases and maintain the health of Striped Raphael Catfish, consider the following strategies:

  1. Quarantine New Fish: Before introducing new fish to the aquarium, quarantine them for a few weeks to observe for any signs of illness. This helps prevent the introduction of diseases to the existing fish population.
  2. Maintain Water Quality: Regularly monitor and maintain optimal water parameters, including temperature, pH, and ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels. Perform regular water changes and ensure adequate filtration to promote a clean and healthy environment.
  3. Provide a Balanced Diet: Offering a varied and nutritionally balanced diet helps boost the immune system of the catfish. Ensure the diet includes high-quality foods and supplement it with occasional treats like live or frozen foods.
  4. Observe and Act Promptly: Regularly observe the fish for any signs of illness, abnormal behavior, or physical changes. If any symptoms are detected, it is important to take immediate action to prevent the spread of disease. Isolate affected fish if necessary and consult with a veterinarian or experienced aquarist for appropriate treatment options.
  5. Medication and Treatment: If diseases occur, follow the instructions of a veterinarian or reputable source for appropriate medications and treatments. Treatments may include using medications specifically designed for the particular disease or employing natural remedies such as salt baths or increased water temperature (in the case of ich).

Care Level

The Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, is considered to have a care level suitable for beginners in the aquarium hobby.

Difficulty of Care

This catfish species is relatively hardy and adaptable, making it well-suited for aquarists with varying levels of experience. It can tolerate a range of water conditions and is generally not prone to specific health issues when provided with proper care.

Special Considerations or Requirements

While the Striped Raphael Catfish is beginner-friendly, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Hiding Places: Providing ample hiding places, such as caves, rocks, or driftwood, is essential to create a secure environment for the catfish. These hiding spots allow them to retreat and feel safe.
  2. Feeding Habits: The Striped Raphael Catfish is an omnivorous species that prefers live or frozen foods. It is recommended to offer a varied diet that includes both animal-based and plant-based foods. Additionally, monitoring their feeding habits and adjusting the diet accordingly can help maintain their overall health and well-being.
  3. Compatibility: While generally peaceful, it’s important to select suitable tank mates that share similar temperament and water parameter requirements. Avoid keeping them with aggressive or fin-nipping species that may stress or harm the catfish.
  4. Water Quality: Like all fish, maintaining good water quality is crucial for the Striped Raphael Catfish. Regular monitoring of water parameters, performing necessary water changes, and ensuring proper filtration and aeration are important for their health.

Conservation Status

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the conservation status of the Striped Raphael Catfish, Platydoras armatulus, has not been specifically evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or included in the IUCN Red List. It is important to note that conservation statuses can change over time as new assessments are conducted.

Regarding legal restrictions on keeping the species in captivity, specific regulations may vary depending on the country or region. It is advisable to check with local wildlife authorities or relevant regulatory agencies to determine any legal requirements or restrictions regarding the possession, import, or sale of the Striped Raphael Catfish.

Conservation and responsible fishkeeping practices are important to protect not only the Striped Raphael Catfish but also other aquatic species and their natural habitats. It is crucial to prioritize sustainable aquarium trade and avoid supporting any activities that may harm wild populations or contribute to illegal or unethical practices.

Additional Information & Fun Facts

Here are some additional information and fun facts about the Striped Raphael Catfish:

  1. Nocturnal Behavior: The Striped Raphael Catfish is primarily active during the night, displaying a nocturnal behavior. It tends to be more active and visible in dimly lit or darkened aquariums.
  2. Excellent Scavengers: These catfish have a reputation for being excellent scavengers. They actively search for and consume leftover food, detritus, and small invertebrates, helping to keep the aquarium clean.
  3. Barbels for Sensing: The Striped Raphael Catfish possesses long and sensitive barbels around its mouth. These barbels help the fish locate food and navigate its environment, especially in low-light conditions or when searching for hidden prey.
  4. Peaceful Nature: This catfish species is known for its peaceful temperament, making it a suitable choice for community aquariums. It rarely engages in aggressive behaviors and can coexist peacefully with a variety of other peaceful fish species.
  5. Relatively Long Lifespan: With proper care, the Striped Raphael Catfish can live up to 10 years in captivity. Providing a well-maintained environment, suitable nutrition, and optimal water conditions contribute to their longevity.
  6. Preference for Hiding Places: The Striped Raphael Catfish appreciates hiding places in the aquarium, such as caves or driftwood. These hiding spots not only provide security but also allow them to exhibit natural behaviors and retreat when they feel the need to rest or be undisturbed.

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