Striped Raphael Catfish: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding, & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Striped Raphael Catfish are a beautiful and underrated species of freshwater fish, and they have several distinct features that make them likeable. They have a refined appearance and are also easy to look after.

Plus, you will have a lot of fun watching them in your aquarium. They are quite active and like to move around, unlike several other species of catfish that choose to spend most of their time in hiding.

If you are looking to keep the Striped Raphael Catfish in your home aquarium, we suggest you read this guide thoroughly. It will help you learn all there is to know about caring for these fish, as well as their habitat, water requirements, diet, tank mates, breeding, and much more.

Species Summary

As you know already, there are many different species of catfish that are popular among aquarium owners.

However, none of them are more interesting than the Striped Raphael Catfish, which have the scientific name Platydorasarmatulus. They belong to the Doradidae family and are also known by the names Chocolate Doradid, Thorny Catfish, and also the Talking Catfish.

Life Span10-15 years
Color FormDark color with stripes
Care LevelEasy
CompatibilityPeaceful and similar sized species
SizeUp to 7 inches
Tank SetupFreshwater with hiding spots
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons

These catfish are also native to South American waters, particularly in the Amazon River Basin, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and several other locations. They are found in abundance in the wild and are hardly bred in aquariums, which means that the fish you get might be caught from the wild.

These catfish are also very easy-going and adaptable to different environments. Once they feel at home in the aquarium, they will start moving around comfortably.


On average, the Striped Raphael Catfish can live up to 10 years when they are kept in aquariums. However, their lifespan depends largely on the care and living conditions they receive. If ideal conditions are maintained, you may even see them live up to 15 years.

Although they are hardy, these fish are sensitive to changing water parameters and tank conditions. Therefore, you should be mindful of their care if you want them to live longer.


The Striped Raphael Catfish have a unique appearance and a body shape that resembles a torpedo. Moreover, they have large and wide heads, but their body starts to get slimmer towards the tail. True to their name, they have stripes along the length of their body, which has a black or dark brown color.

The stripes are usually white, but you may also notice slightly yellow stripes on some catfish. One stripe runs from their head towards the tail, and two stripes run along their sides. Other than this, they have a white belly that is slightly rounder.

Moreover, these fish have curved spines all over their body, as well as highly sharp and strong ray fins. They bring out their fins when they feel intimidated, which is why you should also be careful while putting your hand in the tank or handling them. The rays can easily injure your hands, and the front ray of the pectoral fin has a serrated surface.

Therefore, these fish can easily puncture any net that you may use to move them. Therefore, it is advised to use a strong glass or plastic container in order to handle them. Another distinguishable feature of these catfish is the three pairs of barbels that protrude from their upper jaw and lower mandible.

Sexing the Striped Raphael Catfish can be quite difficult, but some experts say that the male species are much slimmer and have more vivid colors. However, you can identify the older ones from the younger ones. Juvenile catfish are much brighter, and their coloration becomes less bright when they become adults.

The purpose of the bright coloration of younger fish is to signal other fish that they feed peacefully, and they can also clean the skin of larger fish. As they grow older, they stop this habit as well.


At their full size, Striped Raphael Catfish measure up to 6 inches in length. However, you can let them grow even bigger by providing them with a larger tank.

While most experts say that these fish don’t grow any longer than 7 inches, some of them have gotten their fish to grow up to 9.4 inches by providing them with high-quality conditions.

In their natural habitat, Raphael can grow up to 17 inches long, but it is impossible to make them achieve this size in captivity.

Striped Raphael Catfish

The Striped Raphael Catfish have a tough exterior, and they are quite hardy as well. This is why they are easier to care for. They also adapt well to different water conditions.

However, it is important to maintain a standard environment; otherwise, they will get sick and also develop diseases in poor conditions.

In order for your catfish to live a healthy and happy life, let’s have a look at the care guidelines that you should follow.

Tank Size

Ideally, you should keep Striped Raphael Catfish in a tank with a minimum capacity of 50 gallons. These fish are moderate-sized, and they need some room to grow, especially if you keep them in a group.

Although you may think that you can keep them in a 30-gallon tank, these fish move around a lot and explore the aquarium, which is why they need the extra space. If you keep them in a small tank, it will make them stressed and hinder their growth.

Since these fish also have sharp fins, you will need to give them more space. If they get stressed or intimidated, their defenses will always be up, and they might attack other species of fish in the tank.

Also, if you are looking to keep more than one pair of Striped Raphael Catfish in the tank, you may have to increase the tank size by 20-25 gallons per fish.

This would call for a mammoth tank, particularly if you plan to keep them with other species as well. If you have enough space and can easily afford to care for a large number of fish, we suggest you go for it.

Water Parameters

Striped Raphael Catfish aren’t very particular about the water parameters, and they can easily tolerate different water conditions. However, there is an accepted range that you should keep the water between.

Since they are bottom dwellers, these catfish are mostly found in the lower levels of the tank. In the wild, they are also used to living among a lot of vegetation. They also like swimming around in waters with tree roots.

Ideally, you should replicate their natural environment in the aquarium. This involves keeping warm water with a higher level of hardness and a neutral pH. To begin with, keep the water temperature between 75°F to 80°F, and the pH level between 6.0 and 8.0. Lastly, the water hardness should be within 4 to 20 dKH.

You should also test the water after one or two days, especially when you bring them for the first time. When they start to grow and become used to the tank, you can make the water testing less frequent.

What to Put in Their Tank?

When it comes to setting up the tank for your Striped Raphael Catfish, you should start with a sandy substrate. In their natural habitat, they are used to scavenging the bottom of the riverbed, but they also swim to the top every now and then. If you observe them for a while, you will notice this behavior.

Apart from the substrate, you should also provide them with enough places to hide in the aquarium. Whenever they feel threatened or scared, these fish will bury their heads in the sand. This is why the sandy substrate is essential.

To offer them shelter, you should provide them with caves, pipes, driftwood, and other hiding spots. Since they are nocturnal, they will stay hidden during the day as they rest. The hiding places will also keep them from getting disturbed by the light.

You can also add plants to the aquarium, especially live and floating plants. Not only will they keep the aquarium clean, but they will also keep the lighting dim for the fish during the day.

Common Diseases

Just like other tropical freshwater fish, Striped Raphael Catfish are also prone to common diseases like fungal and parasitic infections.

One of the common diseases is Ich, which is also known as white spot disease. The disease causes the formation of small and grainy spots on the fish’s body, and the Raphael Catfish are more susceptible to it as compared to others.

To avoid Ich from spreading among your fish, make sure to maintain the water quality and cleanliness in the tank. The lower the water quality, the more the likelihood of them becoming infected with Ich.

Apart from this, weekly water changes and the right diet will also help in keeping the fish healthy and disease-free.

What Do Striped Raphael Catfish Eat?

Striped Raphael Catfish are natural omnivores, and they eat whatever they find in the wild. These include all kinds of crustaceans and mussels, as well as dead plant matter that lies within the substrate. In the tank, they like to feed on fish food and detritus.

You can also give your fish sinking pellets, algae wafers, and commercial pet foods. You can also give them protein-rich foods every now and then, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and feeder shrimp.

You should also exercise caution while feeding them because overfeeding can cause them to gain weight, which will shorten their lifespan.

Behavior & Temperament

Striped Raphael Catfish are nocturnal and spend most of the day resting and hiding in the darkness. When the sun sets, they become highly active and start scavenging for food in the substrate.

As they grow older, you may also see your fish becoming more active during the day as well, and they start interacting with other species of fish.

These catfish are fairly peaceful and don’t show any aggression to other species. They can eat smaller fish or shrimp because they appear like food to them, but they don’t intimidate or attack similar-sized fish.

Striped Raphael Catfish Tank Mates

There is a wide range of tank mates that you can keep with your Striped Raphael Catfish. You should keep them with similar-sized and peaceful species because they prey on smaller creatures. You can also keep them with aggressive fish since they have sharp rays to protect themselves.

Some of the suitable tank mates for the Striped Raphael Catfish include:

For most of these species, you would need even larger tanks than the minimum requirements. By pairing any of these fish with your Raphael Catfish, you will have a more enjoyable time while observing them interacting with each other or simply minding their own business.

If you are looking to keep freshwater aquarium snails in the same tank as these fish, you should reconsider your decision. The Striped Raphael Catfish will eat up the snails in one bite.


As you may have read above, the Striped Raphael Catfish are mostly found in the wild, and the fish you get are bred in their natural habitat as well. They are caught in the wild and kept in pet stores and make their way to aquariums.

However, this isn’t the only reason why these fish aren’t bred in captivity. According to aquatic experts, Striped Raphael Catfish are nearly impossible to breed in the aquarium, and if someone tells you that they have bred these fish in captivity, they might have done so through hormonal injections.

So far, there is no known or researched method for breeding Raphael Catfish in the aquarium. One reasoning experts have for this is that the female fish release their eggs into fast-moving rivers, and the males fertilize them. Since the same water speed can’t be replicated in the tank, breeding becomes practically impossible.

Moreover, it is also impossible to distinguish the gender of Striped Raphael Catfish, so you can’t pick out a pair for breeding. Also, their large size makes it quite difficult for them to breed in captivity, regardless of how massive the tank may be.

So far, it has been established that it is impossible to breed these catfish in their natural habitat, but as research and science progress, a method may emerge.

Final Thoughts

This concludes our guide on the Striped Raphael Catfish and how you can care for them. By now, you will have a very good idea of their natural habitat and how you can replicate it in captivity. These fish are a beautiful and active species, and you will love watching them move around from one part of the aquarium to another.

Moreover, it is very easy to care for these fish, particularly because they are hardy and adaptable to a wide range of conditions. So, if you are looking to keep them in the aquarium, there is no time like the present.