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I'm currently starting up a 55 gallon fish tank that is going to be aquascaped for pictus catfish, since they are one of my favorite fish. Right now I have decided that I want between 3 and 4 pictus in the tank with about 12 tiger barbs for tank mates. I need some suggestions on how best to aquascape the tank for them, and also good ideas for an algae cleanup crew that won't be demolished by the pictus lol
 

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Pictus can be predatory to smaller fish...even barbs might fall prey unless they are full grown.

Better compainions would be some of the small to medium CA/SA cichlids that stay under 6 inches.

If you wanted to go planted, here are some suggestions:

- Keyhole Cichlids: A trio or 4 max for a 55 gallon.
- Guinacara Cichlids: Sphenoza are the most readily available. A trio for a 55 gallon.
- Geophagus Tapajos Red head: A trio for a 55 gallon.
- Angelfish: 3 or 4 Max...later whittled down to a pair.
- Festivums: Same as the angels.
- Bolivian Rams (Let them grow out a little first): 6 Max for a 55.

If you do not care for plants or will tolerate having less plants, you can bring in the CA Cichlids:

- Thoricthys Species: Firemouth, Aureus, Maculpinnis, Etc: You can get a trio or 2 pairs in a 55 gallong.
- Cryptoheros Species (Or Amatitlania) Species: Honduran Red Points, Sajica's, Cutteri's, or plain old Convicts.
- Rainbow Cichlids: Herotilapia Multispinosa

As for aquascape, I'd go for sandy substrate, some wood to create hiding places, stones if you like (rounded stones), and lightly planted.

These fish are active and you want to make sure they have plenty of space to swin and nothing to hurt their barbels or body on.

As for an algae crew, I'd do Bristlenose Plecs. Larger Black Mollies would also help with some algae believe it or not.
 

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- Thoricthys Species: Firemouth, Aureus, Maculpinnis, Etc: You can get a trio or 2 pairs in a 55 gallong.
- Cryptoheros Species (Or Amatitlania) Species: Honduran Red Points, Sajica's, Cutteri's, or plain old Convicts.
- Rainbow Cichlids: Herotilapia Multispinosa

you can still do plants with those species.
 

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Only keep large tetras with pictus. They will eat anything that fits in their mouth. Other than that, they go well with anything from SA that isn't overly aggressive, when they're kept in groups of 3+. As said, they move around a lot at the bottom, so plants can get in the way. Maybe a foreground carpet would do.
 

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Mine stay at the bottom, so I recommend a a substrate that isn't sharp. Mine swim in between the Amazon Sword and crypt plants in my 55 gallon.
 

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Couldn't have said it better.

Pictus can be predatory to smaller fish...even barbs might fall prey unless they are full grown.

Better compainions would be some of the small to medium CA/SA cichlids that stay under 6 inches.

If you wanted to go planted, here are some suggestions:

- Keyhole Cichlids: A trio or 4 max for a 55 gallon.
- Guinacara Cichlids: Sphenoza are the most readily available. A trio for a 55 gallon.
- Geophagus Tapajos Red head: A trio for a 55 gallon.
- Angelfish: 3 or 4 Max...later whittled down to a pair.
- Festivums: Same as the angels.
- Bolivian Rams (Let them grow out a little first): 6 Max for a 55.

If you do not care for plants or will tolerate having less plants, you can bring in the CA Cichlids:

- Thoricthys Species: Firemouth, Aureus, Maculpinnis, Etc: You can get a trio or 2 pairs in a 55 gallong.
- Cryptoheros Species (Or Amatitlania) Species: Honduran Red Points, Sajica's, Cutteri's, or plain old Convicts.
- Rainbow Cichlids: Herotilapia Multispinosa

As for aquascape, I'd go for sandy substrate, some wood to create hiding places, stones if you like (rounded stones), and lightly planted.

These fish are active and you want to make sure they have plenty of space to swin and nothing to hurt their barbels or body on.

As for an algae crew, I'd do Bristlenose Plecs. Larger Black Mollies would also help with some algae believe it or not.
 
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