Plotosus lineatus (Striped eel catfish)

Plotosus lineatus

Last updated on August 7th, 2022 at 12:24 am

Plotosus lineatus, commonly known as the striped eel catfish, is among the biggest species of catfish in the world. These carnivorous fish thrive in warm and temperate waters, particularly large rivers and lakes with muddy bottoms, such as parts of Asia and South America.

The fish can grow to be about 13 inches long and weigh up to 600 pounds (272 kilograms). However, it’s not uncommon for eel catfish weighing between 140 pounds (64 kilograms) and 360 pounds (163 kilograms) to be caught by fishermen around the world.

Even though the striped eel catfish, Plotosus lineatus (lineatus = striped), can be found in many different places, it still remains one of the most mysterious species of freshwater fish.

Striped eel catfish, or Plotosus lineatus, are a type of catfish native to India, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Though eel catfish have been known to grow as large as 13 inches in length, the average striped eel catfish only reaches 10 inches in length and weigh 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms). Striped eel catfish can be found in freshwater and brackish water throughout their range, but prefer areas with aquatic vegetation like Java and Sumatra where they tend to stay close to shore.

In this guide, you will learn about the striped eel catfish, including its habitat, diet, behavior, and more!

Origin and descriptions

Plotosus lineatus

Plotosus lineatus is a freshwater fish in South America. The Plotosus Lineatus, often called striped eel catfish, are found in North and South America. This species of fish normally lives under rocks or on vegetation near shorelines but can also be found in areas with sandy bottoms. These fish can grow up to around 14 inches long and weigh about 2 pounds. The maximum lifespan for these fish is 20 years and they have an average lifespan of 6 to 8 years. The average size at sexual maturity for these fish is between 10 to 12 centimeters (3 to 4 inches).

Plotosus lineatus normally has 7 branched dorsal rays and 9 – 11 unbranched anal rays. They have alternating horizontal black stripes that extend from head to tail as well as two pectoral fins on each side of their body.

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Species profile

Plotosus lineatus, commonly known as striped eel catfish, is a freshwater species of Siluriformes fish native to South America. They are primarily found in Venezuela and Guyana, although it has been introduced into nearby countries such as Brazil and Colombia. The maximum length of Plotosus lineatus is believed to be around 14 inches and can grow up to 5 pounds in weight; however, most individuals only reach lengths between 6–12 inches.

There are no major threats facing Plotosus lineatus at present because it is quite widespread throughout its natural range; in fact, some scientists believe that there may even be more Plotosus lineatus than previously thought! If you’re interested in keeping one of these striped eel catfish for yourself, check out some tips on how to keep them here!


The lineatus habitat ranges from shallow coastal areas to brackish estuaries and rivers with muddy bottoms. They are generally found in freshwater regions at lower latitudes but can be found as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. These fish tend to prefer stagnant, highly vegetated waters where their small size and brown coloration allow them to easily blend into their surroundings.

They have been known to inhabit lagoons and ditches near rice fields on occasion. Overall, Plotosus lineatus is a very adaptable species that is able to survive in a wide range of water conditions.

Striped eel catfish size

Plotosus lineatus can grow up to 13 inches (32 cm) in length.

Plotosus lineatus tank size

Due to their big size, the minimum recommended tank size for this fish is 158 gallons (600 Litres)

Tank set up

Plotosus lineatus

The Plotosus lineatus must be provided with an aquarium that holds a minimum of 150+ gallons per specimen. A larger tank is required if multiple eels are being kept together. The bottom of their tank should be covered in a thin layer of sand to facilitate digging, and offer plenty of spaces for them to hide when not hunting for food.

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Driftwood or large rocks can provide hiding spots, as well as add decoration to your tank. Some floating plants will help diffuse light, further mimicking their natural habitat and making it easier for fish keepers to observe these secretive fish.

Because they need oxygen from above water in order to breathe, you’ll also want some sort of air stone connected to an air pump or filter system; these bubbles will produce a gentle current as they rise up from underneath your filter. Another way to create a current is by adding powerheads, but note that these may disturb your gravel or rockwork arrangement.

You may also consider adding chemical filtration media such as activated carbon in combination with biological media such as sponges, which will absorb excess ammonia and nitrites before they build up and poison your Plotosus lineatus.

Plotosus lineatus tank mates

Plotosus lineatus is a species that gets on well with its own kind as well as other peaceful fish. The only situation where more than one should be housed together is when they have been raised from a young and are juveniles. It has even been reported to get along with fish from entirely different families, including cichlids and tetras. As a general rule, however, it’s best to keep them in schools of their own kind or with other similar-sized docile fish.

Some recommended tank mates are dwarf cichlids, shell dwellers such as Neolamprologus leleupi and Haplochromis johannii, and even other species of Plotosus. Feeding is not a problem for P. lineatus either, since it will eagerly accept both meaty foods such as shrimp and fish flakes as well as vegetable matter in form of algae wafers or Spirulina.

Plotosus lineatus breeding

Plotosus lineatus

Female plotosus lineatus can be easily sexed once they become sexually mature at 9-12 months of age. Females will display a gravid spot near their anal fin, which is black and white in color. Males will also have bright coloration to their anal fins and dorsal fins that females do not display. The male plotosus lineatus have blue/green alternating lines on their dorsal fin, as well as a wider overall dorsal fin than females.

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They are one of several Plotosus species of catfish that spawns by releasing eggs into bromeliad plants. The female lays her eggs and then physically guards them until they hatch. This differs from most Plotosus species who lay their eggs into pits dug into soft mud or gravel substrate where it is left for hatching without parental care after oviposition.

Are Striped eel catfish aggressive or peaceful?

Compared to other species of Plotosus, Plotosus lineatus are generally described as being quite peaceful. However, it’s important to remember that all fish have their own unique personality. So if you add a striped eel catfish to your aquarium, make sure that he or she will be compatible with your other fish. If they’re too aggressive, they might end up chasing and stressing out more passive species in your tank—which isn’t healthy for any of them!

Striped eel catfish care

Plotosus lineatus

The striped eel catfish can be kept by a beginner in freshwater, but it is recommended that they keep at least 6 of them together. An ideal tank should be around 240 liters and needs a good filter and regular water changes. Because of their natural environment, they appreciate lots of aquatic plants to hide in as well as some caves and crevices for them to feel safe. They will eat almost anything so small sinking pellets or flakes should suffice for their diet.

Plotosus lineatus diet

Plotosus lineatus are generalist feeders. They will consume a variety of small organisms and invertebrates, including worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, other small fish, and detritus. The striped eel catfish have been found in benthic areas that contain vegetation for shelter as well as the open sandy substrate. This species is active both day and night when food is available.

Water parameters

Plotosus lineatus

The ideal water parameter should have a pH 6.5 – 7.8, GH: 4-12, KH 2-6. And a temperature of 74 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit or 23 – 28 Celsius; The striped eel catfish is an excellent choice for community tanks in need of some bottom feeders because it’s relatively easy to care for and quite attractive. It isn’t too demanding but must be kept in soft water with a high level of dissolved oxygen.

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Striped eel catfish lifespan

They can live up to 7 years in captivity.

Parasites and diseases

The striped eel catfish has few parasites. External parasites can include Asteromyia ciliata, and internal parasites include Nematopsis sp., Rhadinorhynchus hirudinaceus, and nematodes. Additionally, histiocytic ulcerative syndrome, mouth rot, tapeworms, and tuberculosis may affect them. Lymphocystis disease is occasionally reported in wild striped eels that consume infected prey fish. Cancerous growths called angiosarcomas have been documented in captive specimens but not in wild fish.


Striped eel catfish are frequently preyed upon by larger fish, especially trout and bass. Humans also hunt striped eel catfish for food. In a study of ichthyoplankton, older stages of striped eel catfish were found to have traces of mercury in their systems, which suggest that humans may be adversely affecting populations of striped eel catfish through eating them.

Do Striped eel catfish make good pets?

Yes. Despite their intimidating appearance, striped eel catfish are actually relatively docile fish. They prefer to stay in a secluded area of your tank and away from others, so they make a great companion for shyer species like bettas and gouramis. If you’re looking for an eel-like fish to complement your saltwater setup, then look no further!