Unlike its congeners P. innesi and P. axelrodi this species is an exclusive inhabitant of blackwater environments and tends to be found only in the upper, terra firme, reaches of tributary drainages.
Such habitats typically contain slow to moderately-flowing water with thick, often overhanging, riparian vegetation and sandy substrates covered in fallen branches, tree roots and leaf litter.
The water is typically acidic, of negligible carbonate hardness and conductivity and stained brownish due to the presence of humic substances released by decomposing organic matter.
Although it occurs over a similar range to P. axelrodi the two are not found together and P. simulans also tends to occur in warmer waters.
Peaceful with other species but does not make an ideal community fish due to its small size and somewhat specialised requirements
Ideally it should be maintained alone or at most with diminutive, non-aggressive characids and smaller callichthyid or loricariid catfishes.