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Aqualife Beauty Uncategorized Bumblebee catfish care guide: feeding, tank size & mates, lifespan;

Bumblebee catfish care guide: feeding, tank size & mates, lifespan;

Bumblebee catfish may just be your “all in one fish” of the desirable attributes in a pet for your aquarium. How so you ask? Well firstly, it has a great temperament besides its beautiful appearance.

Bumblebee catfish

Moreover, besides being a freshwater critter, it is a hardy aquarium fish. In short, it’s a low maintenance aquarium fish and certainly one among the easiest fish to care of.

To many budding hobbyist, before picking the best of fish as pets for beginners, a combinations of all these attributes in a fish rank. They certainly will tilt the scale in deciding which fish in particular to tank. 

Therefore, the rarity of all these endearing attributes “all in one pet fish” in many species is making bumble catfish’s popularity be steadily on the rise.

Naturally, Microglanis iheringi is nocturnal; preferring to come out at night. However, it will come out, say during midday should it know of presence of feeds in the tank. At that time, its vibrant colors are on beautiful brilliant display. Immediately thereafter, it will bury its head in the substrate.

2 types of bumblebee cat fish exist; the south American and Asian bumblebee catfishes.

They are majorly differentiated by the spot at the caudal fin. It is square and triangle (with tip towards the head) in the south American and Asian bumblebee catfishes respectively.

South American bumblebee catfish species history and origin:

It traces its origin to South America from where it has derived its name; the South American bumblebee catfish. Its scientific name is (Microglanis iheringi).

While it’s been found naturally in places like northern Brazil, Guyana as well as Ecuador too, Venezuela and Columbia are originally its “home”.

Rushing rivers and streams with high currents is where they naturally prefer to be in. In the rocky substrate; a characteristic feature of these water ways is where bumblebee cat fish likes to hide.

Bumblebee catfish size and appearance:

In the most ideal conditions, bumblebee catfish size is just about 3” in length. However, depending on the environment in which it’s being raised in as well as the bumblebee catfish care being offered, the size may somewhat vary.

On its appearance, firstly, it has a long flat head from which, catlike barbells protrude prominently. Actually, some have barbells that reach the spines on the pectoral fins. On the other hand, the Asian bumblebee catfish has a pair of nasal barbells right infront of its eyes for differentiation.

Secondly, being a substrate/bottom feeder, this pet fish has splayed ventral fins. These fins are vital in its movement round the tank’s bottom. In addition, its long cylindrical body slightly tapers down just before the caudal fin.

It is further recognized by its asymmetrical sections’ spread, of the dominant colors; black and yellow to the full length of its body.  The color sections alternate one after the other. Mostly, the black head starts off the color alternation down the body’s length.

It has skin instead of scales just like most other cat fishes.

It has an adipose fin just above the anal fin.

A tiny dorsal fin mounts on the back with a black band at the middle of the fin. The black band runs from the front to the back.

Likewise, the forked caudal fin bears the black band. The fin’s peduncle/anchor point to the body is black/dark brown.

South American bumblebee catfish care:

As earlier said, this is a hardy aquarium fish and subsequently one from the roll of best low maintenance fish.

In fact, it has been adjudged by some experienced keepers as a good beginner aquarium fish courtesy of its hardiness and good temperament.

The hardiness makes it forgiving to a wide range of water conditions and therefore, regardless of aquarium keeping skill level, anyone can manage.

That said however, a few of these factors should be observed to allow it to thrive and not just survive.

Water parameters:

A simple tabular summary of the requisite parameters to maintain for a livable and healthy tank:

ParametersTemperaturepHWater Hardness
Ideal range69°F  – 78°F6.5 – 7.58-12 dHG; Soft and clean
The Ideal tank size:

Yes it is a hardy fish and one among best starter fish; it however is certainly not a 5 gallon tank fish. NO!! Nonetheless, it still is an easy aquarium fish only if you host it in the proper and ideal sized aquarium.

As a result, bumblebee catfish care entails getting it the right sized tank. A 20 gallons tank is the most appropriate tank size for a fully matured bumblebee catfish.

However, the rule of thumb is, for every additional south American bumblebee cat fish in the tank, add 10 gallons. Besides, with its own species, it can become territorial subsequently necessitating a bigger tank for more than one stocking.

Notably however, it doesn’t crave for too much space. In any case, much of its time is spent hiding in rock crevices and driftwood with minimal instances of swimming about; mostly out to scavenge for food. It nonetheless is a wide swimmer when it does swim.

In addition, now that you know it is nocturnal and hide away when there is light, be kind and add live plants into the tank. That will offer more hiding spaces.

For instance, you can choose from among Amazon swords, Java Ferns and Anubias plants. They are very good at providing cover and cutting lighting from permeating all the way to the bottom of the tank.

The essence of adding driftwood, rocks and plants in a bumblebee catfish tank is to avail hiding places and to recreate its natural habitat in the tank where all these features naturally occur.

Shortage of these ideal spaces for your bumblebee catfish will only expose it to unnecessary stress. Remember stress greatly undermines its immunity leading to illnesses and infection. Subsequently, you’ll just be shortening its lifespan. 

Further, the substrate or gravel SHOULDN’T be more than ¼” in thickness. A thicker substrate will hold much of food remains and wastes which will certainly pollute the water.

Above all, the water flow and current should as much as possible be sufficiently fast. Remember out in the wild, it thrives in water bodies with fast water currents. Besides, moderately fast water flow ensures there is oxygen sufficiency.   

A good filtration system can do that job. Don’t go for a sponge filter.

To maintain the water quality, use a good test kit to monitor the water conditions. This enables you to flag any signs of toxins building in the tank. A spike in ammonia and nitrite especially can be fatal to the fish.

Further, regular water change is another essential cog in bumblebee catfish care to maintain the correct water quality. However, the said changes should not exceed 20% of the tank waters in any one change.

NOTE: If heating the tank, the heater’s placement is critical. It should be in a way that your pet bumblebee catfish won’t want to rest beneath it. Why you ask? Well, because your fish doesn’t have scales but rather, bare skin. This is at risk of suffering burns.

How to feed microglanis iheringi:

South American bumblebee cat fish is primarily a carnivore; largely feeding on larvae and insects. In captivity, it adapts to dead food(s) although it’s naturally a predatory fish.

Pellets and food flakes, frozen/freeze dried feeds, daphnia, and mosquito larvae as well as both earth and bloodworms all form part of its favorite diet.

Caution: Never feed your south American bumblebee cat fish on mammals’ meat; say beef heart or even chicken. These meats contain lipids that the fish can’t properly metabolize. Besides, the fish’s organs will suffer degeneration as a result of excess fats deposits from mammals’ meat.

In addition, even though some keepers have livebearers as feeder fish, there unfortunately are no proven nutritional benefits therefrom. Moreover, they actually pose the risk of introducing diseases and pathogens into the tank. 

Meanwhile, though it is nocturnal and prefers to venture out during dark to scavenge for food, any presence of food in the tank will lure it of its hiding to grab it.

Worth noting too is, its wide mouth enables it to swallow fairly large food portions. Little wonder that it shouldn’t be tanked with smaller fish else it will easily swallow them up.

How often do bumblebee catfish feed? Well, 3 – 5 times daily is not too bad. Most importantly though, don’t over supply food to the tank. While excess food leads to feeds wastage, these excess foods left uneaten will pollute the water.

Decaying of the same is likely to cause harmful toxins in the tank, like say, ammonia and nitrite. This subsequently will demand more frequent water changes which are otherwise avoidable.

How do Bumblebee catfish breed?

Sadly, there isn’t any documented successful breeding in captivity. For those who’ve tried, negligible success has been reported. It’s therefore advised that you kindly just leave that to the established fish farms. It’s not worth your efforts and resources, both time and money.

However, out in the wild, the start of the wet season is when spawning happens.

That said though, you may want to try just to feed your curiosity by attempting breeding.

How? Well, you can have more than one of the same species in the same tank for observation over time.

For differentiation, males’ profile is less stocky than that of females. In addition, the males’ bodies light markings’ intensity is higher than that of females besides their elongated genitalia papilla being noticeable.

If after a while one of them acquires a more pronounced plumper and rounder look, then, it probably is the female awaiting to lay eggs. And by that, you may just have your answer to the question; how to tell if a catfish is pregnant?

Ideal water pH and temperature as well as water changes are critical necessities to aid breeding. This is according to the few keepers that have had small successes in their attempts. Moreover, during spawning, live foods seem to be the favorite.

Further, minimal water turbulence should be observed to allow eggs settle in the rock crevices and driftwoods. The eggs are guarded by the males till they hatch in about 3- 5days. Only liquid foods are suitable food for the fry.

The lifespan of microglanis iheringi:

Yes, it is one of the easiest fish to take care of which you’re in return rewarded with 3 – 5 years of beauty in your tank.

Which are the compatible tankmates?

Firstly, it’s a shy and peaceable pet fish. As a result, it can easily cohabit with other equally peaceable fish.

However, being a wide mouthed carnivore that can swallow smaller fishes and a good predator, small fish that can fit in its mouth are at risk of being preyed on and subsequently discouraged against. In the same vein, possible tankmates shouldn’t be big enough to swallow it. The take out here is; “a fish that it cannot swallow or one that cannot swallow it”.

While it stays at the bottom hiding its head on the substrate, mid-water schooling fishes would make for good tankmates. For instance, cichlids having a serene temperament can fit-in as long as they share matching water parameters requirements.

Remember, while it maybe predatory, it’s especially not hostile.

The common illnesses and diseases that afflict bumblebee catfish:

Unlike most other freshwater species, this south American bumblebee cat fish is very hardy. As a result, it’s not too susceptible to the common illnesses. However, it may suffer some infections which luckily are easily preventable.

All you need is to re-read the bumblebee catfish care requirements and tips in this piece and you’ll have eliminated most if not all risks of illness by purely having a healthy tank.


Bumblebee catfish has a combination of all the attributes and care requirements that make it particularly one of the pet fish for beginners.

The combination of being a hardy fish for aquarium and being one of the easiest fish to keep alive is a rare holy grail in fish keeping.

You are now presumed to have all the information to keep this magnificent fish and reap the benefits of mental stress relief in-cumbersomely.

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