June 23

Sarah Robertson

Add Color and Excitement to Your Tank With Bumblebee Catfish

Bumblebee catfish are one of the most beautiful fish, with a brilliant color palette. The bumblebee catfish (Microglanis iheringi) is from South America. In fact, it is also known by the name South American bumblebee catfish.

These creatures are a fantastic way to add action and keep the tank's lower regions clean. They are a tough species that can withstand a wide range of situations. Even novices may keep some since they are simple to care for.

Quick Facts About Bumblebee Catfish 

  • Scientific Name : Microglanis iheringi
  • Nicknames: South American Bumblebee Catfish.
  • Family Name : Pseudopimelodidae
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Color Form: Black and yellow bands
  • Lifespan: 4-5 years
  • Size : Full-grown bumblebee catfish reach up to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: Minimum 20+ gallons.
  • Tank Temperature: 70°F to 77°F.
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 8 to 12 dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Breeding: Eggs are laid in between rocks and crevices.
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Tank Set-Up: Freshwater with caves
  • Tank Mates: Rainbow Shark, Corydoras, and Dwarf Gourami
  • Compatibility: Peaceful, similarly-sized fish

Bumblebee Catfish Appearance 

The bumblebee catfish has a distinct appearance that we adore. This fish has a yellow and black body. The colors in this style are distributed across a few thick uneven sections. Their heads are almost always black, although the colors shift down their body from there.

It has a tiny, spiny dorsal fin that takes up little room on its back. The black band that runs down the middle of this fin from front to back is quite distinctive. The caudal fin is forked and has a similar band. The region surrounding the base of the caudal fin is typically black.

The bumblebee catfish has large ventral fins that aid it in navigating the sand. This is an extremely significant feature as a bottom feeder. The body of this fish is similar to that of a typical catfish. Bumblebee catfish have long, cylindrical bodies that taper down somewhat before the tail fin.

They have long, flat heads with prominent barbels that stick out. They also have a very wide mouth, which aids them in scavaging effectively, much like other freshwater catfish.

Bumblebee Catfish


As we mentioned, the bumblebee catfish is primarily yellow and black. The black coloration typically forms a band in the middle of the fish's body, running from the dorsal fin to the caudal peduncle.

The rest of this fish is a beautiful golden yellow. There are often some irregular black spots on the fish's body as well. These spots can be random or follow some sort of pattern.

The fins on a bumblebee catfish are also primarily yellow with black bands. The dorsal and caudal fins both have these bands, while the pectoral and pelvic fins are usually just yellow.

The two most popular color variations are as follows:

  • Black: The color that identifies the species is this one. A thick black layer appears against a mustard yellow background.
  • Brown: The bandied pattern of this variety is the same as that of the first, but it has muddy brown bands instead of black.

Types of Bumblebee Catfish 

The term "Bumblebee Catfish" has been used to describe a variety of species, including the Asian Bumblebee Catfish and the African Bumblebee Catfish. These fish may be mistaken with the South American Bumblebee Catfish by people unfamiliar with them. Here are some key features to help you tell them apart.

African Bumblebee Catfish 

It is scientifically known as Microsynodontis batesii and comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Cameroon.

These are the optimum water conditions for this fish:


70 – 77 F is the ideal temperature range.


The water should have a 6.7 to 7.5


The water should have a hardness of 10 to 15 dGH

The African Bumblebee Catfish can reach three and a half inches in length. It is quiet and laid-back, but it may be found hiding among rocks and submerged tree roots during the day.

Asian Bumblebee Catfish 

The Asian Bumblebee Catfish, scientifically known as Pseudomystus siamensis, is a species of catfish that can be found in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam's warm rivers and streams.

These are the optimum water conditions for this fish:


68 to 78 F is the ideal temperature range


The water should have a 5.8 to 7.8


The water should have a hardness of 4 to 25 dGH

The Asian Bumblebee Catfish, unlike the black and yellow Bumblebee Catfish, has a brown and burnt orange striped appearance. Furthermore, the typical Bumblebee catfish size of an adult male is six inches long.

Bumblebee Jelly Catfish 

The Batrochoglanis cf. raninus, which is endemic to Rio Nanay in Peru, differs significantly from the South American Bumblebee Catfish, African Bumblebee Catfish, and Asian Bumblebee Catfish. Aside from being considerably black, these catfish are less afraid than their relatives.

The Bumblebee Jelly Catfish are cryptic ambush hunters that lurk in areas with leaf litter and submerged driftwood. In the wild, they may reach nearly eight inches in length.

This fish is excellent in an aquarium with the following water conditions:


76 to 82 F is ideal


6.0 to 7.5

Several other species are marketed as "Bumblebee Catfish," however the Microglanis iheringi is one of the most popular owing to its tiny size. The average length of a catfish is about a ruler. Hence, the South American Bumblebee Catfish would be ideal if you're looking for something cuter and smaller.


Bumblebee Catfish Lifespan 

The average bumblebee catfish lifespan is around four to five years. It's not unusual for them to live beyond five years, however, this is only feasible if they are given excellent care throughout their entire lives. Bumblebee catfish care is crucial to their lifespan and health, so be sure to provide them with a clean and comfortable home.

Despite their toughness, the decisions you make regarding these fish in their early years will have an impact on their lifespan later on. We always advise that regardless of how hardy a fish is, you pay attention to water quality and water conditions.

Bumblebee Catfish Behavior 

The first thing to remember is that this species is nocturnal. When the lights go down, most of their activities are visible, so don't be surprised if they're not out much during the day. Many aquarium keepers dislike nocturnal animals because they are unable to observe much activity during day time. You will still be able to see your Bumblebee Catfish by providing caves in line of sight.

They usually discover caverns and nooks where they may hide if they feel like it. It is essential to provide these fish with adequate cave formations and driftwood to make them feel safe.

In general, they are quite shy and prefer to hide away. Because they are generally docile, they can be kept with a wide range of different species.

Boisterous tank mates may stress out your catfish, causing them to hide for even more of the time, so stick with calm species.

They dwell in the tank's center and lower strata. Swimming in open water is uncommon, and it only happens when they're hunting for food.

Bumblebee Catfish are omnivores and would consume other fish if they are small enough. So it is better to maintain species that are of the same size or larger.

Bumblebee Catfish Natural Habitat

The species is present in Columbia and Venezuela, but it has also been found in northern Brazil and Ecuador. They like rivers, streams, and other bodies of water with strong currents.

The bottom-dwelling catfish shown here like to hide in and explore the rocky bottoms. As a result, the substrate is crucial to their environment, both in the wild and in aquariums. The substrate and rocks are without a doubt the most important aspect of their environment, even though plants and driftwood are appreciated.

Bumblebee Catfish Tank Setup

These fish, being some of the tiniest freshwater catfish, need a tank with at least 20 gallons. If you want to maintain more than one catfish, you'll need at least ten gallons per additional catfish. If you want to keep them in a group, you'll need an aquarium that is at least 50 gallons.

When it comes to figuring out how many gallons you'll need, keep in mind every aspect of the fish. The "one gallon per inch" rule is no longer accurate and frequently causes overstock problems.

Remember to think about how active the fish is, how much waste it creates, and any social (or aggressive) behaviors.

Required Equipments 

It is critical to try and replicate bumblebee catfish's natural habitat in order for them to be healthy and happy.

They, like all freshwater fish, need some basic essentials, such as a filter. Other pieces of equipment are species-specific, such as a heater.


This fish can be kept with any filter since it requires a moderate to strong current and plenty of water activity.


A heater will be required to maintain the water temperature at a pleasant level. The bumblebee catfish prefers a water temperature of 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water movement 

If your filter doesn't create enough water movement or current, a wavemaker wouldn't be out of line in this tank.


If you have plants, be sure your lighting can support them. Fluorescent or LED bulbs will work in any case.

The bumblebee catfish has particular needs in its natural environment. Some of these requirements are unique to the bumblebee catfish and its habitat in the wild. Here are some things you'll need to create a bumblebee catfish-friendly tank.

Substrate: Despite the fact that these fish enjoy a lot of gravel in their tank, the substrate should not be too rough to harm their belly, fins, or barbs. When unsure, opt for a soft base and add stones to it.

Rocks: There should be a large number of rocks at the bottom of your tank to match their natural habitat. Place some tiny boulders in the aquarium to add interest and make the fish feel more secure. Make sure you include a variety of pebbles and rocks of various sizes. Make engaging designs and hiding areas for the catfish.

Plants: Live plants are beneficial to fish in numerous ways, but silk artificial plants will also do the job and require less maintenance. Taller, broader-leaved plants are preferable to ground covers or floating plants.

Driftwood: Driftwood serves as a safe and comfortable place for bumblebee catfish to sleep, hide, and explore.

Decor: You may also ensure that this catfish is comfortable with caves and other decorations if you don't have many aquatic plants or driftwood in your tank. These pieces of décor, like driftwood, may boost their self-esteem and safety.

This aquarium arrangement is suggested but not absolutely necessary. Other fish can be kept in the same tank without compromising the cat fish's quality of life.

It's better to include features from each resident in the tank arrangement. This is why it's also advised that species of comparable origins be kept together.

Water Parameters 

The bumblebee catfish is robust and may endure a wide range of water conditions, as previously said. This does not, however, indicate that it will thrive in every scenario.

To know the ideal parameters for your bumblebee catfish, check out the preferred ranges given below:


This fish prefers water temperatures between 70 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, neither too hot nor too cold. They prefer warm water.


The bumblebee catfish generally tends to like softer water between 8 – 12 dGH.

pH levels

The pH preferred by the bumblebee catfish is between 6.5 and 7.5; slightly acidic to neutral water is best.

Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates

All should be kept as close to 0 ppm as feasible. Even low levels of 5 ppm and below, however, can have a detrimental impact on the health of your catfish's immune system. As a result, this might increase the chance of sickness.

Optimal temperature:

75 – 82 °F (23 – 28 °С)

Water changes of at least 25% are required on a weekly basis to maintain the water clean and the tank inhabitants safe. Aquarists may need to modify water changes as needed based on the gallon size and the number of fish in the tank.

Bumblebee Catfish

Bumblebee Catfish Food & Diet 

The bumblebee catfish are omnivores that require a balanced diet that includes both plant foods and protein. They're both scavengers and shy eaters, which means they'll happily chow down on the leftovers from the rest of the community.

They participate in nocturnal activities, such as hunting and looting. They may come out for special meals like live brine shrimp (a favorite), but they prefer to search while it's dark outside.

The fish is most often seen swimming, feeding, and resting on the tank bottom. It spends a lot of its time rummaging about the tank floor and rooting through the substrate. The following are some of the things that these fish will consume:

  • Bloodworms
  • Daphnia

  • Larvae

  • Brine shrimp

  • Plant matter

  • Earthworms

  • Insects

  • Earthworms

If you're concerned about your fish receiving adequate food during feeding times, consider buying sinking pellets instead. These types of fish foods, along with other items like algae wafers, are tailored particularly for bottom-dwelling inhabitants.

It's critical to remember that all other community diets must be taken into account when feeding your catfish, and you should provide the appropriate snacks. If you're feeding your community a high-protein flake food, give your Bumblebee Catfish a mixed diet of sinking algae wafers and spirulina pellets, with freshly blanched vegetables as an example.

You may use high-value treats like brine shrimp, bloodworms, Daphnia, or baby shrimp eggs to train your catfish to come out in shaded places during the day, don't feed them too often! It's ideal to feed them once a night, and live goodies should be offered no more than a few times each week. Overfeeding can lead to health problems and water pollution. So make sure that you're offering a healthy diet and not going overboard!

Bumblebee Catfish Tank Mates 

This fish is averse to other peaceful species that aren't overly active, as previously said. The bumblebee catfish is, however, an excellent community fish. It will get along with most others in a similar environment.

Other species that can live in harmony with Bumblebee Catfish include:

  • Kuhli loaches
  • Bristlenose plecos
  • Rainbow sharks
  • Other catfish, such as corydoras
  • Giant danios and rasboras
  • Dwarf or opaline gourami
  • Any type of barb, such as cherry barbs, tiger barbs or rosy barbs

There are several different kinds of fish that may be utilized in addition to the ones mentioned above. Some aquarists have claimed good results with peaceful cichlids, for example.

They can cohabit in the same aquarium without too much conflict as long as they are at least as large as the bumblebee catfish and non-aggressive.

Bad Tank Mates for the Bumblebee Catfish

This fish is typically quite docile. Nonetheless, it has the potential to consume smaller fish at night. They should get along with others as long as the fish are at least 3 inches long and docile. If the Bumblebee Catfish shows aggressiveness toward other fish, it may be because it sees them as a potential threat or a source of food. Remove the fish from the tank immediately if you isolate one of them.

Bumblebee Catfish Diseases

One of the most appealing aspects of bumblebee catfish is how long they last. Unlike other freshwater fish, they are not prone to a specific disease or illness.

They may, however, suffer from the same illnesses that other fish do. Most often, this will manifest in the form of an infection.

The good news is that these are simple to avoid. If you're providing great bumblebee catfish care and maintaining the water quality high, infections should be rare. If you keep your aquarium clean and maintain a healthy, balanced diet for your fish, they will live a long life!

Bumblebee Catfish Breeding

Bumblebee Catfish Breeding 

Bumblebee Catfish are not suitable for breeding in home aquariums.There are several different reasons why reproduction might be so tough. The genders are extremely similar, thus it's difficult to tell them apart. There is little dimorphism between the sexes, making it hard to distinguish them. So for novices, it is often difficult to tell which is male and which is female.

Furthermore, wild breeding settings are difficult to replicate in an aquarium. To induce reproduction, these species require particular currents and environmental conditions.

They also need a special diet in order to be ready for breeding. It's almost impossible to replicate their natural diet precisely, even with excellent care.

Their nocturnal hours are also a consideration - you may not have enough time in your day to focus on breeding them.

The optimum conditions for the growth of this fish may be established by breeders working in fish farms. They must be fed live prey three times a day to get ready to breed. The temperature of the tank is then raised to 77°F in an open water setting with strong currents. Spawning sites are also available in cavernous areas.

Males engage in sexual intercourse by wrapping themselves around the female, which makes her very spherical before she is ready to lay her eggs. The eggs hatch after four days when the female enters a cave to lay her eggs.

Bumblebee Catfish fry will eat larval brine shrimp and liquid fry food, or infusoria, to survive. Because of the complexity of breeding these fish, their development process is mostly unknown.

Bumblebee Catfish Cost 

The cost of acquiring these fish varies depending on where you live. If you reside in the southern United States, they may be purchased for between $6 and $10 each.

You might be able to buy aquarium fish for the above price if you are ordering online, but you'll have to pay for shipping.

In terms of cost, Bumblebee Catfish are really cheap, considering how rare and unique they are.

Bumblebee Catfish vs Giant Bumblebee Catfish

The bumblebee catfish (Pseudopimelodus bufonius) and the giant bumblebee catfish (Microglanis iheringi) are similar in appearance. Both of them originated from rivers in South America.

That indicates that their preferred temperatures are very comparable, with the giant bumblebee catfish preferring water that is approximately 82°F and upwards. The water of the Giant Bumblebee catfish should also be somewhat less acidic than that of normal bumblebee catfish. The most significant distinction between the two species is size.

The giant bumblebee catfish can reach up to a foot in length; this is far larger than traditional bumblebee catfish, which typically measure less than 3 inches. Despite the enormous size difference, they are both quiet and like to hide among vegetation and rocks. The coloring of the giant bumblebee catfish and regular bumblebee catfish are very similar, thus their names are also identical.


What Size Aquarium Do They Need? 

This fish is tiny, so you don't need a large tank. They do, however, require ample area to swim about when seeking food.

A 20-gallon tank is adequate for a single Bumblebee Catfish, but provides as much room as possible. The more space you provide, the better it will be.

How Many Can Be Kept Per Gallon? 

If you keep a few of these fish together, your tank will need to be larger. Each additional Bumblebee Catfish requires 10 gallons of water. For example, if you wanted to keep 5 of them, you'd need a 50-gallon tank.

Are Bumblebee Catfish Aggressive? 

It's a myth that these fish are aggressive. Bumblebee Catfish are actually timid and unlikely to start a fight.

However, certain circumstances may cause aggressive behavior to occur. When competing for dominance, as with many species of fish, males are aggressive to one another. In a male group, there will be a lot more fighting. If there isn't enough space in the tank for each fish to have its own territory, aggressive behavior may also develop.

Are Bumblebee Catfish Suitable for Your Aquarium? 

Bumblebee Catfish are adaptable and similar to other aquarium creatures when it comes to food, water chemistry, and light requirements. Because of their peaceful nature, they may be added to a community aquarium with ease.

There are a few species of fish that you should avoid keeping with Bumblebee Catfish.

Some people are scared of their nocturnal activities and timid personality. They might not appear to be worth acquiring if you'll only get to see them once in a while.

The scarcity of sightings makes it all the more thrilling when you do; Bumblebee Catfish are worth the wait. They are stunning fish with their unusual hue and shape. They will also assist in the cleaning of a tank by vacuuming organic waste from the substrate.

This species is well suited to a variety of aquariums. The modest but colorful catfish will add color and life to your tank's lower levels.

Bumblebee Catfish

How Big Do Bumblebee Catfish Get? 

The average length of a South American Bumblebee Catfish is three inches, but males might grow an inch longer in ideal circumstances. However, regardless of how carefully you raise them, these catfish will never grow larger than a certain size. These fish are rather tiny, so they will not take up a lot of space at the bottom of the tank.

What Are the Best Tank Mates for Bumblebee Catfish? 

Bumblebee Catfish may be combined with other fish in a tank, such as gouramis, eels, barbs, iridescent sharks, plecos, most loaches, rainbow sharks, and tetras.

What Does a Bumblebee Catfish Eat? 

This species will eat virtually all types of food, including live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals. It's also a good idea to give them high-quality flake or pellet food to ease their digestive system.

What Is the Best Tank Environment for a Bumblebee Catfish? 

Bumblebee Catfish requires fast-moving water with rocks and gravel as a substrate. It is quite hardy in other words. The Bumblebee Catfish does best in an aquarium with a pH between 6.8 and 7.4, although it can tolerate a range of 6.5 to 7.5. A tank with a temperature ranging from 70°F to 77°F is perfect for this species.

Do Bumblebee Catfish Need a Filter? 

It's necessary to have a filter in the tank because uneaten food and fish waste can quickly dirty the water. It is advisable to use a canister filter or an external hang-on-the-back filter.

How Do You Care for Bumblebee Catfish? 

Caring for Bumblebee Catfish is not difficult. These catfish are known to be hardy and can withstand a wide range of water conditions. However, it's important to provide them with the right environment and diet so they can thrive in your aquarium.

Bumblebee Catfish are relatively peaceful fish and make good tank mates for other peaceful community fish. They do best in an aquarium with plenty of hiding places and live plants. A gravel substrate with some rocks is also recommended.

It's important to feed Bumblebee Catfish a varied diet of live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. You can also give them high-quality flake or pellet food. Be sure to remove any uneaten food so it doesn't dirty the water.

Bumblebee Catfish are not particularly active eaters and will usually only eat once a day. It's best to feed them small amounts of food several times a day so they can get the nutrition they need.

Why Is My Bumblebee Catfish Swimming in Circles? 

If your Bumblebee Catfish is swimming in circles, it could be a sign that something is wrong with the water quality. Test the pH and ammonia levels and make sure they are within the ideal range. You should also check the temperature of the water and make sure it's not too hot or too cold.

It's also possible that your Bumblebee Catfish is swimming in circles because it's not getting enough food. Make sure you are feeding them small amounts of food several times a day.

Do Bumblebee Catfish Eat Shrimp? 

Yes, Some Bumblebee Catfish will eat shrimp, but it's not their preferred food. It's best to feed them a diet of live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. You can also give them high-quality flake or pellet food.

Will a Bumblebee Catfish Eat Other Fish? 

No, Bumblebee Catfish are not known to eat other fish. They are relatively peaceful fish and make good tank mates for other peaceful community fish.

What Are Its Native Water Conditions? 

In its native habitat, the Bumblebee Catfish thrives in rivers and streams with strong currents. The fast-flowing water keeps their surroundings clean and oxygenated.

Because of its warm and humid climate, South America is home to tropical fish that need warm water with a neutral pH.

These points must be taken into account as you'll need to replicate these circumstances at home in order to maintain your Bumblebee Catfish happy and healthy.

How Often Do Bumblebee Catfish Eat? 

Like many other fish, this one can be fed three to five times a day. Although its shy nature causes it to conceal itself in rock crevices for the majority of the day, it will burst into action if it detects something delectable in the aquarium.

Despite the fact that it feeds, you should exercise caution to avoid waste. When there isn't enough food in the tank, the rest will be left behind, necessitating more frequent water changes than are required.

Final Thoughts 

Bumblebee catfish are robust and simple to maintain. This fish is easy to add to a community tank with its calm personality. Some may not like nocturnal fish because they are not visible when the bright lights are on. Maybe you're not a fan of these fish. However, it is certain that if you give them a chance, you will not be sorry.

There is nothing like a catfish to brighten up your day. They're beautiful, fascinating, and an adventure to look after.I believe bumblebee catfish are a great choice if you're seeking for a fish or two that will settle at the bottom of the aquarium. These fish are relatively small, so a 20 gallon aquarium would be sufficient. They don't need much space and are quite content to live in smaller areas.

One of the best things about bumblebee catfish is that they get along with everyone. They're not aggressive and will do well in a community aquarium. If you're looking for a fish that is low-maintenance and will get along with everyone, then the bumblebee catfish is perfect for you.

Whether you're a experienced fish owner or a beginner, I think bumblebee catfish are a good choice for anyone. They're easy to take care of and make a great addition to any home aquarium!!

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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