Bumblebee Catfish Care

The bumblebee catfish is well known aquarium fish among the pet fish keepers. It is also referred to as the South American Bumblebee Catfish. It is a bottom dwelling fish which was first described by Carl Henry Eigenmann in 1912. This fish belongs to Pseudopimelodidae family under Order Siluriformes of Class Actinopterygii (=Osteichthyes).

Systematic Position

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Sub-phylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Siluriformes
  • Family: Pseudopimelodidae
  • Genus: Microglanis 
  • Species: Microglanis iheringit

Distribution and Habitat

Distribution and Habitat

It is native fish for Venezuela, Columbia, Peru of South America. It inhabits moderate to strong flowing water bodies where rock and gravels are available with suitable water parameters. 

Body Shape

It has elongated body with moderate forked caudal fin. Dorsal fin is erect with well developed spines. It has flattened head and the body has well marked lateral line. Mouth is large with maxillary barbells. The barbells can reach the origin of the pectoral fin spines.  It also has adipose fin which is located just above the anal fin near caudal fin..

Body Colors

Body has light brown background with yellowish stripes. It has dark brown dorsal fin with a pale tip while the caudal fin is dark brown in color with cross band. Caudal peduncle area is also dark brown in color. 

Body Size and Lifespan

The bumblebee catfish is a beautiful aquarium fish which can grow up to 8 cm in length with lifespan up to 5 years or more if proper care is taken.

Quick Bumblebee Catfish Facts

  • Scientific Name: Microglanis iheringitScientific Name: Microglanis iheringi
  • Common Name: South American Bumblebee Catfish, Bumblebee Catfish
  • Family: PseudopimelodidaeFamily: Pseudopimelodidae
  • Origin: Columbia, VenezuelaOrigin: Columbia, Venezuela
  • Grown up Size: 8.0 cmGrown up Size: 8.0 cm
  • Tank Level: BottomTank Level: Bottom
  • Temperament: PeacefulTemperament: Peaceful
  • Minimum Tank Size:  20 gallonsMinimum Tank Size:  20 gallons
  • Diet: carnivoreDiet: carnivore
  • Reproduction: Egg-layerReproduction: Egglayer
  • Temperature: 70-80° FTemperature: 70-80°F
  • Hardness: 8-12 dGHHardness: 8-12 dGH
  • Water pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Care level: Easy
  • Lighting need: Normal-moderate
  • Lifespan: 5 years

Housing and Care Facts

The Bumblebee Catfish needs at least 20 gallon tank but larger tank is prescribed. The tank should have driftwood with lots of hiding spot. In this case, cracks, rock caves and other dark areas should be arranged for fish to hide in. Aquarium plants such as Amazon swords, Anubias, or Java ferns also help this fish to hide in during the day. The tank should also have good water chemistry with moderate to strong current. In this case, water pH should be ranged from 6.5-7.5, hardness from 8-12 dGH with temperature of 70-800 F. To make your tank environment healthy, 20-25% water changes should be done every other week.


It is a very community and non-aggressive fish. It should be kept in group with 5-8 individual due to their shyness behavior in alone. Proper tank mates include rainbow sharks, most loaches, tail sharks, corys, plecos, iridescent sharks, tetras, eels, barbs, gouramis and other catfish.

Food and Feeding Behavior

The Bumblebee Catfish is a bottom dweller and in nature, its food consists of insects and their larvae but in aquarium condition, it takes pellets, flake, live food such as Daphnia, mosquito larvae, frozen foods like earthworms and bloodworms. It also accepts cooked foods including prawns, mussels, cod and beef heart. To make your fish happy and healthy feed should be given 2-3 times daily with appropriate amount to prevent food waste.

Breeding Behavior

It is an egg layer and it can rarely breed in captive condition but in nature spawning occurs during the rainy season. The breeding tank should have driftwood, caves or hiding spot. Good water chemistry also influences the spawning of your fish. In this case, 20-25% water changes should be done and water pH should be ranged from 5.5 – 6.5 with temperature of 70 – 80 °F. Before spawning, brood fish should be conditioned by providing various live foods such as blood worm Daphnia, mussels, prawn, river shrimp and beef heart. The tank should be kept in non-disturbing place to influence the spawning. The mature female lays eggs in caves or hiding spot and the male guards the eggs. The eggs hatch within 3-4 days and the fry become free swimming after few days of hatching. It is better to feed the fry with newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia), crushed flake or any liquid fry food.  

Male and Female Sex Differences

Identification of male and female fish is very difficult. Generally the female fish is very plumper than the male catfish. During the breeding season the belly of the female becomes swollen when she carries eggs in her belly. 

Disease and Preventive Measures

The bumblebee catfish is very hardy but sometimes it is affected by parasitic, bacterial or fungal infections. To prevent infectious disease, antibacterial or anti-fungal treatment should be done. Sometimes it also affects from infectious warts. In this case, warts should be removed surgically and treatment should be done with iodine solution. To make your tank environment healthy, 20-25% water changes should be done every other week.

Also Read: Aquarium Fish Info and Care: Zebra Pleco (Hypancistrus zebra)

Concluding Remarks

South American Bumblebee Catfish is a very attractive and popular aquarium fish due to its brilliant body coloration and hardiness. It is rarely available in pet fish market or online shops. To purchase this gorgeous fish, you should search the online shops through internet browsing and make order for home delivery. We prescribe you to keep this fish for increasing aesthetic value in your aquarium.

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