When in need of a vibrant fish with varied array of colors, look no further than the bumblebee catfish. This sea animal is amusing to just watch. Not to mention that it hides in rock crevices most of the time, coming out once in a while to scavenge for its meal.
Its scientific name is Microglanis iheringi. It belongs to the family of Pseudopimelodidae and the genus of Microglanis.
Appearance of Bumblebee Catfish
Sometimes it gets confused with the Asian Bumblebee Catfish. Their differences are quite minimal and one can be excused for the confusion. The bumblebee catfish has the following features to help a hobbyist make the distinction:
- Black and yellow banding on the body.
- Like most catfishes, this species also has a skin instead of scales on its body.
- The body is elongated with a fork-like caudal fin.
- Its dorsal fin stands out, and the spines are well developed.
- The head is flattened with well-marked lateral lines.
- It has a wide mouth with barbells like that of a cat. In some fish, these barbells can reach the spines on its pectoral fins.
- Slightly above the anal fin is adipose fin.
- Around the caudal peduncle is a dark brown color.
- It can grow up to a length of 8cm.
- It lives for around 5 years or slightly more if proper care is taken.
The bumblebee catfish is native of South America and parts of Asia. Countries where it is found are Columbia, Venezuela and Peru. In the wild, this fish loves high speed flowing water with plenty of rocks and gravel. To keep it successfully in captivity, this kind of environment must be provided.
Taking care of the bumblebee catfish is not difficult. The following tank conditions could suit it quite well.
Being a wide swimmer, more so when scavenging for its food, a large tank would be an ideal choice. At least 20 gallons of water should do. As a matter of fact, the adults often need more water than the juveniles. The tanks should be provided with driftwood and plenty of rocks with crevices as it is a nocturnal animal.
The tank must be armed with live plants that provide some kind of cover. Remember the fish loves to hide when there is presence of light, often coming out when there is darkness. Best plants for this include Java Ferns, Anubias and Amazon swords.
Temperatures should be controlled to be about 70-77Fahrenheit, that is about 21-25 degrees Celsius. Ensure there is high-speed water as it loves to swim in torrential waters. Water pH of 6.5 to 7.7 is ideal. Keep the water hardness to about 8-12 dHG and keep the water fresh by changing it after every week or thereabouts.
The bottom of the tank should be well arranged as this fish loves to spend a good time there. If the arrangement is weak, it can be easily disrupted.
Being a humble fish, it can share the aquarium with others. However, avoid keeping it with smaller kinds of fish since it is predatory. Fish that can easily share the tank with this catfish are gouramis, eels, barbs, iridescent sharks, plecos, most loaches, rainbow sharks and tetras among others.
It is a carnivore, hence feeds on insects and larvae. Since it has a wide mouth, the bumblebee catfish is likely to devour fairly large food pellets. That is why it cannot share a tank with smaller fish as it can consume them at night during its feeding time. Other type of food are:
- Frozen foods
- Daphnia and river shrimp
- Pellets and flakes
- Cooked foods like prawns, beef heart, cod and mussels
Most fish enjoy feeding on bloodworms and earthworms. Same applies to the bumblebee catfish. It also includes mosquito larvae. As in most other fishes, this one can also be fed 3 to 5 times each day. Although it spends a good time of the day hiding in rock crevices due to its shy nature, whenever it witnesses the presence of something edible in the tank, it springs into action.
Even though it feeds well, care should be taken to avoid wastage. When more than enough food is placed inside the tank, the rest will be left there and this means more frequent changing of water than is necessary.
Not much success has been reported about breeding the fish in captivity. However, one may always try. The best way to do this is by having more of the same fish in a single tank and observing their behavior. If after a few weeks one of them looks more round, it probably is a female that is waiting to lay its eggs.
Provide an enabling environment by providing more driftwood, hiding spots like caves and crevices. Water change is another necessity. A pH of 5.5 to 6.5 should be provided. Temperature range of between 70 and 80 Fahrenheit is suitable for breeding catfish.
Live foods of bloodworms, mussels and prawns are a favorite during the time for spawning. The tank should be less turbulent so that the eggs once laid can settle in between rocks and crevices.
After the female lays eggs, the males often guard them. After about 3 or 4 days, the eggs hatch and fry are free to roam in the tank. Fry can be fed using brine shrimp. Liquid food can also be suitable for them.
Differentiating males from females is quite difficult. However, when the female is full of eggs, it becomes plumper.
Disease attacks and prevention
The fish is hardy, usually surviving most conditions. If the tank conditions are not right, it may be attacked by fungal, bacterial or parasitic infections. This can be avoided by adding some iodine solution to the water. Frequent water change is also likely to help.
Bumblebee catfish is a lovely sea creature that can spruce up the aquarium. It is quite hardy and will survive a number of conditions. So long as the tank conditions are right, this fish will be so lovely to watch. Observing it get out of its hiding place to eat is so interesting and well worth it.