The bumblebee catfish, in my view, is one of the most striking catfish available to have in your aquarium. There is lots to love about what can be an adorable addition to your tank. So you are able to decide for yourself whether this fish is for you, please read on where I have pulled my own knowledge and also completed some further research to help you with your decision.
Where do bumblebee catfish originate
First documented in 1912 by Carl Eigenmann. These creatures are available in 2 types. First, the South American bumblebee catfish, native to South America including areas from Venezuela and across the Amazon basin, which is distinctive by a square-shaped spot at the end of its caudal fin whereas the second type, the Asian bumblebee catfish, has a triangle with the tip of the triangle pointed towards the fish head. Scientific name microglanis iheringi for the south American bumblebee catfish and Pseudomystus siamensis for the Asian bumble bee cat fish. The Bumblebee catfish's natural environment is fast flowing water with lots of gravel and rocks.
What do they look like
Both types of bumblebee catfish bear the stripy light brown and yellow stripes which gives the fish its bumblebee likeness, hence its name. They have slender but elongated bodies. Distinguishing between males and females is very difficult but it is said that generally females can be slightly rounder. Notice I did not use the word fatter! Both South American bumblebee catfish and Asian bumblebee catfish have a very wide mouth, much like all catfish, with maxillary barbells.
The life span of the bumblebee catfish is between 3 and 5 years. The life span in captivity tends to be slightly shorter than that in the wild but the difference is not significant. They can grow up to 8 cm in length though this is usually only seen in the wild. In your tank at home you will be looking at a maximum length of 5cm to 6cm. They are bottom dwellers as this is where they feed. Bumblebee catfish are very peaceful and amicable fish. They don't tend to do very well on there own and are happier with a crowd of other fish. The golden rule is that you can place them in an aquarium with anything that doesn't fit in their mouths! They are primarily carnivore so will eat anything that fits!
Are Bumblebee Catfish Nocturnal?
Bumblebee catfish are nocturnal and because of this, during the day they will find places to hide and rest. It is therefore important that you have areas for them to hide. It does also mean that watching your cat fish only becomes more exciting at night. This is well worth the wait though as when they are active they do tend to move around quickly, especially when feeding. They will roam around the bottom of the tank foraging between decorations and plants.
For a single bumblebee cat fish your tank needs to be a minimum of 20 gallons, though I would recommend starting with a tank slightly larger. For every additional catfish introduced to your tank you will need to add 10 gallons for your tank size. As these creatures are nocturnal they are not fans of bright lights so keep the lighting dimmed. They like to have lots of hiding places to tuck away during the day. Live plants are highly recommended as these can act as both a hiding place but also plants like Amazon swords will make your bumble catfish feel very much at home. Make sure everything at the bottom of the tank is not easily moved. As your catfish spends almost all of its time as the bottom it can have a tendency to move decorations if they are not properly embedded into the gravel.
Water parameters need to be PH 6.5-7.5 with the temperature being 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Water hardness will need to range between 8 to 12 dGH. Your south american bumblebee cat fish likes clear water with moderate current. Ensure that you are doing weekly water changes to change 20 to 25 percent but do not change more than 50 percent of the water as this is too much of a change for your fish. Remember that 20 gallons is the smallest tank size for your tank.
Feeding Bumblebee Catfish
Bumblebee cat fish are extremely difficult to breed in captivity. The conditions need to be absolutely perfect to stand a very small chance of success. Start with a fairly large water change but not more than 50%. The water pH needs to be 4.8 to 6 which is slightly lower than you would normally keep your catfish. Water temperature should be at 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure there are some quiet and covered areas for the eggs to be laid. Feeding your bumblebee catfish with live foods such as Daphnia or shrimp is also said to aid the spawning process. The females lay eggs and the male fertilizes them. The male then takes responsibility for guarding the eggs for 5 to 10 days until they hatch. You should feed the young with newly hatched shrimp. Do not feed them frozen foods.
Do bumblebee catfish eat other fish? Tank mates
As I mentioned earlier, please stick to the golden rule with any catfish and always keep them with other creatures that will not fit in its mouth! Bumblebee cat fish are primarily carnivore so will eat any other fish that it can! They will happily cohabit with most other fish as tank mates and do like the company of their own species too. Good tank mates to consider would be tetras, gouramis, corys and some sharks such as rainbow or iridescent sharks. Remember to ensure your tank dimensions are within the parameters as those discussed in the paragraph above so they can still hide and tuck themselves away when they want to.
What common diseases do bumblebee catfish suffer from?
These are extremely hardy fish and will bounce back from most infections however like all other fish bumblebee cat fish can be exposed to fungal, parasitic or bacterial infections. This can often be through tank conditions not being within ideal parameters. These infections should be treated immediately with appropriate medical solutions. Adding an iodine solution to your tank can help combat most infections.