Bumblebee Catfish Care Guide: Easy Tips for a Happy Pet

Bumblebee Catfish are unique and fun freshwater critters that have gained popularity in the aquarium scene. With their distinctive appearance and temperament, they’re an interesting addition to your fish tank. This care guide will provide you with the important information you need to keep your Bumblebee Catfish healthy and content.

In order to maintain a suitable environment for your new pet, it’s crucial to understand their preferred water conditions, tank landscape, feeding habits, and more. Providing the necessary care for these fascinating fish not only ensures their well-being but also allows you to fully appreciate their delightful behavior.

As you embark on your journey as a Bumblebee Catfish keeper, you’ll discover that caring for these fascinating creatures can be a rewarding experience. Let’s dive into the essentials of Bumblebee Catfish care to help you create a thriving habitat for your aquatic friends.

Species Overview

The Bumblebee Catfish is a popular freshwater fish species native to South America. They are known for their striking yellow and black stripes that resemble a bumblebee’s color pattern. As a hardy and easy-to-care-for fish, Bumblebee Catfish make a great choice for beginner and experienced aquarists alike. To help you better understand the Bumblebee Catfish, we’ve put together a brief species overview and a table of essential information:

Property Details
Scientific name Microglanis iheringi
Common names Bumblebee Catfish, South American Bumblebee Catfish
Distribution South America (Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Ecuador, northern Brazil)
Size Up to 3 inches (7.6 cm)
Lifespan 5-7 years
Diet Omnivorous
Temperament Peaceful, nocturnal
Minimum tank size 20-30 gallons (76-114 liters)
Temperature 72-79°F (22-26°C)
pH 6.0-7.5
Water hardness 4-18 dGH
Care level Easy
Filtration/Water Flow Moderate
Water type Freshwater
Breeding Egg layers
Breeding difficulty Moderate
Compatibility Peaceful community tank

With the above information in mind, you can create a suitable environment for your Bumblebee Catfish to thrive in. Remember to provide hiding spaces, maintain the appropriate water conditions, and offer a varied diet to cater to their omnivorous nature. Keeping these factors in mind will help ensure the well-being of your Bumblebee Catfish and create a successful, peaceful community aquarium.

Origins and Natural Habitat

The Bumblebee Catfish (Microglanis iheringi) is a fascinating fish species that originates from South America. In their natural habitat, they are predominantly found in Columbia and Venezuela. However, they can also be observed in other countries such as Guyana, Ecuador, and northern Brazil.

In the wild, these catfish prefer rivers, streams, and other water bodies with strong currents. This is an essential aspect of their natural environment that should be taken into consideration when setting up your aquarium. By replicating these conditions, you’ll provide a comfortable and familiar space for your Bumblebee Catfish to thrive.

  • Water Currents: Bumblebee Catfish enjoy strong currents in their natural habitat. So, you should consider utilizing a powerhead or a high-flow filter in your tank to mimic this aspect of their living environment.
  • Substrate: In rivers and streams, they are often found swimming near the bottom, searching for food among the sand and fine gravel. Choosing a suitable substrate for your aquarium will help them feel at home and encourage natural foraging behavior.

To sum it up, understanding the origins and natural habitat of the Bumblebee Catfish is crucial for providing the most suitable conditions in your aquarium. Keep in mind their preferences for water currents and substrate type, and you’ll create a comfortable environment that brings out the best in your fish.

Physical Characteristics

In this section, we will discuss the physical characteristics of the Bumblebee Catfish, focusing on size and shape, as well as color and markings.

Size and Shape

Bumblebee Catfish are small, reaching an average length of 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm) when fully grown. They have a stocky, cylindrical body shape that is typical of catfish species. Their mouth is wide and features large, thick lips suitable for feeding on various food sources. The dorsal and pectoral fins are prominent, adding to their distinctive appearance.

Color and Markings

The Bumblebee Catfish has a striking color pattern that gives it its name. Its base color is a dark brown or black, with distinct yellow or cream-colored bands running horizontally across its body. These bands sometimes connect or break apart, resembling the stripes of a bumblebee. The vibrant contrast of the catfish’s markings helps it stand out among other aquarium species.

In addition to its unique coloration, the Bumblebee Catfish also has sensory barbels around its mouth, which assist in locating food in low-light environments. These barbels, along with the species’ unique markings, make the Bumblebee Catfish a fascinating addition to your home aquarium.

Lifespan and Growth Rate

Bumblebee Catfish are known for their striking appearance and lively behavior, making them a popular choice for many aquarists. When it comes to their lifespan and growth rate, there are a few essential things to consider to ensure they thrive in your aquarium.

Bumblebee Catfish typically have a lifespan of around 3-5 years, but with proper care, they can live even longer. One crucial aspect of their care is ensuring they’re fed a balanced diet, which affects their growth rate. To help your Bumblebee Catfish grow at a healthy pace, try offering a mix of live, frozen, and pellet foods. This balanced diet provides essential nutrients and promotes overall health, contributing to their longevity.

Their growth rate usually ranges from moderate to slow, with eventual adult sizes reaching around 3 to 4 inches in length. Keep in mind that adequate tank conditions significantly impact their growth and overall health. To accommodate your Bumblebee Catfish’s needs, make sure the tank size is suited for their adult size (20 gallons minimum) and maintain appropriate water parameters, such as temperature (between 72-79°F), pH (6.0-7.5), and hardness (4-12 dGH).

Regular monitoring of water conditions, maintaining ideal tank parameters, and providing a balanced diet can contribute to the health and longevity of your Bumblebee Catfish. Remember that being patient and diligent in their care will ultimately help your fish thrive and grow at a steady rate. With the right care, you’ll have the pleasure of enjoying your vibrant Bumblebee Catfish’s company for years to come.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Bumblebee Catfish a balanced diet is essential for their overall health and well-being. These catfish are omnivorous, which means they’ll happily eat a variety of foods, including both plant-based and meat-based items.

Start by offering your Bumblebee Catfish high-quality commercial flakes that are specifically formulated for catfish. This will ensure they receive the essential nutrients needed for their growth and development. Additionally, supplement their diet with frozen and freeze-dried foods, such as shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

When feeding your Bumblebee Catfish, it’s crucial to maintain a consistent feeding schedule. Aim to provide small, regular feedings rather than large, infrequent meals. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and potential health issues for your fish. Typically, feeding them once or twice a day is ideal, and try to offer only what they can consume within a couple of minutes.

In addition to commercial food and frozen treats, you can also provide your Bumblebee Catfish with some vegetable options. Offer blanched vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, or zucchini, as a source of essential vitamins and minerals.

Remember to observe your Bumblebee Catfish when they’re eating and remove any uneaten food after a reasonable time. This will help maintain a clean and healthy aquarium environment for your fish to thrive.

In summary, a well-balanced diet consisting of quality commercial flakes, frozen and freeze-dried foods, along with occasional vegetable offerings, will keep your Bumblebee Catfish happy, healthy, and active in your aquarium. Stick to a consistent feeding schedule to avoid overfeeding and maintain a clean, thriving habitat for your fish.

Behavior and Temperament

Bumblebee Catfish are known for their shy and laid-back nature. Being nocturnal creatures, they tend to be most active during the night. During the day, you might find them hiding in rocks and crevices, as they prefer staying out of the spotlight.

It’s important to provide them with plenty of hiding spots within the tank, such as caves, driftwood, or dense plants. This will help them feel secure and comfortable in their environment. Remember that a less stressed fish is healthier and more likely to thrive.

Though these catfish are timid, they can also exhibit some curiosity when it comes to exploring their surroundings. Provide them with ample space to swim and forage the tank floor for food, as they enjoy scavenging and sifting through the substrate.

When it comes to tank mates, Bumblebee Catfish are generally peaceful and can coexist harmoniously with similarly-sized, non-aggressive fish. However, keep in mind their nocturnal habits, and avoid housing them with overly active or boisterous tank mates that could disrupt their rest during the day.

Lastly, patience is key in observing and appreciating the unique behavior of Bumblebee Catfish. Their reclusive lifestyle might make them less noticeable at first, but with time, you’ll be able to enjoy and admire their fascinating and peculiar habits in the comfort of your own aquarium.

Care and Tank Requirements

Tank Size

To create a comfortable home for your Bumblebee Catfish, you should start with a tank size of at least 20 gallons. If you’re planning on keeping more than one, make sure to provide an additional 5 to 10 gallons per extra fish. This will give them enough space to swim and create hiding spots.

Water Parameters (Temperature and pH)

Bumblebee Catfish require stable water parameters to thrive. Maintain the following water conditions:

  • Temperature: Keep the tank temperature between 72°F to 79°F (22°C to 26°C) using a heater and thermometer.
  • pH: Aim for a pH range of 6.0 to 8.0 for the best possible environment for your Bumblebee Catfish.

Tank Setup and Decorations

When setting up your Bumblebee Catfish tank, aim for a natural look, as this will mimic their natural habitat. Here are some useful tips for tank setup:

  • Substrate: Use fine sand or small gravel for the bottom layer.
  • Hiding Spots: Bumblebee Catfish are nocturnal and need safe hiding spots. Add caves, driftwood, and rock formations.
  • Plants: Provide plants, such as Anubias or Java Fern for them to hide and explore. Avoid overcrowding the aquarium with too many plants.
  • Lighting: Low to moderate lighting is ideal for these catfish, as they are shy and prefer dimly lit areas.

Filtration and Aeration

Bumblebee Catfish need clean water and sufficient oxygen to thrive. Implement a powerful and efficient filtration system for optimal water quality. Choose a filter that processes the water at least three times per hour. Additionally, make sure to have an air pump and air stone to maintain proper aeration in the tank. Remember to perform regular water changes to keep ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in check.

Suitable Tank Mates

Bumblebee Catfish are generally peaceful and can make great tank mates with other friendly community fish. However, it’s important to keep in mind their small size and nocturnal nature when selecting companions for your Bumblebee Catfish. Here are a few suitable tank mates to consider:

  • Tetras: These small, schooling fish are great with Bumblebee Catfish. They are peaceful, active, and won’t mind sharing the tank with a more hidden species during the day.
  • Corydoras Catfish: Another bottom-dwelling species, Corydoras are known for their peaceful nature and won’t cause problems with your Bumblebee Catfish. They are social and prefer to be in groups, so make sure there’s enough room in the tank for both species.
  • Dwarf Cichlids: Small, colorful, and relatively peaceful, Dwarf Cichlids can make a good match for Bumblebee Catfish. Just ensure that they don’t become territorial, as this could cause unnecessary conflict in your aquarium.

Remember to avoid large or aggressive fish that might see the Bumblebee Catfish as prey or a competitor. Some fish to avoid include larger Cichlids, Arowanas, and species known for fin nipping like Barbs and some Danios. The best way to ensure your Bumblebee Catfish is comfortable in their environment is to closely monitor their behavior and the behavior of their tank mates, adjusting accordingly if any issues arise.

Breeding Process

Breeding Bumblebee Catfish can be a rewarding experience for you as an aquarist. Although not always easy, with the right conditions and environment, your Bumblebee Catfish can successfully spawn.

Step 1: Tank setup
Before attempting to breed your Bumblebee Catfish, prepare a separate breeding tank with a capacity of at least 20 gallons. The water temperature should be between 70°F and 77°F, and the pH should range from 6.5 to 7.5. Ensure you have soft water with a general hardness between 8-12 dGH.

Step 2: Provide hiding spots
Create numerous hiding spots for your Bumblebee Catfish to spawn. Adding caves or PVC pipes can be ideal for them to feel comfortable and secure during the breeding process.

Step 3: Determine the gender
To improve your success rate, you need to identify the genders of your fish. The females are generally larger and have a rounder belly compared to the males. Select a healthy pair of Bumblebee Catfish for breeding.

Step 4: Condition the fish
Feed your Bumblebee Catfish high-quality food such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia to prepare them for the breeding process. This will ensure they are in prime condition and ready to spawn.

Step 5: Introduce the pair
Once your tank is set up and the chosen fish are well conditioned, gently introduce the male and female Bumblebee Catfish into the breeding tank. Monitor their behavior as they get accustomed to their new environment.

Step 6: Observe the spawning process
The female will lay eggs in a chosen hiding spot, and the male will fertilize them. The eggs will hatch in approximately 7-10 days, depending on water conditions.

Step 7: Separation and raising of fry
When the fry are free-swimming, it’s time to separate them from the parents to avoid predation. Transfer the fry to a separate tank and provide them with ample nutrition such as baby brine shrimp and micro pellets.

As the fry grow, maintain the water quality and temperature to encourage healthy development. Gradually introduce them to larger foods, ensuring they are well-fed. With proper care, your Bumblebee Catfish fry will eventually grow into thriving adults, ready for you to enjoy in your main aquarium.

Common Diseases and Treatments

Bumblebee catfish are relatively hardy fish, but like any other species, they can be susceptible to diseases. To keep your fish happy and healthy, it’s essential to be aware of the common ailments and their treatments.

Ich: Ich, also known as white spot disease, is a frequent issue in aquarium fish. It’s caused by a parasite that appears as small white spots on the fish’s body and fins. If you notice these symptoms in your bumblebee catfish, increase the water temperature to around 86°F (30°C) for a few days and treat the tank with a commercial ich medication.

Fin Rot: This bacterial infection is characterized by frayed or decaying fins. To treat fin rot, improve the water conditions of your aquarium by maintaining a stable temperature, proper pH levels, and performing regular water changes. Additionally, use a fin rot treatment or broad-spectrum antibiotic for effective results.

Fungal Infections: Fungal infections manifest as cotton-like growths on your fish’s body, often in response to poor water quality or previous injuries. Improve the water conditions and apply antifungal medications to tackle these infections, ensuring a healthy environment for your bumblebee catfish.

To prevent common diseases in your aquarium:

  • Maintain excellent water quality by conducting regular water changes, monitoring parameters, and using adequate filtration.
  • Avoid overfeeding, as excess food can lead to poor water quality and stress for your fish.
  • Quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank to minimize the risk of introducing diseases.

By staying vigilant and following these guidelines, you can keep your bumblebee catfish healthy and thriving in their aquatic home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size tank is suitable for a bumblebee catfish?

A suitable tank size for a bumblebee catfish is at least 20 gallons. This allows enough space for them to swim and explore as well as have hiding spots. Larger tanks are always better as it helps in maintaining water quality, and reducing stress on the catfish.

What should you feed a bumblebee catfish?

Feeding your bumblebee catfish a varied diet is recommended. They primarily eat sinking pellets, frozen or live foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and tubifex worms. Make sure to provide a mix of these foods to ensure they are getting the proper nutrition.

What water temperature should be maintained for bumblebee catfish?

Maintain a water temperature between 72°F and 79°F (22°C – 26°C) for your bumblebee catfish. This will ensure a comfortable environment for them and help keep them healthy.

How fast do bumblebee catfish grow?

Bumblebee catfish grow at a moderate rate, reaching about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in length when fully grown. It may take around 1-2 years for them to attain their maximum size, depending on factors such as diet and water conditions.

Are bumblebee catfish compatible with other fish?

Yes, bumblebee catfish are generally compatible with other peaceful, similarly-sized fish. They are a non-aggressive bottom dwelling species, which makes them suitable tank mates for a community aquarium. However, avoid keeping them with fish that are too small, as they might become prey to the catfish.


In the end, caring for your Bumblebee Catfish can be a rewarding experience as long as you maintain a suitable tank environment and provide a balanced diet. Remember to monitor water quality and be mindful of tank mates to ensure a long, healthy life for these fascinating and reclusive fish.

By consistently following the care guidelines mentioned throughout the article, you’ll be well-equipped to make your Bumblebee Catfish thrive. With your attentive care, your little underwater friends will bring joy and wonder to your aquarium.