Glass Catfish Care Guide: Simple Tips for Happy Fish

Glass Catfish, also known as Ghost Catfish or Phantom Catfish, are truly one-of-a-kind freshwater fish with their transparent bodies that captivate aquarists and fish enthusiasts alike. If you’re interested in adding these unique creatures to your aquarium, you’re in for a fascinating experience.

Caring for Glass Catfish may seem daunting at first, but rest assured, they’re relatively easy to maintain with proper guidance. In this care guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about providing an ideal environment for these enchanting fish, from their dietary needs to optimal tank conditions.

Your dedication to providing the best care for your Glass Catfish will be rewarded with a visually stunning addition to your aquarium and a chance to observe the fascinating behavior of these delightful, transparent fish. So gear up and start preparing a comfortable home for your new aquatic pets!

Species Overview

The Glass Catfish is an exceptional freshwater species known for its transparent body, which makes it a popular choice for many aquarium enthusiasts. This fish is native to Southeast Asia and can be found in countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. In this section, we will provide an overview of the Glass Catfish and discuss its various properties.

Below is a table containing essential information about the Glass Catfish:

Property Glass Catfish
Scientific name Kryptopterus vitreolus
Common names Glass Catfish
Distribution Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
Size 4 to 6 inches
Lifespan 7-8 years
Diet Carnivorous
Temperament Peaceful, schooling
Minimum tank size 30 gallons for a group of 6
Temperature 75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C)
pH 6.5 to 7.0
Water hardness 5-15 dGH
Care level Moderate
Filtration/Water Flow Moderate water flow
Water type Freshwater
Breeding Egg scatterer
Breeding difficulty Difficult
Compatibility Compatible with other peaceful fish

The Glass Catfish truly is an outstanding addition to your aquarium. Its transparent body and peaceful nature make for a delightful display that will leave you and your fellow fish enthusiasts in awe. Make sure to meet their specific care requirements, such as providing a proper tank size, water conditions, and a compatible environment to ensure they thrive and remain a captivating sight in your aquarium.

Origins and Natural Habitat

Glass Catfish, also known by their scientific name, Kryptopterus vitreolus, are native to South East Asia. They prefer living in vegetated tanks, which closely resemble their natural habitat. This peaceful setup creates a calm environment in harmony with their gentle nature.

In the wild, you can typically find them in slow-moving or still waters, such as rivers, streams, or lakes, surrounded by dense vegetation. These areas provide shelter, food sources, and protection from predators.

To recreate this natural environment in your aquarium, populate it with a variety of live plants, such as Java Fern, Anubias, and Vallisneria. Adding driftwood and rocks can also help create hiding spots and a more comfortable habitat for these lovely creatures.

Remember to maintain water quality, as well as a stable water temperature between 72°F and 80°F, which is vital for their well-being.

In summary, to keep your Glass Catfish happy and healthy, it’s essential to mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible in your aquarium. Provide them with a vegetated, peaceful environment, ample hiding spots, and stable water conditions to ensure their thriving in your care.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Shape

Glass catfish, scientifically known as Kryptopterus vitreolus, have a unique and fascinating appearance that sets them apart from other freshwater fish. Their body is slender and elongated, averaging around 2-4 inches in length. With two long barbels extending from their mouth, these whisker-like appendages help them navigate and locate food in their environment.

Color and Markings

One of the most striking features of the glass catfish is its transparent body. This unique characteristic allows you to clearly see their bones and internal organs. However, they do have a silver or white stripe that runs along their lateral line, starting at their gills and extending to their tail. This marking adds a visually appealing aspect to their appearance without compromising their main attraction – the transparent body.

Remember to provide an optimal environment for your glass catfish. Keep them in a group of at least five, as they are social fish and may not thrive when kept alone. House them in a tank with a minimum capacity of 30 gallons, and add 5 more gallons for each additional fish. This will ensure they have enough space to swim and explore, allowing you to enjoy their unique beauty and fascinating behavior in your aquarium.

Lifespan and Growth Rate

Glass catfish are fascinating fish, known for their transparent bodies and peaceful nature. These little critters can be an excellent addition to your aquarium, and with the right care, they can live a long and healthy life.

In general, a well-cared-for glass catfish can live up to 8 years. During this time, you’ll have the pleasure of observing their unique appearance and schooling behavior. Remember, to ensure their health and longevity, it’s essential to provide them with the appropriate living conditions and diet.

To encourage proper growth and a healthy lifespan, maintain a stable water temperature between 72-82°F (22-28°C) in the tank. Glass catfish do best at a steady temperature of 75°F, but they can tolerate a slightly warmer range up to 80°F. Keep the water pH between 6.0 and 7.5, as these fish prefer slightly acidic to neutral conditions.

A well-established filtration system is crucial to keep the water clean and prevent the build-up of harmful substances. Moderate water movement will also help to mimic their natural habitat and keep your glass catfish comfortable.

Another key factor in supporting their growth and overall health is a suitable diet. Glass catfish are omnivores, which means they eat both plant-based foods and small invertebrates. Offer them a balanced diet that includes high-quality flake food, freeze-dried or frozen daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. A good diet will not only promote growth but also maintain their transparent appearance.

In summary, to ensure the health, growth, and long lifespan of your glass catfish, pay close attention to their water conditions, filtration, and diet. By providing them with a suitable environment and proper care, you’ll have a beautiful and unique addition to your aquarium for years to come.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your glass catfish a proper diet is vital for their health and well-being. These fish are omnivorous feeders, meaning they eat both plant-based foods and small invertebrates. To ensure they get the essential nutrients, try to provide a balanced diet of high-quality foods for your glass catfish.

In the wild, glass catfish consume small insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. To keep up with their natural feeding habits in your aquarium, offer them a combination of high-quality flake food, micro-pellets, and frozen or live foods like daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp. These foods can provide the necessary nutrition and mimic their natural diet.

Feeding times and frequency are also essential factors to consider when caring for your glass catfish. It’s recommended that you feed them once or twice a day, offering only as much food as they can consume in a few minutes. Avoid overfeeding your glass catfish, as it can not only pollute the water quality but also lead to health issues for your fish.

Observe your glass catfish during feeding times to ensure they are eating well. If you notice any change in their appetite or behavior, it could be a sign of stress or illness requiring attention. Keeping an eye on their eating habits helps maintain their health and ensures a comfortable environment in your aquarium.

Remember, maintaining a well-balanced diet for your glass catfish can go a long way in keeping them healthy and thriving within your aquarium. By providing a varied and nutritious diet, you’re setting them up for success and ensuring they live a long and happy life in your care.

Behavior and Temperament

Glass Catfish are fascinating freshwater fish that exhibit a friendly and peaceful nature. They are perfect for your aquarium if you want a harmonious environment. These catfish tend to school together, making a spectacular display as their transparent bodies swim in unison.

As you observe your Glass Catfish, you’ll notice that, unlike most catfish species that primarily stay on the bottom of the tank, Glass Catfish enjoy swimming around at different levels. This captivating behavior adds a dynamic and engaging element to your aquarium.

To ensure your Glass Catfish are comfortable and content in their new home, provide them with plenty of hiding spots and vegetation. This allows them to explore and establish their territory while feeling secure at the same time.

Another important aspect of their behavior is their preference for swimming in groups. It is highly recommended to keep at least five Glass Catfish together in your tank. A sense of security and companionship will be provided through schooling, leading to a happier and healthier fish.

In conclusion, understanding and catering to the behavior and temperament of Glass Catfish is crucial for their well-being and a harmonious aquarium. By giving them an optimal environment and the opportunity to swim in groups, you will be able to appreciate the full beauty and allure of these unique freshwater fish.

Care and Tank Requirements

Caring for Glass Catfish requires attention to specific tank requirements and conditions. In this section, we will discuss the tank size, water parameters, tank setup and decorations, and filtration and aeration needed for the well-being of these unique fish.

Tank Size

The recommended tank size for a small group of five Glass Catfish is at least 30 gallons. For each additional catfish added to the school, you should increase the tank capacity by 5 gallons to prevent overcrowding and ensure a comfortable habitat for your fish.

Water Parameters (Temperature and pH)

Create a healthy environment for Glass Catfish by maintaining the following water parameters:

  • Temperature: Keep the water temperature between 72-80°F (22-27°C) for optimal health.
  • pH: Maintain a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5, which is suitable for Glass Catfish.

It’s important to regularly test the water parameters and adjust as needed to keep your fish healthy.

Tank Setup and Decorations

To provide a stimulating and natural environment for your Glass Catfish, consider including the following elements in your tank setup:

  • Substrate: Opt for a soft, sandy substrate that won’t scratch the delicate skin of your catfish.
  • Plants: Add live plants like Java Fern, Anubias, and Vallisneria, creating hiding spaces and improving water quality.
  • Hiding spots: Include driftwood, rocks, and caves for additional hiding spaces and security for your fish.
  • Swimming space: Ensure at least half of the tank remains open for swimming, as Glass Catfish are active fish that enjoy swimming together in schools.

Filtration and Aeration

A well-functioning filtration system is crucial to maintain water quality and remove harmful substances from your aquarium. Choose a filter with a flow rate suitable for the size of your tank, and clean it regularly to ensure efficient operation.

Aeration is also essential for the health of your Glass Catfish. Use an air pump and air stone to provide sufficient oxygen levels in the tank, promoting the well-being of your fish and maximizing their comfort.

Suitable Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for your Glass Catfish, it’s essential to consider their peaceful and social nature. They prefer companions with similar temperament and water requirements. Here is an unordered list of some suitable tank mates that can coexist in harmony with Glass Catfish:

  • Neon Tetras: These small, colorful fish enjoy swimming at different water levels and share a peaceful nature with Glass Catfish. Plus, they both thrive in similar water conditions.

  • Cardinal Tetras: Another excellent option, they share similarities with Neon Tetras but have slightly more vibrant colors. Like Neons, they also prefer to be in a group of at least six.

  • Mollies: Known for their unique appearance and compatibility with a variety of setups, Mollies are a solid choice as tank mates for Glass Catfish.

Remember that Glass Catfish are shoaling fish, so keeping them in a group of at least five is crucial for their well-being. Also, avoid housing them with larger or aggressive fish, as they might become stressed or become food for their tank mates. By keeping their peaceful nature and water requirements in mind, you’ll create a comfortable aquatic environment for your Glass Catfish and their friends!

Breeding Process

Breeding Glass Catfish can be a bit challenging, but with some patience and attention to their requirements, you can have success. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you along the way.

Step 1: Prepare a separate breeding tank
To start, you’ll need a separate breeding tank of around 10-20 gallons. Fill the tank with aged, clean water, and maintain a temperature of 75-80°F. It’s important to mimic their natural habitat by adding some plants and hiding places.

Step 2: Choose healthy breeding pair
Next, select a healthy breeding pair of Glass Catfish from your main aquarium. You may have difficulty distinguishing males from females, but generally, males are slimmer and slightly smaller than females. Place them in the breeding tank and observe their interactions.

Step 3: Provide a proper diet
Feeding your breeding pair a well-balanced diet is essential. Offer them a mix of high-quality flakes, pellets, and live foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms. This will encourage them to spawn and increase the chances of healthy eggs.

Step 4: Monitor water parameters
Keep a close eye on the water parameters in the breeding tank. Stable water conditions are crucial for successful breeding. Ensure the pH level remains between 6.0-7.0, and the water hardness is between 5-12 dGH.

Step 5: Watch for signs of spawning
Once the breeding pair is well-established in the tank, observe them for signs of spawning. These include increased activity, chasing behavior, and the female becoming noticeably plumper. If you see these signs, they are ready to spawn.

Step 6: Spawning and egg care
Glass Catfish usually lay their eggs on the underside of plant leaves or on the tank’s surface. Provide plenty of plants and leafy surfaces in the breeding tank to accommodate this. After spawning, remove the adults from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs.

Step 7: Egg hatching and fry care
The eggs should hatch within 3-5 days. Once the fry have hatched, feed them infusoria or liquid fry food for the first week or so. As they grow, gradually introduce crushed flakes and micro-pellets.

Remember, a friendly and patient approach will make the breeding process more enjoyable and successful. Good luck with your Glass Catfish breeding journey!

Common Diseases and Treatments

Glass catfish are relatively hardy but just like any other fish, they can also suffer from various diseases. Being knowledgeable about common diseases and their treatments can help you maintain a healthy environment for your glass catfish. In this section, we will discuss some of the common diseases affecting glass catfish and how you can treat them effectively.

Ich (White Spot Disease): Ich is a parasite that appears as small white spots on your fish’s body. It is one of the most common diseases in fish, but it can be treated easily. If you notice your glass catfish has white spots, increase the temperature of your tank to 82-86°F (28-30°C) over a couple of days. In addition, add a medication specifically designed to treat Ich. Be sure to follow the medication instructions carefully for the best results.

Fin Rot: Fin rot is a bacterial infection that causes the fins to fray and disintegrate. To treat fin rot, start by cleaning your tank and improving the water quality. You can also add antibiotics like tetracycline, kanamycin, or erythromycin, which are commonly used to treat fin rot. Make sure to closely monitor the condition of your glass catfish and provide appropriate care.

Fungal Infections: Fungal infections in glass catfish can cause fuzzy patches on their skin. The best way to prevent and treat fungal infections is to maintain good water quality and cleanliness in your tank. If an infection does occur, you can use an antifungal medication specifically designed for aquarium fish. Follow the directions as recommended by the manufacturer.

Stress and Poor Water Conditions: Glass catfish can become stressed due to poor water conditions, sudden changes in temperature, and unsuitable tank mates. Stress can lead to a weakened immune system and make your fish more susceptible to diseases. To prevent stress, keep your tank water clean, maintain stable temperatures, and choose appropriate tank mates for your glass catfish.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By maintaining a clean, properly set up tank, you can minimize the risk of diseases affecting your glass catfish. Regularly monitor your fish’s health and act promptly if you notice any signs of disease. With proper care and attention, you can help your glass catfish thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal water temperature for Glass Catfish?

Glass Catfish thrive in water with a steady temperature of 75°F. However, they can tolerate a slightly wider temperature range, between 75°F and 80°F.

What is the ideal tank size for Glass Catfish?

A minimum tank size of 10 gallons is recommended for Glass Catfish, but larger tanks are always better. They are social creatures and do best in a community tank with other peaceful fish species.

What is the lifespan of a Glass Catfish?

Glass Catfish have a relatively short lifespan, typically living from 4 to 6 years in a well-maintained aquarium. Providing proper care, including suitable water parameters and a stress-free environment, will help ensure a healthy life for your Glass Catfish.

How should I maintain proper water parameters?

To maintain proper water parameters for Glass Catfish, keep the pH levels between 6.5 and 7.0. Monitor the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels regularly and perform water changes as needed to keep these values within safe ranges.

Do Glass Catfish get along with other fish species?

Yes, Glass Catfish are peaceful fish that get along well with most other peaceful community fish. Stronger and more aggressive species should be avoided, as they may stress the Glass Catfish, affecting their health and well-being.

How often and what should I feed them?

Feed your Glass Catfish small, high-quality, and nutritionally balanced foods, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Glass Catfish prefer live or frozen foods. Feed them once or twice daily, ensuring they consume the food within a couple of minutes to avoid overfeeding and maintain water quality.


Glass Catfish, scientific name Kryptopterus vitreolus, are unique freshwater fish native to Thailand, known for their transparent bodies. They make a great addition to any aquarium, as they are peaceful and easy to care for.

To ensure their well-being, keep them in a group of at least 5 in a tank of 30 gallons or more, adding 5 more gallons for each additional fish. Remember, creating a comfortable environment and staying diligent about their care requirements will keep your Glass Catfish happy and thriving in your beautiful aquarium.