HomeAquarium FishBumblebee Catfish - Care, Size, Diet, And More!

Bumblebee Catfish – Care, Size, Diet, And More!

The Bumblebee Catfish is a delightful and distinct freshwater tropical fish that appears to be increasing in popularity.

Due to its appearance, nature, and qualities, the bumblebee catfish has evolved to become rather amusing & enjoyable to overlook this critter. Due to this reason, more & more aquarists have developed an interest in this catfish.

Bumblebee Catfish is a hardy species which makes it easy to take care of for its owners as it is low-maintenance. All around, it is a great fish to have in your fish tank.

This comprehensive guide will discuss everything you need to know to consider for the Bumblebee Catfish Care, like how big they can get, their diet, ideal compatible tank mates, and much more.


The Bumblebee Catfish, also known as Microglanis iheringi, arises from South America. Therefore, it is also called the South American Bumblebee Catfish.

It is predominantly discovered in Venezuela and Columbia. And, with time, it has hovered from here to other countries like northern Brazil, Guyana, and Ecuador.

This catfish has become a widespread appearance in the most popular freshwater fish aquarium culture. It was first discovered in the early 1900s.

The Microglanis iheringi from South America is seen in powerful current streams & rivers in their natural environment with a rocky substrate where they can hide in creeks, crevices, and gaps.

When transferred into your home tank, they will also behave in the same demeanor in captivity if you imitate their natural habitat.

These bumblebee catfish can be misidentified with Asian bumblebee catfish.



The Bumblebee Catfish has approximately an average natural life of 4-5 years. 

With great care and maintenance throughout their lives, it has been rarely seen if these species have exceeded their lifespan of 5 years.

The choices you make in the early years of these catfishes will determine the impact of their existence, even though they are hardy fish in nature. 

We recommend you take appropriate care and properly monitor the bumblebee catfish’s water conditions to make their lives long-lasting.



The South American bumblebee catfish has an interesting coloration that we love! The body of this fish is yellow and black, with thick asymmetrical sections covered in more vibrant hues than other parts throughout its length.

Head shapes vary based on where they fall within these patterns and are nearly invariably black, with colors revolving down the rest of their bodies.

It has a pointy or spiny dorsal fin at the rear, which does not take up much space on its back. And you can also view the black band, which will maneuver down the center of this fin from front to back.

The Bumblebee catfish’s caudal fin has a narrowly pronged end and an equivalent uneven thickness band. The space is generally black at the bottom of the caudal fin.

The bumblebee catfish have fairly large splayed ventral fins that help them easily navigate the substrate or the tank floor. As a bottom-feeder, this is an incredibly important feature.

The bumblebee catfish has an incredible ability to navigate through very soft bottoms with its splayed ventral fins.

The perfect shape helps it easily penetrate the soft substrate, making them experts at finding live foods on ground surfaces where other types would get stuck.

Bumblebee catfish have a conventional catfish build with long, cylindrical bodies that taper down just before its caudal fin.

The freshwater catfish with a long flat head and protruding barbels is often seen as one of the more active types. Their barbels look like their whiskers, which are long and reach back to their pectoral fins.

These South American bumblebee catfish have a wide mouth as it helps them hunt down live foods or smaller fish more efficiently than other types.


Bumblebee Catfish Size

The bumblebee catfish is a small fish that can go up to 3 inches in length. They can also vary in size based on where they were raised and how much care was given to them as an infant. 

It’s very uncommon for these types of creatures to grow longer in length than this, even those living within your home with easy access to food sources such as feeder insects or other smaller prey items.

Bumblebee Catfish Care

Bumblebee catfish are one of the most popular types in captivity, with their care being easy and manageable. They don’t require too much water or an expensive tank setup – they can even thrive on a small bowl!

These traits make them perfect for beginners who might not have access to proper facilities but still want something cool-looking swimming around their aquarium.

You won’t need any special equipment either because these guys stick close by whatever decoration is already there.

We all know that not every freshwater fish is the same, but when caring for bumblebee catfish, it’s important to always give your pet a happy and healthy life rather than just trying “good enough.”

Tank Size

Tank Size

A bumblebee catfish is a small fish that likes to be hidden away most of the time. 

This means you should only need a minimum tank size of 20 gallons of water for your pet and not more than that because these types prefer to stay hidden out most times when they are not eating!

But, if you want to hold more than one adult bumblebee catfish in your tank, you will need much more room than 20 gallons as they like to have appropriate space to endure peacefully.

When adding additional South American bumblebee catfish to your tank, the general guideline is to add 10 gallons per fish to your tank size.

Water Parameters


Bumblebee catfish are hardy or robust species that can flourish in diverse water conditions, but there is always a perfect range that best fits them. We also advise you to always get to know the ideal conditions or environment in which a particular species will be comfortable. 

  • Water hardness: Between 8-12 dGH of water hardness is advised
  • Water temperature: the water temperature range should be between 70°F and 77°F(21°C to 25°C)
  • pH levels: a pH range of 6.5-7.5 is recommended, but some proficient aquarists have made it operate at 7.8 pH as well. 

To run things effortlessly, we advise you to perform regular water checks once in a while to maintain a suitable atmosphere for your bumblebee catfish.

And this would also help you detect any undesirable transformations in your tank before it evolves into an issue. 

Also Read: Dwarf Aquarium Lily Care – How To Plant, Propagate, & Grow!

What To Add With Bumblebee Catfish In The Tank?


Bumblebee Catfish live hidden most of the time and possess plenty of rocks & hiding spots in their natural habitat, which must be your major priority to imitate the same for them in your home aquarium. 

The primary items to incorporate into your aquarium are driftwood and rocks, as these will serve bumblebee catfish as their primary residence to settle down when they’re comfortable.

Discovering small nooks and crevices to hide is instilled in this species and is natural for them. 

You can add accessories like caves or plants to your tank if you have the space. Adding Java Ferns & Anubias plants can be an excellent option for the bumblebee catfish. 

Not adding numerous hiding spots can stress this species, severely affecting their health and shortening their lives. 

Common Diseases


One of the amazing specialties of bumblebee catfish is how enduring, hardy, and long-lasting they are. Unlike other freshwater species, they aren’t inclined to a precise illness or disease.

But, like most other fish, they can also get unhealthy by getting some form of infection.

The best thing is that these infections can easily be prevented if you furnish bumblebee catfish with adequate supervision and care. Ensure that the tank’s water flow quality and overall health are suitable for them, which will result in no infections.

Food Or Diet For Bumblebee Catfish

Diet Bumblebee Catfish

The South American Bumblebee Catfish consume most from the substrate, scavenging for anything they can get as they are omnivores.

They are not too picky with their food choices as anything from larvae, insects, and plant matter is good enough for them.

You must provide them with a well-balanced diet from distinct sources in captivity.

Provide your bumblebee catfish with a proportional diet that includes pellets or flakes, live meaty foods like brine shrimp, and luminous crunches. It’s also wise to include frozen foods once in a while!

Give your bumblebee catfish the best by providing them with a diverse diet that includes plenty of protein.

You can get this from foods like larvae, bloodworms, or earthworms, as well as daphnia, which will also provide some enrichment!

Be mindful not to feed freeze-dried foods and other feeds like plant matter too much, though, because overdoing it could lead to an imbalance in their eating habits and cause more harm than good.

Sinking pellets and algae wafers operate excellently in a community aquarium because they are more likely to reach your catfish.



The bumblebee catfish is a shy and laid-back fish. This means that they are nocturnal fish in nature and will typically be tucked away in one of their favorite hiding places during the day until it gets dark or time for eating!

Aquarists do not like this attribute of bumblebee catfish as they want an active or boisterous fish.

But, this is nothing to be concerned about because if you develop your aquarium according to this behavior, then you can often see them without disturbing them.

This can be achieved if you structure your driftwood and rocks in such a way that it is visible from the inside. This design will boost your chances of seeing them.

Tank Mates


The South American Bumblebee Catfish are one of the most popular and easy-to-care-for fish in any tank.

This is because they’re very hardy, which means you won’t have any issues with your other bumblebee catfish tank members as they are easy to get along with. 

Bumblebee catfish can be great tank-mates for many different types of aquariums.

They’re not as picky about their environment and will generally get along with most other fish, although some may seem more aggressive than others (especially old males). Some good bumblebee catfish tank mates that they might enjoy are: 

  • Dwarf gourami 
  • Various barbs 
  • Kuhli loaches 
  • Rainbow sharks 
  • Platies 
  • Cory Catfish
  • Bristlenose plecos

This is just the beginning of what can be an extensive list when it comes to good bumblebee catfish tank mates. They’re fine as long as they aren’t significantly aggressive or smaller than your bumblebee catfish microglanis iheringi (like neon tetras). 



There are no known examples of successfully breeding bumblebee catfish in a house fish tank unless you have dedicated fish farms at your disposal. Therefore, we do not suggest you try this for your home aquarium.

You might think there are no downsides to a failed breeding attempt, but that’s not true.

The time you spend trying will likely go wasted if this is something outside your expertise level – which we can easily see why it would be difficult for someone who isn’t familiar with fishkeeping techniques.

The only drawback to a failed breeding attempt is that you will have wasted your time and money on something unnecessary.

Dedicated Fish farms do an excellent job of Breeding these particular types, so there isn’t much reason for individuals who want them from their efforts, given how low success rates can be when trying this alone.


Bumblebee catfish is a notable species that are fun to have, and all aquarists must consider having them in their freshwater tank. They are effortless to care for & fun to manage because of their hardy nature and shy character.

It’s a great feeling when you know that your fish is safe and secure in its tank. Looking for them makes it more exciting when they’re hiding somewhere. 

It is exciting for many aquarists to watch these fish from South America, doing something out of their nature once in a while. It is these special moments that encourage them to be an aquarist. 

And that is the unrealized magnificence of owning these bumblebee catfishes.

Waiting for them to come out of their hidden places to look for food on the substrate can be an amazing event that the aquarists look forward to watching!

We know it can be a little scary to purchase aquarium fish without knowing much about them, but we hope this guide helps you! 

If your concerns are still hanging after reading this guide, please send over some questions or comments in the comments section below. 

We are always happy to answer any queries that might come up when looking at exotic creatures from other regions of the world – remember, they require special care, so make sure everything’s set up right before introducing one into your home tank.

Fishkeeping Expert
Fishkeeping Expert
With years of collective fishkeeping knowledge, we are pleased to share the tank maintenance tips and fish care advice we've picked up along the way. Fishkeeping Expert is home to all fishkeeping tutorials and guides that will help you keep your fish healthy.


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