Bumblebee Catfish (Microglanis iheringi): Care Guide

Common Name(s)Bumblebee Catfish
Scientific NameMicroglanis iheringi
OriginSouth America
Temperature70-77°F (21-25°C)
Size2 inches
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons
Food & DietOmnivorous diet
Lifespan4-5 years
Water pH6.5-7.5
Tank MatesRainbow Shark, Corydoras, and Dwarf Gourami
BreedingEggs are laid in between rocks and crevices.
DiseaseMay be suseptible to Ich.
Bumblebee Catfish
Bumblebee Catfish. CHUCAO, CC BY-SA 4.0

Bumblebee Catfish (Microglanis iheringi) is a freshwater fish species that are native to the waters of South America, specifically Columbia and Venezuela. They get their name from their yellow and black stripes, similar to that of a bumblebee.

Their hardy nature makes them easy to care for, along with their exciting colors and small size, which have made them a popular choice in the aquarium hobby. Unlike other species of catfish, such as redtail catfish, bumblebee catfish don’t grow nearly as large, usually maxing out at only 3 inches. They are nocturnal, meaning you may not see them very often during the day.

There are two types of Bumblebee Catfish. There is the South American Bumblebee Catfish (Microglanis iheringi) and the Asian Bumblebee Catfish (Pseudomystus siamensis). This care guide will focus on South American Bumblebee Catfish (Microglanis iheringi).

How Take Care of Bumblebee Catfish (Microglanis iheringi)

Bumblebee catfish are perfect fish for fishkeepers of any skill level. They’re a great entry-level fish for those who want something a bit more exotic for this first foray into owning fish and an aquarium. They’re easy to care for; their temperature and tank requirements are easy to manage. The hardy nature of the bumblebee catfish also means they can adapt to a vast range of tank conditions. Despite that, bumblebee Catfish shouldn’t be neglected; maintaining their tank is imperative to help them live a long and happy life. Doing so will also ensure that you get the most out of them in your tank.

Temperature for Bumblebee Catfish

Despite the hardy, easy-to-care for nature of the bumblebee catfish, they still have preferred tank conditions. If those conditions are met, it will help ensure them a long and healthy life. One of those conditions that need to be met is temperature. The preferred temperature of bumblebee catfish is between 70-77°F (21-25°C). An aquarium heater is likely required to make sure you maintain the temperature of your tank in that range. Keeping your tank in that range means that you can also house other tropical freshwater fish, as long as they also prefer the same temperatures and pH level.

Water pH for Bumblebee Catfish

The recommended pH level of any tank including a bumblebee catfish is between 6.5 -7.5. Ensure that any additional fish included in such a tank also prefer a pH level in that range. It is imperative to check the water every few days, and this is so you can catch any shifts in pH before they become a significant problem. A shifting pH level can cause illness and infection in any of the fish in your tank. Even though bumblebee catfish are considered a very hardy species, they are still susceptible to diseases caused by changes in their tank or environment.

Bumblebee Catfish Size

Most catfish can grow to be pretty large sizes, such as the redtail catfish who can reach up to 5 feet in length. Despite that, redtail catfish are sometimes sold by pet stores and aquarium stores because they start out small and grow rapidly. Bumblebee catfish are the other side of that spectrum. Bumblebee catfish can grow to the max size of just around 2 inches. That small size makes them the perfect catfish have in a tank, should you want a catfish. They’re small bottom feeders, which means they shouldn’t threaten most other fish in your tank.

Bumblebee Catfish Tank Size

Bumblebee Catfish require a lot of space despite their smaller size. This space requirement is because they like to hide in or behind things. Bumblebee catfish require around 20 gallons, with an additional 10 gallons per bumblebee catfish. The tank size also needs to be scaled up based on the amount of other fish you have contained within. You need to make sure to pack the bottom of your tank with driftwood, rocks, and plants; this is to ensure that your bumblebee catfish have something to hide behind or in and help them calm down and chill out. `

Bumblebee Catfish Food & Diet

Bumblebee catfish are omnivores and bottom feeders. That means they’ll swim around the bottom of your tank looking for anything to snack on. They’re not picky in the slightest; they may even munch on some of the plants in your tank. When kept in captivity, bumblebee catfish need to be fed a well-balanced diet from several different sources. Pellets and flakes that float down are usually a great place to start. Earthworms, larvae, and bloodworms are great options when it comes to protein to feed your bumblebee catfish. They also can help provide enrichment and keep them happy. But they shouldn’t be fed to them that often, as to avoid overfeeding.

Bumblebee Catfish Lifespan

The lifespan of any fish, b, they still need to be well cared for, keeping their tank in their preferred conditions and making sure they have a balanced diet. If all necessary conditions are met, bumblebee catfish live around 4-5 years on average. They can live longer than five years, but that requires you to make sure they are perfectly cared for.

Bumblebee Catfish Tank Setup

Bumblebee catfish are a hardy, relaxed fish species, which means you don’t have to overdo their tank. Starting with tank size, bumblebee catfish require room to swim around the bottom, so a 20-gallon tank should suffice. Bumblebee catfish also prefer a water flow, that’s because their native habitats are usually rives in South America. The bottom of the tank should have plenty of things for them to hide behind or in. They’re also nocturnal, meaning they’ll hide during the day. Hiding spots like rocks, driftwood, and loose plants or roots will do just fine. Bumblebee catfish also prefer a tank temperature that stays between 70oF and 77oF; this helps emulate their natural environment. They also prefer slightly neutral waters between pH levels of 6.5 -7.5. Meeting all those conditions isn’t as complicated as it sounds; there’s a reason why bumblebee catfish are considered so easy to own and care for properly.

Bumblebee Catfish Breeding

Bumblebee catfish aren’t easy to breed or known to breed in captivity. That is for a multitude of reasons, the main one being it is impossible to tell the difference between male and female bumblebee catfish. If you have your heart set on giving it a shot, there are a few tips to follow. For starters, keep them in pairs of two, so if one starts to get bigger than it is likely a female preparing to lay its eggs. Be sure to have plenty of hiding spots in your tank that will help your bumblebee catfish feel at home. Also, be sure to keep the pH levels of your tank in an acceptable range, along with the temperature.  If a female bumblebee catfish lays its eggs, the male will protect them until they hatch.

Bumblebee Catfish Diseases

Bumblebee catfish are an extremely hardy species, meaning they can withstand more than most other fish. Despite that, they’re not invincible. Bumblebee catfish are not predisposed to certain infections or illnesses like other freshwater species, but they can still get sick.  The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure they get the proper care. Keep your tank at an appropriate temperature, as well as pH level. Also, be sure to feed them a balanced diet. You should also avoid stress when it comes to your bumblebee catfish, so don’t introduce too many new fish at once and try to avoid any overly aggressive fish.

Bumblebee Catfish Tank Mates

Bumblebee catfish are tropical, freshwater fish. That means they should only be housed with other fish which fit that description. But the hardy, peaceful nature of the bumblebee catfish opens the door to many possibilities. They’re bottom feeders and almost always stay at the bottom of your tank; this means that most other fish in the tank will forget they’re even there. When deciding potential tankmates, consider their preferred pH level, temperature, and tank environment. Bumblebee catfish also shouldn’t be housed with any very aggressive fish, as they may try to fight the ordinarily peaceful and timid bumblebee catfish. Any potential tankmate of a bumblebee catfish shouldn’t be too small; if they are, they’ll likely become a snack.

Are Bumblebee Catfish Aggressive?

Bumblebee catfish aren’t usually aggressive; they won’t go out of their way to attack other fish. They usually mind their business while lounging around the bottom of the tank, hiding in whatever decorations they can find. That being said, bumblebee catfish can be considered a bit predatory; they will not hesitate to eat any fish small enough to fit into their mouth. That is why you should avoid housing bumblebee catfish in a community tank with any species smaller than it. You should also avoid housing it with any species much more significant than it, as the bigger species may be aggressive and may even try to eat the bumblebee catfish.

Compatible Tank Mates for Bumblebee Catfish

The relaxed, non-confrontational nature of the bumblebee catfish makes them a perfect tank mate for several different freshwater fish species. On the other hand, bumblebee catfish don’t like more aggressive and active fish; they may end up stressing your bumblebee catfish out. Be sure that your potential tank mates are compatible before housing them together; check preferred temperatures, pH level, and temperament. Here are some great options if you can’t pick one on your own.

Rainbow Sharks

Despite their name, rainbow sharks are not actually a species of shark. Their name is derived from their shark-like fin. Rainbow sharks are a species of tropical freshwater fish, similar to bumblebee catfish. Rainbow sharks are peaceful, tropical fish, meaning that they will mesh perfectly with bumblebee catfish.


Corydoras, or cory catfish, is a classification of several different types of catfish, all in the Corydoras family. All of them are very peaceful, hardy fish, making them a perfect choice to pair with bumblebee catfish. Most of them are also bottom feeders, but their gentle nature means they shouldn’t be territorial or fight for food. Every species of Corydoras are freshwater, tropical fish meaning their temperature and pH requirements line up perfectly with bumblebee catfish.

Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf gourami rank as one of the most popular freshwater fish in the aquarium hobby. Their vivid coloring and easy-to-care-for nature make them highly appealing. As such, you may want to keep them as part of a community tank; that’s where the bumblebee catfish comes in. Bumblebee Catfish and Dwarf Gourami share some very similar needs, such as temperature and pH level. Dwarf Gourami also grow large enough, more significant than the bumblebee catfish, which means they won’t become a snack to the bottom-feeding species.

Incompatible Tank Mates for Bumblebee Catfish

Bumblebee catfish are relaxed bottom feeders, but their calm nature doesn’t mean they won’t prey on smaller fish. The opposite of that statement is true; larger fish will try to eat the bumblebee catfish, such as a redtail catfish. Redtail catfish will eat anything that fits into their mouth, including other catfish such as the bumblebee catfish. But, deciding a tankmate doesn’t stop there. Several other factors need to be addressed. Do their tank needs overlap, such as pH levels and temperatures? Do they have similar temperaments so that they won’t get angry with each other? Here are some species of fish that shouldn’t be housed with a bumblebee catfish.

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are a species of small freshwater fish. You might look at their gorgeous colors and how timid they seem to be and think to yourself that they’d be perfect for a community tank, and you’d be right. They make a great community fish; within reason, the other fish in the tank need to have similar tank requirements as your neon tetras. Keep in mind that the tank cannot include bumblebee catfish. Bumblebee catfish will not hesitate to eat anything that can fit in their mouth. Neon tetras can, unfortunately, fit in the mouth of bumblebee catfish.

Suckermouth Catfish

You may be tempted to include more than one species of catfish in a community tank. On paper, you look at the suckermouth catfish in comparison to bumblebee catfish. They have similar pH needs between 6.5 -7.5 as well as similar preferred temperature needs, around the high 70oF’s. But what you may not realize is how giant suckermouth catfish can grow to be, around 20 inches. That enormous size means that your bumblebee catfish will more than likely become a snack to a fully grown suckermouth catfish.

Bumblebee Catfish and Shrimp

Bumblebee Catfish are predators, despite their docile and laid-back nature. This means that anything they can wrap their mouth around they will eat, simple as that. Unfortunately, that also includes several species of shrimp; one such species of shrimp is Amano shrimp. Amano shrimp are a species of freshwater water shirmp and one of the most popular species of shrimps in aquariums. They only grow to just around an inch or 2, and this means they’re small enough to fit into the gullet of your bumblebee catfish. Althought, when fully grown, they may be too large to fit into the mouth of a smaller bumblebee catfish.

Bumblebee Catfish and Cichlids

Most cichlids are known to be aggressive fish, but not all of them. When selecting one to include in a tank with a bumblebee catfish, make sure it is one of the more timid ones. Otherwise, they will not have a good time. Also, be sure that the cichlid you chose has similar tank requirements to your bumblebee catfish, such as preferred water flow, pH balance, and temperature. Bumblebee catfish are timid and will not go out of their way to attack or mess with other fish unless they’re small enough to be eaten; most cichlids do not fit into that category. As long as you choose carefully, you shouldn’t have an issue with your bumblebee catfish and any cichlids you’ve decided on.

Bumblebee Catfish and Goldfish

When most people think of aquariums, the most common fish they think of is a goldfish. As such most people want to include a goldfish in their tanks in an effort to that capture that innocent childhood feeling of just wanting a goldfish. Goldfish and Bumblebee catfish should get along ideally together in a community tank. Goldfish can grow around 8 inches in length, meaning that a fully grown bumblebee catfish will not be able to eat it. Bumblebee catfish and goldfish have similar tank requirements, and their pH level preference matches up nearly perfectly as well as their temperature preference. Both species also enjoy a decent amount of water flow in their tank.

Bumblebee Catfish and Betta

Betta fish are gorgeous; their vivid bright bodies make them an appealing choice to have in any community tank. Betta Fish are also known as Siamese fighting fish; this is because they aren’t scared to fight, especially against other betta fish. Bumblebee catfish are timid and usually mind their own business, hiding on the bottom of the tank. With that in mind, they also prefer a neutral pH level and similar temperature levels since they are both tropical fish. Betta fish and bumblebee catfish may be able to coexist in the same tank together. The only way to know for sure is to try, but it really isn’t recommended.

Bumblebee Catfish and Discus

Discus are sometimes referred to as “King of the Aquarium” this name is derived from their gorgeous colors and regal beauty. Unfortunately, bumblebee catfish and discus can not coexist in a tank together. This is because they have different preferred temperatures, but their pH level requirements are very similar.  Despite not being able to coexist with bumblebee catfish, there are plenty of other options for tankmates for your discus. Any fish that isn’t overly aggressive or will compete will your discus for food are great choices. Any potential tankmates also have to be able to survive the higher water temperatures that discus prefer, as well as their pH levels.

Bumblebee Catfish and Guppies

Guppies are a common fish to include in a community tank. They tend to be very hardy and easy to care for. Bumblebee catfish are very similar in that regard. Guppies and bumblebee catfish should make decent partners in a tank. They both grow to similar sizes. Their preferred temperatures overlap nicely, but the pH level isn’t as generous. The higher end of the desired level of bumblebee catfish matches up with the lower end of the preferred level of guppies. That means if you house them together in the same tank, you should check the water on a regular basis to make sure you can catch any changes before it negatively impacts either of the fish.

Where Can I Find Bumblebee Catfish for Sale?

Bumblebee catfish are quickly climbing up the popularity charts when it comes to freshwater fish, and this means they’re pretty accessible to purchase. Most pet and aquarium stores should have them available in stock, as well as several online retailers.  Bumblebee catfish tend to sell for just over $5, making them highly affordable and accessible should you want to add them to your tank.

Bumblebee Catfish vs Giant Bumblebee Catfish

Bumblebee catfish (Microglanis iheringi) and giant bumblebee catfish (Pseudopimelodus bufonius) are incredibly similar. They both originate from rivers in South America. That means their temperature preferences are very similar, with the giant bumblebee catfish preferring slightly warmer water, upwards of 82oF. Giant Bumblebee catfish also prefer their water somewhat less acidic than traditional bumblebee catfish. The biggest difference between the two species comes down to size. Giant bumblebee catfish can grow up to a foot in length; this is much larger than bumblebee catfish who only average around 3 inches. Even with that massive size difference, they both have a similar temperament preferring to hide among plants and rocks. The coloring of the giant bumblebee catfish and traditional bumblebee catfish are very similar hence their nearly identical names.

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