Glass Catfish: Complete Care, Appearance & Guide

glass-catfish

Glass Catfish: Complete Care Guide: The glass catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhis) is a small and peaceful tropical fish that belongs to the armored catfish family (Loricariidae). The most distinctive feature of this fish is its transparent skin, which is almost invisible when viewed from certain angles. These ‘invisible’ fish are extremely fascinating, but also require a high level of care. In this article I hope to provide you with all the information required for their proper care and maintenance. Please read through it carefully before purchasing your first glass catfish. If you still have questions after reading this article please feel free to post them in our forum; we will do our best to help you.

Glass Catfish Physical Description

The glass catfish is one of the few fish that actually benefits from being kept in a group; they are an extremely social species and become stressed when separated from their school. They reach up to 4 inches in length when fully grown and are often referred to as ‘the poor man’s pleco’. The fish has a flattened appearance and is usually brown or green with various dark markings.

Glass Catfish Habitat

In nature glass catfish inhabit densely planted, sluggish rivers along with other members of their family the armored catfish. In order to thrive in captivity they will need a heavily planted aquarium with plenty of hiding places. They are moderately shy and should be provided with as many retreats as possible. The substrate should consist of dark gravel or sand as this is how they naturally prefer to spend their time.

Glass catfish Behavior

In nature glass catfish are primarily nocturnal, but in captivity they adapt to a diurnal lifestyle very easily as long as they have plenty of suitable hiding places. In the wild the glass catfish is a solitary species that hunts by following the trail of smaller fish and eating whatever is unfortunate enough to find itself stuck on their sticky lips. In a community aquarium glass catfish can be quite peaceful, but they will eat any fish small enough for them to swallow whole – so don’t keep them with anything too small or weak!

Glass Catfish Tank Conditions

Glass catfish are happy in water with a pH from 5.5-7.0, but seem to prefer slightly acidic water (6.5). The ideal temperature range for these fish is 70-75°F and the dH should be kept as low as possible as they are not very tolerant of salt at all.

Glass Catfish Care

In nature glass catfish are nocturnal hunters that feed on algae, crustaceans and other invertebrates. Because of this it is very important to provide them with plenty of suitable food in the aquarium; their diet should consist primarily of sinking algae wafers with occasional treats like bloodworms or brine shrimp (not more than once a week). Glass catfish are bottom feeders, so it’s best to avoid any strong currents in the aquarium.

Glass Catfish Tankmates

When choosing tankmates for your glass catfish you should consider that they are very slow swimmers and are often harassed by larger fish with fast movements. They also have a tendency to get sucked into filter intakes so choose tankmates that are non-aggressive and won’t do this or keep them in a tank without any filter at all.

Glass Catfish Appearance

Glass catfish are transparent with silver undersides, but because their skin is so thin it has no color. Their eyes look like large black dots on either side of their head and the only thing that reveals their presence in an aquarium is the occasional glimpse of a dark stripe through the plants. Juveniles have four small white spots on each side of their bodies, but these disappear as the fish matures.

Glass Catfish In the Wild

Glass catfish are found in the large rivers of South America, particularly the Amazon basin. They inhabit slow moving waters with thick vegetation and many fallen trees where they feed on algae, crustaceans and other invertebrates. Juveniles are more often found in clear water but adults prefer to stay in muddy areas where visibility is poor.

Glass Catfish in the aquarium

The glass catfish is one of many species in its family (the armored catfish) that has adapted to life in shallow waters by losing its “armored” scales and becoming extremely flat. This makes them much more difficult for predators to swallow. Adult glass catfish are nocturnal, but in the aquarium they adapt to diurnal behavior very easily if there are plenty of suitable hiding places. They are usually fairly shy fish and can be quite difficult to see in their natural habitat because they rely on camouflage more than swimming away.

glass-catfish

Glass catfish are bottom feeders, but because their skin is so permeable they also have to stay in water with very low oxygen levels.

Glass Catfish Behavior

In the wild glass catfish are primarily nocturnal hunters that rely on their excellent hearing to locate prey. Their eyesight is not particularly good so they find their way around with the help of tiny sensory structures called neuromasts all over their body, which can detect vibrations and subtle chemical changes in the water.

Glass Catfish Tank Setup

Glass catfish are adaptable fish that can be happy in most community tanks with plenty of hiding places. They particularly like to shelter among rocks and plants. Because their skin is so delicate they need to be kept in relatively soft, acidic water (6.5). The temperature should be between 70-75°F and the dH as low as possible. They need a large tank with no strong currents and should be kept away from filters in case they get sucked up.

Glass catfish are not picky about water conditions, but will usually do best in slightly acidic water (6.5).

Glass Catfish Water Preferences

Glass catfish are one of the few species that can actually produce sounds, especially during courtship. These sounds are produced by tiny muscles that vibrate across their swim bladders. They also have a special structure called the Weberian apparatus which allows them to hear very well at both high and low frequencies. This is made possible by microscopic hair cells that pick up vibrations and transmit the information through nerves to the brain.

Glass catfish are good parents and will guard their young aggressively if they think there is a threat. When food becomes scarce, adults tend to eat first so it’s important not to overstock an aquarium as the smaller fish will be left with very little to eat.

Glass Catfish Breeding

Glass catfish breed when the water temperature drops in the early morning and evening (between 6-8 PM). Males will scrape small pits in the substrate to make nests while females create a mucus trail that leads to the area. Females lay their eggs singly, but both parents will take turns guarding them until the fry become free swimming. The eggs hatch after about 2 1/2 days, and the fry become free swimming in another 3-4 days. They are extremely small so they should not be moved to a different aquarium. If all goes well, the glass catfish can spawn several times a year.

Glass Catfish Tank Mates and Compatibility

Glass catfish are skittish fish that can easily be bullied by more boisterous species. They do best in tanks with peaceful schooling fish such as tetras, hatchetfish and pencilfish. They need to be kept with other glass catfish unless the aquarium is very large and there is plenty of hiding places for each individual.

Glass catfish can be kept with most peaceful, medium to large sized community fish. Larger predatory fish are not a good choice because they may eat the glass catfish. They do well with angelfish, discus, gouramis and other docile cichlids.

Glass Catfish Tank Mates

Glass catfish produce a number of sounds including chirping, squeaking and popping noises. They have the ability to sense changes in their environment through vibrations in the water.

Glass catfish are prolific breeders that will sometimes eat their own young if food is scarce. During courtship, males scrape small pits in the substrate and females lay eggs after they swim through a mucus trail.

Glass Catfish Foods

Glass catfish are nocturnal hunters that will eat just about anything they can find at night including live, frozen and freeze-dried foods. Their large mouths allow them to swallow prey items that are much larger than their own bodies so there is no need for really big aquariums unless it is a community tank.

Glass catfish grow to about 5 inches and should not be kept with large, boisterous species that may intimidate them or eat them. They should also not be kept in tanks smaller than 30 gallons and should have plenty of hiding places among plants and rocks. Glass catfish are basically peaceful, but will eat smaller fish if they can fit them in their mouth.

Glass Catfish Food and Diet

The glass catfish requires at least 30 gallons to thrive. It prefers a heavily planted tank with plenty of rocks and driftwood to provide good hiding places. This fish must be kept in groups so they can feel safe while sleeping during the day. They should also only be introduced into established aquariums with large amounts of beneficial bacteria. This fish is often very sensitive to water conditions, so regular small wate r changes are important.

Glass catfish are nocturnal hunters that usually eat at night or when the lights are off. They will feed on just about anything they can find including live, frozen and freeze-dried foods. They are known to eat smaller fish if they can fit them in their mouth, so they should only be kept with larger species.

Glass catfish are among the most popular aquarium fish in the world. They have an unmistakable look that draws attention from even the most casual observer.

Glass Catfish Sexing and Breeding

Males become more slender as they age while females fill out with eggs. The anal and dorsal fins on the male also grow larger than those on the female. Males range in color from silver to brown, and females are usually light beige or light gray.

Glass catfish are not very difficult to care for because they prefer a well-planted aquarium that is dark at night. The tank should be decorated with driftwood and plenty of large rocks, which should all be firmly anchored in place. Plants like java fern, anubias and vallisneria are good choices because the glass catfish will use them for cover. Floating plants are also recommended to help keep the lighting dim.

Glass catfish generally prefer dark tanks with lots of hiding places so they should only be introduced into well-established aquariums with large amounts of beneficial bacteria. They can be very sensitive to changes in water conditions, so regular small water changes are important.

Glass catfish are among the most popular aquarium fish in the world. They have an unmistakable look that draws attention from even the most casual observer.

These nocturnal hunters usually feed at night or when the lights are off. They will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouth, but prefer smaller fish. To prevent stunting keep them in groups of 6 or more.

Glass Catfish Diseases

Glass catfish are often very sensitive to water conditions, so regular small water changes are important. They can be sensitive to certain medications and foods, so use caution when adding any chemicals or frozen foods. As with all catfish, avoid putting them in a new tank for at least 30 days and keep not only the substrate but also the water conditioned and free of ammonia and nitrite.

Glass catfish are not very difficult to care for because they prefer a well-planted aquarium that is dark at night. The tank should be decorated with driftwood and plenty of large rocks, which should all be firmly anchored in place. Plants like java fern, anubias and vallisneria are good choices because the glass catfish will use them for cover. Floating plants are also recommended to help keep the lighting dim.

Glass catfish prefer tanks with lots of hiding places so they should only be introduced into well-established aquariums with large amounts of beneficial bacteria. They can be very sensitive to changes in water conditions, so regular small water changes are important.

Glass catfish are among the most popular aquarium fish in the world. They have an unmistakable look that draws attention from even the most casual observer.

These nocturnal hunters usually feed at night or when the lights are off. They will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouth, but prefer smaller fish. To prevent stunting keep them in groups of 6 or more.

Glass catfish are often very sensitive to water conditions, so regular small water changes are important. They can be sensitive to certain medications and foods, so use caution when adding any chemicals or frozen foods. As with all catfish, avoid putting them in a new tank for at least 30 days and keep not only the substrate but also the water conditioned and free of ammonia and nitrite.

Glass catfish are not very difficult to care for because they prefer a well-planted aquarium that is dark at night. The tank should be decorated with driftwood and plenty of large rocks, which should all be firmly anchored in place. Plants like java fern, anubias and vallisneria are good choices because the glass catfish will use them for cover. Floating plants are also recommended to help keep the lighting dim.

Glass catfish prefer tanks with lots of hiding places so they should only be introduced into well-established aquariums with large amounts of beneficial bacteria. They can be very sensitive to changes in water conditions, so regular small water changes are important.

Glass catfish are among the most popular aquarium fish in the world. They have an unmistakable look that draws attention from even the most casual observer.

These nocturnal hunters usually feed at night or when the lights are off. They will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouth, but prefer smaller fish. To prevent stunting keep them in groups of 6 or more.

Glass catfish are often very sensitive to water conditions, so regular small water changes are important.

Glass Catfish Closing Thoughts

Glass catfish are among the most popular aquarium fish in the world. They have an unmistakable look that draws attention from even the most casual observer.

These nocturnal hunters usually feed at night or when the lights are off. They will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouth, but prefer smaller fish. To prevent stunting keep them in groups of 6 or more.

Glass catfish are often very sensitive to water conditions, so regular small water changes are important. They can be sensitive to certain medications and foods, so use caution when adding any chemicals or frozen foods. As with all catfish, avoid putting them in a new tank for at least 30 days and keep not only the substrate but also the water conditioned and free of ammonia and nitrite.

Glass catfish are not very difficult to care for because they prefer a well-planted aquarium that is dark at night. The tank should be decorated with driftwood and plenty of large rocks, which should all be firmly anchored in place. Plants like java fern, anubias and vallisneria are good choices because the glass catfish will use them for cover. Floating plants are also recommended to help keep the lighting dim.

Glass catfish prefer tanks with lots of hiding places so they should only be introduced into well-established aquariums with large amounts of beneficial bacteria. They can be very sensitive to changes in water conditions, so regular small water changes are important.

Glass catfish are among the most popular aquarium fish in the world. They have an unmistakable look that draws attention from even the most casual observer.

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