Bumblebee Catfish: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding, & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Bumblebee Catfish are unlike any other fish you have seen in aquariums. They are incredibly fun to watch, thanks to their vibrant and unique appearance.

These fish have a quirky and active nature, and they are also easy to care for, which is a relief for all aquatic experts and beginners looking to keep them in their home aquarium. They are highly popular in the fishkeeping trade, as well as the aquarium community.

Moreover, these species are also known to be quite resilient and can easily adapt to varying environments, so they are easier to look after for novices. All in all, they are just wonderful!

If you are looking to keep Bumblebee Catfish in your home aquarium, check out this helpful guide. It will help you learn all there is to know about caring for them, as well as maintaining their habitat, water requirements, diet, tank mates, breeding, and much more.

Species Summary

Bumblebee Catfish are also known by their scientific name Microglanisiheringi, and they belong to the Pseudopimelodidae family. They are native to the rivers and streams of South America. Due to their presence in this region, you might also see them being referred to as the South American Bumblebee Catfish.

Life Span4-5 years
Color FormBlack and yellow bands
Care levelEasy
CompatibilityPeaceful and similar sized species
SizeUp to 3 inches
Tank SetupFreshwater with hiding spots
Minimum Tank Size20 Gallons

Mainly, you can find them in the South American countries of Columbia and Venezuela, but they are also known to slip away into neighboring countries, which include Brazil, Ecuador, Guyana, and others. These fish were first identified and named in the early 1900s, and they have been a regular feature in the aquarium community since then.

Their natural habitat is made up of rivers and streams with a strong current. Moreover, they are used to a rocky riverbed that allows them to hide easily when needed. They exhibit similar traits when in captivity, but we will get to that in the subsequent sections.


The average lifespan for a Bumblebee Catfish is 4-5 years, and some of them may also go beyond the 5-year mark, provided that you give them excellent care and water conditions.

As mentioned above, they are known to be quite hardy, but this doesn’t mean that the water conditions you subject them to won’t affect their lifespan or health. Therefore, you should always keep an eye on the care requirements and water conditions when you bring them to your home aquarium.


Bumblebee Catfish look particularly different than the other species, and they get their name from the yellow and black color that their bodies have. The colors appear in alternate blocks all over their body, and their heads are nearly always black.

They have a spiny dorsal fin that occupies very little space on their back, and a small black band can be seen on their fin. Moreover, their caudal fin has a forked shape and a similar black band. The base of their caudal fin is usually black.

Apart from this, you can notice large splayed ventral fins on Bumblebee, which allows them to navigate the substrate. Since they are bottom-feeders, this characteristic helps them stay well-fed. They have the typical body of catfish species, i.e., cylindrical bodies that go thinner as they reach the caudal fin.

These catfish also have long and prominent barbels that stick out from their long head. They have a wide mouth that makes it easier for them to search for food at the bottom of the tank.


Bumblebee Catfish grow up to reach a maximum size of 3 inches. Their size depends on the conditions they have been living in and the conditions you maintain in your tank after you bring them. In any case, they won’t grow any longer than 3 inches, even if you give them the ideal conditions for growing.

Bumblebee Catfish Care

Caring for Bumblebee Catfish is quite easier as compared to other species. They are also hardy, which means that you can easily manage their water conditions and tank requirements.

Here are the specific requirements that you need to know about in order to properly care for your Bumblebee Catfish. Although they are easy going, you have to maintain the conditions for them.

Tank Size

For fully grown adult Bumblebee Catfish, you need a minimum tank size of 20 gallons. As these fish are quite small and spend most of their time in hiding, you don’t require a large aquarium to keep them.

However, if you are looking to place a group of the same species in a tank, you will have to increase the tank size by 10 gallons for each fish you add.

Water Parameters

Bumblebee Catfish are used to living in a variety of water conditions, but you should keep the parameters within the defined range. This would give your fish an ideal and healthy environment to thrive in.

First of all, you should maintain the water temperature between 70°F and 77°F. This would give them the comfortable and warm environment that they are accustomed to.

Secondly, you should maintain a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5. Lastly, the water should be soft, which means that its hardness should be between 8 to 12 dGH.

We recommend you carry out a water level test after every few days to ensure that the conditions are maintained. You can also change 20-25% of the water on a weekly basis. This would keep the water clean from any kind of impurities, and it would also keep your fish free from any illnesses.

What to Put in Their Tank?

In their natural environment, Bumblebee Catfish have a lot of rocks and hiding spots. You can replicate in their tank to make them feel at home. Start by putting lots of rocks and driftwood, which would allow them to hide easily, given their small size. The rocks will also serve as the substrate of the aquarium.

Apart from this, you can also add decorative accessories and caves in the tank, as they would enjoy having them. You should also add a few plants to the mix, ideally Java Ferns and Amazon swords. Not only do Bumblebee like them, but they also keep the water clean.

Hiding spaces are the most important component of the tank when it comes to Bumblebee Catfish. If they don’t have places to hide, they would be visibly stressed, and this would impact their lifespan as well.

Also, you should replicate the strong currents that they are used to in the rivers and streams they come from. You can place a water pump with a medium amount of water flow to help the fish breathe and move around easily.

Common Diseases

Like we have mentioned several times, Bumblebee Catfish are known to be hardy and resilient. There aren’t any diseases that are specific to their species. However, they do get sick like other fish, and this usually happens due to a bacterial or fungal infection.

Luckily, there isn’t any disease that can’t be cured when it comes to these fish. The best way to heal them is by following the care guidelines to the letter and also checking the water quality from time to time. If you keep doing this, they won’t have a high chance of getting infected or feeling ill.

What Do Bumblebee Catfish Eat?

Bumblebee Catfish are natural omnivores and are used to digging into the substrate in order to find something to eat. They aren’t picky eaters and feast on anything they can find, including plant matter, larvae, insects, and several other types of food.

When you are raising them in the tank, you can set a well-balanced and healthy diet for them. You can give them high-quality flake foods and pellets them, but they should be of the sinking type since these fish don’t come up for food.

Apart from commercial foods, you can also give them live and frozen foods every now and then.

They also need a healthy dose of protein from time to time, and you can feed them Daphnia, bloodworms, and earthworms for this purpose.

Make sure you don’t overfeed them with any of the foods, and also make sure to remove any uneaten food quickly. Otherwise, the remaining food can start to rot and contaminate the water as well.

Behavior & Temperament

Bumblebee Catfish are quite timid and shy, mainly due to the fact that they are nocturnal species. During the day, you might not see them anywhere because they are nestled in the hiding spaces. They only come up during the dark or when it is time to eat.

Their nocturnal habits irk some aquarists, particularly those who like to see their fish staying active and playing around when they pass by the aquarium. However, if you are concerned about disturbing the fish because the tank is placed in a high-traffic area, you don’t have to worry about these fish.

You can set the rocks and driftwood in a manner that they can be noticed even when they are into hiding. You can place the driftwood along the side of the glass, so when the Bumblebee Catfish dig into it for hiding, they will be visible to you.

Bumblebee Catfish Tank Mates

Since Bumblebee Catfish are peaceful and timid species, they have several options for tank mates that can cohabitate the aquarium with them. Moreover, since they are hardy, they can easily live in water conditions that suit other species of fish easily.

In fact, since your catfish spend most of their time in hiding, other fish in the tank might not even notice that they are present for most of the day until they come out to eat. Here are some of the best and most suitable tank mates that you can pair with your Bumblebee Catfish:

Apart from these, there are several other species of fish that you can keep with your Bumblebee in the same tank. As long as the tank mates aren’t too big or too small as compared to these fish or don’t have an aggressive temperament, you won’t have to worry.


If you are looking to keep a fish that you can breed and grow smaller ones as well, then you would be disappointed with Bumblebee Catfish. Even though this beautiful fish checks out in all the other departments, there haven’t been any known instances in which these fish were bred in a home aquarium.

Even though you might give them the ideal conditions for breeding and monitor every variable properly, there are no real chances that your Bumblebee Catfish will actually mate. Rather, you may waste your time and money in doing so.

If you really want to see how these fish are bred, you will have to visit one of the dedicated fish breeding farms that are set up in different locations.

They control each and every variable and mimic the natural breeding environment for these fish, which is why they enjoy a high success rate, and you get to keep Bumblebee Catfish in your home aquarium.

Therefore, you shouldn’t waste your time in trying to get your fish to breed, and doing so may also cause them to get stressed, since they spend most of their time in hiding.

We have decided to omit information regarding how Bumblebee Catfish breed in the wild, because it is really relevant for you to care for your fish.

However, you may find details of the breeding process in other guides on the internet. You may read them and try to replicate the details in the tank, but let us repeat that there will hardly be any success.

Final Thought

Bumblebee Catfish are an incredibly unique and beautiful species of freshwater fish, and you would certainly enjoy keeping them in your home aquarium. Not only are they good to look at, but they are easy to care for too.

Moreover, these fish get along well with lots of species very easily, so you can even place them in a multi-species aquarium. However, you should take note of the care guidelines and follow them in order to keep them healthy and live as many years as you can.