Glass 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.

The Glass Catfish are interestingly named and highly popular species of freshwater fish, and you may also hear them being referred to as the Ghost Catfish. Both names are bound to get you even more intrigued about these mysterious sea creatures.

Glass Catfish are known to have see-through bodies, which adds to their appeal and makes them one of the most sought-after fish in the aquarium community. Whenever aquarists or aquatic enthusiasts are looking to add something unique in their tank, they look towards these species.

Moreover, these fish are easy to care for, and once you know the basics, you will have no problem in keeping them.

This guide is designed to provide you with all the information you need regarding the care guidelines of Glass Catfish, including their habitat, water requirements, diet, tank mates, breeding, and much more.

Everything you need to know about these majestic catfish is packed into one handy and helpful guide that you can always refer to, in case you are ever stuck.

Species Summary

The Glass Catfish are incredibly beautiful and mysterious fish, and they are also known by the scientific name Kryptopterus vitreolus.

Belonging to the family Siluridae, these fish are native to Thailand, unlike several other species of catfish that are commonly found in South America. Some aquarists have also reported seeing them in the waters close to Cambodia and Malaysia, but we don’t know how authentic this information is.

Life Span7-8 years
Color FormTranslucent
Care LevelModerate
CompatibilityCommunity species
Size4-5 inches
Tank SetupFreshwater with lots of plants
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons

These fish are usually found in the rivers that flow towards the Gulf of Thailand. Apart from this, they are also found in the river basins that surround the Cardamom Mountains. These rivers are wide and have an average flow rate.

The Ghost Catfish don’t do well in murky waters, but they have barbels that they use to find their way into their habitat. Another unique characteristic that they have is that they don’t have bottom-dwelling habits like most other aquarium species. You would normally find them exploring the middle layer of the water.

Generally, they are very active fish that also love the attention. Therefore, you will have a lot of fun observing them swim around the middle of the tank, which also makes them much more visible than other fish.


On average, you can expect the Glass Catfish to live between 7 and 8 years. This is a sufficient amount of time for you to take care and bond with your pet, but this also means that you should be prepared to take care of them. Most people throw their fish in the nearest lake, stream, or pond they can find.

Just like other freshwater fish, the lifespan of the Ghost Catfish is significantly impacted by the tank conditions that you provide them with. You will have to be consistent with the water and tank conditions, and our guide will help you maintain those conditions.

Another factor impacting the lifespan of these catfish is their genetics, as well as their health when you bring them into your tank.

If the fish were kept in poor conditions before you bought them, you wouldn’t be able to do anything to ensure that they live up to their lifespan. Therefore, you should always buy aquarium fish from reputed stores and also check their appearance for any signs of disease or poor health.


A unique characteristic of the Glass Catfish is their appearance, and you already know that they are translucent. This is why they are also called Ghost Catfish. Their appearance helps them stay hidden and camouflaged in the wild so that predators can’t prey on them.

At first sight, you would be transfixed onto them. Their translucent skin gives away their internal organs, and you can see everything that is going inside their bodies. The most prominent of all is their spine, which runs from the head to the caudal fin and can be easily spotted.

You can’t make out their fins when they are swimming around, but they have forked caudal fins. Moreover, they don’t have a dorsal fin, and they have small pectoral fins that allow them to move around in the water. You can identify their organs easily, as they are located just behind their eyes and look like a dark-colored lump.

Glass Catfish also have barbels that protrude from their heads and stay pointed when they swim, unlike the barbels of other fish that swim parallel to their bodies.


The average size for a Glass Catfish is between 4 and 6 inches in length. This makes them moderately sized, and their size is also similar to other translucent species of fish. Just like their lifespan, their size is also impacted by the quality of care and water conditions that they are subjected to.

Glass Catfish Care

Caring for the Glass Catfish is quite easy, and you can easily make it a part of your daily routine. Thankfully, there aren’t any hurdles that you need to overcome in order to keep them healthy and happy. However, you have to be consistent with the care regimen, which includes considerations about their tank, water, and diet.

You can read about the specifics of Ghost Catfish care in the subsequent sections and learn what you need to do in order for them to thrive.

Tank Size

If you are keeping Glass Catfish in an aquarium, you have to make sure that it has a minimum capacity of 30 gallons. This size is sufficient to house five fish of the same species easily since they aren’t used to being alone.

A 30-gallon tank will enable your catfish to move around comfortably and also engage with other fish, as they are used to schooling. If you have a smaller tank, you will have to keep a smaller group of Ghost Catfish, and this would bring about other problems.

Water Parameters

After the tank size, water parameters are another integral component of Glass Catfish care. You can consider this to be the most difficult part of caring for these fish. Although there is a range that you can follow, the margins are quite thin, and there is no room for error.

Therefore, you need to thoroughly understand the water parameters when you are caring for Glass Catfish. Moreover, you should also know how you can quickly adjust the water levels or parameters to bring them to optimal conditions. Don’t be scared, because you will soon get the hang of it

If you are just starting out with your very first aquarium, it would be wise to start off with fish that don’t have such strenuous requirements and are also more resilient and hardy. This would help you build up the necessary experience and knowledge required to take care of these fish.

Glass Catfish require water temperature between the 75°F to 80°F range, but it should ideally be 77°F. Moreover, the pH levels are also quite strict and should be set at 6.5.

Last but not least, the water hardness should be maintained between 8 and 10 dGH. You should perform regular water tests to ensure that these conditions are maintained.

If there is any change in the water parameter, you will have to adjust it immediately so that your Glass Catfish don’t have to bear the brunt of poor water conditions.

What to Put in Their Tank?

When you are setting up the tank for your Glass Catfish, you will have to reference their natural habitat so that you can replicate it. This would help them stay comfortable and happy and would also influence their growth and health.

To start off, the tank should have a lot of open space for the fish to swim around freely. If you add a lot of accessories and obstacles for them, it will cause them to feel cramped and stressed.

Apart from this, you should also ensure that there is a sufficient amount of plants in the aquarium. In the wild, they are used to living around plant life, and they also hide around it.

You can add plants like Java moss and Hornwort in their tank, as it would help them feel at home, and this would also contribute to their safety. Moreover, you should add a soft substrate in the tank since they are very fragile.

For this reason, you should also prevent adding anything with sharp edges or a rough surface so that they don’t cut themselves on it.

A soft substrate, ideally sandy, will help keep the fish safe from infections as well. The last thing you will need to ascertain is the water flow.

As mentioned above, Ghost Catfish are used to a moderate water flow in the wild, and they don’t like still waters. So, you can add a water pump to the aquarium and set it to ‘low.’

Common Diseases

Understanding the common diseases that your pet fish are prone to be one of the most important things to do when you are keeping species like the Glass Catfish in your aquarium.

Thankfully, there aren’t any specific diseases that this species would be prone to. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t get affected by the bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections that other freshwater fish are prone to.

The only solution to keep them free from all kinds of diseases is to provide them with a well-balanced diet and also maintain the water quality regularly. By doing this, you will greatly reduce the likelihood of them getting infected by any disease.

What Do Glass Catfish Eat?

Just like their habitat, the diet of the Glass Catfish should also be similar to what they are used to eating in their natural habitat. For this purpose, you will have to explore a wide range of food sources to supplement their nutritional requirements.

For starters, you can give them commercial fish food, which includes flakes and sinking pellets. You can give these to your fish every day, and it would constitute the major portion of their diet. Moreover, these foods would also serve as the source of essential nutrients for them.

Apart from this, you can also feed them high-protein foods, which include bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. However, these must only be given to them once or twice a week.

You can fulfill their nutritional requirements by adding a variety of live and frozen foods to their diet. Just make sure they aren’t in a protein deficit, as it can hinder their growth.

When you start feeding your Ghost Catfish, make sure to notice how much they actually eat. Since they are translucent, it can be difficult to see if they are really eating or not. So, you may be overfeeding or even underfeeding them without knowing about it.

In the beginning, you will have to pay extra attention to ensure that they are feeding properly. Once you know how much to feed them, you will have a better time taking care of them.

Behavior & Temperament

The behavior and temperament of Glass Catfish are much different from other species of catfish, and this surprises most aquarists. They are very active swimmers and don’t spend a lot of time hiding or seeking shelter near the substrate or scavenging the bottom layer for food.

You would find them swimming around in the middle of the tank and occasionally darting between the plants that you place in the tank.

They are generally very peaceful, and they tend to mind their own business, refraining from engaging or disturbing other creatures in the aquarium. Therefore, you have a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to tank mates.

Ghost Catfish also tend to move around in a school of five or six fish, so you won’t normally see them strutting around on their own. Therefore, you should get and keep them in a group of at least five catfish.

Glass Catfish Tank Mates

As we mentioned above, there is a vast range of tank mates that you can choose for your Glass Catfish. These fish are the perfect choice for community tanks and can cohabitate well with other species.

However, there are two things you will have to take care of when it comes to choosing tank mates for them: size and temperament.

In simpler words, larger fish may see the Ghost Catfish as food and gobble them up, even if accidentally. For the most part, they manage to stay hidden from the eyes of other fish, but getting eaten is a possibility.

Apart from this, fish that have an aggressive temperament is a big no for the aquarium when you have Glass Catfish. Since they are peaceful and timid species, they don’t respond well to aggression and will start getting stressed.

Some of the most suitable tank mates for your Ghost Catfish include:

Remember that there is a huge variety of fish that you can place in the tank with your catfish, but we have just mentioned the most popular and suitable options here.

However, the best option is to keep them with their own kind. They are schooling fish, which means that they do well when kept in groups of at least five.

If you are just looking for a single fish, we suggest you skip the Ghost Catfish. They will start getting stressed alone or in pairs, especially if the tank is also smaller.

Even if you keep them alone or in pairs inside a community tank, they might run the risk of getting intimidated and stressed due to other fish.

Try to keep a school of five Ghost Catfish together in a 30-gallon tank. You can’t reduce the number of fish, as well as the size of the tank at any cost.


Breeding Glass Catfish is rarely done in tanks, but it isn’t impossible to do so. There isn’t a lot of information about the right method to breed them, which is why you will have some difficulty in doing so. For starters, you will have to understand their natural habitat well, as well as their breeding patterns.

To encourage breeding, reduce the water temperature in the tank by a few degrees, and this would mimic their mating season. Some experts also suggest adding a little more fresh water to the tank, although it isn’t certain how this helps.

If you succeed in getting the Ghost Catfish to breed, you will notice that they’re face to face, their barbels touching each other’s. Then, they will deposit their eggs on the plants in the aquarium. Within a few days, you may notice them hatching and small fry emerging. You can start feeding them baby brine shrimp so that they grow healthy and quickly.

Final Thoughts

If you have made up your mind about getting Glass Catfish for your tank, we highly encourage you to do so. Not only are they fascinating and interesting to watch, but they can easily be taken care of. Therefore, you will have no problem keeping them in your home aquarium, as well as a community tank.

As long as you mimic their natural habitat and maintain the water conditions, you will have no trouble keeping them healthy and happy. These are two factors that need to be considered seriously when you are planning to bring Ghost Catfish to your tank.

You can always check back our guide when you have a query or need any sort of help in caring for your Glass Catfish.