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glass catfish you will find for sale online or at
your local fish store is a commonly overlooked misnomer. There is a
possibility that many retailers are not even aware of the fact that
not offering you an actual “glass catfish.” There
are two separate species that
fall within the realm of glass catfish. Both are of the family Siluridae
and indigenous to the same
region of the world. Both are transparent. And both have two
long brabels extending from between their noses and mouths. They are so
identical in appearance that they were classified as a single species
This may explain the general confusion about the true identity of the
the other side of the glass.
original scientific classification for these aquatic oddities
was Kryptopterus bicirrhis. Despite
what you may assume, this species was not scientifically described for
transparent appearance. Their name, broken down to it ancient Greek
literally means Kyptos (hidden) and Pteryx (fin). This classification
the greatly reduced size or very frequently, the complete absence of a
fin. This is the true “glass catfish.” Eventually
it was determined that some
of these fish grew substantially larger than others. This discovery led to a
second species classification; K.
minor. The Kryptopterus
is known in laymen’s terms as a ghost catfish.
are larger and significantly more aggressive than their smaller
Glass catfish are rarely, if ever, exported. It is the K.
minor or ghost
catfish that you will see in fish stores. Their reduced size and more
mannered temperaments make them the much preferred choice of the two by
trade industry. As far as the aquarium trade is concerned, these are
catfish.” Although glass catfish is by far the most
prevalent, these fish
are also sold by their real names, ghost catfish, as well as the trade
catfish, glass ghost catfish and ghost fish.
of what they are called, glass catfish are native to East Asia. They
the large rivers and turbid waters of Borneo,
and the Chao Phrayaa and Mekongg drainage basins.
They live near the shorelines in water with strong currents. They are
predators (active in daylight) whose diet consists mainly of true water
Glass catfish are some of the most unusual fish you can buy for a
aquarium. Their bodies are totally devoid of scales. If they were not,
that their skin and meaty tissue are transparent would go completely
These fish strike instantaneous awe in any child that sees one. It is
to hear a gasp followed by, “Look you can see right through
it.” There is
something absolutely fascinating about being able to see right through
down to it bones and internal organs and then out the other side of its
If you examine one up-close with a magnifying glass, you can literally
heart beat. Perhaps what is even more captivating is that these see
fish sheen with an iridescent glow when they are struck by light at the
Glass catfish have a docile demeanor. They make good community fish as
they are in the company of similarly mild mannered fish. Glass catfish
medium sized fish. They grow to about four inches in length. They are
The schooling instinct runs extremely strong in these creatures. A
will frequently perish without another member of its own species
you have two and one dies, it is not uncommon for the other to die
thereafter. It is advisable to keep at least four of them at a time.
more will more adequately address their social habits and allow you to
then behaving as they would in nature.
Glass catfish are every bit as fragile as their name.
They have been
to survive the trip home from the fish store. This is most probably
induced from the rapid transition form one environment to another. Once
their chances of long term sustainability are significantly increased
heavily planted aquarium. They are a shy species and will fare much
given plenty of places to hide. Live plants are preferable but plastic
rock work and aquarium décor will suffice.
are some serious tips to consider when first introducing
glass catfish to your aquarium. They
will frequently sink to the bottom
on their sides, looking quite dead for all intents and purposes. Do not
is a very high strung and easily intimidated animal. They will rise
bottom and start swimming around once they become more confident with
surroundings. The stress levels of initial introduction can be
reduced by transitioning these fish from a very dimly lit room to an
after dark. These fish prefer dim lighting and will feel less panicked
are introduced to a dark aquarium. This is especially important if you
purchased your glass cat fish online. They will almost certainly arrive
encased in a protective styrofoam box. They are in the dark. Keeping
the dark will be of great benefit to initial acclimation.
Glass catfish prefer neutral to slightly acidic water (pH 6.8-7.0).
better suite to water temperatures a little cooler than some other
fish. The ideal temperature range is 70-79 °F.
They function best in subdued lighting. Have a filtering
system that provides plenty of water flow to simulate the currents they
accustomed to living in will prove beneficial. Under premium conditions
catfish have a life expectancy of 6 to 8 years. Once again, these are
creatures. A sure sign that your glass catfish is not faring well is a
its transparent qualities. Glass catfish turn from clear to a milky
they die. If you notice any loss of transparency, check you water
If the water parameters prove acceptable, check for body damage or
common tropical fish ailments and parasitic infestations.
are egg layers. Attempts to
breed them in captivity have thus far failed. So the ones you see at
store have been recently removed from their native environment. They
well suffer from escalated stress levels until they adapt to their new
surroundings. Your job is to lessen those stress levels to the best of
these are not commercially raise fish. In the
wild their diet consists primarily of true water bugs. These omnivores
are accustomed to eating live food. In order to help them adapt to
environment you should start out by feeding them brine shrimp. Small
are preferable if you can find them. They will eventually learn to eat
freeze-dried, frozen food and possibly even tropical fish flakes. But
want to supplement their diet with live protein to insure their
hardiness. These are, after all, rather fragile creatures.
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