Bumblebee Catfish – Species Profile & Facts

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If you are looking for a vibrant, yet peaceful fish with a unique shape and pattern, then you are reading the right article. We have something out of the ordinary for you right here. In our informative article, we are going to introduce you to the colorful and amusing Bumblebee Catfish.

This is the type of calm, slow-swimming fish that shows itself gracefully whenever it is time to scavenge for some food. Its skin flourishes in black and yellow colors. Yes, you heard that right, it has skin instead of scales, which is one of the main characteristics of most kinds of catfish.

Besides its colors, what makes this fish distinguishable is its elongated body and flattened head. At last but not least, they have a pair of barbels, which is the main reason why they are called catfish.

Bumblebee Catfish Natural Habitat

Bumblebee Catfish can be found in numerous South American and Asian countries. There are plenty of rivers and streams where they can be found. They are particularly popular in Venezuela, Peru and Columbia. There, its environment consists mostly of rocks and gravel that provide him with plenty of crevices to use for shelter.

Now since these are all strong flowing waters, you will need to ensure some water flow in the aquarium as well. This species has been discovered in the early 1900s and then it became popular among aquarists in the upcoming decades. For the Bumblebee Catfish, a rocky substrate and plenty of hiding places are absolutely necessary.

Bumblebee Catfish Tank Requirements

We can light heartedly recommend the Bumblebee Catfish for beginner fishkeepers because they are rather easy to take care of. It is going to be rather straightforward to set up the tank properly and guarantee some decent living conditions for your fish.

This species definitely enjoys swimming around when it is time for the next meal. Therefore, you should opt for a spacious tank of at least 20 gallons of size. Each additional Bumblebee Catfish requires another 10 gallons of water.

This is just in case you want to keep more of them in the same tank, which you definitely can. As we have already mentioned, this type of catfish likes to hide in crevices. This is mainly because it is a nocturnal animal so you are not going to see it as often during the day.

Don’t shy away from placing plenty of driftwood and rock into the aquarium. Their main priority is to hide between rocks. However, if you buy some plants then those can become desirable hiding places as well. We have some really good recommendations for you such as Amazon Swords, Java Ferns and Anubias.

While setting up the aquarium, you should focus on the bottom part. That is where your Bumblebee Catfish is going to spend most of his time. As you can see, the main goal here is to set up a fish tank that has plenty of dark areas.

Bumblebee Catfish Water Conditions

Obviously, the live plants mentioned in the previous section are only going to help improve the water conditions. Besides that, what you need to do is to keep the temperature somewhere between 70 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

In order to mimic the strong water flow of their natural habitat, you will need to get a strong water filter. Those are effective when it comes to generating some water flow. The acidity should be between 6.5 and 7.7 pH while the hardness should be between 8 and 12 dHG.

On top of that, the water has to be changed at least once a week in order to keep it fresh and clean. This can be done incrementally, making sure that 20-25% of the water is changed every week. Bumblebee Catfish are not that sensitive to water conditions, yet it is still better to keep them between the values that are considered ideal.

By keeping the abovementioned values constant and testing the water conditions from time to time, you can keep your fish happy and thriving.

Bumblebee Catfish Diet & Feeding Schedule

Bumblebee Catfish are carnivores who eat the larvae and insects they run into while they are out scavenging. Its wide mouth also allows him to eat smaller fish species. It can run into them during the night and devour them without hesitation.

You can buy various pellets, frozen foods, shrimp and daphnia that can be fed to the Bumblebee Catfish. If you can get some beef heart, mussels or prawns at home, then those can be simply cooked and fed to your fish. There are some other options as well, including mosquito larvae, earthworms and bloodworms.

You can find them 3 to 5 times a day. Them being nocturnal fish doesn’t mean that you have to feed them during the night. A little food can always get the Bumblebee Catfish out of its hiding place. After he is done eating, he is going to go straight back to his hiding place.

It might take a couple of weeks until you figure out exactly how much food you should give to your fish. The important thing when it comes to feeding is to avoid generating too much wastage. In case you regularly see leftover food in the tank, try to cut the ration back a bit.

Otherwise, it is only going to complicate things and you will need to change the water more frequently.

Bumblebee Catfish Tank Mates

While they are not aggressive, they are more than eager to eat smaller fish if they run into them. The good news is that this still leaves you with plenty of options. You can always get some barbs, plecos, gouramis, tetras or eels, just to mention a few.

We can say that they are pretty much loners who spend most of their time in the bottom layers of the tank. Furthermore, since they are nocturnal, they are going to come out during the night. They are rarely going to meet the other fish, except if you choose only nocturnal ones.  

They are going to live a calm and peaceful life together with these species. Just make sure there is enough space for each of them because fish tend to get irritated if the aquarium is too small. All in all, you can set up a versatile aquarium with this species by all means.

Bumblebee Catfish Breeding

We have some bad news for you when it comes to breeding the Bumblebee Catfish. Even those who actually tried to breed them in their home aquarium usually did not succeed. However, we definitely don’t want to discourage you from trying it.

The first problem here is that it’s almost impossible to distinguish the males from the females. So the best way to go about it is to buy a big tank and keep a bigger group of Bumblebee Catfish in it. This way, there will be a bigger chance that it’s going to happen. If you are patient enough and follow our tips, then you might get lucky.

Observe their behavior, make sure they are doing fine and keep your eyes on them especially after a few weeks. If you notice that one of them has a growing belly, then it is probably a female that is going to lay its eggs very soon. Follow our abovementioned tips on setting up a proper fish tank for them.

There should be an abundance of hiding places such as rocks, driftwood, some plants and maybe a couple of caves in the aquarium. This environment will provide plenty of spots where the female can lay her eggs. Breeding catfish require a 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit temperature, while the water acidity should be between 5.5 and 6.5 pH.

Around spawning time, make sure to feed them with plenty of prawns, bloodworms and mussels. Also, you should reduce the water flow generated by the filters. This is important because the eggs should settle down in those hiding spots. You will be able to observe how the males circle around the eggs as they are guarding them.

It takes about 3 days for the eggs to hatch, which is when you need to feed the fry giving them brine shrimp. That’s all you need to know. And, of course, you will need a bit of luck too.


As you can see, Bumblebee Catfish are fascinating and peaceful species that are easy to take care of. The only thing that can be difficult is the breeding part but if you are patient, it is eventually going to happen.

This is the type of fish that will stay healthy and thriving even at times when you mess up the water conditions a little bit. They are quite hardy fish, although it is better to be safe than sorry.

You are going to be delighted to watch them as they roam around in your tank. They flourish in eye-catchy colors and unique patterns. However, you might need to look a bit further than your local pet shop if you want to get one. They are not as common in fish markets so you might need to find one online.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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