How To Care For Your Glass Catfish (Kryptopterus Bicirrhis): Full Care Guide

March 26, 2024

The glass catfish (also known as the ghost catfish) is among the most fascinating little critters you can get for your aquarium.

Because of their totally transparent bodies, they have become a popular freshwater fish for aquarium hobbyists in search of a unique fish species to add to their home tank.

How To Care For Your Glass Catfish (Kryptopterus Bicirrhis): Full Care Guide

Glass catfish are also relatively simple to look after. It is indeed quite easy to care for these fish and make sure they are strong and content, while you only need some basic information and skills to do so.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to learn about glass catfish. We will cover things like their diet, aquarium companions, life expectancy, and much more.

Glass Catfish: Overview

The Glass Catfish, officially known as kryptopterus vitreolus, is a Thai-native freshwater species.

This fish is reported to also have been discovered in Malaysia and Cambodia, but the veracity of these statements is questionable.

River systems that lead to the Gulf of Thailand seem to be the waters in which you will find these fish most of the time.

However, another concentrated population of glass catfish exists in the Cardamom Mountains’ River basins.

These streams and rivers are typically open, with a medium current speed. 

Even though they are not as good as other fish tank catfish at traversing uncharted water, they do have barbels that help them get a sense of their surrounding environment.

Glass catfish are not bottom-dwellers, which distinguishes them from many other catfish types.

Rather than hanging out at the bottom of the tank, these catfish spend a good deal of their time moving around and trying to explore the middle levels of the tank.

As they are more energetic and spectator-friendly than other fish species, they’re a great deal of fun for the owners too. 

This is fantastic since it grants you more moments spent observing and enjoying their unique appearance as an owner!

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy of Glass Catfish is 7 to 8 years, which is more than enough time to relish and form a deep connection with these species.

The genetic factors and condition of the catfish at the date of acquisition will also have an impact on their longevity.

If you purchase a catfish that was raised in poor conditions, even the best treatment on your behalf may not be enough to help them reach their 7th and 8th year of life.

Therefore, it is highly advisable to only purchase your fish from trusted sellers.

Moreover, if you do not create the right aquarium conditions for them, their life expectancy will be reduced, so if you wish for them to have a happy and healthy life, you need to keep on reading to see how to best care for them.


The Glass Catfish’s most attractive feature is its distinct look. This fish is completely translucent, just like its name implies.

The upside of having a translucent body is that predators have a harder time finding them, in the same way, they struggle to locate ghost shrimps.

At a first glance, these fish are almost worryingly transparent. You can plainly see all of their organs and what’s taking place inside their bodies!

Amongst the most striking features of these fish is their backbone. Seeing how transparent they are, one can see their entire spine running from their heads to their caudal fins.

Especially when they are moving around, it’s nearly impossible to actually look and see their fins, so it’s easier to look at some pictures of these fish to observe them.

Glass catfish have fork-like caudal fins, but they do not have a dorsal fin.

Their small pectoral fins provide most of their vertical mobility, and if you carefully watch them, you’ll be able to see these fish swimming at a fast speed!

Their organs can also be clearly seen. They can be seen behind their eyes, next to the base of their pectoral fins, and resemble a black shiny thing.

Moreover, glass catfish have whiskerlike feelers that stretch directly out of their faces, as opposed to other fish species, which have feelers that hang down behind them as they swim.


The typical glass catfish size is 4-6 inches, which means it is bigger than many fishkeepers believe, possibly because many other catfish are of a smaller size.

The glass catfish’s size is determined by genetic factors as well as the standards of care their owners have set for them.


Taking care of your glass catfish is quite an easy task once you understand the fundamentals of caring.

There aren’t really any major obstacles to overcome, as it’s all about consistency and making sure you meet the necessary requirements in terms of tank size, water quality, tank companions, and diet.

The remainder of this article will go over the fundamentals of caring for a glass catfish as well as what you should do to keep your fish strong and healthy.

Aquarium Size

Aquarium Size

Glass catfish thrive in aquariums no smaller than 30 gallons.

That being said, this number already takes as a given that you have already bought four or five of these fish and want to keep them in the same aquarium, as they love to have fish of their own kind around.

An aquarium with such a capacity will provide them with enough room to freely swim around without bumping into one another but also with a communal space where they can interact whenever they want to.

We don’t encourage you to get an aquarium smaller than that as you’ll then have to separate them from their group and that comes with many drawbacks.

Water Requirements

Though caring for your glass catfish is simple, the precise water requirements they need are something you should properly address.

The permissible windows in these settings are quite narrow, implying that the margin for mistake is very little.

This necessitates a solid grasp of how these fish live and survive in general, as well as experience modifying settings on the go.

And while this may appear scary initially, it’s something that you will get more comfortable with as the time passes.

If you don’t believe you’re prepared for it yet, you may have to try owning some more resilient fish for some time before moving on to owning glass catfish. 

This is a safe approach to practice managing and altering settings.

Water Temperature

The Glass Catfish require a temperature of 77°F, and it is very important to keep the temperature within the 75°F to 80°F range.


The Glass Catfish need water with a pH of 6.5.


The optimal water hardness for Glass Catfish ranges from 8 to 10 dGH.

It is essential that you run frequent tests to ensure that all levels and parameters are stable. Any changes you notice must be corrected right away.

Tank Habitat

When designing the optimum environment for the glass catfish, keep their native habitat in mind so that you may replicate it as closely as possible.

Their aquariums ought to have lots of open areas for them to swim around in.

Too many barriers or distractions will make this difficult, so make sure they don’t feel as if the tank is crowded or packed.

You should also ensure they have some greenery in their tank. The waterways from which glass catfish originate are rich in plant species, which they may employ as hiding places.

Because plants are something glass catfish are used to using for cover, recreating this safe space in their aquarium will provide them with a sense of security and protection.

Start with plants like hornwort or java moss.

When installing an aquarium for glass catfish, you also want to choose a smooth substrate. Because these catfish are not quite as hardy as others, anything that can slash them will most likely do so.

If possible, provide them with a good soft substrate to save them from potential scratches and limit their chances of catching infections.

Finally, you should think about water movement. You should not do anything unusual to provide them with the appropriate flow; just bear in mind that they cannot live in still waters.

Because the streams in their native environment are mild, any average flow configuration will suffice.

Potential Health Risks

Seeing what their necessary water conditions are, caring for glass catfish might appear scary at first, but it shouldn’t as the rest of it is a piece of cake.

These species are not prone to any specific illnesses that you should be aware of.

The only thing you need to do is build for them a diet with foods full of nutritional value and maintain their waters clean and bacteria-free.


When keeping your glass catfish in the home tank, you should try to make their meals similar to their natural diet. This can be done by using a variety of food sources to establish a balanced diet.

Firm flakes or pellet food is a good starting point, but it is something that you will be providing them with daily.

This meal will be the basis of their diet, as it can guarantee that they will get all their necessary elements.

Protein-rich foods such as bloodworms and daphnia are also excellent complements. You don’t really want to give this to your glass catfish too frequently, but once or twice a week is good.

This ensures that they receive extra fortification from the variety (you can choose either live or frozen) and that they will never suffer from protein deficiency.

Always be on the lookout for signs of excess or undereating. Because of the fish’s natural activity, determining whether or not they are eating enough might be difficult.

When you initially buy your glass catfish, keep an eye on them to be certain they are eating properly.



It is not a few individuals that are taken aback by the behavior of glass catfish at first.

Unlike other catfish, these species are highly aggressive when swimming, and they spend relatively little time on the substrate.

On the contrary, if they’re not playing around with the aquatic plants you have placed in the tank, they’ll move towards exploring the center of the aquarium.

Paradoxically, glass catfish are also quite calm. Despite their energetic lifestyle, they are fish who like to keep to themselves and avoid causing problems for the other creatures in the aquarium.

This is fantastic since it provides you with several possibilities for choosing tank companions, like the ones we will see in a bit.

Your glass catfish will also stay with their group, which means that it is unusual to encounter one that’s separated from the rest of them.

That’s why, if you wish for them to prosper, you should maintain them in groups of a minimum of five per tank.


There are a lot of glass catfish tank companions to select from. These fish do well in community aquariums where they may cohabit with a variety of different creatures.

When it comes to choosing good glass catfish aquarium buddies, the two aspects to consider are size and aggressiveness.

Bigger fish can be an issue since they may mistake your glass catfish for food!

Confrontation should also be avoided since the mild demeanor of glass catfish will backfire. They are essentially too calm to defend themselves.

So, to get you going, a few wonderful glass catfish aquarium pals can be Swordtails and Molly fish.

This is, of course, nothing but two suggestions out of the dozens on the list of aquarium buddy choices.

Feel free to investigate and look for other species that could be suitable, as there are numerous alternatives!

Glass Catfish Groups

Additional glass catfish are the only aquarium mates that are definitely necessary. Because these are herding fish, they group together for safety.

A glass catfish that is left alone will experience persistent anxiety, which can have a negative effect on its wellness and lifetime.

Although you can always keep them in a smaller aquarium, that does not mean that it will do them good.

To keep them alive and content, opt for a school group of five or more glass catfish.

Fewer numbers in a group might lead to discriminatory behaviors between them or the belief that the fish are unsafe which will lead to more stress.


Glass catfish reproduction is a rare occurrence in captivity. Although it has been accomplished, it is not frequent, and there are very few details regarding the optimum strategy for this creature.

If you want to try reproducing glass catfish, you need to first learn about their native breeding practices.

Given the lack of knowledge of the procedure, you will have to utilize the following guidelines to follow.

The most important thing to do is prepare the aquarium to facilitate the action.

Lowering the temperature of the water a few points is a good starting point as it will simulate the season of the year when they breed.

Some people have suggested introducing a little amount of freshwater into the aquarium during that same period of time to simulate rains.

Although the usefulness of this practice has yet to be demonstrated, considering how tough this procedure can be, it’s perhaps not a terrible idea to put to the test.

When you effectively commence the reproduction process, you will observe several exchanges between the breeding couple.

One of the recorded actions is the couple coming face-to-face and rubbing their barbels with one another, which is a positive indication that your plan is working!

If the fertilization is fruitful, you may notice them depositing their eggs in a few of the plants in their aquarium, so make sure to have some leafy plants in these as that is what they prefer.

Then, you have to wait for a couple of days until the eggs hatch.

When the eggs hatch, you must feed the fry with food that is rich in protein for them to develop and become healthy adults in time.

A popular choice of food at this early stage is baby brine shrimp.

The Bottom Line

Glass catfish maintenance is a gratifying and enjoyable experience for all fishkeepers.

These fish are really unusual and entertaining to watch, and they will offer a completely different dynamic to any aquarium they are in.

One of the most essential things to keep in mind regarding glass catfish is to pay particular attention to water parameters and levels.

When it comes to this kind of fish, this should be your primary focus. These fish are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, pH, and hardness, and are not hardy by any means.

This, nevertheless, is manageable so long as you are committed and knowledgeable about the processes. Besides that, they are very simple fish to keep and care for, which is why we do not regard glass catfish as difficult to look after.

They make excellent tank mates, are visually appealing and have a fun and energetic personality that all aquarium hobbyists love. There is absolutely no disadvantage!
Jose Viacrucis

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *