Bumblebee Catfish Care: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

If you’re a fish enthusiast looking for a unique and colorful addition to your aquarium, the bumblebee catfish might be the perfect choice. These small, vibrant fish are native to South America and are known for their striking black and yellow stripes, which resemble the pattern of a bumblebee. However, before adding these fish to your tank, it’s important to understand their care requirements to ensure they thrive in their new environment.

Bumblebee Catfish is a small, peaceful freshwater catfish species that requires a minimum tank size of 20 gallons. They prefer a pH range of 6.5-7.5 and soft to moderately hard water. They are omnivorous and should be fed a varied diet of flakes, pellets, and live/frozen foods. Regular water changes and proper filtration are necessary for their well-being.

First and foremost, bumblebee catfish require a well-maintained aquarium with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5. They prefer soft to moderately hard water, and it’s essential to keep the water temperature between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Additionally, these fish are social creatures and should be kept in groups of at least six. Providing a variety of hiding places and plants in the aquarium will also help them feel more comfortable and reduce stress.

Overall, bumblebee catfish can be a rewarding addition to your aquarium if you’re willing to put in the effort to meet their specific care needs.

With the right environment and attention, these fish can thrive and provide a beautiful and unique display in your home. I personally love watching my bumblebee catfish swim around and interact with each other, and I’m sure you will too!

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Species Summary

If you’re considering adding a bumblebee catfish to your aquarium, it’s important to know the basics about this species. Here’s what you need to know:


Bumblebee catfish, also known as pictus catfish, are native to South America. Specifically, they can be found in the Amazon River Basin, as well as other rivers and streams in the region.


Bumblebee catfish have a relatively long lifespan for a freshwater fish, typically living for 8-10 years when kept in optimal conditions.


Bumblebee catfish are easily recognizable by their distinctive black and yellow striped pattern, which resembles the markings of a bumblebee. They have a sleek, elongated body and long whiskers, or barbels, around their mouth.


When fully grown, bumblebee catfish typically reach a size of 4-6 inches in length.

Growth Rate

The growth rate of bumblebee catfish is relatively slow, and they may take several years to reach their full size. It’s important to provide them with a healthy diet and optimal living conditions to ensure they reach their full potential.

Behavior & Temperament

Bumblebee catfish are generally peaceful and can be kept in community aquariums with other non-aggressive fish.

However, they are nocturnal and may become more active at night, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of hiding places during the day.

Male vs Female

It can be difficult to distinguish between male and female bumblebee catfish, as they have no external differences. The only way to determine their sex is through dissection or breeding.

Personally, I’ve found that bumblebee catfish are fascinating fish to watch. Their unique appearance and nocturnal behavior make them stand out in any aquarium. However, it’s important to provide them with the proper care and environment to ensure they thrive.

Tank Setup

Setting up a tank for your bumblebee catfish can be a fun and rewarding experience. Here are some important factors to consider when creating the perfect environment for your fish.

Tank Size

The size of your tank is an important factor to consider when setting up your bumblebee catfish’s home. These fish are active and need plenty of space to swim around.

A good rule of thumb is to have at least 20 gallons of water per fish. If you plan on having more than one bumblebee catfish, make sure to increase the tank size accordingly.


Lighting is important for both the health of your fish and the plants in your tank. Bumblebee catfish prefer low to moderate lighting, so avoid bright lights that can cause stress.

You can use LED lights that mimic natural sunlight to create a comfortable environment for your fish.

Filtration & Aeration

Bumblebee catfish produce a lot of waste, so a good filtration system is essential for keeping the water clean and healthy. Aeration is also important to provide oxygen for your fish. A combination of a filter and an air pump can provide both filtration and aeration for your tank.


Bumblebee catfish prefer warm water with a temperature range of 75-82°F. A heater is necessary to maintain a consistent temperature in your tank. Make sure to choose a heater that is appropriate for the size of your tank.


Bumblebee catfish prefer a sandy substrate that mimics their natural environment. Sand also provides a good surface for beneficial bacteria to grow, which helps with filtration. Avoid using gravel or sharp substrates that can harm your fish.


Adding decorations to your tank can provide hiding places for your bumblebee catfish and create a more natural environment. You can use rocks, driftwood, and caves to create a comfortable home for your fish.


Live plants can provide a natural source of oxygen and help with filtration. Bumblebee catfish prefer low-light plants such as Java Fern and Anubias.

Make sure to choose plants that are appropriate for the size of your tank and the needs of your fish.

When setting up your bumblebee catfish’s tank, it’s important to consider their needs and create a comfortable environment. With the right tank setup, your fish can thrive and live a happy and healthy life.

Personally, I found that adding a few plants and decorations to my bumblebee catfish’s tank made a huge difference in their behavior. They seemed more relaxed and active, and it was a joy to watch them swim around their new home.

Water Quality

Water quality is crucial for the health and well-being of your bumblebee catfish. Keeping the water clean and balanced will prevent diseases and ensure that your fish thrive.

In this section, we’ll cover the different aspects of water quality that you need to pay attention to.

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for bumblebee catfish is between 75-82°F (24-28°C). You can use a heater to maintain a consistent temperature, and a thermometer to monitor it.

Rapid temperature changes can be stressful for your fish, so avoid sudden fluctuations.

Water pH

Bumblebee catfish prefer slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.0-7.5. You can use a pH test kit to measure the pH level of your aquarium water.

If the pH is too high or too low, you can adjust it using a pH regulator. However, make sure to do this gradually to avoid shocking your fish.

Water Hardness

Bumblebee catfish prefer soft to moderately hard water with a hardness level between 2-12 dGH. You can use a water hardness test kit to measure the hardness level of your aquarium water.

If the water is too hard or too soft, you can adjust it using a water conditioner or by adding minerals to the water.

Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential to maintain good water quality. You should change 25-50% of the water in your aquarium every 1-2 weeks, depending on the size of your tank and the number of fish.

Use a siphon to remove the debris from the bottom of the tank, and replace the water with dechlorinated tap water that has been heated to the same temperature as the tank water.

Personally, I find that keeping a schedule for water changes helps me stay on top of this important task. I like to mark it on my calendar so I don’t forget. It’s also a good idea to test the water regularly to make sure the parameters are within the acceptable range.

Tank Maintenance

Maintaining a clean and healthy tank is crucial for the well-being of your bumblebee catfish. Here are some tips to keep your tank in top condition:

First, make sure to perform regular water changes. Aim for changing 20-30% of the water every week to keep the water quality in check. I personally like to do this on Sundays, so I never forget!

Second, keep an eye on your filter. Your bumblebee catfish will produce a lot of waste, so it’s essential to have a good filtration system that can handle it. I recommend cleaning or replacing your filter media every month to ensure it’s working correctly.

Third, monitor the temperature and pH levels regularly. Bumblebee catfish prefer slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.5-7.5 and a temperature range of 75-82°F. Use a reliable thermometer and pH test kit to check these levels at least once a week.

Fourth, don’t forget to clean the tank decorations and substrate regularly. Use a siphon to vacuum the substrate and remove any uneaten food or debris. I like to clean my decorations once a month by soaking them in a bucket of water and scrubbing them with a soft brush.

Finally, keep an eye out for any signs of illness or stress in your bumblebee catfish. If you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or discoloration, take action immediately. Consult with a veterinarian or an experienced fish keeper for guidance.

Tank Mates

If you’re considering adding bumblebee catfish to your aquarium, it’s important to choose compatible tank mates to ensure a peaceful and healthy environment. Here are some things you need to know about tank mates for bumblebee catfish.

Compatible Fish Species

When it comes to choosing compatible fish species, bumblebee catfish are generally peaceful and get along well with others. Some good options to consider include:

  • Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Corydoras
  • Small loaches

These fish are all relatively small and peaceful, which makes them good companions for bumblebee catfish. They also prefer similar water conditions, so they’ll be comfortable in the same tank.

Incompatible Fish Species

While bumblebee catfish are generally peaceful, there are some fish species that you should avoid keeping with them. These include:

  • Aggressive cichlids
  • Larger predatory fish
  • Fast-swimming fish

These fish can be a threat to bumblebee catfish, either because they are aggressive or because they may see the catfish as food. It’s best to avoid keeping these species together to prevent any conflict.

Can Bumblebee Catfish Live Together?

If you’re wondering whether bumblebee catfish can live together, the answer is yes! They are social fish and enjoy living in groups. In fact, keeping multiple bumblebee catfish together can be beneficial for their overall health and well-being.

However, it’s important to make sure you have enough space in your tank to accommodate multiple catfish. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 10 gallons of water per bumblebee catfish. You should also make sure your tank has plenty of hiding places, such as plants or caves, to give each catfish its own space.

Personally, I’ve had great success keeping bumblebee catfish with other peaceful species like tetras and corydoras. They make great additions to any community tank and are a joy to watch!


As an owner of a bumblebee catfish, you need to be aware of their dietary requirements. A well-balanced diet is essential for their overall health and well-being. In this section, we will discuss what to feed your bumblebee catfish, how often to feed them, and some tips to keep in mind.

What To Feed

Bumblebee catfish are omnivores and need a varied diet. They will eat both meaty and plant-based foods. Some good options for meaty foods include bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. For plant-based foods, you can feed them spirulina flakes or pellets, zucchini, and cucumber.

I have found that my bumblebee catfish particularly enjoy live food, such as brine shrimp. It’s always exciting to watch them hunt and eat their prey.


It’s important not to overfeed your bumblebee catfish. Overfeeding can lead to health issues, such as obesity and poor water quality. Feed them small amounts twice a day, and remove any uneaten food after 10-15 minutes.


  • Rotate their diet to ensure they are getting a variety of nutrients.
  • Avoid feeding them human food, as it can be harmful to their health.
  • Consider using a feeding ring to prevent food from spreading around the tank.
  • Don’t forget to provide them with some hiding spots to make them feel safe while eating.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your bumblebee catfish is getting the proper nutrition and living a healthy life.

Common Diseases

As a bumblebee catfish owner, it’s important to be aware of the most common diseases that can affect your fish. This will help you to identify any issues early and take the necessary steps to keep your fish healthy.


One of the most common diseases that can affect bumblebee catfish is ich, which is caused by a parasite. This disease can cause white spots on the fish’s body, along with other symptoms such as lethargy and loss of appetite.

Another common disease is fin rot, which is caused by bacteria. This disease can cause the fish’s fins to become frayed and discolored, and can also lead to other symptoms such as lethargy and loss of appetite.


The symptoms of these diseases can vary, but some common signs to look out for include lethargy, loss of appetite, and changes in the fish’s appearance. For example, if you notice white spots on your fish’s body or frayed fins, it’s important to take action right away.


If you suspect that your bumblebee catfish has a disease, it’s important to take action right away. The treatment will depend on the specific disease, but some common treatments include medication, water changes, and quarantine.

For example, if your fish has ich, you may need to treat the tank with medication to kill the parasite. If your fish has fin rot, you may need to do more frequent water changes and add medication to the water to kill the bacteria.


The best way to prevent diseases in your bumblebee catfish is to maintain a clean and healthy environment. This means doing regular water changes, keeping the tank clean, and avoiding overfeeding your fish.

It’s also important to quarantine any new fish before adding them to your tank, as this can help to prevent the spread of diseases to your existing fish.

By being aware of the most common diseases that can affect bumblebee catfish, and taking the necessary steps to prevent and treat these diseases, you can keep your fish healthy and happy for years to come.

Personal Anecdote: When I first got my bumblebee catfish, I didn’t realize how important it was to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

Unfortunately, this led to my fish developing fin rot. Thankfully, I was able to identify the issue early and take the necessary steps to treat it. Since then, I’ve been much more diligent about maintaining a clean tank and keeping an eye on my fish’s health.

Signs of a Healthy Bumblebee Catfish

When you bring home a new bumblebee catfish, it’s important to know what to look for to ensure it’s healthy. Here are a few signs to keep an eye out for:

  1. Active and Alert: A healthy bumblebee catfish is active and alert. It will be swimming around and exploring its environment. If the catfish is lethargic or hiding, it could be a sign of illness.
  2. Good Appetite: A healthy bumblebee catfish will have a good appetite and will eagerly eat its food. If the catfish is not eating or appears to be losing weight, it could be a sign of illness.
  3. Clear Eyes: A healthy bumblebee catfish will have clear, bright eyes. If the eyes appear cloudy or have a film over them, it could be a sign of illness.
  4. Smooth Skin: A healthy bumblebee catfish will have smooth, unblemished skin. If the skin appears rough or has white spots, it could be a sign of illness.
  5. Normal Breathing: A healthy bumblebee catfish will have normal breathing. It will not be gasping for air or breathing rapidly. If the catfish is struggling to breathe, it could be a sign of illness.

I remember when I first got my bumblebee catfish. I was so excited to bring it home and introduce it to my aquarium.

I made sure to watch for these signs of a healthy catfish and was relieved to see that my new addition was active, had a good appetite, and had clear eyes.

It’s important to keep an eye on your bumblebee catfish and watch for any signs of illness so you can address them promptly and keep your fish healthy and happy.

Signs Your Bumblebee Catfish Is Sick

If you’re a bumblebee catfish owner, it’s important to know the signs that your fish might be sick. Here are some things to look out for:

  1. Changes in Appearance: If you notice that your bumblebee catfish looks different than usual, it could be a sign of illness. Look for changes in color, scales, fins, or eyes.
  2. Reduced Appetite: If your bumblebee catfish is not eating as much as usual, it could be a sign of illness. Fish that are sick often lose their appetite, so keep an eye on how much your fish is eating.
  3. Lethargy: If your bumblebee catfish is not as active as usual, it could be a sign of illness. Sick fish often spend more time hiding or resting on the bottom of the tank.
  4. Gasping for Air: If your bumblebee catfish is gasping for air at the surface of the water, it could be a sign of illness. This behavior can be caused by a lack of oxygen in the water or other health problems.
  5. Erratic Swimming: If your bumblebee catfish is swimming erratically or having trouble swimming, it could be a sign of illness. This could be caused by a variety of health problems, including swim bladder disease.

Remember, if you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action right away. Consult with a veterinarian or an experienced fish keeper to determine the best course of treatment for your bumblebee catfish.

Personally, I once noticed that my bumblebee catfish was not as active as usual and was spending more time hiding. It turned out that he had an infection that required medication. I’m glad I caught it early and was able to get him the treatment he needed.


Breeding Setup

Breeding bumblebee catfish is a challenging task that requires a suitable setup. You will need a separate breeding tank that is at least 20 gallons in size.

The tank should be equipped with a sponge filter to provide gentle water flow and prevent the fry from getting sucked up.

Use a substrate of fine sand or pebbles, and add some hiding places like caves or PVC pipes. Keep the water temperature between 76°F and 80°F and maintain a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.

How To Breed

Breeding bumblebee catfish can be challenging, but it is not impossible. You can start by selecting a pair of healthy adult catfish and placing them in the breeding tank.

Feed them with high-quality live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia. Once the catfish are conditioned, they will start to spawn.

The female will lay eggs on the substrate or the walls of the tank, and the male will fertilize them.


After the eggs are fertilized, they will hatch in 2-3 days. The fry will stay attached to the substrate for a few more days until they absorb their yolk sacs.

After that, you can start feeding them with baby brine shrimp or crushed flakes. Keep the water clean by doing partial water changes every other day, and monitor the water parameters closely.

The fry will grow quickly, and you may need to move them to a larger tank as they mature. I remember the first time I bred bumblebee catfish. It was a challenging but rewarding experience.

Watching the fry grow and develop their distinctive stripes was fascinating. With patience and dedication, you too can successfully breed bumblebee catfish.

Product recommendations for Bumblebee Catfish:

  1. Hikari Sinking Wafers – This is a high-quality fish food that is perfect for Bumblebee Catfish. It contains all the essential nutrients that your fish need to stay healthy and vibrant.
  2. API Aquarium Test Kit – It is important to keep an eye on the water quality in your aquarium, and this test kit makes it easy to do so. It includes tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.
  3. Seachem Prime – This is a water conditioner that helps to detoxify ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in your aquarium. It is safe for use with Bumblebee Catfish and other fish.
  4. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum – If you plan on keeping live plants in your aquarium, this substrate is a great choice. It provides the nutrients that plants need to thrive, and also helps to maintain a stable pH.
  5. AquaClear Power Filter – This filter is highly effective at removing debris and maintaining water quality in your aquarium. It is also very quiet and easy to maintain.
  6. Aqueon Aquarium Water Changer – This device makes it easy to perform regular water changes in your aquarium. It is designed to be safe and easy to use, and can help to keep your Bumblebee Catfish healthy.
  7. Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter – This is a small and efficient filter that is perfect for smaller aquariums housing Bumblebee Catfish. It is easy to install and maintain, and will keep the water in your aquarium clean and healthy.
  8. NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light – This LED light is perfect for illuminating your aquarium and showcasing your Bumblebee Catfish. It is energy-efficient and easy to install.
  9. CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate – This substrate is perfect for creating a natural environment for your Bumblebee Catfish. It contains live bacteria and is easy to maintain.


Congratulations! You now have all the information you need to take care of your bumblebee catfish. Remember to keep their aquarium clean, provide them with hiding spots, and feed them a balanced diet.

If you follow these guidelines, your bumblebee catfish will thrive and live a long and healthy life.

Personally, I have found keeping bumblebee catfish to be a rewarding experience. They have unique personalities and are fun to watch as they swim around their aquarium.

Don’t forget to enjoy your time with your bumblebee catfish and give them the care they deserve. Good luck!


If you’re considering adding a bumblebee catfish to your aquarium, you may have some questions about their care. Here are some common questions and answers:

Q: What size aquarium do bumblebee catfish need?

A: Bumblebee catfish are small, but they are active fish that need plenty of swimming space. A tank that is at least 30 gallons is recommended for a small group of bumblebee catfish.

Q: What do bumblebee catfish eat?

A: Bumblebee catfish are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods. A high-quality pellet or flake food should be the staple of their diet, but they will also enjoy frozen or live foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.

Q: Are bumblebee catfish compatible with other fish?

A: Bumblebee catfish are generally peaceful fish and can be kept with other non-aggressive fish of similar size. However, they may become territorial during breeding season, so it’s important to provide plenty of hiding places in the aquarium.

Q: Do bumblebee catfish need a heater?

A: Bumblebee catfish are tropical fish and need a heater to maintain a water temperature between 75-82°F.

Q: How often should I do water changes in a tank with bumblebee catfish?

A: Regular water changes are important for the health of all aquarium fish, including bumblebee catfish. A 25% water change every two weeks is recommended.

Personal Anecdote: I have kept bumblebee catfish in my aquarium for several years and have found them to be fascinating fish with unique personalities. They are active swimmers and enjoy exploring their environment. With proper care, they can be a wonderful addition to any aquarium.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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