Glass Catfish: care, feeding and tank mates- [2020]

One of the most interesting little creatures for your tank is that of the glass catfish also known as ghost catfish.

Become a popular freshwater fish for anyone wanting to add something different to their aquarium due to their entirely visual bodies.

Glass catfish are quite easy to look after, too. It’s not that difficult to keep these fish happy and healthy as long as you know the essentials.

In this Guide we will give you the entire overview and what you need to know about glass catfish. Food, tank mates, lifespan and much more we are talking about.

Let’s dive right in

Species Summary

The freshwater fish is a Thai species of glass catfish. In Malaysia and even Cambodia, some reports have been published of such fish, yet these claims are invalid.

Rivers feeding into the Gulf of Thailand are where you can find them, but the Cardamom Mountain river basins have a condensed group.

Usually these waterways and rivers are fairly open at an average flow rate (not too fast, not too slow). While they’re not as effective as other aquariums in navigating dark waters, they still have barbels they use to feel the environment.

One thing that makes glass catfish extraordinary is that they don’t live on bottom fish, compared with many other catfish. They use most of their time to swim and explore the middle of the water rather than camp on the bottom.

This makes them a fun fish, since they are a little more active and spectacular than most catfishes. This is great, because it lets you observe and enjoy your interesting appearance as an owner more time!

Here is an Info-graphic! Have a look.

Glass catfish infographic


Here is the scientific classification of Glass catfish:

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Siluridae
Genus: Kryptopterus
K. vitreolus
Binomial name
Kryptopterus vitreolus

Ng and Kottelat, 2013

Lifespan of Glass fish

The average lifetime of glass catfish is from 7 to 8 years. It’s a long time that allows you to really enjoy and connect to these fish.

If you don’t give them the right tank conditions they can shorten their lifespan significantly. Ensure that you remain consistent and follow this guide ‘s recommendations if you want to make sure you live as long as you can.


Glass catfish in aquarium
Image by jacilluch from Commons Wikimedia

The main attraction of the glass catfish is its unique look. These fish are completely translucent, as its name implies.

The advantage of this is to make it harder to find predators (like the ghost shrimps).

They are translucent, you can see through their body at first it is nearly shocking. You can clearly see their internal organs and all that ‘s happening in their system!

One of the highlights of these fish is their backbone. You can see their entire spine from their heads to the base of their caudal fin because they are so clear.

Their fins can hardly be seen as they swim around. Looking at photos is a better way to get an insight into their structure.

Caudal fins have been forked and no dorsal fin by the ghost catfish. Their small pectoral fins give them most of their vertical mobility and you see them move fast while they are swimming when you look closely.

They also have very visible organs. You sit behind your eyes near the bottom of your pectoral fins and most look like a silver dark mass.

Glass catfish, like some catfish who’s barbels, have barbels which stretch out from their heads, which fall behind them while they swim.

Size of Glass Catfish

The medium length of this glass catfish is 4-6 cm. This is larger than many aquariums think, perhaps because there are many translucent fish on the smaller side.

Genetics and quality of care affect their size. Hence, it is very important for you to take the best care of this fish to make sure they live a healthy life and can grow its length as large as possible.

Glass catfish care

Glass catfish

When you know the basics, glass catfish care is quite simple. You need to navigate no major obstacles. Instead, everything is consistency and the right tank, water , and food conditions are provided to them.

The rest of this guide explores the essential elements of the care of glass catfishes and what you have to know to thrive.

Tank size

A minimum tank of 30-gallons does the best for glass catfish. This is presumable because about 5 of them are in the same tank as they are not good when kept alone (in the section of tank mates we will cover that in more detail).

This tank size enables them to swim around comfortably and have the social commitment and security a school offers. It is not advisable to go to a smaller tank because this requires less of it (with other inconveniences).

Water parameters

While glass catfish care is very easy, their strict water parameters definitely need to be taken seriously. There is no acceptable window at these levels , which means that the margin for error is slim.

This requires you to have a solid knowledge of these fish in general and to be familiar with fly level adjustment. While it may sound at first intimidating, it’s something with which you’ll improve over time.

It could be a good idea to keep some hardy fish for a long time, if you don’t believe you ‘re prepared for that yet. That is an excellent way to practice risk-free maintenance and adjustment.

  • Water temperature: 77°F would be an ideal temperature.
  • pH levels: 6.5
  • Water hardness: 8-10 dGH

Aquarium tank setup

Aquarium tank

You will want to look at their natural environment when creating the perfect habitat for ghost catfish in order to imitate it as effectively as possible.

Their tanks should be open enough for free swimming. There are too many obstacles or obstacles to it, so make sure they don’t feel too tight.

You will also want to ensure that in their aquarium there are plants too. The waters from which ghost catfish are produced have plant life which they can use to hide.

Replicating it in your tank will give you a sense of comfort and security, because plants are known to use as shelter. Try starter plants such as hornwort or java moss.

Another thing you would like for setting up a tank for glass catfish is a soft substratum. These fish do not last as many other catfish, so that anything which can cut them will probably happen.

Keep them safe and reduce the risk of infection if possible by giving them a pleasant sandy substratum. Finally, you ‘re going to want to consider flowing water as well.

To give them the correct current, you don’t need to do anything special, just be aware that they can’t have static water. The currents in its natural habitat are on the moderate side, so that any average flow configuration works well.

You might want to check out these articles:

Jaguar Cichlid: care, feeding, breeding and tank mates- [2020]

Hillstream loach: Complete care and guide- [2020]

Common Diseases

If you look at the recommended water parameters, glass catfish care might look a bit intimidating but it’s all down hill. There are no diseases of any kind that you need to be concerned about when these fish are involved.

Make sure to provide a balanced diet and maintain water quality with high-quality food. If that is done, you will greatly reduce the risk that freshwater fish develop some of the common health problems.

Feeding and Diet

These catfish eat mainly zooplankton and other small worms or invertebrates. In the wild. They are still selective feeders while living in the center of the water column. Small fish (baby guppies) and mosquito larvas have been known for eating.

Consider even preparing your own fish food so you don’t just get the best diet, you just feed your fish with the best ingredients.

In captivity, glass catfish food should imitate their diet in the wild to the fullest. The aim is to achieve a balanced diet with a number of food sources.

A strong pellet or flake food is a good place to start, and you’ll give it every day. This food serves as the backbone of your diet and guarantees that you get your nutrients.

There are also some high protein sources such as bloodworms, shrimps and daphnia. You won’t feed it all too often on your fantasy catfish, but you should be fine a couple of times a week. This will ensure that the variety is added (you can get frozen or live) and you will never have a protein deficit.

Be sure to keep an eye on them while eating to make sure they eat the food you give them. Also, make sure that they are not bullied and stopped eating fish.

Feeding these fishermen happy and healthy once or twice a day. Be sure to feed them in just a few minutes as much as they eat. Excess fish feed in your tank leads to overfeeding nutrients, which can result in large quantities of algae and bacteria.

It is important to ensure that they get the food they are fed, due to their shy nature. Even in peace, certain fish of other species are more active in eating and can frighten your Glass Catfish.

Once you find out which fish are more active in the feeding process, you can then methodically feed your fish to ensure that all fish have food. Try to feed the fish on one side of the tank before you add food to that tank.

This allows the more active fish to eat first and then the slower, shy fish to eat.

We recommend Feeding these type of food for glass catfish:

  • Grindal Worms
  • Daphnia
  • Brine Shrimp 
  • Moina
  • Pellet
  • Flakes

However, they will eat a wide range of pellets or flakes in your tank.

Behavior & Temperament

When it comes to behavior of glass catfish, Most of the Aquarists are surprised at first. Glass catfish are very active when it comes activeness. They spend most of their time swimming around aquarium tank with their fellow tank mates. However, rarely spend most of their tank on substrate.

Instead, they ‘re going to gravitate more toward investigating the center of the tank when they’re not ducking in and out of whatever plants you’ve got in the aquarium.

Glass catfish are very peaceful, too. In spite of their relatively active nature, they are fish that want to keep an eye on their own business. They never trouble with any other animals in the tank. This is a great news because it gives you a lot of options when it comes to finding your right tank mates.

Your glass catfish will stick to their group as well, so it’s extremely rare to see one far away. Therefore, if you want to thrive, you need to keep them in a group of at least 5 or more.

Glass Catfish Tank mates

In this section, we will guide you through choosing of right tank mates for your glass catfish. You are able to choose from a large number of glass catfish tank mates. These fish can live together with a variety of other animals in community tanks.

When it comes to finding the right glass tank matches you will want to keep an eye on both things are size and aggression. Fish that are considerably larger can be an issue, because your glass catfish might be considered a snack!

Aggression is also something that you want to avoid, because ghost catfish ‘s soft temperament works against them. They ‘re just too peaceful to stand alone.

Here are the right tank mates for your glass catfish to get you started:

This is not all possible option for tank mate. Feel free to search and explore other compatible fish. Tons of options are available!

Keeping Glass Catfish together

For glass catfish the only absolutely required tank mate is more of its own nature. They are school fish that means that they stick closely together to protect themselves.

A glass of catfish alone is constantly stressful and can have a significant effect on your health and life. Although it could mean that you can keep these in a smaller tank, the fish are not fair.

Try to keep them healthy and happy by a school of 5 or more. Smaller numbers can be bullying between the fish, or they can feel uncertain.

Breeding of Glass Catfish

Glass catfish breeding is something which is not done in captivity very often. While it has been done successfully, it is rare and the best approach for this species is not very well known there.

A fundamental understanding of their natural breeding patterns is essential if you are trying to breed glass catfish. Due to the lack of documentation on the process, you will need to apply these guidance.

The most important thing to do is make the tank fit to promote the process. The decrease of a few degrees of water temperature is a good starting point, since it imitates the time of year when it normally spreads.

In this time , some people recommended that a little bit of fresh water be put into the tank to replicate precipitation too. Although the effectiveness of this is not proven, it’s probably not a bad idea to try it, since this process is so difficult.

You will experience several different interactions between a breeding pair if you successfully launch the breeding process. The couple face to face and reach each other with their barbels are one of the reported behaviors. It’s a good sign if you see that!

If breeding succeeds, you will see their eggs in some plants that are available in their tanks (leafy plants are ideal).

You will have to feed protein-rich foods to help them grow once they have hatched. Baby brine shrimps are a common recommendation.

Concluding Thoughts!


Glass catfish treatments make all aquarists enjoy an enjoyable and rewarding experience. These fish are unbelievably unique and enjoyable to watch and add a completely different dynamic to any tank.

The one most relevant things to remember to take water parameters and levels very seriously in terms of keeping ghost catfish alive and healthy. This should be your highest priority for this fish species. These fish are highly sensitive to water changes and not resistant to any imagination.

This can, however, be managed as long as you are consistent and aware of the process.

Therefore we don’t consider it difficult to care for glass catfish. They are super low maintenance outside of the water parameters!

They make big tank mates, they look great and are fun and active and appreciated by all aquariums. No downside, really!

We are all ears, if you have feedback or proposals about this care guide. All we care about is to provide the best possible info, so every additional assistance is welcome!

8 thoughts on “Glass Catfish: care, feeding and tank mates- [2020]”

  1. I purchased a single glass catfish a while back (was not told they were schooling fish) bought 5 more today, I had Zebra danios (moved today) and I have 3 corydora catfish and a yoyo loach with them…my son noticed tiny little blackish lines in the tank when we looked harder they are fry, they look like the glass catfish but I have not been able to find any images of babies or info about babies. Can you help?

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