Catfish of the Month Right Arrow April 2002 • Article © D & R Lalkaka, uploaded April 01, 2002



Asian Bumblebee Catfish, Siamese Barred Catfish, Siamese Catfish, Siamesischer Ringelwels (Germany) - Pseudomystus siamensis   (Regan, 1913)

This month I am indebted to Planet Catfish contributor Dinyar Lalkaka for supplying these great images of his fish. They instantly reminded me of how much I like this species and choosing it for catfish of the month was not a hard step to take.

Reading many catfish books you would be forgiven for thinking this is a commonly available catfish. In truth in the 1970's and early 80s, it was a common find in your LFS, but it hasn't been commonly available in more recent years. However, import patterns following their own rhythms, this fish has been turning up here and there recently. Perhaps it will become more steadily available over the next few years, giving us greater opportunity to learn about this pretty mid-sized catfish.

Although this species' head is always dark brown to black, the distinctive yellow and dark banding colouration across the rest of the body is variable - as are the exact size, shape and intensity of the dark pigment of the caudal fin lobe blotches. The fish have beautiful crystal blue eyes which are dull, but should never be cloudy in a healthy fish.

Keepers of this fish are used to rare sightings especially if kept in a heavily decorated tank. Because the fish is so infrequently observed the aquarist can note significant changes in size and shape. The fish is relatively fast growing, attaining its full size in under two years - given sufficient space and food.

Despite the fact it is hard to find a catfish book that doesn't feature this species, surprisingly little hard fact beyond basic husbandry exists. Experiments in spawning are perhaps hampered by the fishes territorial or carnivorous nature, but it is often the case that hardy species are easy to spawn once the secrets are unlocked. The recent spate of imports of this fish allow another generation of catfish keepers to try their hand at this, surely rewarding, accomplishment.


Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific NamePseudomystus siamensis  (Regan, 1913)
Common Name(s)Asian Bumblebee Catfish
Siamese Barred Catfish, Siamese Catfish, Siamesischer Ringelwels (Germany)
Type LocalityBangpakong River, Thailand
Synonym(s)Leiocassis siamensis
PronunciationSUE doh MIST uss - sigh ah MEN siss
EtymologyFrom the Greek pseudos, meaning lie, and mystus, a genus of bagrid catfishes. In reference to the overall similarity of the two genera. Named after its then country of origin Siam (know today as Thailand).
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 150mm or 5.9" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationMembers of the bagrid genus Pseudomystus are small- to mid-sized freshwater catfish endemic to Southeast Asia.Pseudomystus are commonly found in swamps and rivers throughout Southeast Asia. They can be differentiated from Leiocassis by a relatively short snout and a subterminal mouth. Many Pseudomystus have a color pattern of contrasting vertical bars or blotches.

Quite distinctive within its family, this species can be confused with the various South American bumblebee catfish from the family Pimelodidae. All Bagrids, the Asian bumblebee included, have a matched pair of nasal barbels which originate slightly forward of the eyes and tend to run almost vertically upwards. The caudal fin is clear to yellowish with variable blotches in the twin lobes.
SexingFemales are more deeper bodied in comparison to the more slender males.
General RemarksIntensity of colouration varies with size, age and possibly gender.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionAsia: Chao Phraya and Mekong basins. Reported from Mekong, Peninsular and Southeast Thailand river systems.
Thailand Waters, Chao Praya (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Mekong (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Thailand Waters, Peninsular Thailand Waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
IUCN Red List StatusLeast Concern
pH5.8 - 7.8
Temperature20.0-26.0°C or 68-78.8°F (Show others within this range)
Other ParametersAppears to prefer acidic, softer water but is truly hardy and adaptable in captivity.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingA carnivore; this species eats insects and small aquatic crustaceans in the wild but will adapt to most prepared foods easily. Feeding will initially be at night but this nocturnal species can be ''trained'' to eat during the day.
FurnitureAn totally dark cave is required, sized to suit the fish. Long black PVC pipes are ideal, the fish also prefers wood to stone.
CompatibilityTerritorially aggressive to its own kind or similar catfishes although more spacious tanks with plenty of hiding places can house a group of these fish. Tell tale croaking noises through the night belie nocturnal disputes and should prompt the separation of waring faction before too much damage is done. Larger individuals will eat small fish (usually at night).
Suggested TankmatesIdeal fish for the active, large Cyprinid tank. Due to its nocturnal feeding habits it suits most American cichlid tanks too, but fry will be eaten.
BreedingOnly a single documented captive spawning report exists - see Shane's World article. Reports indicate the fishes spawn during the rainy season in the wild, the young being found in fishermens nets around August.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesAnnals and Magazine of Natural History (Series 8) v. 11 (no. 66), pp 550.
Registered Keepers(1) Trident2004, (2) vriesea, who also notes: "Bought two at San Fancisco Aquarium Society. One died, other has doubled in sized in 3 months. Sold. Very fast grower. My siamensis grow from 1 1/2" to 5" in 6 months. Night feeder that preys on small fish.", (3) Oliver D. (k: 2), (4) Silurus, (5) Occellatus, who also notes: "A very beautiful species, it always hides behind my internal pump during the day. It prefers to park itself in a vertical position most of the time and is only active at night searching for food.", (6) clunkster, (7) vernonlarge, (8) Redcatman, (9) Marsdinho, (10) ElectricYellowPlecostomus, (11) Igowoof, (12) Högö, (13) ranmasan, who also notes: "shy, even in low light, during the day :)", (14) Nikita (k: 2), who also notes: "Both fish are over 9" long TL and have finished growing. Kept in a 72 x 24 x 24 tank with black sand substrate and mopani and bogwood decor, housed with other large cats and large barbs. Named Bamf and NC.", (15) Snowy (k: 3), (16) jb92 (k: 2), (17) Plunt, (18) mini-fée (p: 2), (19) mante-religieuse, who also notes: "Since I got it,I 've never seing it.ALWAYS hidden.Very small,only 5 cm. On 23-5-2008,I saw it take a shrimp pellet and brougt it back to its cave!!Now(on 1st on June )I start to see it once in a while steal food to the Ancistrus!It's a little fast! ", (20) elbowjuice, (21) iam1ru12, (22) zedogz, (23) Shovelnose (k: 2), (24) smegforbrains, (25) bahid, (26) andycapdnz (k: 2), who also notes: "Im sure this is the right fish, if not this one, its very similar.", (27) Reginator (k: 2), (28) tasoulis (k: 2), (29) turkey151 (p: 3), (30) saphphx, (31) judeblackburn, (32) jessey (p: 2), (33) Back, (34) mamoo, (35) headbanger_jib, (36) TheFishGuy, (37) NC24, (38) shivamotiram, (39) chimp, (40) mike h, (41) ad8, (42) Quo, (43) browny85, (44) nurglespuss, (45) Shawnc, (46) h4dow (p: 2), (47) anthonyking, (48) Hoyo12, (49) Fruityscone (p: 2), (50) Doras, who also notes: "Not sure if it's this species. Very shy.", (51) linuxrulesusa (k: 2), (52) MatsP (k: 2), (53) Jass, (54) Kif, (55) Rummage, (56) Narelle (k: 3), who also notes: ""Dexter" ; My favorite fish, looking to attempt breeding. 01/22/15 - acquired 2 new females, 9cm and 8cm.", (57) Divemaster, (58) thecameraguy, (59) Jools, (60) fatboy8, (61) slayer5590, (62) JohnRayNg, (63) telsonboy, who also notes: "Lives in Boogers, an alien skull ornament. Feeds on a variety of foods, which he eats with gusto, coming out of his home to snap at anything tasty or moves! Likely consumed juvenile Schistura sp (sand loach)! Has grown about half-again his size in one year.", (64) asian_bumblebeecat, (65) cowturtle, (66) Jordanlewis100, who also notes: "Even though it's tiny comes out to get its share of food then darts back into a cave,update 15-5-16:very fast growing had for nearly 2 months now and almost doubled in size!", (67) Gulper, (68) Lunadraco, who also notes: "I would love to upload an image but I've hardly seen more than its tail wiggling under its cave since I bought it 7 months ago. It's shy.".

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Breeding ReportsNone.
Articles
Article - Shane's World Reproduction A chance spawning of the Asian Bumblebee
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Last Update2014 Apr 17 15:34 (species record created: 2002 Apr 01 11:22)

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