Most people start keeping catfish for one or both of two reasons. The first is the misguided and widely perpetuated myth that they are all excellent scavengers and will compensate for over-feeding, under filtration, eat algae, eradicate snails and combat a multitude of aquatic evils. This is perhaps true, to varying degrees, of some catfish. I believe the other reason people start keeping catfish is that they are unusual. Glass catfish are one of the most unusual of an unusual bunch. You can see right through them.
I started with a trio of these fish. They were timid, but fed well and kept themselves to themselves. It struck me that these would be ideal fish to keep with Discus if they could tolerate higher temperatures that Discus prefer. I transferred my trio to the Discus tank successfully and increased the shoal to seven individuals who happily coexisted with the Discus, assorted Tetras and Corydoras also present.
True glass catfish are completely transparent. If you look at one through a magnifying glass you can see the heart beating within the silver reflective sac that houses all the fishes organs. This species is also unusual amongst catfish in that it is a midwater swimmer and is inactive at night. This is not your average catfish. Indeed, one of the most interesting (probably because unexplained) aspects of this odd fish is that almost immediately following death, the fish loses its transparency becoming milky white. This suggests that something Glass Catfish do while alive produces or maintains the transparent effect.
I have also seen the African Glass Cat - Parailia pellucida - labelled as the Glass Cat, so always keep your eyes peeled when you look at a tank of these fish for sale. While on the subject of keeping your eyes peeled, some of you may have noticed that we have labelled this fish with a scientific name different from that you find in most hobbyist books. It appears that the glass catfish has been misidentified for a long time now as Kryptopterus bicirrhis, this fish grows much larger (up to 10") and has more rays in its anal fin. It is quite possible that, at some point in the last 30 years or so, K. bicirrhis was the fish imported into the aquatic trade as the Glass Catfish. Given the lack of 10 inch Glass catfish around today it is probably safe to say this isn't the fish we encounter most frequently in the shops.
Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.
|Cat-eLog Data Sheet|
|Scientific Name||Kryptopterus vitreolus Ng & Kottelat, 2013|
|Common Names||Glass Catfish
Asian Glass Catfish, Indischer Glaswels (Germany), Indisk Glasmal (Sweden), Phantom Catfish, Thai-glasmalle (Denmark)
|Type Locality||Amphoe Khao Saming, That Province, Thailand.|
|Pronunciation||Cry top ter russ. - vih TREE oh luss.|
|Etymology||Kryptopterus: From the Greek kryptos, meaning hidden and pteryx, meaning fin; in reference to the reduced or absent dorsal fin of this group of fishes. From the diminutive form of the Latin adjective vitreus, meaning of glass, in reference to the transparent appearance of this species in life (which gives this species its common name of glass catfish).|
- Shane's World Reproduction Captive spawning of Glass Catfish
|Size||80mm or 3.1" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.|
|Identification||Sometimes - the African Glass Cat, Parailia pellucida - is labelled as the Glass Cat, so always keep your eyes peeled when you look at a tank of these fish for sale. We have labelled this fish with a scientific name different from that you find in most hobbyist books. It appears that the glass catfish has been misidentified for a long time now as Kryptopterus bicirrhis, this fish grows much larger (up to 245mm) and has more rays in its anal fin. It is quite possible that, at some point in the last 30 years or so, K. bicirrhis was the fish imported into the aquatic trade as the Glass Catfish.|
|Distribution||Known from the short, coastal drainages in peninsular Thailand debouching into the Gulf of Thailand south of the Isthmus of Kra (from about 8°38'N to 6°2'N), as well as similar rivers draining the southeastern face of the Khao Banthat (Cardamom) Mountains in southeastern Thailand.
Thailand Waters (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Log in to view data on a map.
|pH||5.5 - 6.5|
|Temperature||21.0-26.0°C or 69.8-78.8°F (Show species within this range)|
|Other Parameters||Slow moving water providing areas of current and areas of still water. This fish rests in still water and stalks in gentle current.|
|Feeding||Will usually take prepared foods especially if moved by a current. Likes live brine shrimp and larger established fish relish bloodworm.|
|Furniture||Plants are necessary to make this fish feel at home. Floating plants that diffuse overhead light help but are not mandatory. Open swimming space is required, as this fish favours swimming freely at feeding.|
|Compatibility||Peaceful, will eat very small fry, but otherwise harmless.|
|Suggested Tankmates||Keep in a shoal of at least four but preferably six or more individuals. Such a shoal of glass catfish will do well with small tetras, rasboras or danios. Provided its tankmates are not too boisterous this fish will do well in well planted community aquaria.|
|Breeding||Little is known about the specifics of reproduction, appears to be an indiscriminate egg scatterer. See Shane's World article. .|
|Breeding Reports||There is no breeding report.|
|Reference||Biogeographical Society of Japan (Tokyo), pp 309, Figs. 1-2|
|Registered Keepers||Keeping this species? Why not .
There are 104 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
|Wishlists||Love this species? Click the heart to add it to your wish list.
There is but a single wish to keep this species, see who wants what.
|Spotters||Spotted this species somewhere? Click the binoculars!
There are 14 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
|More on Kryptopterus vitreolus|
|Look up Kryptopterus vitreolus on AquaticRepublic.com|
|Look up Kryptopterus vitreolus on Fishbase|
|Get or print a QR code for this species profile, or try our LFS label creator.|
|Last Update||2019 Sep 14 03:37 (species record created: 1997 Feb 01 11:22)|
Back to Catfish of the Month index.