Catfish of the Month Right Arrow March 2014 • Article © Heok Hee Ng, uploaded May 24, 2014



Bumble Bee Catfish - Leiocassis micropogon   (Bleeker, 1852)

The name "bumblebee catfish" usually conjures up images of a brown-and-yellow banded catfish; though the subject of this month's article is frequently branded with this moniker, its brown and yellow irregularly-blotched color pattern looks nothing like that of a bee. The reason for this discrepancy becomes clearer once we look at the history behind its name. The genus Leiocassis was once used for the group of fishes now known collectively as (Asian) bumblebee catfishes (because many species possessed the brown-and-yellow banded pattern). In 1991, the genus was split into three, with nearly all of the bee-patterned species reassigned to the genus Pseudomystus. What was left in Leiocassis comprised long-snouted species with a color pattern that did not remotely resemble a bee, but the common name stuck for the want of a better alternative. The name used in some parts of Malaysia ("baung tikus", translated loosely as "mouse catfish" after the long, rodent-like snout) is perhaps more apt.

The members of the genus are difficult to identify accurately to species, and the information in this article is applicable to all members of this genus, rather than to any one species in particular. In general, the genus can be divided (by the aquarist's eye) into the stouter-bodied species (L. micropogon and L. poecilopterus being the more commonly encountered) and the slender-bodied species (L. hosii). They are occasionally encountered as single-species imports, although the ones I have seen frequently tend to be contaminants in shipments of black lancers (Bagrichthys macracanthus).

Leiocassis catfish are generally found in fast-flowing clear-water (slightly elevated) streams with a substrate of rocks or fine sand. This is the kind of habitat associated with species that are not necessarily rheophilic, but require a good amount of oxygenation in the water (e.g. nemacheilid loaches, rasboras). As long as water quality is kept reasonably good and ample oxygenation is provided, Leiocassis species are easy to maintain the in the aquarium. Like nearly all bagrids, they will readily eat all manner of live, frozen and prepared foods. They are not social fish, and conspecifics can tussle over territories (make sure your tank has enough room if you plan to keep more than one). Although larger-sized fish are rarely encountered as captive fish, nearly all species will reach to sizes slightly larger than your average community-tank inhabitant [at least to 8" (20 cm) and sometimes to 12" (30 cm) standard length]. As with most bagrid catfishes of similar sizes, tankmates that are too large to be eaten and too fast-swimming to be attacked will be left alone (larger barbs make excellent tankmates on this account).

For those that find the color pattern appealing, Leiocassis (aka the bumblebee without bands) is a less commonly-encountered alternative to consider for a community tank of mid- to large-sized fish.


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 NameLeiocassis micropogon  (Bleeker, 1852)
Common NameBumble Bee Catfish
Type LocalityTjirutjup R., Blitong, Indonesia.
Synonym(s)Bagrus micropogon
PronunciationLee eye oh KAH siss - mike row poe gone
EtymologyLeiocassis: From the Greek leios (smooth) and cassis (helmet); in reference to the covering of skin and muscle on the head of the fish. The specific epithet comes from the Greek mikros, meaning small, and pogon, meaning beard. In reference to the short and very fine barbels of the fish.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 185mm or 7.3" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationThe bagrid catfish genus Leiocassis is diagnosed by an elongate narrow head, prominently protruding snout, origin of the adductor mandibulae extending onto the cranial roof, prominent anterior process of the hypurapophysis, hypertrophied posterior process of the cleithrum, third pharyngobranchial bearing flanges on posterior and medial surfaces, and the branch of the supraorbital canal leading to the infraorbitals exiting from the frontal (Mo, 1991). The genus is known only from Sundaic Southeast Asia.

Can be distinguished by its slender body and the occipital process not in contact with the nuchal plate.
SexingMales have an elongate genital papilla that is easily noticeable.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionKnown throughout Sundaic Southeast Asia.
Pacific, Greater Sunda Island Rivers (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)
pH6.0 - 7.4
Temperature20.0-26.0°C or 68-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersStrong current/good oxygenation preferred.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingWill take most foods readily. although it shows a preference for live/frozen food.
FurnitureInhabits clear, swiftly flowing forested streams with sandy or rocky bottoms; hides under submerged logs or rocks with some leaf litter in the swifter parts of the stream. Provide enough driftwood for cover.
CompatibilitySuitable for a community tank. Conspecifics are territorial, so ensure that there are enough hiding places.
BreedingNot reported.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesNatuurkd. Tijdschr. Neder. Indiëv. 3 - pp94
Registered Keepers(1) franksaquarium, (2) robertsindyrat (p: 2).

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Breeding ReportsNone.
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Last Update2014 Jun 09 19:45 (species record created: 2014 May 24 10:49)

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