Catfish of the Month Right Arrow October 2000 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded October 01, 2000

South American Bumblebee Catfish, Kleiner Marmor-Antennenwels, Kleiner Harlekinwels (Germany) - Microglanis iheringi   Gomes, 1946

Very often an aquarist's first impression of their first catfish is entirely missed. Once released from the plastic bag that it was brought home in, the fishes first act is to dive for the darkest, most inaccessible area of the aquarium. South America's bumblebee catfish certainly fits this description but it also continues this game of hide and seek throughout its captive life.

Put half a dozen of these fish in a well decorated aquarium and you will not see them for months. Personally I find this quite rewarding as it makes a "sighting" more of an event. In addition, because you only see the fish from time to time, you markedly notice how much it has grown, coloured-up or filled-out in a way that you wouldn't if you saw the fish all the time.

Although this fish can be seen during the day from time time time but it is usually travelling at high speed towards either food or cover. One of the more endearing traits of these fish is that they are quite as at home in dense vegetation as they are under a piece of rock or driftwood. Given such plant growth the fish will make darting runs from this refuge to wherever there is food and back again.

Their care is straightforward. The fish are not fussy eaters and will tend to pick off small pieces of food others leave behind. This form of feeding shouldn't be relied on (especially if there are other nocturnal feeders present) and feeding the tank a couple of hours after "lights out" ensures food for all.

The South American bumblebee catfish is so called because of its yellowish and black banding but to call it simply the bumblebee catfish would be misleading as the larger Asian Bagrid Pseudomystus siamensis is commonly referred to as THE bumblebee catfish. As a quirk of how the export markets change over the years you are now much more likely to encounter the South American for sale.

A word of warning, although all catfish of the genus Microglanis are relatively small and good community fish, they are very similar to young giant bumblebee catfish (Pseudopimelodus spp. and the like). These fish grow quite large but will attempt to eat anything they can in the process. They are ambush predators and their appetite is legendary. The best way to tell these fish apart is to look at the mouths; the giants have huge mouths which takes up virtually their entire head, whereas Microglanis have quite a large mouth but with a much smaller gape. Microglanis also have larger eyes.

As an interesting footnote, I have the following collection information from Shane who collected this fish in the wild:

Collecting location: Venezuela, Estado Miranda, Rio Merecure, Rio Tuy Drainage. Collected from the Rio Merecure near the bridge that crosses the river on the road between Caucaqua and Higuerote. Water was very clear and flowed at a moderate to strong pace. Substrate was exposed bedrock and fist-sized stones. No aquatic vegetation present. Microglanis were collected in the riffles and along the banks among the root systems and overhanging terrestrial vegetation. Water chemistry: pH 7.2, 60 ppm GH, 76-80F (warmer in the shallows). Also collected were: one species of pike cichlid, Acara sp. (Blue Acara), Hypostomus sp. fry, various tetras (mainly Astynax bimaculatus), Hoplias tetras, and Characidium darter-tetras.

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 NameMicroglanis iheringi  Gomes, 1946
Common NamesSouth American Bumblebee Catfish
Kleiner Marmor-Antennenwels, Kleiner Harlekinwels (Germany)
Type LocalityRío Turmero, Aragua, Venezuela.
Pronunciationaye herr ing ee
EtymologyMicro - small, glanis - catfish - in reference to the rather small forms of catfish that this genus contains. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 72mm or 2.8" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationThe genus Microglanis was described by Eigenmann (1912) to include small pimelodids with the head as wide as long, the skull covered by skin only; the occipital crest small; frontal fontanel not extending much if any behind the eye, and a minute occipital fontanel sometimes present; eye without a free orbital margin; dorsal and pectoral spines well developed; and premaxillary patches of teeth without backward projecting angles.

The South American bumblebee catfish is so called because of its yellowish and black banding but to call it simply the bumblebee catfish would be misleading as the larger Asian Bagrid Pseudomystus siamensis is commonly referred to as THE bumblebee catfish. As a quirk of how the export markets change over the years you are now much more likely to encounter the South American for sale.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionRio Turmero, Venezuela.
Valencia, Turmero (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 - 7.5
Temperature22.0-26.0°C or 71.6-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingOmnivorous. This fish is not a fussy eater. Brineshrimp appears to be a special favourite.
FurnitureDense leafy vegetation such as provided by large clumps of Java fern or Amazon swords. Narrow cracks or holes in between rocks or wood are also used.
CompatibilityNon aggressive and sociable with its own and other species.
Suggested TankmatesVirtually all good community fish, although any young fry present in the aquarium will be in extreme jeopardy - especially after dark.
BreedingSee Shane's World article.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesOccas. Pap. Mus. Zool. Univ. Mich.No. 494 - pp9 - Pl. 1
Registered Keepers(1) CatBrat, (2) Tulio, (3) Moontanman, (4) Trident2004, (5) Jools, (6) Lornek8, (7) Oliver D. (k: 5), (8) Silurus, (9) brettwms75 (k: 5), who also notes: "Always digging, under plants roots or under the bog wood.", (10) gage, (11) Noesis (k: 3), (12) BigMoneee, (13) call_apple (k: 5), (14) azfisher (k: 3), (15) Chrysichthys, (16) fballguy, (17) mzavori, (18) Bas Pels (k: 5), who also notes: "All from Uruguay, uncharacteristically, thay are always in plain view", (19) Högö (k: 2), (20) Plecofanatic1989 (k: 4), (21) daniel60 (k: 10), (22) irshprncsk (k: 3), (23) Junttis (k: 3), (24) tezr (k: 2), who also notes: "Nice little cat if you do not have any small fish for them to eat.", (25) Sasquatch, (26) LUISGOREY, (27) guardianfyre (p: 2), (28) lizimal, who also notes: "03/14/08 $3 each at Aquatek Great little bumblebee cats. Had a bit of a tussle last night, but I'm sure they'll get settled in.", (29) firlefanz (p: 2), (30) joe.juice13, (31) tomr (p: 4, k: 26), (32) synosteve (k: 2), (33) Lyssa, (34) titch2007 (k: 10), who also notes: "all 10 kept in 60litre tank with 5 hatchetfish, tank heavily planted and filled with wood, slate and and mound of round pebbles (which they love swimming about) kept at 26C, eats anything no problem at all!!! size ranging from 2-3 inches!", (35) ChileRelleno, who also notes: "Moonlights a must to watch feedings, as they cruise around searching by smell, very fast. Ravenous feeders, they gobble almost anything, shrimp pellets and bloodworms are favorites. EDIT: Lost one, remaining has taken over a spot under a log/plant and is easily viewed at any time! YES! One of my favorites!", (36) Lightbringer (k: 2), (37) miravns, (38) kubastanik, (39) AU Chief, (40) MADRacing, (41) ASCauley, (42) skelley000, (43) necrocanis, (44) geekshow (k: 2), (45) Thalan (p: 2), (46) Birger, (47) nvcichlids (k: 80), (48) smegforbrains, (49) Static, (50) Sumners83, (51) ahodge84 (k: 5), (52) willis30, (53) emperorted, (54) I_Xeno (k: 2), (55) catmother, (56) fischkringli, (57) rdecker81 (k: 2), (58) Fishguy2727, (59) JeffsFishroom, (60) mrfox90 (p: 2), (61) Timthedrifter, (62) coheedandcambriarules (k: 2), (63) walshy317 (p: 2), (64) ewurm, (65) L number Banana, who also notes: "Size is approx.", (66) Dave Rinaldo (p: 2), (67) naturalart, (68) ayrtoninst (k: 160), (69) Martin S (p: 4, k: 9), (70) matt12, (71) bamboosticks (k: 4), (72) jscoggs27, (73) Viktor Jarikov, who also notes: "thought was getting the asian one but appears to have gotten the S.A. one", (74) rodrigd2, (75) mamoo (k: 2), who also notes: "I introduced three but one died. I can't find the other 2. I hope my Pseudomystus has nothing to do with this", (76) huskybz91, (77) manlyfish, (78) MichaelC95, (79) NC24 (k: 19), (80) wolverine2031 (k: 2), (81) fishmanbill, (82) MatsP (k: 6), (83) Marka7z, (84) DeepFriedIctalurus (k: 2), (85) cdc069, (86) metalface2 (k: 8), (87) john_d (k: 10), (88) Shawnc, (89) Dee, (90) h4dow, (91) wendy333, (92) airlik73, (93) Matthijs, (94) bluefish1, (95) transporter42, (96) huskerdad, (97) indiCa, (98) DGR1980 (k: 2), who also notes: "I currently have two of these cats which i love watching when i first put them in tank they would fight mouthing each other everytime they met but since i did a water change and put them in a bucket together they have i geuss made friends.", (99) pawel060, (100) mikemaes, who also notes: "Have'nt seen it in three months, but that's not so rare.", (101) merit, (102) Microsab (k: 9), (103) linuxrulesusa (k: 3), (104) Atmichaels (k: 3), (105) ladytara33, (106) Dalek Tzet, (107) botguy13, (108) bahid (k: 3), (109) miguel mitchel, (110) FerocactusLatispinus (k: 2), who also notes: "R.I.P. Gordon, Grasa. Had him for 3.5+ years and was a joy. Rescued a little 1" that was on death's door (tank full of tetras nipping him); Grasa made a slow recovery, but gradual heating to 83F over several days to kill off ich hurt him instead. Never heat your aquarium past 78F if you have this species. v_v", (111) booitsme3109, (112) oetheous, (113) Sean B, (114) nicofish, (115) john h, (116) KGlo (k: 2), who also notes: "They're very shy and only come out of hiding when it is dark or when there is food. They are quite fast so when you do see them it's not for very long. Other than their shyness they're pretty nice fish. They can be territorial towards eachother and one time I heard them make a squeaking/buzzing noise while chasing eachother.", (117) evojoey, (118) in_the_seance, (119) lynja321, (120) rcbows (k: 5), (121) CowBoYReX, (122) jodilynn (k: 3), who also notes: "Little unsure about purchasing this guy, "Dodge", feel a bit better reading species page, we'll see how it goes! Update: Have 4 youngsters now, call them my "bumbles" because of their comic antics! One hides out with two of the Midnight Cats, much to their chargrin...", (123) sushi1980, (124) Fishkeeperneo, (125) flatdog (k: 2), (126) cowturtle, (127) ChocolateCatfish, (128) hooliganATV, (129) dmcat (k: 3), (130) DavidNMaddieHaveCats, (131) KetkuFIN, (132) slayer5590, (133) backstreetgambler (k: 6), (134) Nativeguy, who also notes: "Very easy, very skittish towards any light", (135) OregonOutdoorsChris, who also notes: "Extremely sensitive to light. Can go weeks or even months without being seen.", (136) Fishybotany, (137) Gulper, (138) mad357, (139) Bhenley, (140) catfishchaos (k: 3), who also notes: "These guys bring a new definition to feeding frenzie, I could see such behavior being bothersome to more tranquilit species. Very fast but when they do slow down they are extremely shy and cryptic. Eat anything I put in the tank and I have seen them swallow pellets only slightly smaller than the width of their head.", (141) rizla75, (142) pictuswhiptail (k: 2), (143) yellowcat, (144) Electrocat, (145) BullFishkeeping (k: 2), (146) angerygrover, (147) PHHorst, (148) pan (k: 5), (149) burgercats (k: 10).

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Breeding Reports(1) nvcichlids (b: 45).
Article - Shane's World Reproduction Reproduction in Microglanis
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Last Update2009 Dec 13 02:05 (species record created: 2000 Oct 01 11:22)

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