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The Glass Catfish - Skeletal Darling of the Aquarium

Updated on July 27, 2014

Did you ever wonder what a fish looks like without its skin? Then you might be interested in the glass catfish. It is completely see-through. The internal organs and skeleton are clearly visible through their clear skin and if you aren’t looking close enough you might look right through them.

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Quick Facts

  • The Glass Catfish is a schooling fish that does well in groups of 6 or more.
  • They eat most flake foods and especially like bloodworms and brine shrimp as an occasional snack.
  • They prefer tropical water temperatures, 78 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Glass Catfish have a peaceful disposition. They are one of the least aggressive commercial tropical fish.
  • These catfish will grow to a size of approximately 2 - 3 ½ inches.
  • Glass catfish are not a beginner fish. They require a stable ph level without severe ammonia spikes. They should be one of the last fish added to an already established aquarium.


Glass catfish like very clean water and prefer a well planted aquarium to one that has only the bare essentials. It is a skittish fish that does not do well alone preferring to school in groups of six or more. Glass catfish can be kept alone if there is sufficient vegetation providing ample hiding places, but they will never be as healthy or secure as if they are kept in a group.

The minimum suggested tank size is 29 gallons, but if the glass catfish are kept in a single species tank they will fare well in a ten gallon tank. This is the best option as glass catfish are highly susceptible to bacterial infections which, once contracted, are very hard to get rid of. Glass catfish are very delicate and don’t react well to most over the counter fish medications. When the catfish get sick they start to become opaque and turn a milky white. Once this happens it is very hard to nurse them back to health and they should be quarantined immediately.

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Feeding and Breeding

When glass catfish are first introduced to a tank they will seek out a zone where they feel safe. During the first 24 hours the glass catfish might not move from that spot even to feed. When the catfish start to explore the tank they will begin feeding. They will eat flake food and it is enough to keep them alive, but to keep them in the best health it is suggested that they be fed bloodworms or other small live or frozen foods. They are especially fond of krill. These fish are not aggressive and will wait for other fish to eat first. Make sure that feedings are observed so that there is enough food for the catfish.

Glass catfish have never been bred in captivity. All available specimens are from wild caught sources and thus have the possibility of introducing disease into a tank.

Suggested Tank Mates

The glass catfish prefers a community of friendly fish. It does well with tetras, guppies, loaches, plecos, botia, danios, white clouds, other catfish, and almost any other non aggressive fish. If the glass catfish are placed in a tank with an aggressive fish they will very rarely move from their safety zone. You will not see them swim freely (as they would in a tank with a passive disposition) and they will eventually waste away from starvation. THESE FISH WOULD RATHER STARVE THAN FACE AN AGGRESSIVE SITUATION.

Why Pick the Glass Catfish

A small school of glass catfish will add interest and intrigue to a standard community tank. They are one of the least aggressive fish in a tropical community and are far more likely to be bullied than to be the aggressor. They do not do well as individuals but as a group will survive quite well and add a unique look to any aquarium.

If you are looking for a specimen fish for a 10 or maybe 16 gallon office tank this is the one. A group of glass catfish in a planted office aquarium will serve as a memorable living art piece. Adults and kids alike will remember this one of a kind school and look forward to seeing it on their next visit.


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