Information, Freshwater fish, Species

Glass Catfish: Complete Species & Care Overview

If you are looking to add an exciting species to your tank, you should go for the glass catfish. Glass catfish are one of the most sought-after aquarium fish, thanks to their unique see-through bodies. Apart from being physically appealing, they are also easy to care for; therefore, you can add them to your tank as a beginner.

This article will take you through all you need to know about glass catfish, including how to care for them, tank requirements, ideal tankmates, food, breeding habits, and much more.


Scientific Name: Kryptopterus vitreolus
Common Names: Glass catfish, ghost catfish, phantom catfish
Life Expectancy: 7 to 8 years
Adult Size: About 5 inches


Difficulty levelModerate
Primary DietOmnivore
Water Temperature75-80 F
Tank PreferenceMid-level
Water ParametersA pH of 6.5, water hardness 8-10 dGH
Min. Tank Size30 gallons
BreedingEgg layers

Fun Fact Corner

Glass catfish are transparent because they are scaleless and lack body pigment. Because of this, you can view all their organs.


This fish species is native to Thailand; however, some have been found in Cambodia and Malaysia. You can also find glass catfish in the Cardamom Mountains river basins. They mostly live in streams and rivers with an average flow. Like most catfish species, they have barbels that they use to navigate their surroundings.

Unlike other catfish species, this fish variety does not dwell at the bottom. They spend most of their time exploring and swimming in the middle areas of the streams.


Glass catfish, ryptopterus vitreolus in aquarium
Image: frantic00, Depositphotos

The key thing that distinguishes glass catfish from other breeds is their unique appearance. As the name suggests, this species is translucent. You can see the organs and bones through their skin. Some of the parts you can see clearly include the spinal column, which runs from the head to the caudal fin.

Apart from looking good, the transparent look is quite helpful because it provides camouflage when the fish needs to hide from predators. Therefore, they can’t get eaten by larger species. Their organs are behind their eyes and look like dark silvery mass. They also have barbells, like other catfish species extending out of the nose.

Average Size

As adults, glass catfish grow to about 4 to 6 inches in length. This is bigger than most translucent fish; therefore, you should be well prepared by getting a larger tank.

This fish species will grow based on the quality of care they receive and genetics. If you purchase glass catfish brought up in subpar conditions, it might not grow well. Therefore, ensure that you get them from a reputable seller.


It isn’t easy to differentiate between female and male glass catfish. However, if you look closely, the females are slightly larger and have fuller bellies to carry eggs.


The behavior of the catfish is surprising because it’s quite different from other catfish species. While other varieties spend most of their time digging into the substrate at the bottom of the tank, glass catfish are active swimmers who don’t spend much time at the bottom.

Additionally, they are very peaceful, making them a great addition to a peaceful community tank. Although they are active, they mind their own business in the tank and will not cause any trouble with other species. They also hang around with their fellow species because they swim in a school.


Fortunately, glass fish can live with different types of fish breeds because of their peaceful nature. As you look for tankmates, ensure you get varieties of the same size and temperament. Avoid stocking them together with larger fish species that may view them as food.

Cory catfish, kuhli loach, molly fish, swordtails, and celestial pearl danios are some of the best tankmates for the glass catfish. You can also keep them with fellow glass catfish because they are schooling fish. A glass catfish that lives alone is prone to stress which can negatively affect its health.

Tank Size and Conditions

In the wild, glass catfish live in areas with moderately moving waters. Therefore, they need to have the same environment in the fish tank. They do best in a minimum tank size of 30 gallons. You can even get a bigger one if you keep more than 5 because they are active swimmers.

Your water parameters need to be well maintained to keep the fish healthy. Ensure that the temperature is between 75 and 80F, a pH of 6.5, and water hardness of 8 to 10 dGH. Additionally, as you set up the tank, you should have plenty of open space for the fish to swim freely.

Furthermore, you should ass some plants and a soft substrate at the bottom of the tank. Add a filter that provides the right amount of current to maintain the water flow. You can monitor the parameters to ensure the tank is not contaminated.


Glass catfish eat small worms, zooplankton, and invertebrates in their natural habitat. It would be best to mimic this diet in captivity by providing a balanced diet. You can feed them pellets or flake food as the backbone of their daily diet.

You should also add high-protein foods such as daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp. As you feed them, closely monitor the tank to confirm that they are consuming the food. Schedule the feeding sessions once or twice a day to keep them healthy. Once they are done eating, remove the excesses to keep the tank bacteria-free.


Although glass fish breed in the wild, it’s quite challenging to breed them in captivity. Research is still being done to determine how to breed these species. However, if you want to attempt breeding them, follow the natural patterns by setting up a separate tank and providing the right conditions for the female to lay eggs.


Glass catfish are popular in the aquarium trade for their unique transparent look. Apart from this, they are easy to care for and peaceful; therefore, you won’t have an issue adding them to your community tank.


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

🐠 Get Your Free Ebook: A Beginner's Guide to Aquariums - Sign Up Now!

Learn everything you need to know to keep fish, including setting up your tank, choosing the right fish, and maintaining water quality. As a subscriber, you'll also stay up-to-date on the latest aquarium products, special offers, and discounts.

Your privacy is important to us. You can trust that we will never share or sell your information, and we'll only send you relevant content.

Leave a Comment