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Akysis vespa  Ng & Kottelat, 2004

This month (November 2013), Asian catfish specialist Adrian Taylor returns to give us another insight into the so called "wasp cats" with a look at "The Wasp Stream Catfish" one of the diminutive members of the Akysidae family, Akysis vespa.




lthough most of the genera of Akysis, Parakysis and Pseudobagarius are usually referred to as wasp or bee cats, this small member of the Akysis genus carries the tag ‘vespa’ due its general likeness in colouration and markings to the insect family Vespidae which are more commonly called Hornets and Wasps.


                Akysis vespa


Akysis vespa is one of the smallest members of the Akysidae familyand they are found in southern Myanmar along the Ataran River drainage system, around 13 miles from the border of Thailand. The river at the point of collection had clear but fast flowing water with a substrate made up mainly of gravel. The Erethistid, Caelatoglanis zonatus, is found sympatrically with A. vespa.



                     Akysis vespa


Akysis vespa
is relatively easy to keep alive under aquarium conditions; as long as good to high water quality is maintained. Feeding these small ‘wasp cats’ is unproblematic as long as a varied diet consisting mainly of live foods such as bloodworms, white worms, daphnia and brine shrimps along with frozen foods such as bloodworms, glass worms and small sized mysis shrimps is served up as a alternating diet.




Type Locality: Myanmar (southern) : Ataran River Drainage.
Type Locality: Myanmar (southern) : Ataran River Drainage.

Type Locality
Myanmar (southern) : Ataran River Drainage.


Aquarium Care
: These are ideal catfish for the smaller sized aquarium. Filtration is down to personal preference; however, it is recommended that the filter out flow should be sufficient to create a decent amount of water movement. Substrate similar to those found in their natural habitat should be aimed for; although not essential some clumps of sturdy plants should be positioned around the margins of the tank. Fish such as Brachydanio kerri, Barbus titteya and Rasbora brittani make excellent tank mates.




There are four pairs of barbels; these being: One pair of short, thin nasal barbels. One pair of long, thin maxillary barbels that reach as far back as to the median of the pectoral fin base, and two pairs of mandibular barbels, the outer mandibular barbels are long and thin and are similar in size to the maxillary barbels, with the inner mandibular barbels being somewhat shorter by a third. The eyes are small and are doso-laterally positioned.


Most specimens have distinct non-interrupted vertical bands of yellow and brown, it is not unusual that some specimens have a thin irregular horizontal stripe, which may or may not be intermittent or complete that bridge the yellow and brown bands, usually along the lateral line. The head colouration varies from specimen to specimen but in general it is coloured yellow to ochre with small smudges or blotches of light brown. The ventral surface is coloured creamy to light yellow.


These are ideal catfish for the smaller sized aquarium.


Akysis vespa has been successfully spawned under aquarium conditions after similar methods to those used in spawning members of the South American Corydoradinae catfishes were implemented. The interesting thing about the spawning of A. vespa is that the yolk sac appears to be emerald green in colour.

Sexual differences

Females have a heavier looking body shape. Males are slimmer by comparison.



A varied diet consisting mainly of live foods such as bloodworms, white worms, daphnia and brine shrimps along with frozen foods such as bloodworms, glass worms and small sized mysis shrimps.


Akysis : A = without; kysis = bladder, in reference to the lack of a swimbladder.
Latin word for Wasp, due to the colour markings.


Adrian Taylor
Google Maps - ©2013 Google

Glossary of Terms

Nasal barbels: On top of the head, by the nostrils. (nasal barbels)
Maxillary barbels:
Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)
Mandibular barbels:
Pertaining to the lower jaw. (mandibular barbels)
Pectoral fin:
The paired fins just behind the head.
Lateral line:
A sensory line, along the sides of the body.

Photo Credits

© Adrian Taylor

Factsheet 209

Common Name:
Wasp Stream Catfish
Asia: Ataran River drainage in Southern Myanmar (Burma)
3.5cm (1½ins) S.L.  
23-28°C (73-83°F)    
6.0 - 7.0.
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