catfish certainly proves the diversity of the 2,000
or more species scattered around the globe, and as
such this pelagic (open water) species has a diurnal
(active during the day) lifestyle.
The first trait
we notice about Kryptopterus vitreolusis of course its transparency hence the common
name of 'glass' or 'ghost' catfish. The body is virtually
transparent with scattered patches of pigment on the
head and underbelly. We can see the swim bladder inside
the body cavity adjacent to the pectoral fins and
other internal structures, such as the vertabral column,
can be seen.
In its native
waters you would think that such a soft bodied fish
would stand out and prove an easy meal for predators,
but to the contrary the glass cat can prove itself
to do a disappearing act in the more murky waters
of its habitat. On the body, the number of melanophores
(black colour cells) is significantly reduced, and
the muscles and body are clear. The body wall contains
flat platelets of guanine in a silvery layer that
acts as a mirror, this reflects the general light
and colour of the habitat, making the fish effectively
There is a few
so called 'glass catfishes' that are sold as such
in your local pet shop, fish such as the Asian glass
cat, Ompok, but they can be told apart, when
young, from Kryptopterus by its larger dorsal
fin spines (4), or the African glass cats belonging
to the genus Parailia, which are in the Schilbeidae
family and have an extra pair of nasal barbels, and
also possesses an adipose fin. The main confusion
with Kryptopterus is that Tyson Roberts described
K. minor ( now Kryptopterus vitreolus)
which inhabits the same environment as K. bicirrhis
(Borneo) and is also transparent. While there are
several morphological differences between the two
species, the average aquarist would still find it
difficult to tell them apart, apart from the size
difference of 6.5 for K. vitreolusand
double the size of this for K. bicirrhis.
The 'glass catfish' does posses a dorsal as such but
it consists of only one spine and often than not it
lies it down out of view. It sports one pair of maxillary
barbels and a very long anal fin consisting of between
53 to 70 rays. It of course does not own an adipose
fin which it has in common with other 'glass cats'
of the family Siluridae.
So how do we keep
the 'glass cat' happy, by giving it more of its own
kind, in other words buy at least 6 for a shoal, or
preferably more, as they are not an expensive fish
by today's standards. If you keep them alone or less
than 6 they will sulk and eventually will wither away
and die. They will shoal quite happily together head
up and will stay shimmying like this for a considerable
amount of time, when now and again, one will change
its position in the group.
species was thought to be K. minor which
has been exported extensively over the past 30 years
but is only found in Borneo. Due to the work carried
out by Ng & Kottelat this year (2013) this species
(K. minor) has now been renamed as K.
Catfish, Asian Glass Catfish
only from a series of coastal river basins of Peninsular
Thailand draining into the Gulf of Thailand south
of the Isthmus of Kra, plus a handful of rivers draining
the Cardamom (Khao Banthat) Mountains in southeastern
Thailand. Type locality: Thailand:
Trat Province, Amphoe Khao Saming.
up to 18°dGH
Rudimentry dorsal;one ray,
maxillary barbels reaching to anal, 55-68 anal rays.
Ventral rays 6. Dorsal profile arched with a nuchal
The body is virtually transparent
with scattered patches of pigment on the head and
underbelly. Two thin lateral body stripes stretching
from head to caudal peduncle.
Care & Compatibility
Keep them in a reasonably
large tank, well planted at the back and sides, and
with a good flowing current from your filter to imitate
its habitat. It is a good community fish and will
not eat or harass other fish unless they are small
enough to be eaten, i.e.fry.
The only breeding
report that I could unearth was from a 1980 article
in "The Aquarist and Pondkeeper", on Kryptopterus
bicirrhiswhich may have been Kryptopterus
vitreolus from a D. C. Powell who went on to
say and I quote: "We do not whether the
species is an egglayer or livebearer. Two young fish
which suddenly appeared in our tank were raised on
infusoria and then Daphnia. A little salt was added
to the water" You can be sure that it is an egglayer,
it may even be an egg scatterer.
Will except flakefood but does
relish small livefood such as Daphnia and brineshrimp.
This catfish is not too good at collecting food from
the aquarium floor, so feed as you would for Characins
& Barbs etc.
In relation to the mandible or lower jaw.
Maxillary: In relation to the maxilla, the
bone of the upper jaw.
(a reference to the almost invisible one-rayed
'of glass’, in reference to the transparent
appearance of this species.
Aquarium Atlas No1, 1989. Kottelat, M.
2001 Fishes of Laos. WHT Publications Ltd., Colombo
5, Sri Lanka. 198 p. Ng, H-H. and M. Kottelat,
2013 - Zootaxa 3630: 308-316 After eighty
years of misidentification, a name for the glass catfish
(Teleostei: Siluridae). Rainboth, Walter J; Fishes of the
Cambodian Mekong FAO. Roberts, T.R. 1989 The freshwater
fishes of Western Borneo (Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia).
Mem. Calif. Acad. Sci. 14:210 p. Sellick, Ian.Catfish Form and Function, "The Aquarist
and Pondkeeper", April 1986: 6-7.