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Pseudomystus stenomus  (Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1839)

he 'False Bumblebee Catfish' was one of the first cats that I owned and it led to my interest with everything catty!, if it didn't have barbels I didn't want to know. When I owned this fish it used to be called Leiocassis stenomus and it wasn't until 1991 that the genus name was changed along with L. siamensis by Mo following Jayaram's suggestion in 1968. He divided Leiocassis into two genera, Leiocassis with 8 species and Pseudomystus with 13 species. It is seperated from the Mystus genus by the skin covering the eyes. You can still buy this catfish in your aquarium store under the old genus name of Leiocassis.

Pseudomystus stenomus


It is a very shy fish so you will have to have a hiding place for it, be it a pipe, rockwork or bogwood. I knew where it hid so I would make sure that tablets would sink down into her hiding place.This method was very successful as I won countless Best in Shows with this fish on the show circuit.


I did not have any problems with aggressiveness against the other occupants in the tank but they where either larger or similar size to it, but I would watch if housing an adult with smaller Characins or Livebearers as they could be picked of at night when it starts cruising the tank.

This bagrid has very soft skin so if you decide to keep them in the same tanks as the Synodontis species of the African continent you may get scratches appearing alongside its flanks where the Syno has scraped it with its long pectoral spines, no harm will come to them but it may be a risk for future infection and you may not be able to see the 'False Bumblebee Catfish' for a few weeks due to its nocturnal habits, and by then any infection could have set in. In saying that I had it housed in my 6' 0" tank in my lounge with among others, Synodontis eupterus, with no problems, but it is a point to beware off.

Dorsal 1/6-7; Anal 12-16; 4 pairs barbels. Snout rounded or obtuse not produced beyond subterminal mouth;snout length equal to or lesser than interorbital space width.

Ground color dark brown/black, lighter on underside. Silver grey spots and blotches scattered over head and body. Dorsal: Fin spines with dark pigment and barred. Pectoral: Fins dark at base. Anal: Fin barred. Caudal: Fin clear, deeply forked, the upper lobe is longer then the lower. Ventral: Fin barred. Adipose: Fin light at the back, dark in the middle with a small light saddle at the front.

Can be kept in a community tank but would watch if housing an adult with smaller Characins or Livebearers as they could be picked of at night when it starts cruising the tank.

I did mention ‘her’ in the above caption as the females are noticeably fuller in the body than the males plus the former has a fleshy appendage in front of the anal fin when they are ready to spawn. The male has a thin gentital papilla near the anal fin. I have not heard of any spawning accounts for this species but I'm sure with lots of males and females together in a species tank with java moss (as they are reported to be orgy spawners) and with plenty of cool water changes it would be a challenge, as I'm quite sure they would be spawnable, with a little work and dedication.

Any good food that would reach into their hiding places during the day or feed at night with the lights out, tablet food, worms and frozen bloodworm.

Pseudomystus: False Mystus.
stenomus: Narrow shoulders

Burgess, W.E., 1989 An Atlas of Freshwater and Marine catfishes: a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey
Jayaram, K.C. Contributations to the study of bagrid catfishes (Siluroidea: Bagridae) 1968
Linder, Shane. The Catfishes Of Asia: Family Bagridae part two. Published in Cat Chat, The official Journal of the Catfish Study Group

Photo Credits
Hugh Gray
Factsheet 10

Bagrus stenomus, Leiocassis stenomus
Common Name:
False Asian Bumblebee Catfish
 Indonesia South East Thailand, Kampuchea, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, Borneo. Type locality: Java.
 Thailand Thailand,
11cm ( 4½ins)
21-26°C (70-79°F)
6.5 - 7.2
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                                                                                                     Factsheet 10 = updated January 2, 2005, © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top