Glass Catfish

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"Glass catfish" in the aquarium trade refers usually to the ghost catfish, K. minor (see below). It can also mean any of the other Asian glass catfishes (Kryptopterus) or the African glass catfishes (Parailia).
Glass Catfish
Kryptopterus species.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Superclass: Osteichthyes
Class: Actinopterygii
Subclass: Neopterygii
Infraclass: Teleostei
Superorder: Ostariophysi
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Siluridae
Genus: Kryptopterus
Species: K. bicirrhis
Binomial name
Kryptopterus bicirrhis
(Valenciennes, 1840)

The glass catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhis) is an Asian glass catfish of the genus Kryptopterus. Until 1989, it included its smaller relative the ghost catfish, now known as K. minor. Its scientific name and common name are often still used in the aquarium fish trade to refer to the ghost catfish; as it seems, the larger and more aggressive K. bicirrhis was only ever exported in insignificant numbers, if at all.[2]

In western Borneo, where they are sympatric, both K. minor and K. bicirrhis are collectively known as lais tipis in the Malay language, but when locals want to distinguish the two, they refer to the glass catfish as lais limpok. In Cambodia, where it is known as trey kes prak, the Khmer people use the ghost catfish as a key ingredient in the fine fish condiment prahoc.[3]


The main difference to K. minor is the longer anal fin of the glass catfish, which has more than 54 and up to 68 rays. The glass catfish also grows much larger – 15 cm (5.9 in) standard length, or twice the size of its relative; specimens measuring as much as 24.5 cm (9.6 in) standard length have been reported. Its head is also lighter on average.[3][2]

Like the ghost catfish, K. bicirrhis is transparent except for the head, bones, and the internal organs which are located directly behind the head. It is transparent because, like all catfish, it is scaleless, and catfish of genus Kryptopterus lack body pigment. When struck by light, it has an iridescence, and it turns milky white when it dies. It has two long barbels, which are as long again as the body in front of the anal fin. The dorsal fin is reduced to a tiny triangle, and the pectoral fins are longer than the head.[3][2]


While the ghost catfish and glass catfish are sympatric in western Borneo, the latter has a larger range. It also includes Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and the Chao Phraya and Mekong drainage basins.[3]

This freshwater catfish inhabits large rivers with turbid water, where they typically live near the shore. It seems to prefer peaty water with a rather low temperature for its tropical range, around 21 to 26 °C (70 to 79 °F). It is a diurnal predators and mainly eats water bugs and occasionally smaller fishes.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Allen, D. (2013). "Kryptopterus bicirrhis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Kryptopterus bicirrhis". Cat-eLog Data Sheets. PlanetCatfish. April 6, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Kryptopterus bicirrhis" in FishBase. July 2014 version.