Crystal-eyed Catfish: Hemibagrus Wyckii Facts & Care Tips

Also known as the Crystal-eyed Catfish
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 20, 2024
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The catfish, famous for its crystal-like eyes, has truly enchanted aquarium lovers everywhere. These shimmering eyes make them the **star** of any tank, bringing both elegance and mystique. Hailing from Asia, their distinct looks and intriguing habits make them a hit with hobbyists. Dive into the **amazing** world of these charming creatures and discover why they’re so popular.

Article Summary

  • Crystal-eyed Catfish have a wide distribution across various regions in Southeast Asia, including the Mekong and Chao Phraya drainages.
  • They belong to the Bagridae family and are sometimes called Black Devil Catfish.
  • To keep them healthy in aquariums, provide a large tank with hiding spots, maintain stable water conditions, and offer a varied diet of sinking pellets, frozen foods, and live fish.

Species Overview

The crystal-eyed catfish (Hemibagrus wyckii) is a species of catfish belonging to the Bagridae family. This species is characterized by its unique feature of having crystal-like eyes, which gives it its common name. This catfish species are sometimes referred to Black Devil Catfish.

The catfish species has a wide distribution and can be found in various regions of central Indochina and western Indonesia. It has been recorded in the Mekong and Chao Phraya drainages in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, as well as in the Pahang River drainage in Peninsular Malaysia, Batang Hari and Musi River drainages in Sumatra, the Citarum drainage in Java, and the Baram, Rejang, Kapuas, and Barito systems in Borneo.

This species is known for its adaptability to different habitats, including rivers and freshwater systems. It is a bottom-dwelling fish that prefers slow-moving or stagnant waters with sandy or muddy substrates in the middle reaches of large rivers. This catfish species is a nocturnal species, being most active during the night when it hunts for food.

Crystal-eyed catfish are predatory creatures. They use their keen eyesight and hunting skills to catch smaller aquatic organisms for sustenance. Their transparent skin not only adds to their unique appearance but also aids in camouflage as they blend into their surroundings.

Crystal-Eyed Catfish Appearance

The crystal-eyed catfish (Hemibagrus wyckii) has a streamlined body with a jet black coloration, which gives it a mysterious and captivating look. Its most distinctive feature is its crystal-like eyes, which are believed to help it navigate and find prey in low-light conditions.

These unique fish come in various color patterns and markings on their bodies, making them quite eye-catching. Some may have white markings along their dorsal fins or at the base of their dorsal fin spine.

Hemibagrus wyckii have sensory organs called maxillary barbels near their mouths. These barbels help them find food and navigate their surroundings. They use these organs to detect prey like crustaceans. The catfish are well-equipped for hunting with serrations on their dorsal fin spines.

Their bodies are mostly black with a few white markings on the caudal and dorsal fins. The eyes of this catfish species are sky blue, and their caudal fin is dark grey. The posterior edge of their dorsal fin spine has 10-12 serrations.

A Single Crystal Eyed Catfish in Fish Tank
A Single Crystal Eyed Catfish in Fish Tank

This catfish species is an impressive species known for its size, with individuals reaching a maximum length of over 24 inches. This makes them one of the larger catfish species found in freshwater habitats. Their substantial size adds to their overall allure and makes them a captivating sight for aquarium enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Tank And Water Requirements

To ensure that your crystal-eyed catfish thrives in its home aquarium, it’s essential to provide the right tank and water conditions. These fish prefer very large aquarium with plenty of hiding spots, allowing them to feel secure and comfortable. This catfish species requires a tank size of at least 350 gallons.

This very large aquarium is necessary to accommodate the active and social nature of the crystal-eyed catfish. It is important to note that a larger tank size also helps maintain water quality, as the catfish produces a significant amount of waste. Regular water changes and proper filtration are essential to keep your home aquarium clean and the crystal-eyed catfish healthy.

Water Conditions

This catfish species requires clean and well-filtered conditions. It’s crucial to maintain stable water parameters for their health and well-being. The temperature of the water should ideally be kept between 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 26°C). This range mimics their natural habitat in large rivers.

In addition to temperature, the water conditions should be soft and slightly acidic. Crystal-eyed catfish thrive in freshwater environments with a pH level around 6.5 to 7.5. It is important to regularly test the water quality using appropriate kits or meters.

Tank Plants

When considering tank plants for these species, it is important to create a natural and comfortable environment for them. Adding natural materials such as Indian almond leaves or peat moss can greatly enhance their well-being.

The Indian almond leaves not only provide a natural aesthetic to the tank but also release beneficial compounds that mimic the catfish’s natural habitat. These compounds can help reduce stress and promote overall health.

Betta fish and Indian Almond Leaves in a Tank
Indian Almond Leaves in a Tank

Peat moss, on the other hand, can create a soft and natural substrate for the catfish to explore and burrow in. It also releases tannins that can help lower the pH level of the water, which is beneficial for this catfish species. Overall, incorporating these natural materials can greatly contribute to the overall health and happiness of your crystal-eyed catfish.

By meeting these tank and water requirements, you can create an optimal environment for your crystal-eyed catfish, ensuring their overall health and happiness.

Crystal-Eyed Catfish Health

Hemibagrus wyckii are generally hardy and disease-resistant fish, but they do require proper care to ensure their health and well-being.

Sensitive to Poor Water Quality

These unique catfish are sensitive to poor water quality, so regular maintenance of the aquarium is essential. It’s important to monitor the water parameters such as pH levels, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels.

Stress-Related Diseases

This catfish species are prone to stress-related diseases if they are not provided with suitable conditions. Stress can weaken their immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses. Therefore, it is crucial to create a stress-free environment for these fish.

Signs of Illness

To keep your crystal-eyed catfish healthy, you need to be observant and look out for any signs of illness. Loss of appetite or abnormal behavior can indicate that something is wrong. If you notice any unusual symptoms or changes in your fish’s appearance or behavior, it’s best to consult an experienced aquarist or veterinarian who specializes in fish health.

Crystal-Eyed Catfish Diet

This catfish species have specific dietary needs to thrive and stay healthy. Their diet primarily consists of small invertebrates and plant matter, making it important to provide them with a well-rounded menu. Here are some key points to consider when feeding crystal-eyed catfish:

Varied Diet for Optimal Nutrition

To ensure your crystal-eyed catfish receive all the necessary nutrients, it is essential to offer a varied diet. This includes a combination of high-quality pellets, frozen foods, and live fish. By providing a diverse range of food options, you can mimic their natural feeding habits and promote overall health.

Sinking Pellets for Bottom-Feeders

Crystal-eyed catfish are bottom-feeders, meaning they prefer to scavenge for food at the bottom of the tank or pond. Sinking pellets are an ideal option as they sink quickly and reach the depths where these fish spend most of their time. This ensures that the catfish can easily locate and consume their food without having to compete with other fish species.

Avoid Overfeeding

While it may be tempting to feed your crystal-eyed catfish abundantly, overfeeding can lead to health issues such as obesity and poor water quality. These fish have slow metabolisms, so it’s crucial not to exceed their dietary requirements. A good rule of thumb is to feed them small portions multiple times a day rather than one large meal.

Temperament And Tank Mates

Crystal-eyed catfish, known for their striking appearance, have a temperament that should be taken into consideration when selecting tank mates. These catfish are aggressively territorial and may attack other fish in the tank, so larger fish is more suitable as tank mates with the Black Devil catfish.

Due to their bold nature, they may appear unafraid of humans, which means extra care must be taken during tank maintenance to avoid any accidental harm to these beautiful creatures.

When introducing tank mates, even larger fish, is crucial to consider their compatibility with the crystal-eyed catfish to ensure a harmonious and stress-free environment for all inhabitants of the aquarium.

Breeding Crystal-Eyed Catfish

Breeding crystal-eyed catfish can be both challenging and rewarding for fish enthusiasts. By simulating rainy season conditions, you can induce breeding behavior in these fascinating creatures. Providing flat surfaces or plants for egg deposition is essential in creating a suitable environment for successful breeding.

To encourage breeding, it is crucial to replicate the natural habitat of the crystal-eyed catfish. Mimicking the rainy season by adjusting water parameters such as temperature and pH can trigger their reproductive instincts. Maintaining a stable and clean aquarium environment is also vital for their overall health and well-being.

Consider adding rocks or artificial caves in the tank. These structures offer hiding places where female catfish can lay their eggs. Live plants with broad leaves provide an ideal surface for egg attachment.

Separating adult catfish from the eggs is necessary to prevent predation. After spawning occurs, carefully remove the adults from the breeding tank to protect the eggs from being eaten. This step ensures a higher survival rate of the offspring.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the maximum size of a crystal-eyed catfish?

The maximum size of a crystal-eyed catfish can indeed reach up to 28 inches (71 centimeters) in some cases, making them considerably larger than previously mentioned. Please note that individual growth may vary, but they can grow quite large.

Are crystal-eyed catfish suitable for beginners?

Crystal-eyed catfish are generally not suitable for beginners in the aquarium hobby. Their large size and specific care requirements can make them challenging to care for. Beginners are advised to start with more beginner-friendly fish species.

Do they require any special lighting?

Crystal-eyed catfish prefer dim lighting. They are likely to prefer to hide in driftwood, large rocks, and PVC pipes. Providing appropriate lighting is crucial to their well-being.

Image Reference

  • Featured Image – Fishyguy’s Fishplace (2021, March 12). Black Devil Catfish / Crystal-Eyed Catfish (Hemibagrus wyckii) [Photo]. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/fishyguysfishplace/photos/a.3726165177429795/3919736984739279/
  • Content Image – Captured by 0Nagarjuna0 [Photo]. Pinterest. https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/412290540912862699/
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