Several catfish from South America and Asia sell by the name "bumblebee catfish." However, they all have similar characteristics. All require some degree of attention in the selection of their tankmates. Bumblebee catfish are not particularly aggressive, but can be somewhat predatory.
Mid-water schooling fish make great tankmates for bumblebee catfish. This includes larger minnow-like fish, such as the cyprinids and characins. The cyprinids include minnows and their relatives, including danios, rasboras and carp. The chararins are better known as tetras. Make sure you pick larger members of these families -- at least 3 inches of length. Many fish in these families need to be kept in groups of at least six fish to feel safe in an aquarium. These fish generally stay out of the bumblebee catfish's way, swimming in the middle to upper reaches of the tank.
Some cichlids can share an aquarium with the bumblebee catfish. The cichlid family includes a wide variety of fish and is infamous for aggression. However, cichlids with a peaceful demeanor can share a tank with a bumblebee cichlid without incident. Also, make sure the cichlids prefer an acidic or slightly neutral pH. Some cichlids come from more extreme water chemistry and cannot tolerate the conditions that would support a bumblebee catfish. Again, avoid cichlids under 3 inches.
Bumblebee catfish can get territorial with their own species. If you want to keep more than one, get a large aquarium of at least 30 gallons. Even then, you will want to arrange the tank to limit aggression. You can do this by using lots of decorations like driftwood and rocks to break up lines of sight. If the two catfish cannot see each other all the time, they tend to attack each other less.
What to Avoid
Bumblebee catfish rarely go out of their way to cause problems. However, at 6 to 8 inches, depending on the exact species, even minor predatory inclinations can present problems. You should avoid any fish smaller than 3 inches if they share a tank with bumblebee catfish. Also, while rarely territorial toward other species, bumblebee catfish may go after other bottom-dwelling fish, including pleco catfish.
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