Home | Aquarium Livestock | The Humphead Glassfish – Parambassis pulcinella – Species Profile

The Humphead Glassfish – Parambassis pulcinella – Species Profile

Craig here. Parambassis pulcinella. What a name. It kinda rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Well… as cool as the name sounds, the Humphead Glassfish is even cooler looking! If you have ever wanted a fish that has a bit of size and a lot of character for your freshwater community aquarium, this just might be the fish for you!

A relative newcomer to the aquarium scene, the Humphead glassfish was not scientifically described until 2003. Parambassis pulcinella hails from Myanmar, in South East Asia. With changing political climates, many fish have just recently become known to science from this region. Myanmar is a country that has nearly half of its land covered in dense forests. Within these forests are countless streams. It is in these fast flowing streams that the Humphead Glassfish can be found.

The Humphead Glassfish is a schooling fish that benefits from being kept with members of it’s own kind. It has a spine from the dorsal (supraoccipital) area of it’s skull that is extended. This extension is what gives this fish it’s bizarre shape and name. The pH should range from neutral to slightly alkaline. It is not a particularly picky eater. The small group that is kept here will ravenously feed on pelleted foods and thawed frozen foods. It seems that the only things that the Humphead Glassfish are particular about is the need for excellent filtration, higher levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, and room to swim! Other than these requirements, you will find that these curious fish are very sturdy and make wonderful additions to your tank. They will not eat plants, so keeping them in a larger planted aquarium is acceptable provided that your CO2 levels do not rise to a dangerous level. Even though these fish are relatively peaceful and can be kept with smaller community fish, beware keeping them with fish like neon or cardinal tetras. If a tiny tetra will fit in their mouths… it will surely be lunch!

So, if you want something different, something rare, something new… take a look at the odd Humphead Glassfish. When available, these fish are certainly well worth the price. You will have something that many people have never even seen before, as well as a fish that is one of the most interesting and coolest additions to the aquarium trade in years.


  1. avatar

    I have been an avid hobbiest for years. Until today, I have never seen this fish. We picked the only one up at a local hobby store and find the information above to be VERY active regarding neons. VERY WILD looking fish indeed….I had a hard time beleiveing he was a community quality fish….time will tell.

  2. avatar

    Hello Bob,
    Congratulations on your new acquisition. You will no doubt find the fish to be a wonderful addition. If you do have neons, just make sure to keep the glassfish well fed. That may discourage the fish from wanting to hunt or forage for small prey. Enjoy the fish! They are certainly an amazing fish to keep!

  3. avatar

    I was so in awe when I saw some of these at a local fish store. I had to look these up as soon as I got home. I never seen these at any store, or online till today. I’m definitely going to go back and check these out some more, probably add some to my exodons. Surprises me that these were “scientifically” named in 2003.

  4. avatar

    I just purchased a humphead. He is a little nervous when you go up to the tank. I am sure he will get over that a bit. I have two discus, two smaill red rainbow, 4 neon precox rainbows, 1 turquiose rainbow and a tiny little sucker fish albino. Do you think he will do alright? They had him or her at the fish store with large discus and no other humpheads, will he/she be alright without others of it’s kind?

  5. avatar

    Once the fish becomes comfortable with its surroundings, it should settle in fine. There may be a period of adjustment where the other fish chase or intimidate the glass fish, but as long as the size is similar the heirarchy should work itself out. Good Luck!

  6. avatar

    Do u think the humphead glassfish will do well with African peacock cichlids? I have 3 yellow labs, benga, sulfur head, ob peacock, 3 synodontis petricola, 1 goby irsacae in 55 gal 4′ tank with aqua clear 110 filter . I tried selecting mild tempered inhabitants. please give me your opinion. I really love this fish but am afraid to try it so far. I think the cichlids may stress him out? I only want a single humphead, as 8 is too many to add to keep the peace and less than 8, I read, is a bad idea.

  7. avatar

    Safety in numbers…you may have a chance with a group of the fish, but cichlids are probably too territorial and aggressive to chance it with a single fish. Even a group may falter against africans as they can be relentless, especially when breeding.

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