Home » Fish Guides » Humphead Glassfish (Parambassis Pulcinella) | 15 Amazing Facts

Humphead Glassfish (Parambassis Pulcinella) | 15 Amazing Facts

Hailing from Myanmar, Humphead Glassfish is an excellent addition to a freshwater community aquarium with relatively large-sized fish.

They are fairly undemanding, but they expect a larger aquarium setting to thrive.

So, if you have space for a larger aquarium, then you should consider adding Humphead Glassfish as they have a unique but attractive appearance.

Humphead Glassfish

What is Humphead Glassfish?

Parambassis Pulcinella, commonly called Humphead Glassfish, is a strictly freshwater fish species belonging to the Ambassidae family.

It is also called the Humphead perchlet and has a great survival rate in aquarium conditions (e.g., properly maintained water quality).

Humphead Glassfish originated from Myanmar in the Southeast Asia regions. They inhabit fast-flowing waters in the Ataran basin and Salween river in Myanmar.

Humphead Glassfish has a pronounced hump on the forehead, which is an indicator of its vernacular name (“hump” + “head”).

The male fish tend to be larger than their female counterparts (e.g., 10-cm in length for males and 8-cm in length for females). 

Humphead Glassfish has a great appetite, including worms, shrimps, mussels, or any meaty food from the local market.

It is advisable to feed them with live foods when they are young to grow relatively faster.

It is not a common pet in the aquarium trade because of its rarity. Most fish sold at the market are wild-caught specimens.

Humphead glassfish Appearance

Humphead glassfish have a laterally compressed deep body. The remarkable feature of this species is their spectacular nuchal hump, like large South American Cichlids.

Like other glassfish species, these fish also have a transparent appearance but not much. Their backbone and swim bladder are not visible as other glassfish species.

Apart from their less transparency and the hump head, they have the usual glassfish shape in most regards.

How big do Humphead Glassfish get?

Humphead glassfish can reach a maximum size of 8 inches in length. However, they only grow up to 5 inches in captivity.

Is Humphead Glassfish aggressive?

Yes. Although Humphead Glassfish are schooling fish in the wild, they tend to be aggressive toward their own species.

Since they are carnivore fish, they are naturally aggressive towards smaller fish that are small enough to fit in their mouths.

This is why you should house these fish with relatively larger fish species. And also, to avoid aggression toward their own species, you should house only one male fish in a school.

Humphead Glassfish behavior

These fish prefer to stay in schools, but they tend to have male to male aggression.

Therefore, when you put a school of fish together, be sure to avoid adding more than one male fish into one tank. But if kept singly, they become shy and reclusive.

Humphead Glassfish are naturally peaceful fish that get along well with similar-sized fish species.

However, you should house them with relatively larger-sized fish to avoid aggression.

When it comes to feeding, they are a bit thuggish because they are natural predators. However, these fish are not nippy or territorial.

They just put more weight around at feeding time to eat more.

How long does Humphead Glassfishs live?

Experts haven’t found out the actual life span of this specific species but, other glassfish species can live for around 3 to 8 years.

So, we can assume that Humphead glassfish also lives that long.

One look Care guide

Scientific nameParambassis Pulcinella
Common nameHumphead Glassfish
Care levelModerate
Native toMyanmar
Type Freshwater fish
Color Semi-transparent
Tank size55 gallons for a school of fish,
20 gallon for one or two fish
Preferred temperature74 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (23.3 – 27 degrees Celsius)
Other water parameters (ammonia, etc.)pH: 7 to 7.5 
gravity:  1.020 – 1.025
Hardness: 8-15dGH
Preferred salinityNo salinity
Size8 inches maximum
Life Span5 to 8 years
Temperament Semi Aggressive
Recommended tank matesRelatively large peaceful tank mates.
No small fish, shrimp, or snails.
No aggressive or semi-aggressive fish.
Preferred foodSmall fish
Other small invertebrates
Feeding frequencyAt least three times per day
breedingDifficult in captivity

Humphead Glassfish care

Although many other glassfish species are brackish water fish, Humphead glassfish strictly freshwater fish.

So, if you want to keep them in your aquarium, changing dirty water every other day is advisable to avoid the buildup of harmful ammonia and nitrites.

It is also important to note that these fish still live on their natural diet, including crustaceans and worms.

Therefore, you should include such food in their daily aquarium feeding schedule.

These fish are hardy and can live relatively long if you provide them enough space to move around. You should also avoid housing smaller-sized fish with these guys to lessen aggression.

Humphead Glassfish size

They usually can grow up to 10cm as full-grown adults.

Humphead Glassfish tank size

These fish are schooling fish that require more space to swim. Therefore, you should have at least 55 gallons tank for a school of fish.

However, if you plan to keep only one fish in your tank, a 20-gallon one would be sufficient.

How many Humphead Glassfish should be kept together?

You should keep at least 8 Humphead glassfish together in an aquarium to avoid aggression toward each other.

If you choose to keep a smaller group, we advise you to keep only one male fish.

Tank setup

To get started with an aquarium, you should get a larger aquarium (e.g., 55 gallons or more) to allow Humphead Glassfish to grow large and healthy.

Also, take note that the fish might occasionally jump out of the water; thus, it is best to cover your tank with mesh netting to avoid casualties.

Humphead Glassfish care is not difficult as long as water quality is maintained. They are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of at least five to show their best colors.

A larger aquarium also gives them more space to accommodate their swimming needs.


Humphead glassfish will swim in all water regions in the tank but will not explore the substrate.

Therefore, you can choose any substrate you like. But, we recommend adding a sand, gravel mix as it helps when cleaning the tank.

Plants and Decorations

These fish do best in well-planted tanks. So, be sure to add plenty of plants to your aquarium.

Since they are carnivores, they won’t destroy your plants. Plants with twisted roots work best.

They also like to hide when threatened. So, adding some hiding places like driftwood and caves are also recommended.

Filtration and other equipment

Humphead glassfish require highly oxygenated water with some water movement. So, it is advisable to have a sound filtration system in your tank.

Also, adding some powerheads will add more oxygen to the water and help when cleaning the aquarium.


These fish prefer low to moderate lighting. Although they need light to see, high lighting might stress them out.

Water quality condition

Humphead Glassfish prefer clean (e.g., low ammonia, nitrite levels) and well-oxygenated water with a pH of around 7 to 7.5 and a specific gravity of 1.020 – 1.025.

They prefer warm water with a temperature range of 74 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (23.3 – 27 degrees Celsius). Preferred water hardness is 8 – 15 dGH,

Although many other glassfish species are brackish water fish, Humphead glassfish is not. So, do not keep them in a brackish water aquarium.

Water change

Weekly water changes are needed to maintain water quality in your aquarium. Changing 25% of the tank water is advisable.

However, if you notice any ammonia or nitrite buildup, do a 50% water change immediately.

Humphead Glassfish breeding 

Humphead Glassfish male or female identification

It is relatively easy to sex Humphead glassfish when they are about half an inch long or bigger.

At this size, it is possible to determine the distinctive round body in females. The hump in the forehead will be larger than females, and the males are larger in size than females.

Humphead Glassfish breeding

Glassfish are egg scatterers, so that they will scatter their eggs randomly in your tank. And also, they do not show any brood care. But the breeding of these fish has not been successfully done in captivity.

Breeding Humphead glassfish is very difficult and not successful in captivity. So, breeding them in captivity may not be a good idea unless you are an experienced fish breeder.

Specimens sold at the pet stores are wild caught fish fom the Salween river in Myanmar.

Special tips

Since these fish are sensitive to poor water quality and low oxygen levels, you must ensure these conditions are at appropriate levels for the best survival rate.

How to feed Humphead Glassfish?

Humphead glassfish is a carnivore (predatory ) fish. In the wild, they mostly eat small fish, insects, aquatic insect larvae and other small invertebrates.

In your aquarium, we recommend that you use a good quality pellet or flake food as a staple and supplement it with vitamin and calcium supplements.

However, acclimating them to pellets and flakes can be challenging because most fishes are freshly caught from the wild and used to hunt for food.

Therefore, you will have to offer them live and frozen food for some time. Further, you will have to simulate the movement in your food to make the fish think like live food.

For example, you can attach a fishing line to your food and make it move like live food.

Also, some fishes are slow eaters because of their large size, so don’t expect them to hunt for food in the tank. And also, be careful when netting them as they may injure themselves on it.

After they settle down in your aquarium, you can start feeding them pellets and flakes as food.

You can also provide them with live and frozen food like earthworms, bloodworms, blackworms, river shrimp, and brine shrimp.

These fish are carnivores. Therefore, offer live and frozen food as their main diet and pellets and flakes as a supplement diet.

Since glassfish is a schooling fish, it is advisable to feed them at least three times a day in smaller quantities. Do not overfeed your fish as it may lead to health problems like bloating, even death.

What fish can live with Humphead Glassfish?

As mentioned, these schooling fish do not get aggressive toward other types of fish. You can keep them with any kind of peaceful fish or shrimp species.

They are good for a freshwater community tank. Just make sure their size is similar or larger than Humphead glassfish.

You should avoid housing them with smaller-sized fish species as they may become prey for Humphead glassfish.

For example, fish like small tetras, guppies, neon tetras, and danios can easily become food for these fish. They may also snack on smaller shrimps and snails.

Humphead glassfish shows male to male aggression. So, it is recommended to keep the male population at a low level.

Otherwise, they will quarrel among themselves sometimes. The recommended limit is one male for a school of 4 to 5 fish. You can reduce this aggression by housing eight or more Humphead glassfish together.

Do not house larger and aggressive fish with Humphead glassfish as they may harm these fish because of their peaceful behavior.

Some compatible Humphead glassfish tank mates are,

  • Clown loaches
  • spiny eels
  • loricariid catfish
  • Silver dollars
  • Congo tetras (Phenacogrammus interruptus)
  • boesemani rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani)
  • blue gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus)
  • Corydoras species
  • Bristlenose plecos (Ancistrus sp.)

Humphead glassfish diseases

In a well-maintained aquarium, these fish do not easily get diseases. However, They are also prone to diseases like other ornamental fish.

Humphead Glassfish diseases can be caused by even a slight change in the water conditions, which is often fatal for these species.

Poor quality of food will also contribute to disease problems. Like any other aquarium species, Humphead glassfish are also prone to diseases like Ammonia poisoning, Nitrite poisoning, bacterial infections like fin rot, columnaris, and parasitic infections like ick, velvet, flukes, etc.

However, outbreaks of diseases are often limited to one or two fishes due to their resilient nature.

Once you observe any change in your fish, you can immediately quarantine and save other fish in your aquarium.

Frequent water changes with proper filtration can control most aquarium diseases.

However, some conditions are often fatal and can not be cured. To prevent spreading the disease, quarantining the sick fish is the key.

Related Questions 

Are Humphead Glassfish rare?

Humphead glassfish are rare because they are found only in the Salween river and Ataran river basin in Myanmar.

However, these fish are not listed on the IUCN Red List. They are relative newcomers to the aquarium hobby.

How long does an Humphead Glassfish live?

The actual life span of these species is unknown. But, we can guess that these fish will live for about 5 to 8 years because other glassfish species live that long.

Credit to : madcypress L.L.
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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.