Indian glass fish care guide

Indian glass fish (Parambassis ranga) is a fish with a unique feature – it has transparent scales which enable seeing its innards and bones. Such an unusual river dweller was bound to attract aquarists since Indian glass fish is one of the most uncommon aquarium fishes.

Habitat in the wild

Indian glass fish is one of the most famous Ambassidae family representatives. What these fishes have in common is their relatively short body quite flattened from sides.

In some sources, you may still encounter the old name of the genus – Chanda ranga. Chanda genus has been considered a monotypic one for a long time, which means it is presented only with one kind. Later, other similar fish kinds were discovered, and their geographical morphs and the genus was renamed Parambassis. Currently, the genus encounters over 10 fish kinds (according to different sources, from 12 to 15 kinds and geographical morphs) with a transparent body.

In fairness, we should mention that specific diversification nuances discovered by ichthyologists and taxonomists, as a rule, have more scientific importance than applied. If you aren’t a specialist in this area, the task to find ’10 differences’ is almost impossible to accomplish.

Indian glass fish was brought to Europe almost over a hundred years ago, in 1905, and in just several years, it was successfully bred in a tank.

Wild Indian glass fish inhabits brackish waters of the Indian coast with lentic or slow-flowing waters such as rice fields, irrigation, and drainage channels, small ponds, and sickly planted lakes. They prefer areas with plants hanging over the water, creating constant twilight along the coastline and covering the bottom with fallen leaves. Water in such ponds is usually rich in humic acids.

As we mentioned above, the fish habitat is rather wide and diversified. It includes both lowlands with brackish-water river areas and highlands (up to 700-1000 m above-sea level).

Scientific Name Parambassis ranga
Family Ambassidae
Common NamesIndian glass fish; indian glassfish
Ease of keepingDifficult
Lifespan5 years and more
Tank size60 liters (13,2 gallons) and more
Tank typeCommunity of fishes
Temperature23–26 °C (73,4–78,8 °F)
Water hardness8–25 dGH
Size up to 80 mm (3.1 in)


Wild indian glass fish grow up to 80 mm (3.1 in) long, while in a tank, as a rule, they grow smaller. Indian glass fish got their name due to their transparent tissues, especially in young species. Through their transparent body, you can see their skeleton and shiny cover on their visceral organs and gills. This body transparency is a sort of camouflage that hides the fish from potential predators.

Indian glass fishes, as well as other transparent fish kinds, can’t have transparent eyes and digestive ducts, so these organs are covered with a glassy cover.

Some Azian suppliers seeking profit try to enhance the fish appearance, which is too unappealing in their opinion, by injecting various dyes. As a result, you can see on sale fish with pink, yellow, and green stripes.

The whole dying process is rather harmful to the fish’s immune system, and many of them die during the first days after the process. Those who survive usually have various diseases after. Besides the negative impacts that we’ve mentioned, you should also keep in mind that these color stripes will disappear some time later anyway.

Difficulties in keeping

In general, the indian glass fish is rather demanding, and due to humans’ impact, their lifespan is getting shorter. Try not to buy dyed fish, they live less, and the color quickly faints.

Care and keeping in a tank


In a tank, indian glass fishes can live up to 5 years. Food and water temperature influence the lifespan. The higher is the temperature, the faster is the fish metabolism, and the lifespan is shorter.

Tank size

An important tank parameter for indian glass fishes is not its capacity or length, and this is its square area. At that, the tank height may not exceed 20 cm (8 in). The recommended tank volume is 60 liters and more. It must have two areas: the first one is for the fish to swim, the second one should be sickly planted and with shelters since the fish is rather timid.

Water parameters

Indian glass fishes don’t have any special requirements for water composition. Its main parameters may vary quite significantly: pH 6,5-8,5 (better, not higher 7,5), general hardness 8-25 °dGH (10-12° is perfect), water temperature from 23 to 26 °C. Water filtration, aeration, and weekly renew of 1/3 of the tank volume are also required.

At that, it’s not quantitative characteristics that are important, but the stability of the parameters since the fish are rather sensitive to their changes. Thus, it’s better to put them into a tank with a settled biotic balance.

In general, change of the habitual water parameters is a challenge for indian glass fishes. They react quite badly to rather harmless water parameters change if compared to other fishes. First of all, this is true for wild glass fishes.

In particular, you should be careful with water renewals at the beginning and try to use water with parameters as similar as possible, study the fish reactions, and correct the process if necessary.

If you are dealing with a new fish, during the first 2-3 months, it’s better to have 2-3 water renewals in a week (5% of the total amount, not more). And significantly later, if everything goes fine and your fish doesn’t show any signs of anxiety, you should switch to standard mode: 15-20% of water renew once in 7 days.

When following the conditions mentioned above, indian glass fishes are almost trouble-free for their owner.

Tank setup: decorations and plants

A tank for indian glass fishes should be planted with short small-leaved plants put near branchy snags and stones. In the background, it is desirable to have long-stalked plants such as Cabomba caroliniana, Hornwort, Vallisneria. It’d be better if the bottom substrate were dark-colored. Large-grained gravelly sand will do for this purpose.


Considering the fact that the fish requires clean water with stable parameters, it’s better to use a canister filter.


Wild indian glass fishes feed on various spineless species: worms, shellfish, maggots, crustaceans. When keeping in the tank, the fish eagerly eats quality dry food which (unlike live and frozen ones) are completely balanced, contain functional additives, and don’t have any danger in terms of infecting the tank.

The fish prefers feeding in upper and middle water layers, so it’s better to use food floating on the water surface or those that slowly go down.

Tank mates

Indian glass fishes are schooling ones, and it’s desirable to keep at least 5-6 of them in the tank. These better be young fishes, not longer than one inch. In this case, they’ll always stay in a school swimming among stones and plants. Only when living in a school do they demonstrate their behavior and decorative features in its full.

You should keep in mind, that in a small tank with many fishes, indian glass fishes behavior can’t be seen in its full, so it is recommended to keep them in rather spacious tanks.

Species that live alone or in small groups become timid. They constantly try to hide and have a poor appetite.

Any small peaceful fishes will do as indian glass fishes tank mates. So, it’s not an issue to select tankmates for them in a community tank. These are totally calm and timid fishes, and they can’t be kept with large and aggressive fish species.

Harlequin rasbora, zebra danio, white cloud mountain minnow, sparkling gourami, rummy nose tetra, dwarf pencilfish, dwarf gourami will be perfect tank mates for glass fishes.

Peaceful catfishes (hoplo catfish, otocinclus catfish, Corydoras julii, panda cory) will also make a good company to glass fishes. They also won’t hurt shrimps: Amano shrimp, cherry shrimp, and glass shrimp. If you plan to keep indian glass fishes in brackish water, then guppy fish, molly fish, bumblebee goby will do as tank mates since they easily stand such conditions.

Gender differences: male vs. female

Indian glass fishes become reproductive at the age of 6 months. By this time, their appearance has pronounced sex dimorphism. Males become golden-colored and provided with a specific diet, and they become orange-yellow. Their unpaired fins have bright-blue edges. If taking a closer look, you can see that their air-bladder is more sharpened than the females. Females have paler coloring than males. They are silvery-colored with a yellowish tint. They are larger and have a bit fatter abdomen.


Before spawning, indian glass fish males and females are put in separate tanks for a week. And add settled for at least a week fresh water into their tanks. The water temperature is raised to 26-28°C. During all this time, the fish should have a diversified and nutritious diet.

As a spawning tank, you can use a small volume half-filled with fresh, settled water, without a separating net and with a large bush of a small-leaved plant, for example, java moss, or its synthetic analog, which is used as a spawning substrate.

The indian glass fish don’t have any specific requirements for the water composition. Its temperature should be maintained at about 26-28°C.

Indian glass fishes may have spawning both in couples and in groups. So, you put a couple of breeders or one male and two females into the prepared spawning tank. At that, the females should have rounded abdomens and the male – active and bright-colored.

If the spawning occurs in a community tank, a male ready for spawnings usually swims near a bush of a small-leaved plant, and this spot and the surrounding territory become its territory which he guards against his tank mates.

If a female swims into his territory, he starts showing interest to her in the form of some spawning dance and invites her to join the spawning process.

The spawning lasts for about 4 days. The females lay eggs in small portions of 3-6 eggs which the male fertilizes at the same time. During the day, they spawn many times, and it is recommended to feed the fish with fresh live food. This has a good influence on the fish and keeps them active.

Most of the eggs stick to the plants, and only a small number of them fall on the tank bottom. During the spawning period, the female can lay up to 500 eggs. Adult fishes don’t eat their eggs or juveniles. Once the spawning is over, you should remove the breeders from the spawning tank since they don’t participate in their offspring’s further development.

Approximately in 26 hours, very small (bout 1.5 mm long) colorless larvae hatch from the eggs. For about three more days, they hang on the tank plants and walls, feeding on their yolk bags, and after this, they start swimming and searching for food.

Newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii can be used as start food for the juveniles. They usually have a good appetite; thus, you should prepare enough food of the corresponding size. You should feed the juveniles with small portions of food several times a day by bolting it through a sieve with cells of the corresponding size. Because when trying to swallow a too-large piece of food, the juvenile can die.

Moderate water flow ensures that the food moves since it is easier for the school of juveniles to catch it when it flows by.

The first two weeks of the juvenile life are the most crucial in indian glass fishes life. During this period, you shouldn’t let the tank water temperature get low since the juveniles become less active, stop eating, and then die. Stable water temperature and high-quality food guarantee successful growth of the juveniles and a very insignificant death cases percentage. It is recommended to have 24/7 dim lighting and that the tank water level doesn’t exceed 20 cm.

The juveniles grow quite fast, and at the age of 3 months, you can see if they are males or females.