Bumblebee Gobies (Brachygobius): Diet, Feeding, Breeding & More

Bumblebee Gobies are popular additions to aquariums because of their gorgeous colors and patterns.

However, these little fish have fairly specific care requirements, meaning that you shouldn’t bring this species home on a whim just because they look nice. 

If you’re interested in Bumblebee Gobies as an aquarist, the first thing you should do is find out what kind of care they need so you can decide whether this is a commitment you want to take on.

Bumblebee Gobies (Brachygobius): Diet, Feeding, Breeding & More

The unique needs of the Bumblebee Goby extend to its water parameters, diet, and breeding requirements, so it’s important to do as much research as possible into these fish before committing to caring for them.

Our guide to Bumblebee Goby care covers all the essential facts about this species, from what they eat to what kind of water they need to thrive.

There’s a lot to learn, so let’s get started!

Introducing The Bumblebee Goby

The binomial nomenclature of the Bumblebee Goby is Brachygobius.

Brachygobius is more of a genus than a species because there are technically a few different types of Brachygobius fish, but they all look so similar that they tend to be sold under one moniker. 

This small, colorful fish originates from Southeast Asia.

These fish are most often found in Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, where they favor streams with slow-moving water. 

Aquarists love Bumblebee Gobies because they look so beautiful in aquariums, but they are by no means low-maintenance fish.

If you’re going to keep Bumblebee Gobies, you’ll have to be prepared to recreate their very specific natural habitat in the confines of an aquarium, which is no easy task.

If you feel prepared to take on the challenge, though, we’ll be explaining exactly how to care for this unique species later in our guide. 

Bumblebee Goby Identification

Bumblebee Gobies live up to their name in terms of their appearance. The yellow and black striped pattern that runs the length of the fish’s body makes these creatures look like bumblebees! 

Not all Bumblebee Gobies look exactly the same, though. Some have paler yellow stripes while others sport a darker yellow color that looks nearly orange.

In most cases, the more vibrantly-colored fish will be males. 

In addition to the subtle color differences, male and female Bumblebee Gobies can be differentiated by their size.

The males of the species have slimmer builds than the females, although both females and males have the round head typical of gobies as well as protruding eyes. 

Despite the bright coloring on their bodies, Bumblebee Gobies tend to have clear fins.

Occasionally, there will be some black stripes in the fins where the stripes on the body continue to extend. 

How Big Are Bumblebee Gobies?

One thing you won’t need to worry about too much when housing Bumblebee Gobies is space. That’s because these fish are extremely small, only growing up to 1.5 inches in length on average. 

Because of their small size, Bumblebee Gobies are considered nano fish. As we will explain later, though, this doesn’t mean you can get away with cramming dozens of these fish into tiny tanks.

They need enough space to move around comfortably so that they can stay in good health and complete their expected lifespan. 

The Lifespan Of The Bumblebee Goby

If you maintain the right conditions in your aquarium, your Bumblebee Gobies can live for 3 years. In some cases, they can even live to around 4 years old. 

However, it’s not uncommon for Bumblebee Gobies to die before this point due to less-than-optimal living conditions.

If you want your gobies to live a full and healthy life, you’ll need to put the time and effort into maintaining optimal conditions in their aquarium. 

Bumblebee Goby Temperament And Behavior

As you might expect from such a small fish, Bumblebee Gobies are quite calm and will conceal themselves rather than become aggressive in most instances of danger. 

However, Bumblebee Gobies can be territorial in certain situations. Usually, these fish prefer to stick to one area of the tank, which they work between themselves to guard.

If this space is invaded by fish of a different species, the gobies might display aggression, but since they’re so small, the fighting is usually quite minimal and doesn’t typically result in injuries. 

Apart from these relatively rare instances of fighting, Bumblebee Gobies are social, especially with other Bumblebee Gobies. 

Looking After Bumblebee Gobies

Looking After Bumblebee Gobies

Bumblebee Goby Tank Size

You don’t need a very large tank to keep Bumblebee Gobies because they’re very small.

In fact, as long as you take care not to overcrowd the tank, you should be alright with a 10-gallon aquarium. 

With that being said, many aquarists with experience keeping Bumblebee Gobies have noticed that their gobies live longer when housed in a bigger tank.

This is something to consider if you really want to ensure that your Bumblebee Gobies live as long as possible. 

Water Conditions For Bumblebee Gobies

Brackish streams and ponds are the optimal environment for Bumblebee Gobies, with some Bumblebee Gobies being accustomed to freshwater and others needing water with low saline levels.

This makes it very difficult to determine the optimal water parameters for these fish without information about how and where they were bed. 

Because of this, you should always purchase Bumblebee Gobies from a reputable breeder who can tell you what kind of water your fish are used to.

Typically, this will be brackish water, but some breeders will raise Bumblebee Gobies in salt-free water. 

We can’t stress enough how important it is not to introduce Bumblebee Gobies to a tank without knowing what kind of water they are accustomed to.

Doing so could cause them to go into shock and ultimately die. 

Once you’ve established the correct levels of salinity, all you need to do is monitor the pH, hardness, and temperature of the water.

Apart from sensitivity to different salinity levels, Bumblebee Gobies are fairly tough, which means that you don’t need to adhere to very strict parameters. 

Nevertheless, you should make sure that the water temperature doesn’t deviate from the range of 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ideally, you should aim to keep the temperature between 73.5 degrees and 79 degrees. The pH should stay between 7 and 8.5 and the acceptable range for hardness goes from 9 dKH to 19 dKH.

In terms of salinity, keep the water between salt grades 1.002 and 1.006. 

Decorating A Bumblebee Goby Tank

Before you start decorating your fish tank to accommodate your Bumblebee Gobies, you should make sure you have all the necessary essentials. These essentials include a filtration system.

A regular sponge filter is fine – just make sure that the filter you choose doesn’t create a strong water flow because Bumblebee Gobies don’t like this. 

In their natural habitats, Bumblebee Gobies have plenty of hiding places to protect themselves from predators.

Therefore, in order to maintain a stress-free environment for your Bumblebee Gobies, you should provide them with lots of places to hide and feel safe. 

The first thing you should put in your Bumblebee Gobies’ tank is a sand-based substrate.

This is because Bumblebee Gobies are bottom-feeders and they enjoy digging through the sand at the bottom of streams and ponds.

Since Bumblebee Gobies are very small, they can easily be injured by stony substrate, so avoid chunkier substrates. 

Hiding spots for Bumblebee Gobies can take many forms. You could use pieces of driftwood, aquarium plants, or even rocks (as long as they’re stable and won’t fall over onto any of the fish). 

Bumblebee Goby Diet

Unfortunately, Bumblebee Gobies are not the easiest fish to feed. That’s because they can be quite fussy when it comes to their food. 

If you want a fish that is happy to snack on dry fish flakes, Bumblebee Gobies are not a good option for you.

These fish thrive on high-protein diets, so if you’re going to keep members of this species, you must be prepared to purchase either live feed or high-quality frozen food.

Mainly, Bumblebee Gobies like to eat daphnia, tubifex worms, and bloodworms. These can be introduced to the tank alive or kept frozen and defrosted before feeding.

Brine shrimp are also suitable food for Bumblebee Gobies and they’re easy to source.

Health Problems In Bumblebee Gobies

Health Problems In Bumblebee Gobies

The sad truth is that Bumblebee Gobies are fairly susceptible to diseases.

Luckily, many of the health conditions Bumblebee Gobies are prone to can be prevented by carefully monitoring the quality of the water in the tank. 

There are 2 main causes of illness in Bumblebee Gobies: poor-quality water and stress.

Stress can cause skin conditions such as Ich in many fish species including Bumblebee Gobies, and in these fish, stress can actually be caused by living in water that isn’t right for them. 

If your Bumblebee Gobies have been bred in brackish water, it’s absolutely essential to provide them with salt water.

The transition from saltwater to freshwater is extremely shocking and causes a lot of stress, and this is one of the main reasons why Bumblebee Gobies develop Ich. 

In addition to ensuring that you follow your breeder’s instructions regarding the kind of water to put in your tank, be sure to monitor the water parameters regularly.

Water conditions can easily change over time, so you need to be checking on a regular basis.

Of course, it goes without saying that you must also change the water on a strict schedule, even if you have a water filter. 

Ich is by far the most common disease in Bumblebee Gobies, so while it’s important to understand how to prevent it, you should also know how to spot it and what to do if you identify Ich in your aquarium. 

The easiest way to tell if one or several of your Bumblebee Gobies has Ich is to visually inspect each fish on a regular basis.

It should only take a couple of minutes to look for the classic signs of Ich, which are tiny white spots on the fish’s body.

The spots look like grains of salt, and they can also be found on the gills.

Even if you can’t see these spots, other indicators of Ich include fish rubbing their bodies against things in their tank, a reduction in appetite, and hiding. 

If you notice these symptoms in one or more of your Bumblebee Gobies, immediately quarantine the affected fish. This will stop it from spreading to other tank mates.

Once you have placed the fish into a separate enclosure, you can treat the skin condition with over-the-counter medication.

Copper can be dangerous for some other fish and aquatic animals, so the importance of removing the infected fish from the tank before treatment can’t be overestimated, especially if you have a multi-species aquarium. 

Bumblebee Goby Companions

Most aquarists choose to keep more than one Bumblebee Goby because they are so small and enjoy socializing with other members of their species. 

Generally speaking, you can keep approximately 7 Bumblebee Gobies in a tank as long as it has a capacity of at least 10 gallons, with 15 gallons being even better. 

If you are going to keep other species in the same tank as your Bumblebee Gobies, you’ll need to make sure that you select tank mates who require the same water conditions and are of an appropriate size.

Of course, you won’t want to pick large fish that might prey on your gobies.

Although you won’t need to worry too much about the reverse because there aren’t many fish that are small enough to be food for Bumblebee Gobies. 

Bumblebee Gobies can live with shrimp, although since these fish have been known to feed on brine shrimp, it’s a good idea to house them with larger shrimp so they don’t become an item on the menu. 

Basically, you have three options when looking for Bumblebee Goby companions: other Bumblebee Gobies, similarly-sized fish with identical water needs, or larger shrimp species. 

Breeding Bumblebee Gobies

Female Bumblebee Gobies can lay clutches of 200 eggs or more at once, so you can quite easily breed large numbers of these fish. 

When you want your Bumblebee Gobies to breed, the best thing to do is increase the amount of protein that you feed them each day.

In some cases, it might be appropriate to add a small amount of fresh water to the aquarium, but you should consult with your breeder about this first. 

Pregnant female Bumblebee Gobies will swell before laying the eggs in hidden places around the tank.

It’s a good idea to provide some extra-safe hiding spaces like upturned domes or ceramic tubing inside the tank to improve your chances of success and minimize stress for the females. 

You will need to either take the eggs out of the tank or, alternatively, remove fully-grown gobies from the aquarium to ensure the safety of the eggs.

However, the males of the species can be trusted to guard the eggs since this is their natural instinct. You only need to separate the males from the eggs after they hatch because they might feed on the fry. 

Baby Bumblebee Gobies need a diet exclusively made up of infusoria cultures for a while.

Eventually, when they have grown large enough, they can start eating juvenile brine shrimp. 

The Bottom Line

It’s natural to be drawn to Bumblebee Gobies due to their appealing colors and patterns, but please don’t make a decision entirely based on appearances. 

Bumblebee Gobies may look lovely in an aquarium, but they are not low-maintenance fish.

Therefore, if you’re a beginner in the world of fish-keeping, we would urge you to start with an easier species and only move on to Bumblebee Gobies once you have some experience under your belt. 

If you do choose to house Bumblebee Gobies in your aquarium, you must be prepared to discuss their background with the breeder and, if necessary, commit to maintaining a tank of brackish water.

Remember, Bumblebee Gobies don’t like flake food, so you will also have to ensure that you can afford to keep a stock of live or frozen protein sources. 

Bumblebee Gobies are not the kind of fish that you can leave to their own devices when it comes to breeding.

If you have different sexes in your tank, you will need to commit to monitoring and intervening in the egg-laying process.

Final Thoughts

If you are a practiced aquarist who loves colorful fish and has time, energy, and money to spare, Bumblebee Gobies could make the perfect addition to an existing aquarium.

They’re also striking and social enough to make up a single-species tank. 

These eye-catching fish might have a lot of specific needs, from a high-protein diet to varying water salinity requirements, but if you’re experienced enough to meet these needs, Bumblebee Gobies can make beautiful and rewarding pets!

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