The Ultimate Bumblebee Goby Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates and More…

The Bumblebee Goby is a beautiful brackish fish from Southeast Asia.

They have vivid yellow and black stripes and can add a dash of color to any brackish aquarium. Their peaceful and calm temperament also means that they are compatible with community aquariums.

However, they provide a significant challenge for aquarists because of their specific water parameters and dietary needs.

If you can master these challenges then Bumblebee Gobies make truly wonderful fish that bring any brackish tank to life.

Keep reading to learn all about this delightful little fish and find out about their diet, care needs, how to breed them and much more…

Bumblebee Goby 101

Bumblebee Goby

The Bumblebee Goby (Brachygobius doriae) is a small but brightly colored Goby species from the Gobiidae family.

They are native to the brackish waters of Southeast Asia and are found in the rivers, estuaries and mangroves of Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

This species is easily recognizable due to their striking black and yellow stripes.

Each fish will have three yellow bands across their bodies.

If taken care of properly they can live for around three years and will grow to around an inch and a half.

These bottom-dwelling fish make an exciting addition to any brackish-water aquarium. They do present a challenge for experienced aquarists, though, because of their highly specific needs, but they are a rewarding species to keep nonetheless.

If you want to add Bumblebee Gobies to your tank then expect to pay between $4-$9 for each fish.

Key Facts:

  • Experience Required: Brackish fishkeeping.
  • Color Forms: Yellow and black.
  • Size: 1-1.5 inches.
  • Tank Size: 10+ gallon tank size.
  • Tank Temperature: 72°F-84°F.

Brachygobius doriae

Species History

This species was first discovered by Marquis J. Doria in the late 1800s during his trips to Borneo.

Although they were originally found in Borneo, the exact date and location is unknown.

We do know that they were officially classified later on by Albert Gunther in his attempt to catalogue a huge number of fish within the British Museums’ collection in 1861.

Their genus name (Brachygobius) means “short goby” and refers to the short nature of their bodies. The species name (Doriae) means “belonging to Doria”, the man who first discovered the fish.

The popularity of this fish has risen over the last few decades due to their appealing and distinctive color with more and more aquarists wanting to keep them. They are now fairly common in many exotic fish stores and can be bought without too much trouble.

Because of this, they have become somewhat invasive in certain parts of the world and have established isolated pockets outside of their native range.

One noticeable example of this is in Singapore where this species has now become established as a result of captive specimens being released from aquariums.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Extremely colorful and vibrant.
  • Can be kept in either fresh or brackish water.
  • Great additions to nano tanks.
  • Peaceful temperament.
  • Can be bred in captivity.
Cons

  • Very nervous and need plenty of hiding places.
  • Must be kept in either fresh or brackish water their entire life.
  • Difficult to find tank mates.

Appearance

Yellow and Black Goby

The first thing you will notice about their appearance is their yellow and black stripes.

These vertical stripes run the length of their bodies.

The order of these stripes is consistent between individuals, with their heads and eyes always being black, followed by a bright yellow stripe in an alternating pattern that continues until the tail.

Some Bumblebee Gobies have clearly defined yellow and black stripes that are intense in color. Others have less well-defined stripes that can even be blotchy in some cases. Both the males and females have black and yellow stripes, but the males will have more intense colors.

As for their body, they only reach around an inch and a half long.

Compared to the size of their body they have large eyes and a large mouth. Their short bodies allow them to take advantage of small hiding places that they squeeze themselves into.

Bumblebee Gobies have short and stubby fins too.

These Gobies have two very small dorsal fins but fairly large pectoral fins that are often black. They have a rounded caudal fin and scalloped pelvic fins.

Their pelvic fins create suction that lets them anchor on the substrate and not get washed away by tidal currents in their natural habitats.

Similar Species

In total there are 9 species in the Brachygobius genus, most of which can be easily mistaken for Brachygobius doriae. A few of these examples include:

  • Freshwater Bumblebee Goby (Brachygobius xanthomelas): This closely-related species is almost indistinguishable from true Bumblebee. Although their size and coloration is the same, they do have a more blotchy coloration and do not have well-defined yellow and black stripes.
  • Golden Banded Goby (Brachygobius nunus): This species can be more easily distinguished as it has a greater number of black bands on their body (5 distinct vertical bands rather than 4).
  • Mekong Bumblebee Goby (Brachygobius mekongensis): This species lacks the vivid yellow stripes seen in other species. They are more translucent than others but still have distinctive black stripes.

Bumblebee Goby Care Guide

Bumblebee Goby Swimming

These fish can be a challenge to keep because of their special care needs.

It is important to closely monitor the salinity in the water as this is a crucial aspect of keeping these fish healthy.

Any serious changes in salinity may be lethal to Bumblebee Gobies.

They can also suffer from numerous diseases if not taken care of properly. This can include Ich and other common fungal infections like cotton wool disease, mouth rot and fin rot.

These diseases are often the result of stress and poor water quality.

Weekly water checks and 20% water changes are a must.

When these fish are healthy their colors will be a vivid yellow.

What To Feed Bumblebee Gobies

Bumblebee Gobies are carnivores and in the wild eat small aquatic invertebrates, larval fish and insect larvae.

Feeding your Gobies is one of the biggest challenges for any aquarist.

To replicate what they eat in the wild, live food is the best option to provide for them. However, live food is expensive and often hard to find.

They will only eat live food that moves around enough to trigger their feeding response. Dried and frozen foods will be ignored.

To avoid the expense of having to buy live food, home food cultures can be created in order to provide an almost constant supply of live food. You can feed them daphnia magna, blood worms, tubifex worms, mosquito larvae and brine shrimp.

These fish should be fed 3-4 pieces of live food twice a day to keep them healthy and happy.

Usual Behavior

The Bumblebee Goby is a timid and peaceful fish.

You will often find them resting at the bottom of the tank or hiding near tank decorations or foliage.

They are mainly bottom-dwelling fish so you will not find them darting from place to place. They have short fins that can only accommodate short bursts of swimming.

Their sociable nature means that they can often be seen schooling with others.

This is important if you want to keep Bumblebee Gobies happy.

Males can be territorial and will often seize territories in their tank for their own. They will often contest these territories with other males but they are not violent.

Tank Mates For Bumblebee Gobies

It can be difficult to find tank mates for these fish as brackish waters can only host a somewhat narrow range of species – similar to Platy Fish.

The best tank mates are other Bumblebee Gobies.

However, if you do want to create a thriving community tank then look for calm and similarly sized fish.

Size is particularly important when looking for other tank mates. Larger fish will cause undue stress for the Gobies and they will spend most of their time hiding.

The following fish make good tank mates:

  • Glass fish
  • Mudskippers
  • Archerfish
  • Guppies
  • Mollies
  • Endlers
  • Pufferfish (smaller species)
  • Columbian Shark Catfish

Bumblebee Goby School

This species thrives when they are kept together. Their sociable nature means that they get on well in small groups of around 5-8 individuals.

You will notice they will spend less time hiding when kept in a school too.

It is important to note that you should not keep more than 3-4 Bumblebee Goby males together. They can be territorial and can injure each other in the disputes that may occur over food and females.

Wild Habitat and Tank Conditions

In the wild the Bumblebee Goby is native to the shallow, brackish river estuaries, streams and mangrove forests of Southeast Asia.

They are often found swimming on the benthos and very rarely swim in open water.

Bumblebee Gobies prefer to live in areas with lots of vegetation and other such debris so that they have plenty of hiding places. They can often be seen hiding amongst mangrove roots to avoid predators. Their natural habitats consist mainly of fine sediments like fine-grained sand and fine mud.

Tank Set Up

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Tank Type: Brackish planted
  • Temperature: 72 to 84°F
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.5
  • Hardness: 9 to 19 dGH
  • Flow: Light
  • Substrate: Fine sediment (sand is best)

The main goal when setting up your aquarium is to replicate their natural habitat. This will help reduce stress and also make them more comfortable.

You will need at least a 10 gallon tank for a single Bumblebee Goby.

A 30 gallon tank is suitable for a school of up to 8 Bumblebee Gobies.

Bumblebee Gobies are fairly tolerant of variable water conditions but must be kept at a constant salinity. They require a salinity grade between 1.002 and 1.006.

You can keep them in completely fresh water or slightly brackish water.

However, once you pick you must keep them in this water for life as moving them from brackish to freshwater (or vice versa) can result in osmotic stress and even death.

They prefer shallow water and high light intensity.

Because of their natural habitat, fine-grained sediment should be selected. It must be fine so that they can do a little digging and landscaping.

You should have lots of submerged debris and plant matter. Large rocks, and pieces of wood are good as well to create hiding places. Bumblebee Gobies do not eat live plants so you can keep them with Java Fern, Java Moss and Seaside Brookweed.

Breeding Bumblebee Gobies

You can breed the Bumblebee Goby in a home aquarium.

Initially, a male and female will need to be comfortable enough with one another to cohabitate in the same tank. Once they are comfortable with living with each other, breeding can be attempted.

The male will have a brighter coloration and the female will be slightly fatter.

You should give them lots of high-protein foods to initiate breeding.

The temperature of the tank should also be raised by 2°F per day until it reaches 84°F.

Once copulation has occurred the female will be even fatter in the body while carrying her eggs. She will lay her eggs onto or inside any solid surface that she can find. This includes things like snail shells, small pieces of pottery or inside any small containers that you place in the tank prior to laying.

A single Bumblebee Goby female can produce up to 200 eggs in one clutch.

The male will then guard the eggs until they are ready to hatch.

Once hatched the fry must be separated from the parents as they tend to eat their young.

Summary

This peaceful and colorful fish is the perfect candidate to add a splash of color to your brackish tank.

Bumblebee Gobies thrive when kept together with members of the same species and can happily tolerate species of a similar size and temperament.

Their active nature and feeding habits make them a good choice for any keen aquarist looking to gain experience with a more challenging species.

Any aquarist can truly fall in love with their unique appearance and personalities!

Have you kept the Bumblebee Goby before? Let us know your experience in the comments section below…

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.