Bumblebee Goby: The Complete Care Guide

The bumblebee goby is an adorable yellow and black striped fish that you may have seen (or taken home) at your local fish store.

It comes with a catch, however:

While it can live in freshwater, it is actually healthiest in a brackish tank.

Here is a brief summary of some of the most important things to remember:

ParameterIdeal Value
Salinity1.002-1.005
Care LevelModerate-Advanced
TemperamentPeaceful
Size1.2-1.7″
Lifespan4 Years
Temperature71-85F (73-79F may be ideal)
Hardness8-20 dGH
PH6.5-8.5 (7 may be ideal; Recommendations vary)
DietCarnivorous – Primarily Live Food
Tank Size20+ gallons Recommended
Area of TankBottom

If you’ve just purchased your first Bumblee Goby, don’t worry.

We’re going to cover everything you need to know to successfully keep the bumblebee goby.

Table Of Contents

Appearance

The BumbleBee Goby is quite a small fish, but its beauty makes it a good addition to most community tanks. It is called a Bumblebee Goby due to its beautiful yellow and black stripes.

Bumblebee Gobies also have fused pelvic fins which they use like a sucker. They can use these fins to attach to glass or rock surfaces.

Due to their small size, they do need to be kept with other fish that are also similarly small as well. Bigger fish could end up eating them or eating all of the food meant for them, causing them to starve.

Environment

Bumblebee Gobies cannot survive in soft or acidic water. They must have hard water to survive.

Because they are normally found in the brackish waters near Asia, they do better in slightly brackish water. To accomplish this, do three things:

  1. Get a hydrometer to measure your tank’s salinity.
  2. Mix the salt into a bucket of water. (If you have anything in the tank, don’t add the salt directly to the water in the tank.)
  3. Slowly add the water into the tank until you reach a salinity of 1.002-1.005.

They need a PH of between 6.5 to 8.5. Recommendations for the “ideal” PH seem to vary between 7-7.5, but keeping them at a stable PH is better than trying to keep them at the perfect PH.

Bumblebee gobys are a community fish – being in a tank alone will kill them.

In a small tank, you should keep at least 3 bumblebee gobies together.

Ideally, you’ll want to keep at least 6 bumblebee gobies in the same tank, more would be better. They are non aggressive, so would do well with other non aggressive fish in a large community tank.

Plus, they’ll certainly add color to your tank.

Other fish that could be added to a community tank with Bumblebee Gobies are:

  • Guppies
  • Molly’s
  • Barbs
  • Tetras
  • Plecos
  • Swordtails
  • Rainbows
  • Platies

Tank Size

Bumblebee Gobies don’t require a lot of room.

If you are keeping them alone without adding in other species, then a 10 gallon tank would probably be sufficient to house them.

If, however, you are looking to add them into a small community with other species, you’d need at least a 20 gallon tank, and bigger would be better.

If you are looking to have a nice big community tank for your living room or another area you spend considerable time in, then looking into a 55 gallon tank would be optimal as it would give them more floor space to roam and hide.

Due to their bottom dwelling nature, Bumblebee Goby fish need more bottom surface area and will be happier with a larger area. This means if you’re getting a 20 gallon tank, a 20 long would be better than a regular 20.

How Many Bumbleebee Gobies Can You Keep in Your Tank? [Table]

Note that for the below table, the upper number assumes you’re doing a species-only tank and sometimes that you have added filtration. You can get a specific recommendation for your tank from AqAdvisor.

Tank SizeNumber of Bumblebee Gobies
10 Gallons3-5 bumblebee gobies (with hiding spots)
20 Gallons6-15 bumblebee gobies
30 Gallons6-20 bumblebee gobies
55 Gallons6-40 bumblebee gobies

Just keep in mind that the bigger the tank is, they more exposed and stressed they feel.

To counter this, extra decorations and plants are needed in larger tanks. Things like caves are also appreciated. (More on this later, though.)

By giving these guys ample living space, you will be ensuring that all of the fish in your tank can coexist peacefully and thrive. Just be aware that more fish also means more food. Makes sure you’re feeding them enough food to keep everyone happy.

Temperature

Bumblebee Gobies will do best in water between 73 F and 79 F.

If you have your tank in a climate controlled room, this may be no problem for you. Depending on your location, however, you may need a heater to keep your water at the right temperature.

The larger your tank, the larger the heater you will need to ensure that your Bumblebee Gobies and other fish don’t die.

You should also include a thermometer in your setup to be sure you can maintain the proper temperature. A faulty heater can quickly cook your fish.

When considering who to house Bumblebee Gobies with, make sure that you take the temperature needs of any potential tank mates into consideration as well. You want to make sure that everyone is comfortable at the same temperature.

Filter

While just about every tank should be filtered, you do need to be careful here.

They can’t handle real strong currents, so having a low current filter is best.

You don’t want them to get worn out by having to struggle against the current in your tank. Because of this, you need to choose your filter wisely. Sponge filters might be a good option here.

In addition to filtering the water, you’ll also want to do regular water changes.

One thing to remember here is that larger water changes on the order of 30% every other week are better than small 10% changes every week.

Since Bumblebee Gobies stay at the bottom, the’ll also be less affected by the removal of the existing water than other species.

Decorations

Bumblebee Gobies are beautiful fish to watch in an aquarium, but they do need plenty of places to hide.

Lots of rocks and caves can make these tiny fish feel more comfortable in a large community tank.

You don’t always have to rely on store bought decorations either. Things like terracotta pots that have holes in the front would work well too.

As long as they have decorations and caves that give them plenty of places to hide if they get scared, they will be happy.

So if you find a fish safe decoration, even if not designed for a tank, you could still use it.

Even coffee cups laid on their side can be used as a little cave. Let your imagination run wild to give a lot of hiding places but yet safe for them as well.

Just make sure everything you use is sanitized and won’t leach anything into the water.

Plants

Either live or artificial plants can be used, as long as they are clean and well anchored. This will also provide additional hiding places for them as well.

Here are some easy to take care of plants that you can add to your aquarium:

  • African Water Fern
  • Anubias
  • Hygrophila
  • Java Fern
  • Java Moss
  • Rotala Rotundifolia (A beautiful red plant)

One thing to keep in mind is that most aquarium plants can only survive in fresh water.

If you keep your tank’s salinity down to 1.002 SG, you might be able to successfully grow some of the above plants. As you get higher, however, less and less plants will be able to survive in your tank.

If you want a planted tank, you may have to forego making it brackish.

Substrate

As for the bottom of the tank, the smaller the particles, the better with these little guys, so a sandy substrate is actually better for them.

This allows them to play in the sand looking for food and even dig, which can just add to the enjoyment of watching them.

If you’ve chosen to plant out your aquarium, you may want to opt for a soil based substrate such as Fluval Stratum.

This will make sure your plants have all the nutrients they need to grow, while still keeping your gobies happy.

Feeding

Due to their carnivorous nature, Bumblebee Gobies need to eat meat. Things like brine shrimp, tubifex worms, or even blood worms would keep them happy and healthy.

You can opt for live, frozen, or freeze-dried. Take note, however:

It will be much easier to get them to eat live food.

Here are some ideas for things you can easily grow for your bumblebee goby:

  • Daphnia
  • Tubifex
  • Brine shrimp
  • Copepods
  • Grindle worms

If you want to try to feed them packaged foods, however, here is some advice.

Avoid feeding them the bottle of flakes that came with your aquarium kit. This can lead to nutritonal deficiencies. (If they even eat them at all.)

Some of the sinking pellets specifically designed for carnivorous fish may work, however. (This one from Hikari is a good option.)

If you keep a few livebearing fish, such as Mollys, in the tank with them, the Bumblebee Gobies can supplement their diet by eating the young of the other fish.

This would be an optimal way of making sure they are fed; because, Bumblebee Gobies are slow swimmers and may not be fast enough to get food that is dropped into the tank.

You can also hatch some brine shrimp to feed them on a regular basis as well.

Lastly, you can also try to culture grindal worms for them to eat on a regular basis. This would provide an adequate food source and would save you money in the long run.

These small cousins of the earthworm will provide all of the nutrients that your Bumblebee Gobies require, and they will gobble them up.

Breeding

Bumblebee Gobies are actually really interesting when it comes to breeding, and besides their beautiful stripes, it is one of the most interesting things about them.

Territorial Males

One of the best things about the Bumblebee Goby is watching the males.

Given enough space, each male will establish its own area, its territory, and will spend a good amount of time chasing other males out of this space.

No one gets hurt, and it can just be a bit of fishy fun to watch.

Often, when a male has a prime spot, one or more males will try to chase him off of his chosen space.

This can lead to pestering on both sides, but serious injuries rarely occur, usually just some bruised egos. For their human caregivers, however, this can fill many hours just watching the antics of the boys.

Encouraging Them to Breed

As your Bumblebee Gobies are getting ready to breed, you will notice the females begin to swell up around the belly area.

These are eggs, but she will not lay them just anywhere. She needs a safe place, and this is where the prime real estate that the males have been protecting comes into play.

To encourage your Bumblebee Gobies to mate, just pour some freshwater into the tank to simulate the rain. As the water becomes less brackish, it will convince them it is time to breed.

To do this, the male will escort the female to his cave or hideout where she will lay her eggs.

Once the eggs are laid, the male will fertilize them. He will then keep guard over the nest for the next four to nine days until the eggs hatch.

Telling the difference between genders is pretty easy, especially once they reach sexual maturity.

Male Bumblebee Gobies tend to be much brighter in color and more slender while the females tend to be duller. As breeding gets closer, while the females swell with eggs, the males will get an even brighter color to catch the attention of a female.

Protecting the Fry

One of the hardest parts of breeding the Bumblebee Goby is the fact that they do like live babies to eat.

This includes fry of their own species and even their own babies. You can limit the number of fry (or baby fish) you lose by moving the male and the babies to another tank and moving the male back to his original tank once the eggs hatch.

Due to the tiny nature of Bumblebee Goby fry, they cannot eat the same food that adults can eat. In this case, it is best to have an infusoria culture started and ready to feed the babies.

This is best done by collecting some of the water from an established tank in a mason jar. Place some plant matter in the jar and set it in the sun or under a grow light. You will see the water in the jar begins to get a bit cloudy, as soon as this happens you want to work on starting a second jar in the same way.

After a few days of the infusoria growing, the vegetable matter will begin to decay, which will quickly make the jar of infusoria contaminated and unacceptable to feed your new fry. This is why you want to start a second jar as soon as the first blooms. Once the first jar is unusable, you will have a second ready. Just keep starting new colonies until the babies are old enough.

Infusoria are a group of microorganisms that already live in most tanks.

By separating out some of the water and feeding those microorganisms, you will be producing food small enough that your tiny mouthed little fry is able to eat. Once the bloom happens, each drop of water will contain thousands of them.

Your fry will need to eat a couple of times a day, so be prepared to give them about 1 mL full per batch of fry about every eight hours or so for the first week. After about a week you can start introducing newly hatched brine shrimp.

Once they are big enough to be able to eat the newly hatched shrimp, you will see pink or yellow bands in their bellies. Once you can see that all of the little babies have the bands, you no longer need to continue to feed the infusoria to them. Then just continue to feed them the brine shrimp until they are big enough to go into the community tank.

Fun Bumblebee Goby Facts

  • Due to the tiny nature of the Bumblebee Goby, they can be aggressive if kept in community tank without some same species friends. This aggression can be curbed by giving your Bumblebee Goby some same species friends to hang around with. Bumblebee Gobies like to swim in school, so this will help they be more peaceful to tank mates.
  • Bumblebee Gobies don’t have swim bladders like many other fish do, so this tends to keep them down towards the bottom of the tank more. Due to the lack of swim bladder, they can’t rise as readily as other fish.
  • Reaching a length of only two inches as adults, Bumblebee Gobies are one of the smallest freshwater fish.
  • While most species of Gobies are saltwater fish, a few species, like the Bumblebee Goby prefer brackish water, and some can even survive in freshwater. The Bumblebee Goby can, in fact, survive in freshwater, but it tends to do better with a little bit of salt to make the water slightly brackish.
  • Bumblebee Gobies originated from brackish rivers and streams found in areas of Asia like Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
  • In the wild, it is the rain that encourages them to breed. As the water in their natural habitat becomes less brackish, they become more encouraged to find a safe hideout or cave to lay their eggs.