Caring for the Freshwater Bumblebee Goby

Bumblebee Goby

  • Scientific Name - Brachygobius xanthozona
  • Geography - Asia, especially South-East Asia and Thailand
  • Natural Ecosystem - River bottoms and Estuaries
  • Diet Type - Carnivore
  • Difficulty of Care - 8/10

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Species Description -

The Bumblebee Goby(B. xanthozona) is a small, bottom dwelling, carnivorous fish that is distinguished by its solid unbroken black stripes and bright yellow body. Potential owners beware: Many aquarium stores will sell both Brachygobius xanthozona and Brachygobius nunus as Bumblebee Gobies. The problem lies in the fact that B. nunas is a different species altogether and requires brackish water to survive. B. nunas technically is the Gold Banded Goby, but is seldom sold as such. You can easily spot a B. nunas by its broken black stripes and black spots. Remember Brachygobius xanthozona is the freshwater species you're after.

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A well planted and natural tank best suites Bumblebee Gobies.
A well planted and natural tank best suites Bumblebee Gobies.

Tank & Water Requirements -

  • Minimum Tank Size - Ten Gallons for Two Gobies
  • Water Temperature - 73-85F (23-30C)
  • Water pH - 7 - 8.5
  • Water Hardness - 12 - 18dH

Bumblebee gobies are highly territorial among their own species and overstocking will result in a tremendous amount of quarreling and possibly injury. To ensure the best living conditions, only stock two gobies in a ten gallon aquarium. Numbers can be increased with aquariums that have larger footprints. Sand is the proper substrate for bumblebee gobies as it will allow them to move freely and burrow on occasion. Driftwood, river rocks and live plants are also recommended to replicate natural conditions and to provide hiding.

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Feeding -

Here is where the difficulty of care rating takes on an 8 out of 10 score. Bumblebee gobies are tricky to feed. Being that these gobies are an opportunistic style feeder, snapping at anything that might swim or float by, flake and dry foods are out of the question. Live food is really the best option for bumblebee gobies. They will readily take tubifex and blood worms that are still living, and will eat frozen ones if there is a slight current to keep the food moving around. Hatched brine shrimp are also a great option with the same current needs for frozen brine shrimp. During my experience with my gobies, I found that tiny live Convict Cichlid fry were the perfect meal for a hungry goby. Just keep in mind that if the food doesn't move, your gobies won't eat it.

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Behavior and Tankmates -

Although many will describe these fish as grumpy, I've actually grown quite fond of their happy go lucky personalities. You'll normally find them hiding out in solitude or sitting patiently for food on the bottom. Surprisingly they do swim quite often and you'll be able to view them active both during the day and at night. Growing to an average length of around 2 inches in the aquarium, the bumblebee goby is well suited for a community style tank. They work well with a variety of fishes. Just make sure that nothing will eat them.

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The Brackish Debate -

Almost every guide out there for Bumblebee Gobies will tell you that Brackish (slightly marine) water is best for these fish. I'm not going to tell you that they're wrong, but as long as you keep up your pH and hardness, freshwater will sustain these fish. All the Bumblebee gobies I've cared for have lived long and healthy lives in freshwater. Never once did they show signs of stress or washed out colors. Just some food for thought. If you feel more comfortable with brackish water, add marine salt solution until a specific gravity of 1.004 is reached.

Final Word -

Summing it all up, Bumblebee Gobies are exceptional species for biotope and themed tanks. They add a unique twist on what you typically imagine as a bottom dwelling fish. I thoroughly enjoyed my pair that accompanied white cloud minnows and a beta in a 10 gallon aquarium. I would recommend that you know what you are doing as a fish keeper before you hop into these fish. Beginner fish keepers should avoid these fish until more experience is gained. Thanks for reading my article on caring for the freshwater Bumblebee Goby.

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Comments 4 comments

Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

This hub is awesome! It's interesting, useful and very informative. Two thumbs up!


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 4 years ago from Sacramento, California

Hey Joe! Very good hub on a beautiful fish that is one of my favorites. They are very striking when cared for correctly and the great detail of your hub will help people understand these fish. voted up and shared.


Joe Macho profile image

Joe Macho 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Phoebe Pike - Thanks for your feedback! I appreciate it. Have you ever cared for these gobies?

davenmidtown - Hey what's going on Dave? These Gobies are pretty sweet! Like you said, they are very striking when cared for properly. I've seen that you like cichlids & livebearers. Any go with these gobies before?


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natures47friend 4 years ago from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand.

What a wonderfully ste out hub...I would like to know how to put lines in...voted up and awesome.....

Happy New Year!

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