The Bumblebee Goby is a truly stunning little fish whose name couldn’t be more appropriate. These tiny black and yellow fish herald from Indonesia and are becoming more and more popular in the fishkeeping hobby.
I first started keeping Bumblebee Gobies a couple of years ago, and I haven’t regretted getting them. I keep a group of 8 in a 20 gallon (90 liters) aquarium which has lots of rocks, roots, and pieces of wood to create hiding places. These little critters are not for the community aquarium, but when kept in a species-only tank they are fascinating.
|Lower to Mid-water
|Intermediate to Difficult
|Minimum Tank Size:
|10 US Gallons (45 Litres)
|72°F to 82°F (22°C – 28°C)
|7.0 – 8.5
|140 – 350 ppm
Bumblebee Goby Origins
The Bumblebee Goby is endemic to the Western parts of the island of Borneo. The Bumblebee Goby is primarily found in two locations, the Malaysian state of Sarawak and Riau Islands province, Indonesia. There are a number of reports that this species has been found in Singapore, but researchers currently believe these reports to be incorrect.
Bumblebee Goby Habitat
Bumblebee Gobies are found in both freshwater and brackish environments. They inhabit coastal rivers and streams as well as estuaries and mangrove swamps. Bumblebee Gobies are an adaptable species that are found in crystal clear tidal streams as well as peat swamps that have dark, tannin-stained waters.
The Bumblebee Gobies’ natural habitat features lots of roots, branches, and fallen trees. The substrate is often sand, mud, or a silty mixture of both. There are numerous reports that decaying leaves and plant matter also feature heavily in many of the waterways the Bumblebee Goby is found in.
Housing A Bumblebee Goby
Bumblebee Gobies are really not suited to the ‘community’ aquarium. I have found they are much better kept in a species only aquarium, ideally with no other fish at all.
I keep my colony of 8 Bumblebee Gobies in a 20 gallon (90 liters) aquarium. I have a substrate of crushed coral and sand which I have covered in a mat of catappa leaves. The leaves stain the water a weak tea color, which actually really brings the color out in my Bumblebee Gobies.
I have placed lots of wood and rocks in their aquarium to create a mass of both hiding places and line of sight blocks. Bumblebee Gobies are both aggressive and territorial. I have found the more line of sight blocks there are in the aquarium, the easier it is for the Bumblebee Gobies to stay out of each other’s way.
Bumblebee Gobies do not like a lot of flow in their aquarium. I filter my tank with 2 small sponge filters running off an air pump. The sponges keep the water really clean without blowing these little fish all around the aquarium.
Bumblebee Gobies are very sensitive to water quality degradation, so I carry out a 30% water change once or twice a week. If you plan to keep a group of Bumblebee Gobies, you will need to be prepared to keep on top of the water changes.
Bumblebee Goby Behavior In The Aquarium
Bumblebee Gobies are an aggressive species of fish. They do not tolerate tank mates at all. Do not be fooled by these miniature fish.
They are feisty. Bumblebee Gobies should be kept in a group of at least 6 to help spread the aggression out. If you just keep two or three Bumblebee Gobies together, you may find you are soon down to just one fish.
Male Bumblebee Gobies tend to be more aggressive than females.
What Do Bumblebee Gobies Eat?
Bumblebee Gobies are carnivores. They need to be fed meaty foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. There are numerous reports that hobbyists find their Bumblebee Gobies will only eat live foods, but I have found mine readily transitioned to frozen foods.
Bumblebee Gobies will not accept prepared dried foods like pellets or flakes, so don’t waste your time trying them.
Breeding Bumblebee Gobies In Captivity
Bumblebee Gobies are cave spawners. Typically they are not too fussy about what they use as a cave. In captivity, Bumblebee Gobies will spawn in upturned flower pots, tubes, or manmade breeding caves. If the aquarium is set up correctly they may well also spawn under large pieces of wood or ‘caves’ made by piles of rocks.
The male Bumblebee Goby, which when in spawning condition appears to have a reddish color to his body, selects a breeding site which he will stake out, displaying to any females that happen to be in the vicinity. Once he finds a female who is receptive to his advances, the two fish enter the cave where between 50 and 200 eggs are laid. Once the eggs are laid, the female leaves the cave and takes no further part in raising the fry. The male Bumblebee Goby guards the eggs and then the fry aggressively.
Bumblebee Goby fry requires microscopic food when they first hatch, which is usually between 7 and 10 days after spawning.
I have to confess, I have not managed to successfully raise a single Bumblebee Goby baby.
Bumblebee Gobies are fascinating fish to keep. Although aggressive, if the aquarium is set up correctly, a group of 6 or more Bumblebee Gobies can actually get along very well. This is not a tank you will get bored of in a hurry.