The bumblebee goby (lat. Brachygobius doriae) is a small, bright and peaceful fish which nano tank owners eagerly buy.
Habitat in the wild
The fish habitat is in Indonesian islands – Java, Sumatra and Borneo. It dwells in lowlands with brackish water along coastline – such as mangrove swamps, estuaries of rivers running into the sea.
As a rule bottom there consists of clay loam, sand and mud with some organics on it, such as fallen leaves, mango tree roots and snags.
Some populations of the fish dwell in old peatbogs with black water that has very low acidity level, minimal conductivity and insignificant hardness level.
Adult species grow to be up to 4.2 centimeters (1.7 in) long, but in a tank the fish grows a bit smaller. Its lifespan is 4 years.
The body shape is the one peculiar to all representatives of its kind – it looks like an elongated drop flattened from sides. The head is large if compared to its body size.
Its fused abdominal fins form kind of sucker disk by means of which the fish sticks to various surfaces. There are front and back soft rays on two dorsal fins.
Provided with favorable tank conditions the fish has very bright and contrast coloring pattern of golden-yellow and tar dark stripes that go in turns, which makes the fish look like a bee and due to this bumblebee goby got its name.
Some species have blurry dark spot on their back.
Difficulties in keeping
This is a small, bright, but rather demanding fish. Besides this is a small predatory fish that will eat everything it can swallow.
Therefore, the fish isn’t recommended for beginner aquarists.
Care and keeping in a tank
|Scientific Name||Brachygobius doriae|
|Common Name||Bumblebee goby, bumblebee fish, bee fish, gobbie fish|
|Tank size||17 gallons and more|
|Temperature||24 – 28 °C (75 – 82 °F)|
|Size||up to 4.2 centimeters (1.7 in)|
|Lifespan||up to 4 years|
You have to keep in mind that bumblebee goby is a fish that dwells in brackish water and sometimes it is put into freshwater tanks.
Some aquarists successfully keep it in freshwater, but still ideal tank conditions for the fish is living in brackish water.
Optimal tank size for a small group of fish starts with 80 liters. Also you should remember that goby is a territory dependent fish. To avoid conflicts and fights in the tank you should keep a group of at least 6 species, which decreases the level of their aggression plus the fish becomes less timid and demonstrates more natural behavior.
It’s better to choose not very deep tank with large base area. Lots of shelters made of thickly planted tank plants is a must to make sure that weaker fish species don’t suffer from attacks of alpha male. Snags, artificial caves and flower pots will also do for this purpose.
Sand will be a good choice for the tank bottom substrate. You may add coral sand or marble gravels into the sand on the tank bottom to act as a buffer and put some sea salt into the tank water – about 2 grams per one liter of water.
This isn’t obligatory, though it is useful in terms of disease prevention.
It’s not necessary to put plants into the tank, but if you want you can use some undemanding kinds, but before this they have to get acclimatized to living in brackish water.
Successful keeping of the fish depends on maintaining stable hydrochemical water composition and high water quality.
For this purpose powerful filtration system is used and regular servicing procedures are performed: daily tank water renew and removing of organic waste from the tank.
When choosing the filter you should opt for the models that don’t create any excessive water flow. Tank water parameters should be the following: temperature 24 – 28 °C (75 – 82 °F), pH: 7.0 – 8.5.
The fish is a micropredator. It is a carnivorous fish, that’s why it’s preferable to feed it with small live and frozen food. This can be tubifex, brine shrimp and daphnia. The fish gathers its food from the tank bottom.
Usually it refuses to eat artificial food. The fish is quite demanding in terms of feeding and may not eat during the first several days after you put it into a new tank.
You should feed fish often with small portions of food.
Compatibility and tank mates
Bumblebee goby is not suitable for community tanks, since it requires brackish water and it is a territory dependent fish.
The males fight for their territory on the tank bottom and despite this it is recommend to keep not less than 6 species in a school to make sure that they don’t demonstrate aggression towards other tank dwellers. This is why there should be enough of shelters in the tank.
The fish is compatible with other calm tempered species of equitable size and capable of living in brackish water. Fishes that swim in the middle water layers or near the surface are more preferable as tank mates.
Micropredators eagerly feed on shrimps, therefore it’s better not to keep them with cherry shrimp and other small shrimps.
Females are larger and fatter, before spawning their abdomen becomes rounded. Males are noticeably thinner and often they have brighter coloring (their stripes are orange, not yellow) and during the spawning process their coloring becomes even brighter (these stripes get almost red).
The fish can spawn both in a species and in a spawning tank. Bumblebee goby spawns in small caves which you can make from flower pots, empty tubes, shells.
It is better to get 6-10 species and give them a chance to form couples themselves in a natural way. Before spawning the fish should have high and diversified diet. Spawning is triggered with tank water renew, rising water temperature at several degrees and intensive aeration.
The spawning itself occurs in a shelter. The male chooses a proper place and waits till the female passes by. When the female is ready, she swims into the cave and lays 100-200 eggs and leaves them after that. The male fertilizes the eggs and stays to protect the offspring.
Females don’t take any part in growing the juveniles and you can remove them from the tank at this stage.
As for the males, they stay in the shelter and guard the eggs till the larvae hatches. Egg stage lasts for 7-9 days. The juveniles start to swim several days later.
First the juveniles feed on their yolk beg leftovers and then you should start feeding them with infusorians and rotifers. Even a short period of starvation may lead to mass mortality of the offspring.
When the juveniles grow a bit, they can eat chopped tubifex and brine shrimp nauplii.
The juveniles grow very slowly and they become 1 cm long only at the age of 1 month provided with high feeding. At the age of 2 month the fish starts to demonstrate coloring and behavior peculiar to the adult species. The fish becomes reproductive at the age of 8-12 month.
Sergey is a founder and author of Meethepet.com. He’s been fond of aquarium husbandry since his early childhood.
His favorite aquariums are biotopes (Amazon River), with Echinodorus and Angelfish. However, through the years he’s had experience of keeping almost all types of freshwater fish and shrimps.