Bumblebee Goby – Species Profile & Care Guide

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The Bumblebee Goby is one of the tiniest and cutest tank fish species you could get. These fish have feisty temperaments and will add a lot of color to any aquatic setting, provided you ensure optimal living conditions.

These include stable water parameters, a fitting and natural-looking layout, and a proper diet. We’ll talk about the latter in more detail later on since there’s a lot to unpack.

So, let’s see what this fish species is all about and whether you can handle it.

Bumblebee Goby Requirements

While this small fish species doesn’t seem like much, it’s actually more difficult to keep than one might think.

The Bumblebee Goby has adapted quite well to life in captivity, but nowhere near as much as other species.

So, let’s see what makes the Bumblebee Goby species in this sense.

– Tank Size

Since this is a small fish, it won’t require too much space. You can easily house a school of Gobies in a 10-gallon tank, making this one perfect for nano tanks.

You also shouldn’t worry about upgrading your Goby tank to a community setup later down the line. These small swimmers don’t appreciate the company of other fish.

If we’re, to be honest, they don’t really appreciate the company of their own kind, despite typically living in groups. We’ll touch upon this aspect a bit later on.

As a general idea, the Goby is small and doesn’t mind living in smaller spaces, so long as you provide the fish with a proper layout. The fish’s natural environment gives us all the hints we need in this sense.

Since Bumblebee Goby lives in a variety of environments (rivers, lakes, swamps), it has adapted to a multitude of settings, including fresh and brackish water.

The only thing that rarely changes in their case is the environmental layout. Gobies like to live in areas with plenty of vegetation and hiding areas.

This is a rather shy fish, so make sure you have sufficient room to provide a variety of hiding spots. These include driftwood, rocks, caves, artificial aquatic decorations, etc.

It should be easy to create a satisfying environmental setup, since this small fish can make the most out of even the tiniest crevices. Your imagination is the only real limitation here.

– Water Parameters

Regarding water parameters, the Bumblebee Goby doesn’t fall far from the guppies’ profile, except maybe in temperature.

Bumblebee Goby prefers temperatures around 73-79 °F but can handle some variations when necessary. PH should remain around 6.5 to 7.5 and shouldn’t exceed these parameters.

Thanks to its flexible biology, this fish can live just as well in freshwater environments as it will in brackish water.

While the Bumblebee Goby ranks as a hardy fish, you should keep its water parameters stable. Frequent or massive fluctuations in temperature and water quality will eventually hurt the fish in the long run.

It will also influence its behavior, making it even more aggressive and territorial than it already is.

– Substrate

The substrate is an important part of crafting the ideal Goby environment. These fish rank as bottom feeders, so they will spend most of their time near the substrate.

I recommend sand for 3 primary reasons:

  1. Support feeding behavior – As bottom feeders, these fish will constantly look for food around their substrate. It’s typical for the Bumblebee Goby to screen their habitat for food residues that they can collect, and a sandy substrate is perfect in this sense. The denser and finer particles will prevent the food from sinking in, allowing the Goby to find it easier.
  2. Support the burying behavior – The Bumblebee Goby loves to bury itself in the substrate occasionally. It does so either to hide, when playing, as part of the mating ritual, or when stressed and has nowhere else to go. Sand will go easy on the fish’s skin in this case, whereas other forms of substrate like gravel may not. The larger particles could scratch the Goby, causing skin injuries that risk infection.
  3. Easier to clean – Sand is easier to clean than other types of substrates due to the finer particles not allowing waste to sink in. Fortunately, the Goby isn’t an exceedingly messy fish, to begin with, so the maintenance work won’t take too much time. Having sand for substrate will make things even easier.

That being said, not everybody uses sand. Just be wary of the risks of large-particle substrates since this bottom feeder likes to bury itself in the substrate quite often.

– Vegetation

The Bumblebee Goby isn’t interested in plants as food options. These fish are carnivorous, so they will only consume animal protein. With that said, aquarium plants are often necessary to keep the Goby safe and comfortable.

The fish will use them as cover in case they’re paired with more aggressive and territorial fish species.

However, it’s more likely that the Goby fish will rely on plants to hide from other Goby individuals. The males can be quite territorial towards their own and will often resort to violence.

You don’t need to worry about the plant’s resilience. The Bumblebee Goby is too small and weak to hurt the plants in any meaningful way.

That being said, this fish is a notorious bottom dweller and substrate burrower, so you might want to keep that in mind. They do have the abilities necessary to unearth weaker plants.

– Equipment

Both the heater and the filter are necessary, even for nano tanks. The Bumblebee Goby isn’t necessarily a messy fish, but it is a carnivorous creature.

So, it will inherently produce waste that is more toxic to the environment compared to herbivorous or omnivorous animals.

Not to mention, the Bumblebee Goby will live in a small tank, and these environments will get dirty faster than larger setups.

The filtration system will keep the environment cleaner and more stable by eliminating fish waste, floating sand particles, and any waste and dead matter than could foul the water.

Just make sure that the filtration system doesn’t operate at excessive power. The resulting currents may disturb the aquatic setting and cause the Goby visible discomfort.

The heater is also necessary since it keeps the temperature in check. The Bumblebee Goby requires water temperatures similar to those preferred by guppies and other tropical fish, albeit not as high.

Most beginner aquarists believe that the heater is only necessary for fish with high-temperature requirements, but that’s not the case.

This equipment piece is a must even for fish with medium temperature requirements, like the Goby. The main advantage available is temperature stability.

The heater allows for greater control over the water temperature, preventing dangerous swings and ensuring temperature stability.

The Bumblebee Goby doesn’t do too well with temperature fluctuations, but this stands with most tank fish anyway.

Bumblebee Feeding and Diet

Remember when I said that the Bumblebee Goby is pretty difficult to keep? Well, this is why; it’s because of its diet and food preferences.

The Bumblebee Goby is a carnivorous fish, so it will only eat animal-sourced protein, but that’s not the exquisite part. The unusual aspect is that this fish only consumes live food.

You can’t make it eat flakes or pellets or even frozen live food. The live food I’m talking about is the one that’s still kicking.

The Bumblebee Goby stays closer to its natural roots than other fish, so it will only eat live food, as in organisms that are alive, moving, and trying to escape.

And the problem is that you can’t fool your Goby. You can’t just wiggle some food in its face and hope to trigger its hunting instincts. The fish can differentiate between actual prey and manmade fooling attempts.

In this context, I would say you have several options at your disposal, some more reliable than others:

  • Catch wild live food for them – You could try to feed your Goby live food caught in the wild, but I would advise against it. There are 2 main reasons for that. The first is that wild-caught creatures tend to be infested with bacteria and parasites. These will transfer to your Goby fish and quickly infect and kill them. The second one is the danger of environmental pollution affecting those animals. The worms and insects you’re feeding to your Goby may contain dangerous environmental chemicals, and you wouldn’t know about it. Finding wild live food for your Goby is also quite unlikely aside from being dangerous. So, avoid this option altogether.
  • Buy it – Some aquarists specialize in live food cultures and are always ready to ship various food options, depending on your fish’s preferences. This is a good option if you can find a trustworthy and experienced seller. And this is where the problem lies; not all sellers are reliable. You can’t be 100% certain of the quality of the food, no matter what warrantees you’re getting. So, do your research before jumping at the first offer available.
  • Grow it yourself – I would say this is the most reliable option you have. There are a variety of equipment options to help you set up a sustainable live food culture at home. You don’t need much space since you will be growing bloodworms and tubifex worms, which don’t mind overcrowding. Growing your own live cultures is great for a steady, fresh, and safe influx of food for your Goby. It will require some investment in the necessary equipment at first, but it will pay out pretty fast.

The latter option is the best for your Bumblebee Goby, knowing how pretentious these fish are with their feeding. Investing in a live culture system is great for your Goby fish and general.

You may want to upgrade your tank to a community setup or change your Goby fish for other species.

When that happens, the live culture system will still remain as a viable feeding option, providing your fish with ready-to-eat live food daily.

Bumblebee Goby Tank Mates

This is another area where the Bumblebee Goby underperforms, to put it like that. In short, this isn’t a community fish. It might look small, fluffy, and cute, but it makes up for it via its rather foul behavior.

The Bumblebee Goby has no time for fun and games with other fish.

Bumblebee Goby males are extremely territorial and aggressive towards other fish. They might not cause too much damage due to their harmless anatomy, but they do a good job at pretending.

In other words, they will not hurt their tank mates directly, but they will stress them out. The Bumblebee Goby is known to nip at other fish’s fins to scare them away from their territory.

This could stress the fish, which, in time, will take a toll on their immune system and overall comfort level.

That being said, you can find some compatible tank mates for your Bumblebee Goby, provided you account for the following issues:

  • The Goby’s need for space – As a territorial bottom dweller, the Bumblebee Goby doesn’t accept the presence of any other fish around it. So, look for tank mates that prefer other swimming, prioritizing the tank’s middle and top area. It’s unlikely that the Goby will bully other fish outside their comfort zone. Generally, they will only attack other fish once they invade their territory and come near the substrate.
  • Feeding problems – Pairing bottom-dwellers with middle-to-top dwellers always comes with logistics issues relating to feeding. The problem is that the mid and top fish will eat most of the food, while the bottom ones will only get the scraps. If you’re not paying attention to that, your Goby may starve as a result. So, you need to find a way to feed your Bumblebee Goby properly, even in a community setup, where the area is patrolled by other fish species as well.
  • Water requirements – This is an issue that needs solving in any community setup. Different fish species require different water parameters, and your goal should be to accommodate all fish in the same setting. Make sure that both the Bumblebee Goby and its tank mates share the same requirements in terms of water parameters, tank size, habitat layout, etc.
  • Predatorial behavior – The Bumblebee Goby is too small to pose a serious threat to any adult fish. The situation is vastly different when discussing the fry. If your fish breed in the same tank with the Goby, expect many of the fry to fall victim to the tiny predator. If you intend on breeding your fish, I suggest investing in a breeding-and-nursing tank to prevent that.

As you can see, finding compatible tank mates for your Bumblebee Goby is by no means easy. There are a handful of variables that could ruin the experience since this tiny fish has a short fuse.

Guppies and mollies come to mind thanks to their energetic and peaceful demeanor. The problem is that these fish also visit the substrate area quite often, which will place them in the Goby’s direct line of fire.

The Indian Mudskipper is another potentially viable candidate, especially since this fish can grow up to 7 inches. Its size alone will protect it against Goby’s inquisitive and aggressive nature.

The problem is that the Indian Mudskipper requires higher water temperatures, between 79 to 88 F, so that’s a puzzle you’ll need to solve before getting the fish.

To close this section out, see that the Goby’s tank mates:

  • Will easily adapt to a brackish environment
  • Prefer similar water conditions
  • Won’t spend too much time near the substrate
  • Won’t hunt and eat the Bumblebee Goby
  • And won’t interact with the Bumblebee Goby too much

One way of preventing the interactions between your Bumblebee Goby and other tank mates is via the tank’s layout.

Provide your Goby with a variety of hiding areas and plenty of plants, and they won’t mind the presence of other fish, so long as they can just leave and hide.

Bumblebee Goby Diseases and Treatments

The Bumblebee Goby doesn’t display any specific weaknesses towards any one fish disease. Their potential health problems relate to the same factors that affect all tank fish.

These include issues like poor water conditions, prolonged fish stress, inadequate diets, infections due to injuries or weak immune systems, etc.

When it comes to dealing with these issues, prevention beats the treatment any day.

In this sense, I recommend:

  • Feeding your Goby properly – Only feed your fish live food. Any attempt to feed them commercial food will most definitely fail, causing the fish to starve and stress out as a result. And make sure that the food comes from reliable and healthy sources.
  • Minding the water conditions – The Bumblebee Goby prefers cleaner waters since improper conditions will affect their health long-term. Invest in a heater and a reliable filtration system and perform regular maintenance to keep their environment clean.
  • Preventing stress – Fish stress is the most widespread issue among tank fish. The stress alone won’t kill your fish directly, but it will set them up for it. Stressed fish display weaker immune systems and are more prone to infections and parasites. Some common stress causes include poor water conditions, improper tank layout lacking hiding areas, inadequate diet, and fluctuating water parameters.
  • Ensuring early treatment – I include early treatment in the prevention category since that’s pretty much how it works – as a prevention method. The idea is to identify the early signs of disease and immediately provide your Bumblebee Goby with optimal care. This approach will prevent the condition from aggravating, ensuring swift recovery.

If your fish does display signs of disease, despite all your precautions, I recommend quarantining it. This should comprise the first phase of the treatment, no matter the nature of the disease.

A quarantine tank will allow you more control over the treatment process and contain the disorder’s spread as well.

Other than that, the treatment is pretty straightforward, no matter the disorder’s nature. You should keep the water conditions pristine, provide a varied and fulfilling diet, and add some extra salt to the tank to help the fish’s natural healing mechanism.

In some cases, you may need to use medication like antibiotics, but you should always consult a fish vet before that.

Abusing antibiotics or using them improperly can destroy the tank’s biofilm and promote the dangerous buildup of ammonia.

How Big do Bumblebee Goby Get?

The Bumblebee Goby will only grow up to 1.6 inches at most. Many Goby fish won’t even reach that size. The fish will remain small but will display a behavior way above its size.

How Long do Bumblebee Goby Lives?

The Bumblebee Goby will typically live around 2.5 to 3 years in good and stable water conditions and with an optimal diet. More experienced aquarists have even managed to boost that number to 4 or even 5 years, but that’s rare.

The Bumblebee Goby’s lifespan will be influenced by a variety of factors. These include food quality, overall care, habitat layout, stable water parameters, stress-free lifestyle, etc.

If you want to keep your Bumblebee Goby around as much as possible, consider providing it with optimal care over the years.

Are Bumblebee Goby Aggressive?

Yes, they are. Bumblebee Goby males tend to be quite aggressive with each other, displaying extreme territoriality. These fish are designed to compete over anything, including space, food, females, and hierarchical position.

They will also attack other fish that bother them or even swim too close to the tank’s lower area.

Don’t be fooled by their modest sizes since even tiny creatures like the Goby can create problems for larger fish. They don’t hurt them directly but poke at them and stress them constantly.

With time, the constant stress will affect the fish’s immune system and leave them completely vulnerable to parasites and bacteria.

To prevent all these problems, aquascape your tank properly and provide the Goby with a variety of hiding areas.

This approach should calm them down and lower their innate aggressive tendencies.

Are Bumblebee Goby Good for Beginners?

No, Bumblebee Goby aren’t a good pick for novice aquarists. They are extremely pretentious about their food, cannot adapt to commercial fish-oriented products, and are aggressive and dangerous.

I only recommend investing in the Bumblebee Goby if you’ve already acquired serious know-how in the aquarium business. That’s the only way to be sure you can handle them.

Conclusion

The Bumblebee Goby is a cute, energetic, and quite colorful creature. It’s tiny, but it makes for quite a handful of a fish if you’re not acquainted with its type.

Think carefully about choosing this species if you’re not familiar with the ups and downs of the fish-keeping business.

You might not be able to handle the heat.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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