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True Freshwater Bumblebee Goby Fish Care (Complete Guide)

True Freshwater Bumblebee Goby Fish Care

True Freshwater Bumblebee Goby Fish Care (Complete Guide) – The funny shape with the color pattern looks like Bumblebee in transformers, making every hobbyist want to keep them in the tank.

Although they look like saltwater goby, but this bumblebee has a unique pattern with yellow-black stripes on its body. That’s why they are called bumblebee fish. Some people call the bumblebee Goby, with the scientific name Brachygobius xanthozonus.

They come from Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Mangrove swamps with brackish water and river mouths are their favorite places to spend their lives.

Sandy, clay and silty substrates are comfortable places for them. Plus, the stems, twigs and leaves are a cool playground for them.

Freshwater Bumblebee Goby Size and Color

True freshwater bumblebee goby fish body size is relatively small, the largest adult size is only up to 1-2 inches. Because of their mini size, many aquascapers use this fish as fauna to liven up their landscape.

The body shape of this fish looks unique, just like their brothers in the ocean, flat and elongated. They have a slender body, even smaller than the head. The fins are located under the abdomen and two on the back with a solid tail.

What makes them different and adorable is the color on their bodies. The fish has a black base with three to four golden-yellow stripes, that extends from head to tail. At first glance, it looks like a bee.

In some species there is an opaque black spot on the back.

The female goby has a fatter body than the male. Her belly looks big even though she’s not pregnant.

Although the male fish are smaller, they are brighter and more attractive. The stripes are more orange than yellow. In fact, when the spawning period they are red.


Most small fish are one-lined with their short lifespans. Including the true freshwater bumblebee goby, which has a lifespan of around three years.

Some cases can be more than four years old, but require very high quality life support.

In order to extend their lifespan, you will at least need to create the same conditions as in the wild. Although it’s not guaranteed, but at least you’re trying to make the fish away from stress.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Even if you really want a true freshwater bumblebee goby in your tank, you should think twice if you’re new to fish care.

They are part of the predatory fish that are hungry for prey. So, you can’t mix them with fish that don’t go well with them. Bumblebee will eat anything as long as it goes into their mouth.

In addition, they need brackish water, where the water has a low pH level. Unlike the water in the housing which has a higher pH.

If you want to keep them, fish that are suitable are species that come from brackish water as well. They have a common standard of living in terms of water parameters. However, further you need to see if they are prey or not.

Also, this fish is not suitable if you like plain tanks. They need wood, plants or crevices for shelter.

You need to know, you can’t just put wood or other flora into the tank. For example, some woods will turn the water brownish yellow like tea, because of the tannins in it. Rotten plants will also trigger tannins out.

What if there is no wood, stone, or plants?

Usually, fish that do not have enough life support will start to get stressed, sick, over time it will cause death. Although this is not always the case, the best treatment is to make the tank conditions as close as possible to their natural habitat.

How to Care for True Freshwater Goby Bumblebee Fish

Freshwater bumblebee goby

We previously explained that the freshwater bumblebee goby is not for beginners, but if you are already at the next level, let’s get started!

Tank Setup

In caring for a true freshwater bumblebee goby, you will need a 10 gallon tank or bigger. If you keep more fish, a bigger tank is a must.

This freshwater goby is a fish that really defends their territory, they will act aggressively for other fish that mess up. To get around so that there is no conflict between them, you can keep 6 fish or more. That’s why you need a big tank.

That amount can reduce conflict, aggression towards other fish, and fear of the fish themselves. Basically they are quite shy fish. With a large number, they will be more visible to show themselves. Also, they will behave naturally like in the wild.

The availability of spots for shelter plays an important role for fish. Weaker fish will easily protect themselves from other aggressiveness.

Therefore, We strongly recommend that you provide at least wood, twigs, or rocks for shelter. However, as we explained earlier, you cannot directly put wood or plants into the tank. First, you should learn how to reduce tannin levels in wood. In general, you can soak the wood for some time to reduce the tannins, or you can buy artificial wood instead.

For the substrate, you can use general aquarium sand, or crushed coral.

Plant? If you have provided a lot of shelter, it seems that the plants are not really needed. Unless you have a themed aquascape that requires plants. Aquatic plants are not always suitable for true freshwater bumblebee goby water conditions. What is suitable are plants that come from brackish water as well.

If you want to add aquatic plants, you don’t have to worry about getting damaged, bumblebees don’t eat plants.

True freshwater bumblebee goby love calm water, so you don’t need to give them a wave maker. Just give a touch of water that falls from the filter box, or aerator machine. Just to make sure that the water is well oxygenated.

You can give the lighting low to medium.

Water Parameters

The key to successful care for freshwater bumblebee goby is water quality. So, you need to pay close attention to chemical stability in water.

Here are the recommended water parameters for the Bumblebee goby:

Temperature: 72°-84° F (22°-28.9° C)
pH: 7.0-8.5.
KH: 6-20 KH.
Salinity: 1.002 to 1.006

Do freshwater fish need salinity?

In the case of brackish water fish, yes! Brackish water is a combination of freshwater and saltwater, so it needs salt levels even though it is not as high as in the ocean.

To increase water salinity, you can add some aquarium salt. But before that, you need a refractometer to measure the salt content in the water.

In addition to keeping water parameters, you need a good filtration system. Doing a water change once a week is a good idea, at that time you also clean up dirt, feces, and food residue that has accumulated on the substrate. Not all dirt can be sucked up by the pump, so you need to do it manually, or you can shypon fish tank every day.

Diet and Food

Like other carnivorous fish, freshwater bumblebee goby fish also need high protein for them to grow. In care for freshwater bumblebee goby fish, this is very important and your attention should be on it.

Even though you always give them dry food like pellets, but you need to balance it with fresh food like frozen bloodworms. Frozen brine shrimp is also another option for fish.

At first, you might find it difficult to feed them pellets and flakes. That’s only natural! They are still adapting to the new environment. If you feed them repeatedly without any other food, there is no option for them to eat the pellets.

Care must be taken if you want to give dry food. Make sure what is contained in the pellets or flakes, whether they have high protein or not.

Dry foods, such as pellets, usually have a variety of protein levels, so choose a higher one. Don’t be surprised if it’s more expensive!

If you want to give live food, such as shrimp and fish meat, make sure you clean them first, and cut into small pieces to fit in their mouths.

You can feed the bumblebee goby 2-3 times a day in small portions. Don’t force big portions, it’s not wise and will only contaminate your tank.

You just pay attention, if the food you give can run out in 2-3 minutes, that’s fine. If not, then you have to reduce the portion.

But, don’t worry, the longer you care for, the more you will know how much and when to feed them. Just follow the best pattern!

Tank Mates for Freshwater Bumblebee Goby

Since these beautiful fish guard their territory, the bumblebee is not suitable for community tanks. Unless you have a big tank.

Even so, the bumblebee goby is a social fish that likes to swim in groups. For that, it’s not recommended if you keep one, because fish can be stressed.

The males will defend the territory they have conquered at the bottom. They would go all out, even fighting to defend their territory. Therefore, as we explained earlier, you need to keep at least 6 fish in the tank to prevent conflict. In addition, don’t forget to provide shelter for the fish.

Another idea to avoid conflict is to keep only one male, the rest are female.

If you are planning to build a community tank with a beautiful landscape, you can mix it with other species, as long as they are both brackish, and you have a big tank.

Another thing to consider in choosing tank mates for the bumblebee goby, is in terms of size and aggressiveness. You have to choose tank mates with the same size as bumblebee, and both peace lovers.

Avoid the big carnivorous fish in the tank if you don’t want disaster!

Another bad idea is to put shrimp in, definitely the bumblebee fish will eat them. Except, if the shrimp is bigger than the fish.

Related: GloFish: Ultimate Care Guide


This fish is actually not too difficult to breed. In fact, they can breed in the main tank!

You can put 6-10 fish, male and female. Let them find their respective partners. But before that, you should give high-protein foods more than before.

You can put additional decorations such as pots, pipes or ceramics to make them more comfortable.

Make the water temperature higher, and change the water more often.

The male will wait in the right place, waiting for the female to pass. If the female is ready, then they will enter the shelter.

Female fish can lay 100-200 eggs, then leave them. Then, the male will come to fertilize it.

The male fish will guard the eggs until they hatch. In contrast to the female who does not take care of it. For that, you can move the female to another place. The eggs will hatch in 7 to 9 days.

You can feed the baby bumblebee goby rotifers and infusoria. Or, you can give artemia (baby brine shrimp).

Fish growth is quite slow. At the age of a month, they only grow no more than an inch. At two months, they start to behave like adults.

They enter the reproductive period at the age of 8-12 months.

Related: Why Do My Fish Keep Dying? Top 6 Reasons & Solutions

Conclusion on How to Care for True Freshwater Bumblebee Goby

How to care for true freshwater bumblebee goby is quite tricky. Not recommended for beginners.

Even so, when you manage to keep them, the freshwater bumblebee goby will cheer you up when you’re tired.

Goby is quite small and picky eater, it is quite difficult to feed them in the beginning of caring. But it becomes a challenge for aquarist.

Although they can be fed dry foods such as pellets and flakes, they prefer live and frozen foods.

As much as possible, you provide both types of food for nutritional balance. Dry foods are designed with tons of vitamins and minerals, including protein. Meanwhile, live/frozen food is their natural food which makes them less stressed.

Do not try to keep them single, because they are social fish. Although males like to fight, you can keep one male and several females to avoid conflict.

Good water quality is the key to keeping them happy and long-lived. Do a water change at least once every two weeks for quality water.

Hope you enjoy this guide on how to care for freshwater bumblebee goby!