The true Freshwater Bumblebee Goby (Brachygobius xanthomelas) is a very colorful, interesting oddball fish that is sometimes available in the aquarium hobby. It originates from Indonesia and inhabits swamps and estuaries in many of the countries in that area. There are several species similar to this fish that are all classified by the same common name, but this species is the only one that will consistently thrive in freshwater and is not believed to inhabit brackish areas. We have quarantined and kept our first specimens in freshwater for several months to ensure their long-term health in fully freshwater, and they have thrived exceptionally.
The Freshwater Bumblebee Goby is very small, but it certainly has a personality that can sometimes be very consistent with its “grumpy” facial appearance. It will swim around all levels of the entire aquarium, but it often will claim and guard a small territory, especially from its own kind. This fish is very small, but it needs adequate space to be compatible with a large variety of tankmates, and even more space when keeping several of the same species. It will often nip at long-finned fish, so slow-moving fish such as Bettas should not be kept with them. Small shrimp are possible prey, but larger shrimp can be compatible with enough space. If a group of gobies is desired, it should contain at least 6 specimens to ensure that any aggression is spread between the group rather than directed at one specimen.
Feeding the Freshwater Bumblebee Goby can be a bit more challenging than some other fish. It will typically not accept standard dry foods, but it will readily eat most meaty frozen and live foods. This fish is an ambush predator that moves slowly, so it is important to make sure that it gets its share of food when housed with more agile tankmates. It will not bother plants.
Though it requires some special care, the Freshwater Bumblebee Goby can be a very special, fun species for the aquarist who is looking for something unique and different.