Freshwater Fish

Wasp goby (Brachygobius): Care guide in the aquarium

The Wasp goby is without a doubt one of our favorite fish. These interesting and adorable little creatures steal the show in almost any aquarium, and we’ve heard from countless owners who can’t stop talking about them.

But there are a few aspects of Wasp goby care that you will need to be comfortable with if you plan on getting one for yourself. These are fish that need brackish water and have specific dietary requirements to thrive.

Fortunately, once you know what to do, caring for this fish becomes much easier. Read on to learn everything you need to know!

Species Summary

The Wasp goby is certainly a unique specimen to care for. Thanks to their striking appearance, these fish have become very popular among aquarists.

Scientifically, Wasp gobies are known as Brachygobius. Technically speaking, Brachygobius is the name of the genus. There are several types of fish sold under the moniker «Brachygobius», but the differences are so small that most cannot even tell them apart.

The Wasp goby originated in Southeast Asia. They are usually found in slow-moving streams and tributaries around Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.

While this species of fish is highly sought after in the fish community, it is not the easiest to care for. Wasp gobies require a carefully planned habitat and a high-quality diet to thrive. If you’re looking for a no-brainer that doesn’t require any effort, this isn’t the fish for you.

Life expectancy

The average life span of the Wasp goby is around three years under normal conditions. This is mainly due to the specific care requirements this species needs in captivity.

However, these fish are capable of living a little longer. Some aquarists have seen their gobies live to be four years old or more!

This is only possible by providing incredibly consistent high quality care (with the added benefit of good genetics). Owners must not only work hard to maintain water conditions at all times, but also provide them with a comfortable and stress-free life.


The given trade name of these fish does a good job of describing their physical appearance. The first thing you’ll notice is its distinctive striped pattern. Alternating stripes of black and yellow cover their entire body.

The exact shade of yellow stripes can vary a bit from fish to fish. Some specimens may have pale yellow patterns, while others lean more towards the orange side. Usually, it is the male fish that are the most vibrant.

When it comes to shape, Wasp gobies have that iconic “goby” shape. They have small heads and relatively slender bodies. Males tend to be slightly slimmer than females. However, they both have the same round head and googly eyes.

For the most part, the fins are transparent. In some fish, the fins also have a bit of black. It is usually an extension of the corresponding fringe.


These fish are not very big at all. At full maturity, the average size of the Wasp goby is only an inch and a half long. Some don’t even go that far.

Because they are so small, this species is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an interesting nanofish. Though if you’re going to try to maximize its lifespan, you’ll probably want a slightly larger setup than that.

Wasp Goby Care

As we mentioned earlier, caring for Wasp gobies can be a bit tricky. This species requires a little more work than a simple Goldfish or some other simple species.

That said, caring for this peculiar fish is manageable. The key is to have a solid understanding of their specific needs and provide them with optimal living conditions.

tank size

One of the easiest things you can manage is the size of the tank. Wasp gobies do well in a standard 10 gallon tank. Thanks to its small size, you can keep multiple fish in a single 10 gallon nano tank without a problem.

As long as the tank is not overcrowded, the fish can stay happy and healthy indoors.

Author’s Note: An anecdotal observation we have made over the years is that Wasp gobies seem to live a bit longer when placed in larger tanks. If you’re trying to maximize your lifespan and get past the three-year mark, this is something to consider.

water parameters

This is where things start to get a bit tricky. Wasp gobies are found naturally in slightly brackish ponds. Some fish will require low levels of salinity in their tank to stay healthy. Others can do well in pure fresh water.

When purchasing Wasp gobies, it is important to learn more about how they were bred. While many breeders stick to a brackish water setup, there are some who have managed to breed and raise fish without any salt at all.

You need to match your tank to the quality of the water the fish were raised in. Otherwise, it is very likely to hit your system which will eventually lead to death.

Regardless of salinity levels, Wasp gobies are relatively hardy. They like slightly alkaline water and warm temperatures. These are the parameters to take into account:

  • Water temperature: 72 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (73.5 to 79 degrees is ideal)
  • pH levels: 7.0 to 8.5
  • Water hardness: 9 to 19 dKH
  • Water salinity: 1.002 to 1.006 degree of salt

What to put in your tank

Like any fish, it is best to mimic its natural environment. In ponds and streams where bumblebee gobies are found, they enjoy many hiding places.

Start with a good sandy substrate. These are bottom feeding fish and tend to spend their time close to the substrate. Some bumblebee gobies even like to dig a bit in the sand. A thick, coarse substrate such as gravel would make it difficult and pose an injury risk.

Next, provide plenty of natural decorations. These critters can be a bit skittish at first. This is especially true if they share a tank with other fish. Providing hiding places can help them feel safe and calm.

Use plants, rocks, and driftwood at all times. Items like coconut skins or even ceramic tubes are also highly prized.

Once you have planned everything accordingly, you need to set up the filtration system. Tanks must be fully cycled before adding fish. This will give you the opportunity to make fine adjustments to the quality of the water.

A standard sponge filter that you hang inside or outside the tank will do. The main thing to worry about is how the tank affects the flow of water.

Author’s Note: Wasp gobies do not tolerate strong water flow very well. So strong water bombs or even air bladders won’t work. Keep things simple. The flow from a standard filter should be enough to keep the water moving without making things difficult for the fish.

Diseases to be aware of

Diseases can be quite common with the bumblebee goby. However, this is usually caused by factors that the owners control.

Diseases are usually caused by stress and poor water conditions. Unfortunately, many fish of this species contract Ich and other stress-related diseases because the salinity levels are not adequate.

Fish raised in brackish water should have some salt. Moving them to an all-freshwater tank puts the body into shock, resulting in the aforementioned illness.

We cannot stress enough the importance of water quality for Wasp gobies. Be vigilant in keeping your tank conditions at optimal levels. Contact your fish supplier beforehand and mimic the water conditions exactly.

While they do exist, freshwater wasp gobies are rare. You should make sure you buy from a reputable freshwater breeder if he doesn’t want to deal with brackish water. Make sure the fish has spent its entire life in fresh water before committing.

Once you’ve introduced your fish to their new home, whether it’s brackish or not, keep monitoring the water (make sure you use a good testing kit). Do regular water changes and don’t forget to test salinity levels if you didn’t buy from a specialist freshwater breeder.

You can usually achieve your desired salinity levels with as little as one teaspoon of salt per gallon. Of course, exact measurements are always best, so test regularly.

If your fish contracts Ich, it is important to quarantine it as soon as possible. The disease is highly contagious and has been known to wipe out entire tanks. You can use over-the-counter copper-based medications to treat affected fish once they are in quarantine

Author’s Note: Don’t underestimate the power of regular visual inspections. Spend a couple of minutes each day making sure nothing looks out of place and your fish aren’t showing any worrying symptoms. This simple habit can make a big difference.

Food and Diet

Here’s another tricky part about having Wasp gobies. They can be picky eaters!

Most won’t even take a bite of dry food. They are carnivores that depend on a diet rich in protein. This means that you will need to invest in quality live or frozen feed to keep your fish healthy.

Bloodworms, daphnia, and tubifex worms are great options. Many aquarists also offer brine shrimp, as they are easy to hatch and grow.

This is one aspect of Wasp goby care that puts off many potential owners. Fortunately, once you figure out a mealtime system, it won’t seem like a big deal!

behavior and temperament

Generally speaking, Wasp gobies are quite peaceful. They are passive creatures that prefer to hide than show aggression.

That said, some territorial behavior has been observed. The fish will usually claim a small part of the tank as its own and guard it heavily. If another fish of the same species comes in, it may take some training. However, this is usually just a light fight and never results in serious injury.

Wasp gobies like to socialize with their own kind. They do exceptionally well when kept with other Wasp fish. They will huddle together and swim around for a while until they are ready to go their separate ways.

Bumblebee Goby Tank Mates

Finding suitable tankmates for the Wasp goby is not always easy. This is due, in large part, to its brackish water needs. His temper is never the problem!

Also, the small size of the fish can make them a target for larger species. Other fish will compete for the food you provide. Thanks to their small stature, they will almost always lose those battles.

For these reasons, many aquarists keep Wasp gobies in a single-species tank. You can create a small community of various other Wasp gobies. We recommend a group of about 7 fish for a 10 or 15 gallon tank.

You can also add some shrimp to the mix. Stick with the large shrimp to make sure the fish don’t see them as food. This means that species like cherry shrimp are not a great idea.

So, in short, you’re looking for other Wasp gobies or larger shrimp as viable tankmates. In our opinion, considering other options is not a good idea.


Wasp gobies are egg layers. The females can lay over 200 eggs at a time!

Activating the playback process is not too difficult. Breeders will usually simply provide food with a higher than normal protein content. Some will also add a bit of fresh water to the tank.

You’ll know the fish are breeding when you see the females begin to swell. It will lay its eggs in small hiding places. If you’re planning ahead, add some plain ceramic tubing or an overturned dome to the tank. That will be the perfect place to keep the eggs safe.

Once the eggs have been laid, remove them from the tank. Alternatively, you can move all the adult fish to another tank. Whichever option you choose, leave the father behind.

The males will guard the eggs fiercely. After about a week, the eggs will hatch! At this point, you can separate the male so he doesn’t eat any of the fry.

In another week, the fry should be able to swim freely. Feed them infusoria cultures until they are large enough to eat brine shrimp.

It’s time to make a decision

Many people are attracted to the Wasp goby due to its unique and cute appearance. Imagine having a ton of these little fish swimming around your tank as you sit back and enjoy.

But when they find out about some of the care requirements they lose interest.

Before you consider getting this fish, you should consider whether you are willing to give it proper care. Brackish waters and a live diet can significantly increase the amount of time you spend in your aquarium.

If you are someone who just wants a low-maintenance, easy-care fish, then there are plenty of other cute fish to consider.

However, if this doesn’t discourage you, we encourage you to give it a try. In our experience, fish that require a little more attention end up being the most rewarding.

We have had great experiences with these fish and know many other owners who feel the same way. We just want to make sure you have a realistic expectation of what it’s like to own these fish!

Caring for Wasp gobies is a unique experience, and if you’re up for the challenge, we know you’ll have a blast.

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