Logo
Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Mudskippers

Related Articles:  Mudskippers, An Introduction for Aquarists by Gianluca Polgar,  MudskippersGobies & their Relatives,

Related FAQs:  True Gobies Gobies 2Goby Identification, Goby Behavior, Goby Selection, Goby Compatibility, Goby Feeding, Goby Systems, Goby Disease, Goby Reproduction, Amblygobius Gobies, Clown GobiesNeon GobiesGenus Coryphopterus Gobies, Shrimp Gobies, Sifter Gobies

Indian Dwarf Mudskippers; repro.     8/1/13
I have  several Indian dwarf Mudskippers in a fairly large tank with lots of land and hiding places. They all seem healthy very active and come for their food at meal times. Very little aggression.
<Neat animals, society to keep/observe>
Recently I was cleaning the filter when I noticed what I thought was a stone under it. In picking it up I squashed it and found it was an egg.
The tail was very evident and the inside had some form.
<? the tail?>

I have since found another egg on land so put it into the water near the heater. (I read somewhere that Indian Dwarf leave their eggs in water rather than the burrows although my skips digs burrows in the sand and under the rocks.)
<This is where all mudskipper species I'm aware of deposit their eggs>
Today I checked and the egg is still where I left it but it now has 2 white spots on the shell.
Question  Do I leave it where it is?
<I would... perhaps with an inverted strawberry basket or such over it>
               If it hatches will the others eat it?
<Don't know... What other life (animal) is in this tank?>
               If I put it into a birthing chamber in the tank will it drown after hatching? (space is very limited in the water)
<Perhaps>
Any information would be appreciated as I can find very little on hatching the eggs on the net.
Many thanks  Beverly
<Can you send along a pic, resolved/cropped... some better description, perhaps including size, shape, colour of the egg?
Bob Fenner>
Re: Indian Dwarf Mudskippers     8/4/13

<<Reproduction is Mudskippers is not extensively studied. But latest observations suggest they lay their eggs above the waterline but within damp, underground burrows within the male's nest. This is remarkable because the water within the burrow is oxygen-deficient, as is the mud itself, so apparently the male takes air from outside the burrow and releases it within the burrow, creating a sort of "diving bell" where the eggs can get oxygen. He usually does all of this broodcare of the eggs alone, without the female. But once the eggs hatch, he moves the eggs down from burrow and somewhere the tide can wash the hatchlings away. As with most gobies, the hatchlings are very small, planktonic, and drift about on oceanic currents for a period of time (no-one knows how long for sure) before metamorphosing into juvenile Mudskippers. Some more details are here:
http://jeb.biologists.org/content/210/22/3946
http://www.mudskipper.it/Reprod.html
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_7/volume_7_1/mudskippers.html
Spawning by Mudskippers is not unknown in aquaria; rearing the eggs has not been done yet, and without moving the eggs to a marine aquarium and rearing on marine infusoria (do-able, but difficult) it isn't likely Mudskippers will be bred in captivity any time soon. That said, if you do it, you'll make front-page news in the aquarium -- and likely scientific -- literature!
Cheers, Neale.>>

Mudskippers! Stkg./Sel.    3/6/12
Hey there everyone! Well as always, I've been scheming up new tank ideas here and there...and recently have found myself attracted to mud skippers!
So while i have just started researching i had a few questions that primarily will determine whether i will/should keep these cool creatures.
So here are a few questions....
1. Yes or no- Are there any species that would work out for a 10 gallon tank?
<Not really, no. Many would be fine with just 10 gallons of water, but you'd need dry land on top of that, so realistically, you'd want 20 or 30 gallons for even the mini species like Periophthalmus novemradiatus, the Dwarf Indian Mudskipper.>
2. If no to the first question: Are there any species of mud skippers that would be fine in a small group in a 20gallon tall tank which has been tricked out to maximize the use of the 'tall' portion via roots/ DIY background with a waterfall to take up more space in the 20 gallon?
<See above.>
3. probably what i should have asked before.....whats the smallest commonly imported mud skipper species?
<Again, see above.>
4. is low end brackish, being around 1.025 in salinity a good water salinity for these guys?
<Half-strength seawater is ideal, so SG 1.010 at 25 C, but anything from 1.005 to 1.025 at 25 C is generally fine.>
was just wondering those few things before i dove into the specific of care requirements...
thanks!
-John
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mudskippers! – 3/7/12
Hey thanks Neale! (by the way the group of Toxotes microlepis is doing great!
<Real good.>
Their eating the cichlid pellets and Hikari carnivore pellets and they also love the freeze dried shrimps but of all else, live crickets go the fastest. So just wanted to thank you again for your suggested ideas for pellet food! I even have a video of them if your interested or if you need me to get a few pics of them up close for ID or reference needs)
<Sure.>
so from what its looking like in my 20 gallon i could house a very minimal amount of the dwarf Indian mudskippers or other wise known as  Periophthalmus novemradiatus.
<Yes. The Indian Dwarf. Nice fish. Small enough that aggression isn't usually lethal.>
Im panning on a diy background that will have a terraced descending pools of water with sand so its not all just one flat incline from water to land....and also i will then be able to use the height of the tank as well.. and even make a waterfall with an internal filter! Oh the possibilities!
<Indeed. While an authentic mangrove look would be nice, the fish couldn't care less. So long as they have stuff to climb on, they're happy.>
So how many would you suggest for a 20 gallon system with maximum surface area in mind and of course tons of hidey holes and perching spots? 2? MAYBE a trio?
<Would get more than that; 5 or more. Overstocking is the key here: in smaller groups, you will likely end up with one bully and the others being picked off over the months.>
I'm reading their naturally aggressive as its in their nature.
<Yes. Males, at least.>
lastly just out of curiosity.... has there been success with keeping them alongside red claw crabs or any of the semi terrestrial brackish water crabs?
<Not Red-Claw Crabs, no. They're dangerous to small 'Skippers, and meals for the bigger species. With Mudskippers this small, best to keep on their own or with harmless algae-eaters such as brackish water Nerite species.>
Probably wouldn't work at all but just wondering...
thanks again!
-John
<Cheers, Neale.>

Mudskipper Tank Question    1/21/12
Hi
In the process of 'renovating' my mudskipper tank as I seem to know more about there natural habitat.
I believe I have a Periophthalmus takita on hand.
Besides sand is there any other form of mud that I could use in the tank.
<Not really. Much as mud would seem a nice addition, it would make the tank very cloudy and could block up the biological filter media. In a near to full seawater salinity system you might try some of the live sands sold to marine aquarists. Some of these are quite fine, though not quite mud.>
Or any substrate that may have the same consistency as mangrove mud? There's the option of collecting mangrove mud, but not overly confident that it will be clean enough for my purpose or the inclusion of any harmful critters/bacteria in them.
Also thinking of adding a purple spot gudgeon native fish of Australia, easily accessible here (Im in Australia btw). Will they be able to tolerate sg up to 1.005-1.010? Understanding the requirements of min water volume needs to be catered for. Does most gudgeon species have a good salt tolerance?
<Some Mogurnda species can tolerate brackish water, but they would be very poor companions for Mudskippers. Mogurnda are larger and more aggressive, and as such would scare the Mudskippers which generally do not like swimming in water where there are large fish. Keeping the Mudskippers out of the water is clearly not good for their health. Conversely, large Mudskippers view smaller fish as food. If you must add fish, you could try something like Black Mollies or Guppies depending on the size of the Mudskippers in question, but otherwise it's best to concentrate on the needs of your Mudskippers and leave it at that. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mudskipper Tank Question    1/21/12
Ok thank u very much
<My pleasure.>
Ill use fine sand 2/3 of the tank will b land and in the water i will get a couple of feeder fish and shrimps
<Well, I wouldn't use feeder fish to feed the Mudskippers; that would be risky. Remember, cheap fish can introduce diseases that are expensive to treat!>
So we have some movement in the water, if they get eaten then they get eaten :)
<Funnily enough, Mudskippers don't like movement in the water. Remember their ecological niche: tide pools and beaches. Anything moving in the water is viewed as a potential threat because Mudskippers can barely swim.
Mudskippers are best kept alone, even a bit overcrowded if you want, because that reduces aggression. You only need enough water to keep them wet. The rest can be rocks, sand, bogwood branches, fake mangroves, really anything they can climb and explore. Feel free to go nuts with those sunken wrecks and skull bones you see in pet shops. For once, they're just the thing! The more clutter, the better. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mudskipper Tank Question     1/24/12
Here's a picture of the updated tank. thanks
<Real good. Do upload, share these on the Forum so others can be inspired.
Cheers, Neale.>

 Re: Mudskipper Tank Question     1/24/12
would land hermit crabs be a good tankmate for mudskippers or will they scare them as well on land which means they will never go on land
<Depends on the size and species. Some land hermit crabs are brackish water animals, but some aren't. Telling them apart is hard, so you would need a pool of freshwater. Mudskippers will be scared of bigger crabs, but very much smaller ones might be seen as food, so you have to be careful.>
also if they can go with them can they hurt them with their claws?
<Potentially, yes. Fiddler Crabs are much better bets. They're deposit feeders meaning they sift mud and algae, so they tend to ignore Mudskippers, all else being equitable between them.>
thanks
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Mudskipper Tank Question   1/25/12
Ok thanks. Sounds risky for my mudskipper. Might rethink it more. Thanks.
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>

mudskipper query, sys.     10/26/11
hi
since mudskippers are mainly brackish water fish
<Fishes>
I am familiar with the requirements of keeping them in brackish tank.
but will they be able to do well in a saltwater tank with an sg. of 1.020
<Not likely permanently, no. Bob Fenner>
thanks
Wil Alonzo
re: mudskipper query  10/26/11

"The plural for fish (as in more than one species) is fishes. B"
ok no problems thanks for that wont take the chance then...
on a side note... ammm i think I am correct with my use of the word fish for a group of mudskippers here, not fishes =)
interesting i thought....! hehe
http://australianmuseum.net.au/fish-and-fishes
Fish and fishes
People often ask about how the terms 'fish' and 'fishes' should be used.
In fact it is often said that there is no such word as 'fishes'. This is not true.
A group of fish of the same species are called 'fish'. Two or more species of fish are called 'fishes'.
For example, a number of Eastern Australian Salmon swimming together can be called a school of fish. But if one Tarwhine starts swimming with the Eastern Australian Salmon they are called fishes.
Books such as the Sea Fishes of Southern Australia and Coastal Fishes of South-Eastern Australia use the term 'fishes', because more than one species of fish are included in the book.
but thanks for your advise on the mudskippers might have to just set up a different tank for them.. they are awesome to have.
Wil Alonzo
re: mudskipper query  10/26/11

fair enough =)
I've always struggled to differentiate the 2.....
Wil Alonzo
<No need to struggle. A simple terminology diff. above sub-specific rank.
B>

Can a mudskipper coexist in a mixed cichlid tank 1/13/11
 with 2 Senegal bichirs,1 RES,2 mini crabs, and Chinese algae eaters? They're in a 60 gal.
<Not likely; no. Too likely to be brutalized. Read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/mudskipfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Mudskipper Tank  1/12/10
Greetings from Canada!
<And likewise from the UK!>
I want to setup a mudskipper/Brackish tank. (1.005)
<For want of anything more detailed on WWM, do take a look at my Brackish FAQ for the basic requirements of such an aquarium, here:
http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Projects/FAQ/5c.html
There's also a great big chapter on these fish in my "Brackish Water Fishes" book. Do remember while some species of Mudskipper are small in enough to keep in groups, some are notably aggressive and have to be kept alone (Periophthalmus barbarus is notorious in this regard). So choose your species carefully, and with consideration of the size of the tank and how many specimens you want to keep.>
Basically there will be 2 shore(right/left) with a lake in the middle (sand bottom)
<Do remember they spend 90% of the time out of the water.>
I am planning on a full glass cover, heat pad & reg heater.
<The glass cover is a good purchase. A heater pad shouldn't be necessary, but do make sure you get a glass heater for the water that is protected by a heater guard. Mudskippers easily burn themselves otherwise. In theory, the warm humidity above the water will warm up the air throughout the vivarium. The glass cover will keep the warm air inside the tank, but do remember you will need a slight gap for ventilation otherwise mould becomes a problem. Tanks designed for frogs should give you some idea of what's required.>
No filter, Java fern Java moss and probably some mangrove.
<Would skip the plants, except perhaps the mangrove. Mudskippers appreciate fairly saline conditions, around SG 1.005-1.010, and you won't find Java fern or Java moss will do well. Better to stick with plastic plants.>
Also thinking about 2 rivers, from the middle with underground pipe/powerhead so the water comes back out and each end flows back in the middle.
<A waterfall of some sort, with water from a filter trickling down a stack of pebbles would actually be very nice, and the Mudskippers will happily graze the algae that grows here.>
3 Questions...
-What kind of plants can I use to separate water/land and to cover the 1/2 pipe of the "rivers" (Mangrove, bamboo, some moss looking stuff..?)
<Wouldn't use live plants at all. Concentrate on bogwood roots and other things that can be used to create a tangle of branches and twigs along which the Mudskippers can climb. The more cluttered, the happier the Mudskippers will be.>
-Will the MudSkip eat my little Bumblebee Goby?
<If a Mudskipper can catch and swallow a small fish, it will. Conversely, if the fish are the same size or bigger than the Mudskipper, the Mudskippers get scared and don't enter the water. Bottom line, they're best kept alone. Depending on the Mudskipper species, Guppies, Limia spp., or Mollies might be appropriate tankmates. So if you wanted some colour, choose a livebearer of slightly smaller size than the Mudskipper.>
-Finally, How to separate Land/Water (I'm thinking Glass/Rock/Woods) so my sand doesn't fall into the water!
<Slates are useful for propping up sand banks, and bogwood roots will also do this job quite well. But since Mudskippers like to dig, don't expect any arrangement to be stable forever! Design things so that rocks can't fall down easily, and ideally use a gravel tidy to secure the bottom half inch of substrate like a cushion along the bottom pane of glass, so that if a pebble does slip, it won't crack the glass.>
Any kind of idea would be greatly appreciated Great and I do mean, The greatest (WWM is my go to book) Site! Thanks again
Phil
<Hope this helps! Cheers, Neale.>

Dragon goby with mudskippers?    9/20/09
Hello crew,
<Hello Joanne,>
I just wanted to ask a question regarding my set up; I have a 45 imp. gallon 4-foot set up which contains half a dozen Indian Mudskippers (believe they are, indeed, novemradiatus. Little stunners),
<Indeed, a lovely species; hardy, small, and easy to keep.>
4 orange Chromide and 8 glassfish (I know the advice runs to species only for mudskippers, and initially I had them in a smaller tank on their own; they were so placid and intriguing I moved them into the downstairs four footer for all to enjoy).
<Mudskippers do become more aggressive as they mature, but this species is generally fairly placid, particularly if sufficiently overcrowded that no one male can claim the whole tank.>
Obviously the tank isn't full, probably about 20 galls? Maybe a little more, but not much. It's half full.
<There are good reasons not to mix fish with Mudskippers. In brief, Mudskippers tend to be nervous of fish that are bigger than they are, and so dip into the water less often. Conversely, they'll eat substantially smaller fish given the chance. While they can be mixed with other fish -- there is a nice display of West African Mudskippers, Anableps, and Sailfin Mollies at the London Aquarium -- you do have to be careful. Orange Chromides can be quite territorial and aggressive when sexually mature, and I'd be very careful about combining them with Mudskippers.>
There is, of course 'land space' for the 'skippers. The SG is 1.010. I have recently seen the violet/dragon goby at my LFS. I thought they were quirky, but MUST be predatory looking at those teeth, left the idea alone and went home. However, my curiosity drew me to look on-line and discover that they are not predatory, but use the teeth for algae scraping.
Bizarre!
<Yes, very bizarre fish indeed. Shame your tank is too small for them. You really need something around 40-55 gallons.>
My question, then, is could a violet goby exist in this set-up, or is it not big enough?
<Not big enough. Plus, even though you know the Dragon Goby is harmless, it might terrify the Mudskippers.>
I fear I know the answer, but would like to hear it from someone else.
Thanks!
Jo
<Do read Richard Mleczko's chapter on Mudskippers in my brackish-water fishes book, should you get the chance. It's a very useful resource.
Cheers, Neale.>

Mangrove "swamp"/ mudskipper, fiddler tank?   7/31/08 Hi Crew (or should I say crew member), This is 40 gal des (not sure anyone remembers her). I have a bee in my bonnet (or perhaps gobies) as I have a new project idea. My tank has been fallow for ages now, and I was paging through the book by "The Complete Aquarium" by Peter Scott. Anyway, I came upon the Mangrove swamp with the mudskippers and fiddlers and I was utterly charmed. <It is indeed a lovely aquarium.> Anyway, I have been researching this topic-- where to get the critters and plants, how to raise mangroves, what to put in the tank, how much water and sand, brackish, the range of topics. But a few things seem blurry to me (well more than a few...), but I 'll try for brevity. <Would highly recommend looking over Richard Mleczko's chapter on mudskippers in my 'Brackish-Water Fishes' book. He's easily the world expert on keeping these fish in captivity, and discusses every aspect of their care as well as all the different species you'll see on sale. In fairness, the chapter on Mudskippers in the Aqualog Brackish Water Fishes is also very good.> So here it is-- Basic setup: 40 gal breeder and stand; Orbits' compact florescent (2 92 watt bulbs). Plans: Replace actinic bulb with 6700K and keep the 10,000K. <Do make sure the tank is "mudskipper-proof", as these fish will climb out of any gaps they find.> Divide tank roughly in two with plastic, rock up to about 8 inches or so. Place (no.? ) potted mangrove trees grown from seeds (already with leaves, etc) around mostly one side. <Mangroves grow very slowly, and you may find plastic plants or houseplants in plastic pots (to keep the salty water out) will work at least as well. Plants like Philodendron work very well for this sort of thing.> Fill around with (? type sand-- oolitic, aragonite, etc?) about one inch on one side and about 1/4 to 1/3 on the other <Sand type doesn't matter, but a mix of coral sand and smooth silver/silica sand is probably the best in terms of appearance and "stickiness". The coral sand will also add a bit of buffering to the system.> fill with brackish mixed water 1.05 or so salinity (I have an RO system), over the top of sand on both sides. <SG 1.005 upwards to seawater is fine; 1.05 would be hypersaline and deadly!> Use small internal power filter and guarded 50 watt or smaller heater ( although I'm going to bet it isn't going to go on much). <Would highly recommend an external heater to avoid problems with mudskippers climbing onto a glass heater and scalding themselves. Failing that, make sure there's a plastic guard around the heater. But seriously, undertank heaters similar to those used for amphibian set-ups would be better. Filtration is relatively unimportant to mudskippers because they spend so little time underwater, so use whatever suits your budget.> Aquascape with some large flat rocks, coral pieces, shells, and driftwood (a little!). Cover with bullet proof plastic (I don't expect it to get shot, but it doesn't warp.) Cycle. <Always a good idea cycling the tank before putting in fish, but funnily enough Mudskippers are ammonia-tolerant "right out the box", presumably so they can survive in their wet burrows while the tide is out. They also spend most of their time on land, so aren't exposed to the ammonia anything like as much as regular fish. So provided you did lots of water changes so the ammonia stayed below 0.5 mg/l, you could probably cycle with the Mudskippers.> Add quarantined (? number of mudskippers (P. kalolo) and fiddlers (and ?). <Richard isn't a fan of mixing crabs and Mudskippers, so be careful here. Big crabs will nip small Mudskippers, and big Mudskippers will eat small crabs. Fiddlers are probably the best crabs to go with because they're deposit feeders rather than omnivores, but be careful. Periophthalmus kalolo is a fairly aggressive species, so either avoid having more than one male or else overstock the tank so no single male becomes hyperdominant.> Pull up a chair in front and watch! <Sounds about right.> So maybe my questions are apparent here. 1. I was told to plant the seeds in a gallon pot, I'm guessing clay. Is this a good size. I think the pots sound like a good idea given the root strength. What do you think of the gallon size and how many do you think I should do in a 40. The picture in the book (which is a 40) shows four , and I don't think the pots are that big. I was thinking 3? <Mangroves are trees, so whatever you do with them and however you pot them, eventually they will get too big. I don't actually rate them highly for this sort of set up.> 2. What kind of sand? The book says silver, but I was thinking aragonite or even oolitic to keep pH high. <Without undergravel filtration, the buffering effect of a mound of coral sand is limited. Buffering is proportional to the surface area of coral sand in contact with moving water; in the case of a layer of coral sand without undergravel filtration, only the top grains of sand are in contact with moving water. So I'd not fuss about this issue.> 3. What rock is safe? I think limestone would help the pH, but I think granite is the most common, in the yard sort of rock (I don't intend to buy it.) Is there rock I should NOT use? (Obviously nothing that would be too sharp on the fish.) <Again, don't be too worried about the pH issue. Marine salt mix will buffer the water nicely, and if it doesn't, you can also add a bit of home-brew Malawi Salt mix to up the carbonate hardness. I've described this elsewhere on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/fwhardnessfaqs.htm So choose rocks that look nice, aren't spiky or rough, and don't have metallic seams in them that might poison the fish/crabs.> 4. I know driftwood is acidic, do you think the other stuff would out weigh it? Do I need to add something for hardness, pH? I have B-Ionic. I was thinking though that that was a bit overkill. <Bogwood will have minimal effect. If it does, up the carbonate hardness as stated above.> 5. Stocking number? (mudskippers, crabs). Any safe critter to put in there. I am guessing I don't have room for much. <Mudskippers are funny about tankmates. Your best bets are things like small brackish water livebearers, perhaps Guppies or Limia. But big Mudskippers will eat small fish, while big fish terrify Mudskippers who view them as predators.> 6. Cycling? I have read not such good things about BioSpira, that it isn't refrigerated. I have never seen it refrigerated. Fish food? Shrimp? <Any of the above. Or just let nature take its course, using the Mudskippers or crabs.> 7. I live in the desert, should I think about a fog maker, to get up the humidity a bit? <The lid on the tank should take care of this automatically.> OK, I think that's enough. I was working on brevity. Thanks Crew!!! You are terrific! --des <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Mangrove "swamp"/ mudskipper, fiddler tank?  7/31/08 Hi Neale, Thanks for the great information. <Would highly recommend looking over Richard Mleczko's chapter on mudskippers in my 'Brackish-Water Fishes' book. He's easily the world expert on keeping these fish in captivity, and Just ordered off Amazon. <<I am sure you will enjoy.>> > <Do make sure the tank is "mudskipper-proof", as these fish will climb out of any gaps they find.> Yes, I have kept Jawfish. Tricky little devils. Fortunately mudskippers aren't $180 like those cool blue spotted Jawfish. Just when I thought it was safe to remove the netting around filters and the like, he jumped to his death! So no more removing netting, though without hang on the back stuff should be easier really-- until trees grow. <<Ah, seems you're mentally prepared at least! The difference is that Mudskippers are gobies, and are equipped with a neat suction cup that lets them climb up vertical surfaces, including glass.>> <Mangroves grow very slowly, and you may find plastic plants or houseplants in plastic pots (to keep the salty water out) will work at least as well. Plants like Philodendron work very well for this sort of thing.> The way I read Scott's book, it was the ceramic pots and not the actual trees that kept the bank up (along with rock. So you are really not depending on tree growth. <<I have the book and checked. My issue with ceramic pots is they're porous, so will let salt in. If you're growing salt-tolerant plants like mangroves or Nypa palms or whatever, then use whatever pots you want.>> > <SG 1.005 upwards to seawater is fine; 1.05 would be hypersaline and deadly!> Oh yes, woops! It's not a typo really, but I am familiar with all this. Just will have to go through the numbers again. <<Good.>> Thanks for advise on filtration and heaters! >below 0.5 mg/l, you could probably cycle with the Mudskippers.> Cycle with fish! Yikes! This is new info and I have never seen this (though saw they were tolerant of ammonia. <<Some mudskippers will happily frolic around sewage outfall pipes. They are incredibly tough fish.>> What about quarantining these guys (gals)? I have a ten gal QT. I was thinking in terms of about 2-4 inches of water and some rocks (or maybe dinner plates. <<Since they're the only fish in the tank, quarantining them is redundant. Of course you can't use formalin or copper medications in a system with crabs, but brackish water will kill off Whitespot anyway.>> > Periophthalmus kalolo is a fairly aggressive species, so either avoid having more than one male or else overstock the tank so no single male becomes hyperdominant.> What's your definition of overstock of P. kalolo in a 40? <<Depends on the size of the fish, and how much land there is. Richard's basic idea is that if all the fish are crammed onto the same bogwood branch or sand bank, none of them can make a territory. I'd be looking at half a dozen specimens, at least.>> Or can you sex the fish to determine which is male? <<Difficult to sex Periophthalmus spp. except to say males are more aggressive!>> Also I was told to overstock the crabs. Both because they are aggressive, and because some will be eaten-- this from a guy who does barbarus which are even nastier. <<P. barbarus usually ends up being kept alone.>> > http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/fwhardnessfaqs.htm Thanks for the link. > <Hope this helps, Neale.> You're all great! <<We do try.>> --des <<Cheers, Neale.>>

Mudskippers, sys.  - 07/11/08 I'm setting up a 20 gallon long mudskipper habitat, but I'm starting from scratch. I know next to nothing about these little guys other than that they need humidity and somewhat brackish water and 2/3 land with 1/3 water in their tank. <Sounds great.> While I have ideas about the substrate needed (I was thinking Zoo Med's Excavator Burrowing Substrate), as well as the type of lid (likely a standard hood with glass bottom and openable flap), and type of salt to add to the water (I have some instant ocean at home from a failed attempt at keeping a GSP), I'd appreciate any and all guidance you guys have to offer. <Mudskippers are actually quite hardy and easy to keep, provided you accept them on their own terms and not try to force them into a standard aquarium.> Because mudskippers spend 90% of their time on land, do I need to worry about cycling the tank before adding it? Or can I just set up the tank and introduce it? I'm only getting one. <You can cycle the tank with the Mudskippers. They are relatively tolerant of ammonia. Do check which species of Mudskipper you have in your area. Some species (e.g., Periophthalmus barbarus) are large and very aggressive, but others (e.g., the Dwarf Indian Mudskipper, Periophthalmus sp.) are much smaller. http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Projects/FAQ/5c.html The smaller species at least can be kept in groups, and if you want to see the males display, that's recommended.> Also, any recommendations on a particular type of filter to get? <External canister filter of some sort recommended simply for the ease of positioning inlet/outlet pipes given the peculiar arrangement needed for this type of vivarium.> Will an underwater heater be enough to heat the whole tank, or do I need a different kind of heater? <I'd actually recommend against a standard heater because of the danger the Mudskippers will climb onto the heater and get burned. Instead consider either an inline heater that connects to the outflow from the canister filter (e.g., the Hydor ETH brand) or else an undertank heating mat of the sort widely used to heat reptile/amphibian enclosures.> Do they need aeration in the water? <Nope; they get almost all of their oxygen from the air and can tolerate quite stagnant water if they must. Not recommending you keep them thus, but merely making the point these fish come from a harsh environment and are very adaptable "right out the box".> Thanks! Micah <Do heartily recommend you look at Richard Mleczko's chapter on these fishes in my Brackish-Water Fishes book. It's the only really detailed text on Mudskippers written for the hobbyist, and covers dozens of species in depth as well as all the main issues like diet and social behaviour: http://www.tfhpublications.com/fish/brackish-water-fishes.htm Good luck, Neale.>

Mudskippers... sys., fdg.,    7/25/08 Hey folks! So I've had my mudskipper tank half set up for about 2 weeks now. I say half set up because in my 20g long I have 4 fiddler crabs (2 male and 2 female) and 1 mudskipper (the dwarf Indian variety, with a red fin), and I have some bits of driftwood that the crabs climb up on as well as some slate rocks that the skipper regularly uses to hang out on. <Sounds nice.> In the tank I have a combination of black gravel and black sand serving as substrate, and I've rigged the filter/heater set up so that, even though the heater is on its side (It's a Rena heater -- encased in thick plastic so as to keep the skipper from burning itself), it works because my internal canister filter outflow is connected to the intake of the heater. Thus, the water is constantly being run through the heater, and the tank stays a balmy 80 degrees. I have a glass lid on top to keep in the humidity, which I measure at ~ 70% with one of those gauges you can get for frog tanks. <All good.> The tank has all of the bare minimum essentials to keep everyone going, and I feed the crew frozen bloodworms, mysis shrimp, Spirulina brine shrimp, or freeze-dried brine shrimp, though I've honestly only ever seen the skipper go for the freeze-dried business, which makes the least sense of all. <Do try live insects, like bluebottles or small moths. Mudskippers feed extensively on live insects, and are remarkably agile. Wingless fruit flies would be ideal for smaller species/specimens.> I tried frozen daphnia once, but I think those might have been too small for it to really register as food. <They don't really feed underwater.> The food does seem to disappear overnight, but I don't know whether the skipper is just waiting for me to leave him be before going searching for tasty bits or whether the crabs are just chowing down. <My assumption is that they are day-active animals.> I've read that ghost shrimp might prove an enticing treat for the mudskipper, but it's still on the small side, so I don't know whether the ghost shrimp would just outmaneuver him or, at worst, intimidate him. What alternative foods would you suggest? <Terrestrial insects.> That was question one. Question two has to do with how to make a better set up. I have a lot of vertical room to play with, and I wouldn't mind giving all the creatures something to climb on. I plan to add more driftwood, and perhaps more cork bark, but I'm curious as to how plants would work in a brackish paludarium? <Not necessarily all that well, unless they're brackish species. You can put regular pot plants into planter pots (i.e., pots that are glazed and don't have a hole at the bottom) and so isolate them from the salty water. They'll do well like that.> The water is only slightly brackish right now (I added maybe 1 tablespoon per gallon of water since they were being kept in FW, and there's only enough water in there to make sure the heater and filter are covered, so probably around 4-6 gallons). <You will need SG 1.005+ in the long term.> I keep live plants in all of my tanks save my Mbuna tank, and I'd love to be able to experiment with the greenhouse-type environment that a paludarium provides, but I don't want to do anything that might involve introducing a poisonous plant. <I'd frankly concentrate on plastic plant and large bits of bogwood or really anything you'd put into an amphibian environment.> Finally, a crowding question. In a 20 g long with a few different rocks to rest on, how many dwarf Indian skippers can I introduce? I've read everything from just 1 to 6. Thanks! <I'd either keep one or a fair sized group, say six specimens. Twos and threes are often unstable because the dominant one becomes a serious bully. When overcrowded, Mudskippers tend to work rather better as no one fish can "take over". Essentially the same as with Mbuna.> Best, Micah <Cheers, Neale.>

Periophthalmus kalolo, gen., ID, Sys.   12/12/07 Greetings from Alaska... <And likewise from England,> I just returned from visiting relatives in Fiji. I also regularly visit American and Western Samoa, both for business and pleasure. I have a few questions concerning Mudskippers: <OK, fire away!> (1) The species I've observed in both Samoa and Fiji I've tentatively identified as Periophthalmus kalolo. However, in Western Samoa and Fiji I've seen larger specimens with somewhat different pattern--the most numerous animals are small (2-2.5 in), beige ground color with chocolate brown irregular cross-bands. Larger animals (5-6 in) lack the cross-bands, having a poorly defined pattern of darker blotches and whitish speckling on a light brown ground color. Does this represent more than one (sympatric) species, or merely ontogenic pattern changes? <Not sure about this. Periophthalmus argentilineatus is also known from both Fiji and Samoa. Both species are pretty similar, though Periophthalmus argentilineatus is slightly larger and has a series of short silvery vertical bands on the lower half of the body, just above the anal fin. Both species have reddish dorsal fins, speckles on the flanks, etc. and it is common for multiple Mudskipper species to live in the same place. To be 100% sure what species you have, I'd recommend sending photos to Richard Mleczko, who wrote the Mudskipper chapter of my brackish aquarium book, and has kept and caught just many different species. His web page is at the link below: http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/mudskippers/goby.htm His e-mail link is on that page. There is also an excellent section on mudskippers in the Aqualog book by Frank Schaefer. Both his book and mine actually have correctly identified Mudskipper photos, something not at all standard in the aquarium press!> In American Samoa, I've only seen the smaller version in brackish mangrove streams and swamps. In Western Samoa and Fiji I've found both small and large specimens, always inhabiting mangrove stands in full seawater. Do you agree with my species identification? <Impossible to say: the silver bands on the ventral surface is the only useful distinction, and you haven't mentioned these. Do also bear in mind that male and female Mudskippers can look very different.> (2) I have several mangrove rhizomes currently growing in full saltwater (same as the habitat from which they were taken). They've begun to sprout roots, but no leaves yet. My hope is to establish a large marine tank for the mangroves in one of the deep-set windowsills in my house (long Alaska daylight enables tropical plants to thrive, believe it or not), along with halide lighting and a heater to make suitable habitat for mangroves, small fiddler crabs, Periophthalmus, Gobiodon, Brachygobius and possibly a small Pseudomugil species. <Brachygobius spp. don't like seawater. The traded species in the hobby are really freshwater fish in the wild, and while low-end brackish water suits them very well in captivity, they certainly don't need to be kept in very salty water. While I've heard the odd story of people acclimating them to marine conditions, I've also heard it go wrong, and the poor little fish die. Surprisingly to some, Brachygobius spp. can be found in soft, acid blackwater streams in their native habitat!> Concerning the latter, I'd like to try P. gertrudae, because they're small. My question is, are they strictly freshwater, or can they thrive in saline water as can some other species in the genus? <Pseudomugil spp. -- known as "blue-eyes" in the trade -- include freshwater, brackish water, and salt water species. While I dare say freshwater species will tolerate low-end brackish conditions around SG 1.003, I wouldn't attempt keeping them in anything more saline. Pseudomugil gertrudae in particular is found in soft, acidic water conditions. If you want something small and colourful, you'd be better off with a brackish water killifish or livebearer of some type, perhaps Micropoecilia picta.> (3) The set-up I envision (will probably have to get a local Plexiglas outfit to construct it for me) is to make an approx. 72" x 24" x 24" tank with three screened standpipes of different heights at one end to simulate tidal changes--check valves on each one so water level can be changed manually. Stand pipes emptying into another, comparably-sized tank on the floor (which might be dedicated only to filter media). <Sounds great, but Mudskippers at least couldn't care less about salinity variation. They adapt very well to fixed salinity environments, ideally around SG 1.010 though slightly above or below is acceptable.> Siphon from a large canister filter to draw water from the lower tank, with the outflow pipe attached to the end of a Plexiglas "planter" at the back of the upper tank, in which a bottom compartment of about 3-4" depth is covered with a fitted plastic screen. Over this will be planting substrate and the mangroves. The idea is for the water to cycle up through the mangrove planter, and then into the tank, thence through a standpipe back down to the lower tank, etc. Do you think this set-up will work? <I'm no plumber, but the theory sounds good. As I say though, it isn't the sort of project I'd engage with just for the sake of the Mudskippers. They spend 90% of their time on land, ideally on sand or flat rocks or smooth bogwood, so what they really want is a complex terrain made up of those materials. Some burrows are also appreciated (PVC pipes stuck into the sand are ideal). Beyond that, a pool of water for bathing is all they require. They are actually extremely hardy and adaptable fish; the reason they have a mixed reputation in the hobby is solely because people try to keep them in freshwater or marine tanks, neither of which are acceptable. They want a brackish water vivarium.> I guess I'd have to fill the bottom tank and start cycling the water when the lowest stand-pipe is open to avoid overflowing the bottom tank. I've also thought of setting up the lower tank with anemones, soft corals and a few Amphiprion, Dascyllus and Chrysiptera. <No. Don't do this. If there are aggressive or large fish in the water, the Mudskippers won't go swimming. This causes problems. Mudskippers inhabit areas completely devoid of other fish, i.e., dry land. They can't and won't deal with active or territorial fish. Ideally, Mudskippers should be kept alone. Small fish can be viewed as food, hence my recommendation to with livebearers, so that you can at least expect the population to sustain a certain amount of predation. Fish of similar size to the Mudskippers terrify them. In the wild, when they see fish in the water, they stay on land or go into their burrows.> (4) Are P. kalolo imported to the US? It probably wouldn't be difficult for me to get a collector's permit in Fiji (or in Samoa), but a lot of hassle to get the animals into the states, which I would prefer to avoid. <It may be imported occasionally but it isn't a staple. For the North American market, the trade is dominated by Periophthalmus argentilineatus and Periophthalmus barbarus, and sometimes Periophthalmus septemradiatus, at least according to Richard. European aquarists additionally get a "dwarf" (~6 cm) species known as the Indian Mudskipper, likely identical with or related to Periophthalmus novemradiatus. Periophthalmus barbarus is the one to avoid if you can, partly because it is huge (~20 cm) but mostly because males are unbelievably aggressive and will sometimes kill everything in the tank kept with them! In any event, none of the retailers seem to identify Mudskippers properly, so the best you can do is consult a reliable book and identify the Mudskippers yourself.> Sorry for the length of the e-mail, and thanks in advance for our consideration. Sincerely, Fred <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Periophthalmus kalolo -12/14/07 I have relatives in England (unfortunately, I've never met any of them). One of note, who passed on several decades ago, was a distant cousin, Abdullah Archibald Hamilton. <Very interesting. One of the more famous converts to Islam, and a noted (and aristocratic) statesman of note.> Then I'm fairly certain that's what the larger specimens were--I saw one identified as P. argentilineatus in the Sydney Aquarium while visiting my son there in 2005. I wasn't noticeably different than the animals I saw in W. Samoa and in Fiji. <The two species, P. kalolo and P. argentilineatus, are very similar, but once you know how to tell them apart (and assuming the fish are mature) then distinguishing them by eye should be possible.> I did notice poorly-defined ventro-lateral (silver) markings on one of the larger specimens I caught and took into the vali house so my granddaughter could see it. Also learned that, while nearly impossible to catch during the day, both species are easily caught by hand at night when dazzled with a hand-torch (flashlight). <Interesting.> Thank you for the references! Unfortunately I took no photos, as I kept forgetting to charge my camera. <Always the case.> Yeah...I figured either that or ontogenic pattern changes. However, with the clues you've given I believe both species were present in both Viani Bay, Fiji, and in Vaigaga, W. Samoa. For aquarium purposes I'm only interested in the smaller P. kalolo. <The size difference isn't all that great, and I'd be more worried about minimising the number of males in the tank than cherry-picking species.> Aha--thanks for the warning. I'll have to set up a small separate tank for Brachygobius, then. I would like to, as my LFS regularly receives very large individuals with deep orange, rather than just yellow, bands. Very impressive. I'll add there is a possibility I'll be working in General Santos City, Philippines for a year--so I may get opportunity for first-hand observation of Brachygobius habitat preferences, God Willing. <Very good. Goby taxonomist Naomi Delventhal, who wrote the Goby chapter in my brackish book, has taught me a lot about these fish. They are essentially indistinguishable to species level without examination under a microscope, hence my preference these days to refer to them as Brachygobius spp. rather than any one species. While most do occur in brackish water in parts of their range, something like half the species are found in freshwater habitats as well. My feeling is that most starve to death in aquaria, and the belief that the lack of salt is the issue is erroneous. A fascinating but misunderstood group of fish.> Thanks again for the tip. I've read that P. cyanodorsalis and P. signifer are both found in full salinity water in the wild. The former species, being small and colorful, might work (a friend who owns a very good aquarium shop in Rockdale, NSW has told me this species has been tank-spawned). Your recommendation of small live-bearers reminded me that I already have a small population of Heterandria formosa. I "rescued" one gravid female from a "feeder" tank at the aforementioned LFS, and she has regularly given birth every few weeks since then. Heterandria live in brackish as well as fresh water--I've caught then in salt marshes in southern Georgia, USA. <Indeed. Would work well with Mudskippers, though quite probably more as live food than anything else!> Sorry, I wasn't clear in my previous e-mail. The variable-height standpipes are to raise and lower water level, not salinity, in imitation of tidal ebb and flow. I intend to keep the tank at fixed salinity. <Ah, yes, this would be ideal. Richard Mleczko is a great fan of this sort of thing with Mudskippers. Not required, but looks very nice.> That's the purpose for the standpipes--I hope to lower and raise water level from 14" to 8" to 4" and back again, keeping the water at each level for about eight-hour increments. I plan to have the mangrove planter at 12" height, so at the lower water levels there will be fairly extensive above-water substrate available (not to mention the roots I hope the mangroves will put down as they grow). Also, I brought back some hollow bamboo sections from the remains of a Viani Bay relative's old raft to facilitate burrow-making. <Good. Do bear in mind that wood sometimes rots more quickly in saline water. No idea why, but does seem to happen.> As far as I can tell, the animals I observed in W. Samoa and Fiji were in fully saline habitat (I just remembered seeing some near Savusavu, Fiji that were in a tidal creek, but the ones at my daughter-in-law's family's place in Viani Bay were in fully saline conditions--one could swim only a few yards out from the mangroves where the Periophthalmus were, and see myriads of reef fishes, including Gobiodon, Damsels, Lionfish, as well as soft and hard corals). There was no fresh water on the island, other than a large rainwater tank my daughter-in-law's relatives maintain for their needs. Having said that, it does seem best to opt for brackish conditions--hopefully, I can gradually reduce salinity to about 12-16ppm without harming the mangroves, once these have become established. <The precise salinity isn't important. Mudskippers are perhaps best thought of as "tidal" rather than brackish water fish. So yes, if the tidal water is marine, e.g., a rocky reef along a beech, then yes, they'll be in more or less normal marine salinities. But they are also common in tidal brackish water environments, and the lower cost of maintaining them thus can be beneficial to the aquarist! Lower cost = cheaper water changes = more water changes = better water quality. Reduced salinity also places less stress on their osmoregulatory system, and is also less likely to be acceptable to marine or freshwater parasites. The one thing they don't like is freshwater. I'm not aware of any true mudskipper than tolerates freshwater indefinitely.> Sorry, I wasn't clear again--the damsels would be kept in the second, lower tank (into which the standpipes from the Periophthalmus tank would empty). They would not come in contact with the mudskippers. But, if I reduce salinity to about half seawater as you suggest, I won't be able to keep marine damsels anyway. <There actually are several brackish water damselfish, usually sold as "freshwater damselfish" even though they don't do especially well in freshwater conditions. See here: http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/aquaria/brackfaqpages/Marine_fish/(7e)damselfishes.html Most hardy marine damsels, like Sergeant Majors for example, will thrive at SG 1.018 too, and could be used.> However, there are several outstanding N. American small brackish spp that would thrive, such as Adinia xenica, Fundulus rivulus, Cyprinodon variegatus, Poecilia etc. I kept two 55gal housing populations of these and other N. American brackish spp for about seven years back in the mid '90s. The fishes I released when I disassembled the tanks were the several-times-removed grandchildren of the original stocks. <Poecilia spp. especially work well with Mudskippers. Wild-caught Mollies for example make nice additions.> I have noted their apparent fear of going too far from shore, and concluded this was due to fear of predation. <Precisely. Mudskippers are very good jumpers on land, and rely on that to avoid predation from terrestrial predators. But in the water they are poor swimmers. So they don't like being in water where there are other fish of similar or larger size.> I attempted to keep 7 specimens of a W. African species--considerably larger than P. kalolo--back in the early 90s, with moderate success. However, they were vicious, and their powerful jaws made short work of any fish, crustacean or insect placed in their tank (and occasionally each other). I had identified them to species, but don't recall it now--the males in particular had blue and red bands on their dorsal fins (very similar to those on a Rainbow Darter--Etheostoma caeruleum--a species which I currently keep). <Those are definitely P. barbarus. The males have brilliant red/blue dorsal fins. But as you say, this species is incredibly vicious and highly predatory. At least in the UK, this species is now very rarely traded, the "dwarf" Indian Mudskipper species being a far nicer aquarium fish.> Yep. Sorry for the earlier "jumbled" reply--hope this comes out better. Sincerely, Fred <Glad we could help. Please do get in touch with Richard; he really knows his stuff when it comes to 'Skippers. Cheers, Neale.>

Non Planted FW aquarium.  10/20/07 Hi Neale! <Hello Bryan,> Once again I am need of more sage advise... my girlfriend just got back from a family trip back east, about halfway through the trip she told me that she had found something that we could "do together" and was bringing it home with her. when she got home she presented me with a book called "Aquarium Style" by Matthew Christian. which surprised me, because to this point the only thing she has ever said about my hobby is "You got another _____ing fish tank!? are you out of your mind!?" <Ah, I do know this book. Not sure what to make of it. On the one hand, a book demonstrating all the different ways a freshwater aquarium can be put together is a brilliant idea. And the ideas given (while not all to my taste!) are certainly interesting and attractive. But on the other hand, some of the tank ideas seem to me to be flawed. The author seems to make no account of things like social behaviour, adult size, stocking levels, etc. So while the tanks *look* great, I'm not sure that in the long term, the fish populations used are appropriate.> The book itself is interesting, and quite a bit different than the usual book that I would read, it is very heavy on visuals and doesn't bog the reader down with long texts and big Latin words (my usual preference) it is no doubt designed to capture the interest of beginners and bring them into the hobby by showing 30 or so "themed" tank designs (some very practical and sustainable, others not so much... unfortunately she has taken a shining to the later) unfortunately there are some pretty big red flags if one reads the text... from describing live plants as "good if you want a natural look or to give your fish a place to hide" to recommending 15-20 tiger Oscars for a "medium sized tank" and suggested stocking levels that border on obscene for all of the tanks... <Exactly my sort of concern.> but the aquascapes presented are all captivating and well thought out, even if some of them probably crashed within days (or hours) of the photos being taken... anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now and get to the heart of my question. As I said before, this is the most interest she has ever taken in my hobby and I don't want her to lose that interest by telling her that the tanks she thinks are so pretty are destined to be an algae infested nightmares that will crash and burn within weeks. <Understood.> I want to break down my 29 gallon and give it to her to do whatever strikes her fancy with, but I also want to make sure that her first fish don't end up floating... the tank she has picked out has a really interesting concept, and I can see how it would catch her interest, the photos are very striking, it is titled "crystal cave" and features an assortment of geodes, crystals, and broken glass tumbled smooth as the substrate. <Hmm... no, in the long term these tanks don't work. A bright purple geode now looks like a green-brown lump after a few months. The sharp edges are terrible for bottom dwelling fish, and unless you're a skilled geologist, oddball rocks can be a potential source of dangerous metals like copper.> I'm sure that properly done it could be a great system, but I am having a hard time figuring out how to maintain it and keep algae off of the crystals and the system in balance long term... I don't think she is going to be interested in snails (and at this point neither am I, due to the previous snail infestation issue... by the way, the DIY snail trap has been more successful in the past few days, I think I am starting to get the outbreak under control...) <Good!> and although I will sand all of the sharp edges I still don't think this tank will be suitable for cories, otos or algae eating shrimp either. <Indeed.> as I said, I am probably going to use the 29 gallon planted tank, obviously the lights are going to have to devolve, as PC's on a non planted tank are going to give me pea soup... <Not so. In dimly lit tanks, you get brown algae and to a lesser extent blue-green algae; in brightly lit tanks, the algae you get is green algae. Brown and blue-green algae is difficult to control biologically, but lots of animals eat green algae, so it's much easier to keep in check using shrimps, Nerite snails (which don't breed in tanks), Otocinclus, etc.> I am thinking of using only LED "moonlights" which I think may have an interesting effect on the crystals, any idea of how fish will react to only LED illumination? should I throw in a really low output t12 for a more traditional light cycle? <Fish don't generally care either way about lighting. Most prefer shady conditions if given the choice, but adapt to the relatively bright lighting in some aquaria easily. In other words, do what you want. Within reason, the fish will be fine, particularly if there are shady areas for them to hide in should they want.> Also I will probably continue to use the Penguin BioWheel 330 that is on the tank know, I know it is way overkill for a 29 gallon, but if the system is going to be "un-planted" I think its going to be necessary. <Not a problem.> she has taken a liking to Angels and Gouramis, and if we stocked 1 pair of one of these how many other smaller fish (maybe cardinals, glowlights, rasboras, etc.) would be safe in a system like this? <Angels can/do view small fish the size of Neons as food, so choose tankmates with care.> also any ideas for algae control besides regular water changes? (I already do 10-15 gallons weekly) <Plants are the only algae control that works. Everything else boils down to some sort of manual control.> I'd appreciate any advise that you might have on keeping non planted systems stable, honestly I got into the hobby skipping the usual first steps of fake plants, pink gravel, and burping clams and dove right into planted tanks, so I have no practical experience with these kind of systems, hopefully I can get her interest into planted tanks soon, but for know this is a good first step! <Un-planted tanks are easy, and present few problems. The main thing is to ensure what you use a decor is explicitly aquarium-safe. While there's nothing to stop you raiding a garden centre for interesting rocks and substrates, you do need to make sure said materials are safe. Rather than geodes and fossils, which are a waste in the long term, going with attractive and demonstrably safe rocks is a much better way forward. Pink and silver granite, for example, looks spectacular in aquaria, and is completely safe. It also helps to choose colours sensibly; light-coloured gravels, or funky blue or red gravels, tend to make the fish *less* colourful. Fish adjust their colours to their surroundings. The best colours are almost always where the sand is black or brown. If you want bright sand and colourful rocks -- keep a rock garden! But if you want your fish to look nice, choose natural-looking rocks and sand, so the fish settle in better. One book I might recommend is called "The Complete Aquarium" by Peter Scott. I mention this book because it has a similar format to the one you have, but the tanks are *much* more carefully thought out, and all are based on some sort of biotope. As well as freshwater set-ups there are nice brackish and marine ones too. Anyway, the reason I mention this book is that at Amazon it's going for the princely sum of $2.46, so won't break the bank! I think as a supplement to what your g/f is trying to do, you'll find it a good read.> Thanks, Bryan <Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: Non Planted FW aquarium. - 11/20/07 Hi Neale! <Bryan,> I took your advice and ordered "the complete aquarium" and man was it $2.50 well spent! I also picked up a few other books for a buck each and now I have a pretty decent little library for under 20 bucks! I am going to be trolling Amazon from now on when it comes time to buy a new book, thanks again for pointing me in the right direction! <It's a neat book. Slightly old-fashioned, but the aquaria demonstrated are wonderfully done and very inspirational.> Anyway, the girlfriend has been fully bitten now... which is a good news bad/news situation... good news is she is getting into planted tanks, bad news: she likes oddballs... puffers, four-eyed fish, crabs... and paludariums. I've been itching to try a paludarium for a while so this is a good thing, but the only tank I have available for use is a 29G standard... which no matter which way I try to slice it I cant figure out how to get more than about 10-12 gallons of water into a paludarium setup, and I am not looking forward to trying to keep 10 gallons of brackish water stable... anyway she thinks the little "red clawed Thai crabs" in 'Aquarium Style' are cute. <That tank would be fine for a small paludarium, especially if you used a lot of wood to create the above-the-water scenery. There is a small species of mudskipper on sale, nominally referred to as Periophthalmus novemradiatus but this identity is uncertain. It usually goes by the name of Indian or Dwarf Mudskipper. Maximum size is around 10 cm, though 5-6 cm is typical in aquaria. It has a reddish dorsal fin rather than blue, but is very pretty and not too aggressive. Mudskippers work best either singly or in large groups, where numbers prevents too much damage through fighting. In any case, these fish do supremely well in aquaria, and far better than things like the West African Mudskipper, Periophthalmus barbarus, a singularly nasty and aggressive (as well as big) species that was the most common species in the trade hitherto.> I have no idea what they are and the only guesses I can make are (1) they probably prefer brackish water, and (2) they will probably eat anything they can catch... <Yes and yes. They are Perisesarma bidens. Relatively easy to keep, and some hobbyists have even bred them! Not to be mixed with fish for precisely the reasons you give. Although not fish-eaters in the wild (like most land crabs they eat fruit and detritus) in the confines of an aquarium, sooner or later they nip and/or kill small fish kept with them.> I doubt that I will be able to keep much with them in a freshwater tank... (if they'll even survive in a FW tank) in a brackish setup what could I keep with them? <Nothing. Enjoy them for what they are: entertaining little critters! By all means add brackish water snails if you want. Things like Nerites do a reasonable job of algae-control, and Malayan livebearing snails make ideal salt-tolerant scavengers that keep sand spotlessly clean.> Puffers should be able to look out for themselves and four-eyed fish occupy a different niche so they would probably be ok right? <No and no. Puffers will simply take the crabs apart if they are big enough, and if they are too small, the crabs could catch the puffers. Anableps need a peculiar sort of tank all their own. Basically a long tank, half-filled with water, with a "table" in the middle onto which they can rest with their eyes poking out. In anything else, their longevity tends to be unimpressive, and they usually fare poorly mixed with other species except maybe things like Mollies and Guppies.> What about dragon gobies and/or mollies? <I wouldn't mix any fish with red-claw crabs. Fiddler crabs are often fine with fish, since they're almost pure detritus feeders and have little instinct to catch prey. But red-claws are opportunists and will have a go at anything.> And if I go with FW what about land hermit crabs? Are they a danger to fish and is there a danger to them drowning in a paludarium? <Can work very well in paludaria, but terrestrial hermit crabs easily drown. They would need a tank with a very gentle slope so they could crawl in and out of the water easily. Not all species are brackish water animals. Also, they are 99% terrestrial, and only bathe to moisten their gills and to breed. For a generic brackish water aquarium, two fully-aquatic hermits are better choices: between SG 1.010 and marine, go with the commonly-sold reef hermit Clibanarius tricolor, and below SG 1.010 Clibanarius africanus works well. Neither of these poses much threat to fish, and both are hardy. Clibanarius africanus is, unfortunately, rather rare. Clibanarius tricolor on the other hand is cheap and easy to find (sold as the "blue-legged hermit" to marine aquarists) and does well in mid to high salinity systems with monos, scats, etc.> I am trying to find a way to incorporate something different (and no matter how hard I try she just doesn't think cardonica shrimp are interesting...) but still keep a stable ecosystem, <Amano shrimps aren't my thing, but there are some great alternatives. Cherry shrimps are lovely because they breed so readily, and will turn any aquarium into a veritable reef tank given the chance, literally crawling with shrimps of all sizes. Long-arm shrimps are also amazing animals. These are Macrobrachium spp., and a variety of species are now traded. Macrobrachium rosenbergii is the best/worst depending on your point of view; at about 15 cm in body length but with claws that are at least as long again, this is seriously impressive animal that will make hardened cichlid keepers break down and weep. It is also fun to watch and can be easily hand-trained. On the flip side, it is territorial and a confirmed fish-eater in aquaria. There are, thankfully, many smaller species such as Macrobrachium sp. "Rusty" and Macrobrachium "Red Claw" that are smaller and easier to keep. Some will form stable harems (one male, multiple females) and breed readily in the aquarium. They can be easily sexed: males have bigger claws, often with coloured bands on them.> an oddball brackish tank is very intriguing to me, maybe 2 four-eyed fish, 1 small puffer, 1 dragon goby 3-5 crabs, maybe a trio of same sex mollies? This is likely too much for 10-12 gallons of brackish water right? <Yes, too much and the wrong stuff.> If I do go with a FW setup are there any land dwellers you could suggest that would fit in with your more standard aquarium fare? <Nothing commonly traded. The problem for fishkeepers is that the bulk of freshwater invertebrates are insects, and these don't make good pets for a variety of reasons. Brackish water habitats are the prime places to see amphibious fish and crustaceans, and to some extent molluscs as well.> She likes Killies, Gouramis, and the more colorful Cory's too, so we could probably put together a FW setup she likes, I'm up for pretty much anything, and if I had the space I'd have about a dozen tanks and I would be trying everything I've mentioned above, I'm just looking for a nudge in the right direction considering the set-up I have to work with and the critters that are grabbing her attention. <Hmm... if she likes "critters", then arguably a marine system is the best option. If you forego light-sensitive things like corals, and don't keep any fish, maintaining a basic live rock plus shrimps, snails and small echinoderms tank isn't all that hard or expensive. In terms of brackish water, fiddler crabs and Mudskippers are a classic combo, though not without some amount of work to get right. Amphibious crabs can be superb pets, but in my opinion they are best kept alone.> Thanks again for all the help! ~Bryan <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Non Planted FW aquarium. Periophthalmids... BR f'  - 11/21/07 Hi Neale, Ok, fiddlers and mudskippers sounds like a plan to us, just a few more quick questions: any idea where I should look for the mudskippers you mentioned? <In the US, your best bet is probably somewhere like Frank's Aquarium (www.franksaquarium.com). He has Dwarf Mudskippers in stock as well as a variety of crabs (though not, right now, Uca spp. fiddlers). While I've never used Frank's Aquarium, I know he makes a real effort to import and correctly identify interesting and unusual stock.> I don't see any on Aquabid, and my LFS's don't usually carry brackish fishes (some occasionally do, but they are always in FW tanks) I may have to have someone special order them for me, do you have an idea of a fair price range? (Don't wanna get ripped off...) <Mudskippers are going to be around $5-10 a piece, and fiddler crabs about the same, maybe a little less. Fiddlers are in the "freshwater" trade, so getting them should be possible even through the more stodgy retailers.> and also when you say "either singly or in large groups" how large is a large group? <Either one or six upwards, in my opinion. Varies with the species. Dwarf Mudskippers are fairly tolerant, but P. barbarus will kill tankmates. So, identify the species being traded, and act accordingly. At the moment I'm hosting Richard Mleczko's Mudskipper pages, and that's definitely the place to start reading. He's the absolute world expert on these fish in captivity, and wrote the chapter on them for my book (which, without blowing any trumpets, is a must-read for any mudskipper fan and one of the best chapters in the book). Anyway, the web address is: homepage.mac.com/nmonks/mudskippers/ .> I'm thinking it is best I only keep 1 in my 30 gallon, right? <You could easily have half a dozen Dwarfs in there, assuming there was plenty of climbing places and water to swim about in. Since Mudskippers climb up stuff, plastic plants and roots can be used to create a 3D structure quite easily. Richard actually advocates overcrowding Mudskippers to prevent aggression. If the 'skippers can't set up territories, they get along better. Because Mudskippers are extremely tolerant of pollution (they are, after all, swamp dwellers that spend half their time in dysaerobic mud burrows) this isn't at all risky, and in fact it is easier to overcrowd Mudskippers than, say, Mbuna. Mudskippers are insensitive to ammonia, for example. They're very easy to keep in some ways. But on others, a challenge. They are sensitive to cold air, for example.> Also, what is a good stocking density for fiddler's in the same set up? <Fiddlers are generally harmless animals and get along fine in groups. The males "fight" through displaying, and hardly ever physically damage one another.> And lastly what can I keep with the above combo? the Chain LFS by my house gets dragon gobies every once in a while, I have a feeling the poor critters needs aren't being met, and I'm pretty sure they are in FW tanks, and I'd like to try and rescue one if it will fit into this system... <Dragon Gobies (Gobioides spp.) are big, easily 30 cm in captivity, and up to 60 cm in the wild. They need a decent-sized aquarium. Even filled with water a 20 or 30 gallon tank is too small, and half filled definitely too small. Mudskippers are funny about tankmates. Small fish may be eaten, and big fish frighten them, and the 'skippers won't go into the water. The best tankmates tend to be livebearers and halfbeaks of similar size. Endler guppies would be ideal for the smaller Mudskippers, and Mollies for the larger. Other gobies of similar size can work well, as will flatfish.> oh, and plants, I didn't see a section on the webpage dedicated to brackish plants, will Bamboo tolerate brackish water? <Not that I'm aware of. Mangrove plants would be better.> We wanted to do a combo of Bamboo and floating, flowering plants, but I can't seem to find any info on what can tolerate brackish water. <I'd recommend going with plastic in this instance: easier to set-up "just so" to get lots of 3D structures. Look at what people use in amphibian and reptile set-ups. Wood, leaves, vines, etc are all the sorts of things you want.> Thanks again for everything! ~Bryan <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Non Planted FW aquarium. - 11/21/07 Hey Neale, Sorry, I should have looked harder, I just found the section on brackish plants, I have a good idea of what I can and cant use, but I still want to know about the compatibility of Bamboo and floating plants like lilies, what is the highest SG they will tolerate? Thanks! ~Bryan <Generally SG 1.003, which is too low of Mudskippers. Honestly, go with plastic. It's easier. Or else choose brackish-water marginal plants. Mangroves are obviously the ideal, and cheap and easy to obtain. There are also various palms that can work well. Cheers, Neale.>

Where to Find Mudskippers?  3/9/07 <Hi Christopher, Pufferpunk here> I am very interested in setting up a 55 gallon brackish water  aquarium in a mangrove style but I cannot find mudskippers (the wanna-be star  of my species tank) anywhere! I saw one person mentioning that she finds them in  her LFS in New England for $15, but this is one thing that you seem to not be  able to buy on the Internet. I asked the people at a great fish shop and the  owner did not know of any. Is there any place to look or should I think more  about a cichlid species tank instead? Thanks   <I have seen them occasionally, on www.aquabid.com.  I wouldn't keep more than 3 mudskippers in a 55g tank--1 male & 2 females.  They are very territorial.  What other fish were you considering?  Most brackish species grow too large for a 55g tank, other than gobies.  ~PP> Thanks, Christopher

Mudskippers in full saltwater?   11/25/06 Hello Bob (or anyone who happens to get this question), <Lev> I am asking this out of pure curiosity. Can Mudskippers tolerate full saltwater? as in, 34-36ppt? <Yes, have seen some species in the wild and captivity kept in this "strength" of seawater> Thank you in advance! P.S You book, "Reef Invertebrates" is truly the greatest reference on Refugia and all familiar inverts I have ever set eyes on. I love all of the neat pictures as well. <Ahh! Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Bob Fenner>

My Mudskipper isn't eating! 3 day system... cycled? Cond.s?  7/19/06 Hello,          I am new to mudskipper keeping, actually it has only been about 3 days. I have a 10 gallon tank, which is 1/3 filled with a reptile bedding, 2/3 filled with brackish water. <What spg?> I have a big rock in the water as well. A mat heater under the tank, nice and hot n humid the way they like them. <Mmm... how hot?> I have a 3 inch African mudskipper. I have attached pictures incase i have incorrectly identified him. <None came through> Well my question is this i have guppies in the water and 5 small crickets and 1 large cricket on the land. <Mmm, I would not leave these in the system continuously> He hasn't touched any from what I've seen. He does look a little skinny, from when he came home from the petstore, is there anything wrong? There isn't much on your site nor on the web about mudskippers. any suggestions? Thank you in advance! Mike <... is this system cycled? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsyscomps.htm If there is ammonia, nitrite present, this may well be deterring your mudskipper from eating... Do take care to supply stable conditions... a ten gallon is not easy to keep steady, optimized due to its small size. Bob Fenner> Mudskippers ... tidepool system planning  2/14/06 Hi crew, Great site. Bit of a weird question, Just found my LFS selling mudskippers and have a vision of a tank set up but unsure how to get it and wondered if you could help. <Will try> I would like to have a tidal tank, I have a 4 foot Tank which I would like to divide in two halves, one Side with skipper/skippers in and the other with Fiddler crabs in, I would like to set it up so I could have high tide in one side and low tide in the other side then every 4 hours or so the tide changes So the high tide water flows into the low tide side Increasing the water level to high tide, Is this possible? <Yes> If so what would I need? <A mechanism... a pump, some means of "turning" the water hither and yon> How would I set it up? <A few possibilities... I'd go semi-high-tech., and look for float switches, a controller (these are commercially available) to pump the water slowly from one side, then over to the other... Look to Octopus, Neptune... as controller brands...> And could it be done on a budget? <If you're handy...> If I can't set my vision up I will not get them but I have longed to have skippers for a long time, please help Many thanks Stu <Do please keep good notes, take some pix and write up your experiences to share... I will help you sell to the print/pulp and e-zine markets. Bob Fenner> One Mudskipper per 10 Gallon Tank   1/4/06 Hey guys, I have a 10 gallon mudskipper tank setup, and I was wondering how many Indian mudskippers you would recommend housing in there. I have read that keeping two together is probably not the best combo and I really want to keep more than one, but am not sure if 3 would be pushing it. Thanks for all your help. <Mud skippers are pretty territorial. If you only have one side of the tank substrate exposed to the air then I would recommend only one. If you can set up a dry spot on each side of the tank then you might be able to get away with two. They look really cute but they have strong jaws for crushing crabs.-Chuck>

Mudskippers and Frogs Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows if mudskippers and African dwarf frogs can live in peace with one another. The mudskippers are Indian mudskippers, so they aren't as aggressive as other species (So I've heard). I also heard that ADFs can tolerate brackish water (not sure if that's true though). Thanks for all your guys help, you guys are awesome! < In the wild mudskippers eat little crabs and insects they catch on the shore. Even if the frogs could survive the brackish water, I got to believe that the mudskipper would try and eat a little frog in a heart beat. I would not recommend it. Get the mudskippers up and going first. They usually go after anything that hits the water or the bottom of the tank in an instant. Once you see them eat I think you will change your mind about adding a little frog.-Chuck> Companions For Mudskippers Thanks for the info Chuck. Is there any sort of crustacean or small critter you think would be able to coincide with mudskippers? thanks again! <Mudskippers are really a weird little fish that look kinda dopey and harmless but have a set of crushing jaws second to none. I think any sort of little critter will be eaten or crushed by the mudskippers. There are fish that can handle the water chemistry and be too big to be bothered, but I think that anything that goes up on the land is fair game.-Chuck> Mud skippers 7/29/04 Hi Bob <MikeD here> I recently bought myself two mud skippers<awesome little creatures, if somewhat belligerent. Are you keeping them in the same tank? If so, use caution as they will frequently attack and kill each other. Likewise, they have to be able to get completely out of the water, and will drown otherwise> and was told that I could feed them normal fish pellets, however I tried this and they don't seem to want to look at it.<Yep, these are another live food to start with fish in many cases. Try some ghost shrimp flopping in the mud, or even crickets, small worms and flies. Once they know you they'll often switch to raw shrimp, squid and such, even small crabs> What do they live on? The last thing I want is for these awesome beggars to die.<Best of luck to you. These can be very demanding and tricky!>Please help

Mud Skippers (continued) Hi Bob Martin here <Mike D here again> Thanks for the reply, this info helps a great deal.<You're very welcome> You mentioned feeding worms, would earth worms suffice or do they require blood worms?<Earthworms would actually probably work better as live bloodworms can be hard to come by. "Stripping" them of extra internal mud often helps maintain water parameters, meaning to squeeze from the front to the back. Later, after your 'Skippers get to recognize YOU as the food source they will be much more likely to accept any meaty food you give them>

Looking for mudskippers Hi I'm Daniel, I was wondering if you guys knew of a place in southern California that sells mudskippers.  I am in te Riverside area and I'm willing to drive for them but not too far.  any help locating a supplier would be nice. < I am afraid that you will have to call around and ask the stores. These fish are not rare and are easily found in wholesalers in No. Ca. Unfortunately they require a special tank that not to many stores are willing to dedicate to just one species of fish. I am sure that if you call and ask a store would be more than happy to get you one.-Chuck>

Mudskipper info Hello Bob, <Hi Lee Ann, not Bob, but Pufferpunk here.  I do some of the BW Qs here.>     I talked to you last summer when my son bought a Bichir.  You were very generous with information and our Bichir is doing great.   <Very cool fish!  I'm glad it's doing well.> Well, I finally got my dream fish too... Mudskippers.   <My dream fish too!  I have a 55g river tank set-up (perfect for 'skippers), there are frogs living in the tank.  But someday...> I have wanted these since I was twelve... and that was a VERY L-O-N-G time ago indeed :*).  I walked into my local pet store and there they were... 5 of them.  <Wow!> I bought the all !  When I got home I began looking for info on your website and the rest of the Internet.  That's when I discovered... there isn't very much.  I followed your link to Richard's website and his site has the most info next to the Japanese website and I gleaned all the info from there.  I did find one other really good site, but it is all in Japanese and unreadable unless you can read that language. <To translate (roughly) from Japanese-English, post the address here: http://babelfish.altavista.com/translate.dyn.  Tadah!>   Fantastic site though... looks very thorough.  I have found one more site and I would like to pass it on to you in the hopes that maybe you all would put it up on your website too.  It has a lot of info and I know anyone that has Mudskippers would sure appreciate being able to find it so easily on your website.    It took me hours of searching to finally find it.  Here is the links for it: Aquaria Central - Mudskippers http://www.aquariacentral.com/fishinfo/brackish/mudskip.htm Here's the Japanese site just incase your interested in looking at it: Marli's Mudskipper Land http://ki.itigo.jp/marli/mudskipperland/index.htm http://ki.itigo.jp/marli/mudskipperland/j_mudskipper_xx.htm Know I will learn how to set up a mangrove tank.  I just love this idea... I've toyed with it for many years.  But now that I actually have my Mudskippers... I will do it.  For now they are in my regular tank with the level dropped and Styrofoam floating islands for them.  The pet store had them in pure freshwater and said they came that way from their dealer.  I was really wondering about that... I'm sure they're not too happy in complete fresh water.  I will gradually get them into brackish in the mangrove tank.   <Don't raise the SG more than .002/weekly water change, or you will destroy the FW nitrifying bacteria faster than the SW bacteria can develop.  They are different animals & we aren't sure at what SG the changeover occurs.> I would like to try and create a tide too.  I will divide the tank into part land and then sloping into deep water. That way they can have their choice of where they want to be and I can get the Archer fish I have always wanted also.  I want to make an area with mud or fine sand for them to dig in also.  The tank is 75 gal. so I will be able to be real creative with that.  I am so excited.   <Boy, I'm excited for you & your mudskippers!  Sounds like they're going to have a great life.  The skippers & archers both will like to eat crickets.  75g is a good size for 5 of them.  Usually 1 male will be the "alpha" skipper.>     Thanks again for your great site and info... God Bless :*) Lee Ann Hightower <Thanks for the links.  Enjoy your new friends. ~PP>

Sexual Dimorphism in Mudskippers? (10/28/03) Do you know the difference between a male and a female mud skipper? thank you, Miranda <I see mudskippers so rarely that I haven't had an opportunity to stare at a bunch of them and try to figure that out. But I can tell you what I've found on knight gobies, which are related: on the male, the second dorsal fin is significantly longer, and the rays on the first dorsal are somewhat longer. When the male is courting the female, his fins get noticeably darker. When the female is egg-heavy, she gets rather tadpole-shaped, and you can see her ovipositor, which is rounded on the end. The male's papilla, when visible, is more pointed than the female's ovipositor. Another thing you may see in a mudskipper that isn't applicable to knight gobies: the different species have color bands on the dorsals. I would guess that those will be brighter in the male than in the female. If any of this helps, please do let me know, so I know what to look for when I eventually get my own mudskippers! Thanks.... --Ananda>

Tropical Freshwater System... Hello Team, <Hello> I have a 90cm, 36" tropical freshwater planted aquarium with significant rock & woodwork that has been running smoothly with an undergravel filtration system for going on a month now. Next week I plan to introduce the first of my inhabitants, likely to be a Silver Shark at this point. <I would consider something other than the silver shark.  These fish will grow to 13in> I am planning on a peaceful, mixed community which will hold the likes of neon & Amazonian glowlight tetras, bronze catfish, striped loaches, rams, & various other peaceful community fish such as guppies & the like. <Sounds good, minus the guppies, these live bearers prefer hard alkaline water and the tetras do not.> I was wondering, would it be safe to introduce any freshwater crustaceans or invertebrates, such as small crabs or yabbies? <maybe some japonica or ghost shrimp, crabs do not like to stay in the tank and would be more than happy to snack on small fish.> Common sense tells me no, but I just adore the mixed fish-invertebrate marine systems & was hoping to acquire a similar affect throughout a tropical enclosure. Also, I am thinking of creating a mudskipper tank. Would half-water, half-land be advisable? That tank would likely be closer to 150cm, or  60" in length. Would this be sufficient, & do the skippers require fresh or saltwater? <I do not have any experience with mud skippers, their is a tiny bit of info on our site http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudskipfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mudskippers.htm looks like they "Live in brackish; mangrove and mudflat regions from Africa to Samoa." I would start with a search on google.com to see what info you can find on mudskipper husbandry.  -Gage> Much appreciated, MDC.

Mudskippers mudskippers mudskippers! Aaah, I wanted to buy a mudskipper because I am thinking of setting up a tank that is half land and half water and at once, the fish/reptile thingy, mudskipper came to mind, I was wondering if you had any advice on mudskippers, or if you knew a site that sold them. please e-mail me back soon. <Will add a piece on the family, Periophthalmidae soon... wrote a couple of survey pieces on/for brackish water while on holiday last week... Do you have access to a collection of hobby magazines (a club, college library?)... there have been some excellent survey articles on mudskippers the last few years. Keep an eye on WetWebMedia.com and if I don't get to them, please remind me. Bob Fenner> Steven

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: