Other Brackish Water Fish
The world's estuarine environments are home to thousands of fish species, many of which make interesting additions to the brackish water aquarium. In this section you will learn about a number of other species that can be kept by those interested in this fascinating aspect of the hobby.
This small (2 inches), orange and black striped fish is found throughout Southeast Asia, generally at the mouths of rivers. Eggs numbering 100 to 150 are laid in protected sites and are attended by the female. They hatch within four to five days at normal aquarium temperatures (75°F).
The pelvic fins of the bumblebee goby are fused and function almost like a suction cup. This adaptation is thought to allow the tiny fish to maintain its position in the fast flowing waters that it sometimes inhabits.
Bumblebee gobies do not swim so much as hop about the bottom of the aquarium. They are fairly slow feeders, rarely leaving the bottom in pursuit of food. As such, they do not compete well with aggressive fish. Bumblebee gobies will take prepared foods on occasion but prefer to feed upon live animals such as brine shrimp and black worms.
This fish is one of the larger species that may be maintained in brackish water aquariums. Commonly reaching 16 inches in length, the Siamese tigerfish is a powerful predator that will consume any animal that it can overpower. The body is attractively colored in yellowish brown with dark vertical bars. This coloration offers excellent camouflage in the weedy habitats that the tigerfish calls home.
Siamese tigerfish are found throughout Thailand, Borneo and Sumatra and do best when kept alone in heavily planted brackish water aquariums.
Always research the habitats of the fish that you keep. Many species that are commonly kept in marine aquariums, such as pufferfish, are actually more at home in estuarine environments and brackish water aquariums.
Halfbeaks are small (3 inches), thinly built fish that occur throughout Southeast Asia. They lived mainly at the surface of the water, where they prey upon tiny insects. Halfbeaks are native to areas of fluctuating salinity and therefore are best maintained in brackish water aquariums. They are live bearers, with healthy females giving birth every thirty days or so. Unfortunately, the adults are quite cannibalistic, and the young rarely survive. Breeding traps do not work well, as the birthing process takes several days and females become stressed by long confinement in small areas.
Halfbeaks tend to be quite picky feeders and will, in general, consume only tiny invertebrates such as mosquito larva, brine shrimp, and the like. They do not do well with other fish and should be housed in single species groups.
Betting parlors throughout Thailand, Malaysia, and the Sunda Islands feature matches pitting male halfbeaks, known also as “wrestling halfbeaks” against each other. Fights rarely result in any damage being done, and half-beaks kept in small groups coexist quite peaceably in the aquarium.
A number of pufferfish species are well-suited for life in brackish water aquariums. Most commonly offered in the pet trade are the green pufferfish,
Aquarium pufferfish belong to the same family as the famed Takifugu spp. of East Asia. The toxin they produce, known as Tetradotoxin, is more potent than cyanide. Although generally served only by trained chefs who remove the venomous portions of the fish, mistakes are made, and a number of adventurous diners die each year.
Pufferfish quickly endear themselves to their owners by their comical mode of swimming (the tail steers, while the pectoral fins propel them forward) and their extreme alertness. They definitely seem to exhibit individual personality traits, and their large, movable eyes give the impression of being quite expressive.
Pufferfish can hold their own quite well with larger fish but are rarely aggressive toward each other. They can be quite gluttonous, stuffing themselves until they are unable to swim and are forced to lie on the bottom of the tank (do not encourage this!). Although they prefer live and frozen foods, pufferfish readily consume flakes and pellets, and some species also take plants and algae tablets.