Keeping Mudskippers

Common Name: Mudskipper
Latin Name: Periophthalmus barbarus
Origin: India, West Africa, Australia, and other areas with mangrove swamps
Temperature: 80 °F (27°C)
Ease Of Keeping: If needs are met quite hardy
Aggressivness: Agressive, best kept in a species tank
Adult Size: 4.5 inches (11cm) to nearly 12 inches (30cm)
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Feeding: Frozen food, or live crickets.
Spawning Method: Mudskippers have yet to be bred in captivity

Mudskippers are brackish fish that originat from Mangrove swamps. They are unique fish because they have the ability to come out of the water onto land where they can “sun-bathe” for about 90% of their time, breathing through lung-like gills that retain water for a period of time. Not only are mudskippers able to come out of water, they need to come out of water or they will drown.

The best set up for these fish is an aquarium where one-third to one-half of the tanke is filled with water while the rest of the tank is has a beach-like area, or other stucture that emerge from the water. In all land areas make sure that they don’t contain any sharp objects which could easily pierce the ‘skippers fleshy belly.

Mudskippers are odd looking fish. They’re bug-eyed with a pair of pectoral fins that serve as legs out of water. On their back they have a beautiful fin that they raise when warning others about territory.

In my experience with these guys, I was never able to get them to eat from within the water. They always came out of water to eat, and I’d place defrosted bloodworms, krill, and a variety of other food material including crickets, which they avidly consumed. The one time I tried to feed them guppies, the mudskipper grabbed them (killed them) and spit them right back out. If you decide to feed them mealworms, caution must be taken to make sure that the mealworm are dead before being served. From what I’ve heard live mealworms, when eaten whole, are able to eat through the stomach of the fish, killing the fish. All in all, these fish ARE carnivorous and will not survive on flake or freeze dryed foods. Those dry foods should make up a SMALL percentage of their diet

While these fish are territorial. They seem to enjoy each others company, and will be quite peaceful, as long as enough space is given to each fish. In fact to prevent disruption, as many different spaces above water should be provided as possible having at least two times as many perching spots abover water as there are fish. If over agressive behavior does occur, it can usually be remidied by providing more spaces. A good rule of thumb is to give about ten gallons of tank space per fish (so a 30 gallon could acommodate three fish)

Because of this fish’s special requirements, they are best care for in a species tank, unless the tank is large enough to suitably accomodate other brackish fish or crabs. (A word of warning, fiddler crabs and mudskippers are often found nativly in the same habitat, and mudskippers are known to consume small crabs, so make sure you a good sized crab)

When I kept these amazing fish, I had a 30 gallon tank filled half way with water. The temperature was set at a toasty 82 degrees producing lots of humidity for the mudskippers. for the land areas, I used a large piece of wood that sat on the bottom of the tanks, and emerged from the water. I also used several suction-cup platforms, that were designed for turtle tanks, but worked perfectly in this set up. I also used several pieces of untreated- fish safe wood, that just floated around like little rafts. Finally, I added about a tablespoon of salt to each gallon when I performed water changes. The mudskippers I kept were expected to grow to about 4.5 inches, but, within the two years that i kept them, they grew to 8 inches! While I kept these guys during that time, none of them died. In the end I had to sell them back to the LFS because I was moving across the country.

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