Mudskippers can be found living in mangroves around tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world. However, they are mainly distributed around the Indo-Pacific and the Atlantic coast of Africa, particularly Nigeria.
The smaller species of Mudskippers will generally grow to lengths of around 9.5cm once fully adult, however some of the larger species can reach sizes of 15-20cm so it is important to check your particular species. The most common species in the exotic pet trade is the Atlantic Mudskipper which grows to around 6 inches long.
Most species of Mudskippers will live for approximately 5 years, however they have been known to reach ages of 8 years when cared for correctly in captivity.
As mentioned previously, Mudskippers have large bulging eyes which protrude from the top of their heads helping to give a good overall view of the world around them. The colour of Mudskippers can vary from species to species however most will be either olive or brown, often with blue, purple or orange speckles across their heads and bodies. All Mudskippers have two front fins which are used for both walking on land and for swimming under water, as well as two dorsal fins on their backs which are again used for swimming and as a visual show for when competing for territory/breeding rights.
A pair of Mudskippers could be housed in a 20 gallon aquarium (30x12x15) however they are quite territorial and will fight for space, so as with everything, the larger the tank the better. If you want to house more Mudskipper then you should be looking at increasing the size of the aquarium by 5-10 gallons per additional Mudskipper and ideally only house 1 male per tank. Since Mudskippers can spend 90% of their time out of water you will need to provide both water and land areas. Ideally 1/3 - 1/2 water and the rest land forming a beach-like structure. Ideally you should have 2 perching spots for each Mudskipper you keep, but must ensure that there are no pointed/jagged edges which can damage the soft underbelly of Mudskippers.
Mudskippers will do best if you maintain the temperature of the water between 26-28C (79-82F) and provide a low wattage bulb to slightly increase the temperature of a suitable basking spot above the surface of the water i.e. a piece of bark or protruding rocks.
Humidity is vitally important to Mudskippers, so a tight fitting lid is essential. This will help keep humidity high and prevent your pet Mudskipper from drying out which can quickly kill off your pet Mudskippers. However, in these warm, humid conditions fungus growth can become a problem so ventilation must be considered. Similar to housing amphibians, adequate ventilation must be provided.
The bottom of the aquarium should be lined with a layer of either sand or small pebbles or a mixture of both. This can then be designed to rise up out of the water and smoothing out to form a flat surface above the water. Alternatively you could use turtle docks to provide the land surface which won’t cut down on swimming space underneath.
Mudskippers are not fussy eaters and will eat a variety of meaty foods. Live food items such as bloodworms, blackworms, crickets, krill, shrimp, earthworms and mealworms can be fed, along with feeder/frozen fish such as silversides. Although they are a carnivorous species, they will accept prepared foods such as fish flakes and pellets, although we only recommend supplement their live food diet with fish flakes every once in a while.
Mudskippers require brackish water in which to live, which will need to be a minimum depth of 8-10 cm (3-4 inches), although most Mudskipper keepers fill the tank half full. Brackish water is a mixture between salt water and freshwater and is easy to make once you know how. You will require some marine salt (like Instant Ocean) and a hydrometer or refractometer to measure salinity. Simply add a tablespoon or two of salt to fresh water with each water change, and measure it and add until you've got the desired specific gravity. The range most often use for most species if between 1.005-1.0015. Mudskippers are not overly sensitive to salinity levels so anything between those figures will be fine.
Since Mudskippers are quite large and messy fish, an aquarium filter such as an external canister filter will be required to help keep the water clean and fresh. Luckily they are rather tolerant of pollution so you don’t need to be overly paranoid about ensuring you get the filtration spot on. A regular water change every 1-2 months should be sufficient.