Published January 06, 2013
The goby is a species of marine fish belonging to the family Gobiidae which contains over 2,000 individual species. These fish are generally fairly small, some growing to a maximum size of 1 cm. Though most species in this family are small, some species can grow up to 1 foot in length, though it is rare. In the wild, these fish serve an important role acting as a prey species for commercial fish like cod, haddock and sea bass. Though gobies are not typically popular for human consumption, some species have become popular in the saltwater aquarium
trade. If you are looking for a unique species to add to your marine tank, consider introducing a species of goby!
Most gobies exhibit long, thin bodies with fused pelvic fins which form a disc-shaped sucker. This appendage is similar to that possessed by remoras and it is used to adhere to rocks and corals – in the home aquarium it may also be used to adhere to the glass walls of the tank. There are six subfamilies of goby, each containing a number of unique species. The subfamily Amblyopinae includes eel and worm gobies, those species which tend to dwell in mud and exhibit pink, red or purple coloration. The subfamily Gobionellinae includes about 370 species that can mostly be found in estuarine habitats throughout the tropical and temperate regions of the world. Members of the Gobiinae subfamily are referred to as “true gobies” and this subfamily is the most widespread and diverse of the goby subfamilies, containing around 2,000 different species.
Though gobies vary in size and coloration, most tend to inhabit shallow marine environments such as tide pools, coral reefs
and estuarine habitats such as salt marshes and mangrove swamps. Though some species have adapted to freshwater environments, most gobies are saltwater species. It is not uncommon for gobies to form symbiotic relationships with other marine species, particularly with burrowing shrimp. Some species, such as the neon goby, have also been known to act as cleaner fish, removing parasites from the skin of other species. In the aquarium trade, gobies are generally peaceful and make a great addition to the reef or fish-only aquarium. One thing to be aware of, however, is that these fish may jump out of the tank if it is not properly covered.
Tips for Goby Care
Tank size and parameters for gobies will vary according to the species. For the most part, however, gobies are fairly small and do not require a great deal of space. While most gobies are peaceful by nature, they may become territorial or aggressive toward others of their own species so if you plan to keep more than one goby in the same tank you may need to provide some extra space. Most gobies prefer shallow marine environments such as coral reefs, so it is wise to provide them with a tank environment that offers plenty of hiding places -- some gobies like to burrow so you may also want to provide sand or mud substrate to accommodate for this preference. Many gobies will accept a variety of commercial foods including flakes and pellets, but you should do some research to determine the nutritional needs
of the species you plan to keep. Some species, like the shrimp goby, are carnivorous and require more protein than other species. For the most part, a varied diet of commercial, live food
and frozen foods is sufficient.
Types of Gobies
Though there are over 2,000 recognized species of goby, not all of them are popular in the aquarium trade. Some of the most popular goby species among aquarium hobbyists include the bumblebee goby, the neon goby, the yellow clown goby and the shrimp goby. The bumblebee goby typically reaches a maximum size around 1 ? inches. These fish tend to inhabit the lower levels of the tank, preferring shallow water with a pH between 7.5 and 8.5 and a temperature between 75 and 86F. This species is named for its black and yellow striped coloration which is reminiscent of a bumblebee.
The neon goby is very small and slim, reaching an average length at maturity around 2 inches. These fish are easily recognized by the iridescent blue stripes which run lengthwise along their black bodies – they also have a bright white belly and may exhibit yellow striping instead of blue. This species is native to the western Atlantic and they make an excellent addition to the reef tank because they act as a cleaner fish, removing parasites from the bodies of larger fish. Neon gobies are generally peaceful by nature though they may become territorial with others of their own species.
The yellow clown goby is a small species, reaching a maximum length around 1 inches. These little fish are named for their bright yellow coloration and they are different from many other gobies in that they tend to live among corals rather than dwelling on the bottom of the tank. This species is easy to care for and is a great addition to the small reef tank – yellow clown gobies are hardy by nature and are a great species for beginners. Shrimp gobies are very colorful, having a white body with orange stripes and spots on the dorsal fin. These fish grow to a maximum size around 4 inches and are named for the symbiotic relationship they have been known to develop with shrimp in the wild. Shrimp gobies often share burrows with shrimp and they are generally peaceful toward other small species but may be aggressive with other bottom dwellers.
Marine gobies are a unique and attractive group of fishes – the perfect addition to any reef tank
or fish-only tank. If you are looking for a new species to cultivate in your saltwater tank, consider the goby!