Goby Fish: Complete Guide to Care, Breeding, Tank Size and Disease

Goby Fish Overview

The Goby Fish belongs to a very large fish family (Gobiidae) that comprises over two thousand distinct species. There are a variety of gobies that inhabit marine waters as well those that inhabit fresh and brackish waters.

Gobies typically have small bodies that are shaped like a torpedo and can easily be distinguished by the morphed pelvic fins they have. Goby fish also have a tendency to get attached to aquarium tank walls or the décor there. The fish is capable of attaching themselves to the walls of the tank by way of the sucker that they have.

While there are fresh and brackish water goby species they are not usually as many as the marine water variety. It is interesting though to note that the freshwater varieties of goby fish are usually well adapted for a wide range of habitats including the captive habitat. It was not until recently that the freshwater varieties of the goby fish were discovered and finally introduced into the aquarium hobby.

Information ChartGoby Fish
Scientific Name: Gobiidae
Family: Oxudercinae
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful
Color: Black and yellow stripes
Lifespan: Up to 3 years
Size: Up to 1.5 inches
Diet: Carnivore; live/frozen foods
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Temperature: 73 and 85°F
Water: Freshwater, Marine water
Tank Mate Compatibility: Small peaceful fish or a single-species setup

Goby Fish Appearance

Goby Fish

The Gobies generally have relatively small and tapered bodies with big heads. Many fishes from the goby family exhibit fused pelvic fins, thus forming a structure beneath them that looks like a suction cup. Interestingly, the fish typically uses this suction cup-like structure to attach themselves to ocean rocks and avoid being swept away by the currents in the ocean.

Several varieties of goby fish species exist, which makes it uneasy to define each of its appearances categorically. Such a description will be a generalist to help give the reader a general idea of what this looks like.

Varieties Of Goby Fish

Marbled Sleeper Goby

This fish is unique and valued both as an addition to the aquarium and a popular delicacy worldwide. Originated in South America, they can grow to around 2 feet long. As they can grow so long, you may need to use a large tank, 200 gallons. They are predatory and territorial fish. These fish are quite adaptable in terms of water chemistry, meaning you can keep them both in brackish and freshwater. They eat pellets, earthworms, fish, and shrimp.

Cobalt Goby

This attractive Goby fish is perfect for your home fish tank. They grow only a few inches, and males come with beautiful neon markings on the body. They are native to Indonesia. They feed on bacteria and algae.

Knight Goby

These fishes can grow up to 3 to 4 inches, and they love to inhabit brackish waters, such as tidal zones or estuaries. So, to keep them, you need to create a brackish aquarium environment. They look amazing with grey and blue coloration accompanied by a few dark spots on their bodies. Male knight gobies have longer fins compared to females. They can easily adapt to varying temperatures, provided that a suitable pH range is maintained, up to 7.5 to 8.0. Their diet commonly consists of live foods.

Bumblebee Goby

They belong to the group of Brachygobius Genus with the black and yellow color combination, also known as Golden Banded Goby. These Gobies are very small and can grow up to 2 inches. They love to live in a brackish environment, and the water temperature should be between 75 to 85-degree F. They tend to live up to 5 years if provided with proper care.

White-Cheeked Goby

These Gobies live in brackish as well as freshwater. The maximum growth size is 2 inches, and they are also called the Dwarf Dragon Goby. They prefer low water temperature. Speaking about their diet, they feed on meaty and small food. They don’t like pellets or flakes.

Lifespan Of Goby Fish

As per the experts, the lifespan of Gobies spans from three to four years, provided you offer them good care and a proper tank set up to keep them healthy for such a long time.

The lifespan of your Gobies’ is influenced by stress, predation, feeding habits, water conditions, etc. Improper aquarium setup is also a major setback for these creatures.

For instance, if the tank lid is not properly closed, they can jump out of the tank due to the fish’s darting nature. They do this whenever they feel spooked.

As per some aquarists, this is the major reason behind the death of several Goby fishes. So, keep these things in mind and take proper care of your fish so they roam around in the tank for long.

Goby Fish Size

Most adult Goby fishes grow up from 4-inches, i.e., up to 10cm long to 10-inches which is around 24.5cm. Male gobies surpass the female gobies in size.

Natural Habitat and Origin

This fish generally inhabits the coast, mostly in tropical and warmer temperate regions. Many fish are marine inhabitants, but other varieties inhabit fresh and brackish waters. The Gobies exist in different parts of the world, including East Asia, the Pacific Ocean, and even the American waters.

Goby Fish Care & Tank Setup

Goby Fish Tank Size And Specifications

Gobies generally don’t grow long; therefore, you will not need a large tank. A small tank will readily do as long as you have kept the tank requirements as per the experts. As per the experts, Goby fish can do fine in a 10-gallon fish tank. As they are small, you can easily keep a lot of fish in a tank.


As these fish species are bottom-dwellers, you should use smaller particles as tank substrate to provide them with a comfortable living space. That means using a sandy substrate will work great for them.

You can find them playing and digging in the sand to look for food. However, if you want to use plants in your aquarium, use a soil-based substrate, Fluval Stratum. Using this, you can offer the plants all the required nutrients and keep your fish happy.

How Many Goby Fish in an X gallon tank?

Mostly around 10-15 tiger shrimps are suitable for a 30-gallon tank.

Water Parameters For Goby Fish

Another good characteristic of the fish is that they are hardy and will survive in various water conditions. Poor water condition here doesn’t imply offering them poor care. If you care for it properly it can live up to ten years!

For an up-close of the tank requirements for the Goby Fish and general care, please continue reading below:

Water Temperature

When using an aquarium thermometer, the ideal water temperature is 73 and 85°F; when using an aquarium thermometer.

pH Level

You can regulate the pH of the water between 7 and 8.5.

Water Hardness

You can maintain the water hardness between 9 – 18dH

Avoid keeping this fish with aggressive fish in a community tank. They are slow swimmers and can easily become a meal for large fish. Because gobies prefer residing on the bottom parts even in the wild, providing them with a softer substrate is best. The fish can easily dig holes in the substrate where they can hide when feeling threatened.

Gobies are usually peaceful, but this doesn’t mean that they can sometimes turn territorial and even aggressive against other fish. Therefore, if you plan to host more gobies in the same tank, it will be best to have a bigger tank.

For the marine type of Goby, providing a marine environment such as a coral reef where they can easily hide when being chased around is good. Have a quality water filter or skimmer installed in the tank to help keep the water quality great and healthy for the fish. You can provide some rocks in the aquarium as these will help to replicate nature for the fish.

So, the important parameters to keep an eye on are: 

  • Water Salinity- 1.002 to 1.007 salt grade
  • pH levels- 7 to 8.5
  • Water temperature-  Should be between 73 to 85-degree F
  • Water hardness- 9 to 18 DKH

Goby Fish Tank Landscape

Best Plants For Goby Fish Tank

As long as the plants are properly anchored and clean, you can go for artificial and live plants. Apart from the decorations, plants can also offer them hiding spots. If you are looking for some easy to use and take care aquarium plants for your gobies, then here are some options that you can try: 

● Rotala Rotundifolia
● Java Moss
● Java Fern
● Anubias
● African Water Fern
● Hygrophila

While buying plants, you should remember that most aquarium plants can only thrive in freshwater.

By keeping the Salinity of the tank to around 1.002 SG, you may be able to grow the plants mentioned above. If you get higher, fewer plants will be able to survive in the tank. Well, if you want to add plants, you may need to skip the process of making your tank brackish.

Decorations For Goby Fish Tank

Goby fish species are aesthetically pleasing fish to watch in a well-developed fish tank but remember that they require a lot of space to hide. By adding some caves and rocks to your aquarium, you can make your Gobies feel comfortable in a community fish tank. 

There is no such rule that you should always use store-bought decorations. You can use terracotta pots with holes on the front side, which works great for them. As long as your gobies have caves and decorations to hide when they get scared, they will remain happy.

So, even if you don’t have a fish tank and locate any fish-safe aquarium decorations, you can still utilize them. Just use your imaginations and create sufficient hiding places but make sure that the things you are adding to the tank are safe for your fish.

Nitrogen requirements for Goby Fish tank?

When it comes to creating a healthy aquarium, you need to understand the process of the nitrogen cycle and how it can affect the health of your Goby fish. In general, the process includes four major steps. 

  • The first step here is the decay of different waste products of invertebrates, plants, and fish. It may also include uneaten food and dead organism. All these materials create ammonia. Remember that a lower level of ammonia can burn your fish’s gills.
  • A bacterial named Nitrosomonas, consume this and created another chemical called nitrite. Even though this is a little toxic, fish can easily withstand 2x the amount of nitrite.
  • In the next process, Nitrobacter consumes nitrate and produces nitrate chemicals. 
  • In the end, you need to dilute nitrate to keep a perfect living space for your Goby fish.

Feeding Goby Fish

Best Diet for Goby Fish

Goby fish are predatory fish that will eat both plants and animals. Feeding your fish pellets, artificial food, and live foods. Some of the common foods you can offer include; daphnia, live brine shrimp, blood worms, and Cyclops.

Dried foods are not good for goby fish. Pellet and flakes should be ignored. These are less nutritious and they should be the primary component of your goby’s fish diet. As these are carnivores, they need protein-rich and nutritious foods. They love to consume frozen or live foods. 

While some may show different individual preferences, some may consume the food that others don’t, for example, dried foods. 

You can also feed them live Tubifex, which they will eat graciously. If you wish to feed them frozen food, ensure a slight current in the tank to slightly move the food in the water. Because they may not eat food offered to them that appears still. Gobies are very funny in their feeding habits, and for goby fry, you can offer live or frozen cichlid.

How Often Should You Feed Your Goby Fish?

You can feed them small amounts a couple of times every day. First, you can offer food twice a day and see how that works on their digestive system. If there is food left over in the tank, then that means you are overfeeding them. Once you have a healthy diet and schedule sorted, feeding them will not be a challenging task for you.

Goby Fish Behavior And Temperament

Experts say these are generally bottom-dwelling fish, and they love to spend most of their time swimming across the tank’s substrate and eating up any food they find. When you first put them into your fish tank, they may behave slightly shy. But gradually, they will get more confident once they get used to the environment and they can make their territory.

Goby fish are very peaceful. However, sometimes male Goby can demonstrate signs of aggressiveness towards each other. You don’t have to worry about this as this is a territorial natter. You can find them chasing each other, which doesn’t cause serious injuries. They prefer to hide instead of fight. So, while setting up the tank, don’t forget to create sufficient hiding spaces for them.

Are Goby Fish lone or societal in nature?

Gobies are very social, and they love being around other fishes of their species and interacting with each other. Please don’t keep your Gobies on their own. Some fishes prefer swimming together in a group, but sometimes they prefer to spend time alone.

Goby Fish Tank Mates

Finding sufficient tankmates for your Gobies Can be a very challenging task, and this is due to their brackish water requirements. Even though their temperament is not a big issue, you will have to choose species that will not lead to any compatible issues. 

On the other hand, as they are small-sized fish, they can be an easy target for large-sized species. Other fish living in the tank will compete for the food. And as they are small, they will lose the battles.

Most aquarists prefer to keep their Gobies in a single tank with a similar species. You can make a small group of gobies in a 10-to-20-gallon tank. You can also keep around 5 to 7 Gobies together.

Male Gobies can display aggression while they defend their territory or mates. But their fighting is harmless.

Mollies, Longnose Hawkfish, and Guppies can be peaceful and good tank mate options for your Goby. You can also keep shrimps with them in a tank. As per the experts, invertebrates can also be a good option.
You can go for the Amano Shrimp, or you can also keep snails such as Nerite Snails. You should use large shrimp to ensure that your gobies don’t consider them food. Keeping cherry shrimp and goby fish together is not a good idea.

Breeding Goby Fish

If there is any complicated fish to breed in the home aquarium, it is the Gobies. These fish usually depend on certain specific changes to the water parameters to be able to spawn successfully. If you attempt to breed the fish in your home aquarium, it is best to place them in a tank with lots of caves or hiding places. Keeping one Goby male fish with at least three females is best for best results.

It is the male that usually initiates breeding amongst the goby fish. The male typically entices the females to enter a spawning area, usually under a cave. The female will follow the male and lay her eggs in that place, and the male will finally fertilize the eggs.

Encouraging Your Gobies To Breed

When the Gobies are getting ready for breeding, you may notice swelling near the belly area of the female Goby fish swelling. Don’t worry, as there’s nothing wrong with your Gobies. These are just eggs.

But they don’t prefer to lay the eggs just anywhere. Females look for a safe place to lay eggs. And this is where the areas that the male Gobies have been protecting for a long time.

To encourage them to begin matting, you need to add some freshwater into the aquarium to simulate a rainy environment. It will make the water feel less brackish, and the fish will think it is breeding time.

To breed, the male Goby will attract and then escort the female Goby to the cave or his areas where she can lay the eggs. Once laid, it is the responsibility of the male Goby to fertilize them. He will protect the eggs for the next five to nine days. 

Once they reach their maturity, you can find the difference between a male and female Goby.

For instance, females appear dull, but the male Gobies will look brighter. The males will develop brighter colors during the breeding time to attract females. 

Goby Fish Common Diseases And Their Treatment

Anchor Worms

Anchor worms are not regular worms; they are large parasitic crustaceans and can live off dead fish. These parasites will attach to the skin of your fish and then penetrate their heads into the muscular regions of the fish. There could be red and irritated indicators on the fish. If you look closely, you can also see the parasites. They look like an agreed thread. Besides, you can observe that your fish rubs its body against the rocky objects when it happens. You should clean the entire tank and add fresh water to treat this condition. You can also use available ready-made solutions to kill these parasites without affecting biological filtration. 

Mouth Fungus

Near your fish’s mouth, you can notice little white patches. The Bacterium Chondrococcus Columnaris causes mouth fungus. You can see a white or grey around the lips in the early stages. As moth fungus can produce toxins, this can be fatal for your fish. Well, this disease is treatable. To treat it, you can use 10000 units of Penicillin per litter. Within two days, you need to give the second dose. Besides, you can also use Chloromycetin. 10 to 15 mg of this solution per litter will work well.

Bacterial Infections

Your Gobies can suffer from bacterial infections. It generally happens when your fish has an injured part. One of the most common bacteria for your Gobies is Aeromonas salmonicida. Another major reason behind bacterial infection is poor diet and water quality in your aquarium. Some common symptoms of bacterial infection are Enlarged eyes, ulcers on gills, red spots on the body, and swollen abdomen. Consult your vet, and he can suggest some antibiotics to treat the bacteria. You can easily buy them online or from local aquarium shops. While treating, prefer to transfer the affected fish to a quarantine tank.

Fin And Tail Rot

The common symptom is disintegrating fins or tails. Sometimes, you can find blood on the fins’ edges, and the base of the fins will have reddened areas. If the water condition is not good, this causes a small injury to the tail or fins. To treat this condition, you can use different antibiotics, for example, tetracycline or Chloromycetin.

Facts about Goby Fish

Gobies, especially the Bumblebee Gobies, can behave aggressively when you keep them in a community fish tank without the same species. Well, you can lower the aggression by adding some same species to the tank so that they can hang around together. They love to swim together in school.

These fish species don’t come with any swim bladders like other fish species. That’s why they spend most of the time at the bottom of the aquarium. Besides, they can’t also come up as fast as other fish. 

Gobies are one of the smallest yet most beautiful freshwater species, and they can reach a length of three to four inches. 

While some species of Gobies love to live in saltwater, only a few species, for example, Bumblebee Gobies, thrive in brackish water. Some can easily survive in freshwater. But to offer them a perfect and comfortable living environment, you should always add a small amount of salt to the water. 

In their wild habitat, the rain triggers breeding among Gobies. As the water turns less brackish in their natural habitats, they become encouraged to look out for a safe place to lay the eggs.

These species originally originated from the various brackish rivers and streams found in different areas like Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Are Goby Fish Right for You?

Well, now you should have an idea as to whether these lovely creatures are good for you or not. You will initially face some challenges that you will have to overcome. But once your fish tank is up and functioning properly, the fish care experience will be easier for you.

Before buying your Gobies, you should complete their tank setup and diet plan. It will be a lot easier if you have completed your research. After that, you need to keep the tank clean, and don’t forget to taste the aquarium water regularly. This way, you can keep them healthy for a long time.

Your efforts are not going to be in vain. These are gorgeous fish and spend their time moving around in the tank. If you think you can take good care of them and are ready to handle the tank maintenance task, don’t think much and get them now.


Is Keeping One Goby In A Tank A Good Idea?

Yes, you can. As these fish species are small, they always lose battles with other species. That’s why people prefer to keep them in a single-species aquarium. But don’t keep just one Goby in a tank as this can lead to stress. You can create a community of multiple Gobies. Just make sure that you are using around a 20-gallon tank for 7 to 8 Gobies.

How Do You Take Care Of Your Goby Fish?

Instead of other fish, you must keep Goby fish with other same-sized freshwater species. They prefer fast-moving water, and the oxygen level should be at the required level. Besides, you will have to change the tank water frequently to keep them happy. They can feed on bacteria and algae. So, make sure your Gobies’ diet is well-supplemented with vitamins and minerals.

What Species Are Compatible With Your Gobies?

If you have a perfect aquarium, the best tank mates will be medium brackish-water fish species. For example, you can go for Columbian shark catfish, scats, sailfin mollies, Datnioidesspp, and some aquarists also keep them with North American gars.


The Goby Fish belong to a very large fish family known as the Gobiidae. The majority of these fish species are known to inhabit marine tropical waters off the coasts of major continents. There are also freshwater varieties of fish known to inhabit areas where rivers or streams meet oceans.

1 thought on “Goby Fish: Complete Guide to Care, Breeding, Tank Size and Disease”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.