These fishes belong in the Order Perciformes and Suborder Gobioidei, as members of the Family Gobiidae (Gobies). It has a total of 5 subfamilies, over 200 genera and over 2000 species.
The largest group of aquarium fishes and having many species that fit extremely well in reef aquarium environments. Many are small, easy to maintain, generally feed on zooplankton and benthic crustaceans and/or take a variety of common aquarium foods. They are also quite interesting to watch, besides being peaceful and fairly inexpensive. Often, they are confused with blennies, but blennies have one dorsal fin and gobies have two.
Some of the genera have broad reaching common traits, such as the following;
These are called prawn gobies and frequently live in symbiosis with prawns/shrimp.
This genus has members that spend most of their time hovering in the water column. Mostly omnivores, they feed upon both algae and plankton/benthic invertebrate. Some are quite hardy and make good beginner fish, while others are troublesome and require dedication and experience if they are to survive.
Those in this genus live on certain forms of branching corals/sea whips and gorgonians in shallow lagoons. Difficult or near impossible to maintain in captivity.
These are often called neon gobies, however only one is technically called the Neon Goby. They primarily live on rocks and set up cleaning stations where they pick off external parasites on the visitors to their areas. The genus Elacatinus was originally classified as a sub-genus of Gobiosoma, however was elevated to full genus status about 1990.
Often called coral or clown gobies, these small gobies are often found among the branches of stony corals. There are at least 16 named species, and their natural diet consists of benthic organisms, e.g., copepods, foraminiferans along with coral mucus and tissue. Because of their small size and their association in the wild with stony corals, it is probably better to maintain them in a small aquarium with some sps corals. They will quarrel with members of their own species and genus, therefore, one per aquarium unless it's a very large aquarium with numerous coral heads. Unfortunately they are prone to Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans).
The five species in this genus can be identified from the 'Gobiodons' because they lack any major degree of lateral compression and have remarkable beard-like bumps and projections on the head. Due to the infrequent availability of these gobies there has been little written about their suitability in marine aquaria. Given their similarity in terms of the habitat they occupy to Gobiodon spp. it is likely that they will do as well in captivity provided enough food is available to them and especially in the presence of their host SPS corals. My own experience with the genus Paragobiodon centers around two species. I found that they were quite hardy although they could be difficult to induce to feed. Due to their relatively small size upon import they can be fed live brine shrimp nauplii if they refuse any larger frozen foods. Species form either monogamous pairs or male dominated harems and although breeding reports are scarce this is probably more to do with the lack of hobbyists keeping them than their reluctance to spawn. Given that these species do not occupy Acropora sp. SPS corals in their natural environment they would make excellent gobies in addition to Gobiodon spp. for an aquarium that is home to a variety of such corals. - Tristan Lougher
This genus contains one species of interest, the burrow creating S. biocellatus. It uses its mouth to carry away sand and rubble, thereby creating a home in the sediment. Usually observed in pairs in the wild where it feeds by taking large amounts of sand in its mouth and sifting out benthic invertebrates. Very difficult to maintain in the home aquarium, as most slowly starve to death.
These fishes are burrow dwellers, and will normally seek protection under low overhanging rocks or actually burrow underneath rock to form a secure home and/or live in symbiosis with prawns/shrimp.
This genus consists of 39 identified species, with many still waiting to be identified. All are quite small, i.e., less than two inches (5 cm) in length. One male usually dominates a group, with all others being females. If the male dies, one of the females will become a male. Should a larger, stronger male become the leader of the group, the less dominant male will return to being a female. And do so quickly, sometimes in as little as four days! All species are peaceful and in the wild feed upon zooplankton and benthic invertebrates. In the aquarium, they will accept meaty foods such as brine shrimp and mysis shrimp. They are perfect inhabitants for small nano reef systems.
Those in this genus are usually called 'Sleeper Gobies' and come highly recommended as sand shifters. Even though they have scoop-like jaws, they are often short lived unless kept as a mated pair. Most sold in pet stores are males, and finding a female is almost impossible. They feed mostly on tiny crustaceans and worms, and the species V. strigata may eat small fishes, such as Neon Gobies. These fishes are burrow dwellers, and will normally seek protection under low overhanging rocks or actually burrow underneath rock to from a secure home. Often, in the wild, their burrows will be occupied with juveniles from the surgeonfish family. They should be housed in aquariums with a sandbed of at least two inches in depth and not housed with aggressive fishes such as groupers, dottybacks, triggerfishes or aggressive angelfishes. Usually, they stave to death in closed systems unless there is few competitors for their food supply, or may simply jump out of the aquarium.
There are many other genera than those few mentioned above, therefore, explore those listed below.
Please click on the species you are interested in viewing.
Suitable for Reef Aquariums
NOT Suitable for Reef Aquariums
Suitable for Fish-Only Aquariums
NOT Suitable for Fish-Only Aquariums
Avoid this nuisance species!