There are at least six different families in the suborder Gobioidei with close to three hundred genera and over 2,000 species described to date. Most are tropical marine fish, live on the bottom and are very small (one of the world’s smallest fish, Trimmatom nanus, is from the family Gobiidae, although the smallest described species in from the family Schindleriidae). Gobies are personable and interesting to watch, especially those species that live in symbiotic relationships with invertebrates. Most are territorial, although keeping pairs or small groupings in an aquarium are appropriate for some species. Generally they are elongate with blunt heads and high-set eyes-somewhat blenny-like. Gobies can readily be differentiated from blennies, however, by their dorsal fin-many gobies have two, blennies only have one. Also gobies have pelvic fins that are fused to create a sort of suction cup apparatus. One note of caution when choosing a goby, beware that there are many fish sold as gobies that are not gobies at all. Most notably, the dragonets are often sold under the common name goby, but they are not actually gobies, and their requirements are really quite different.
The favorites in the hobby from the family Gobiidae are generally considered to be 1) the goby-shrimp symbionts, 2) the so-called clown gobies, and 3) the neon or cleaner gobies. All of the species discussed here, given the right environment and diet, can do quite well in the home aquarium. While there are certainly other gobies to consider, this is too large a family to deal with comprehensively in a short article. The aquarist who decides to explore beyond the species in the genera mentioned here should make sure 1) that the goby is actually a goby instead a fish that is only nominally a goby, and 2) to do his or her homework regarding habitat requirements and dietary needs for the specific fish being considered.
Symbiont Gobies from the Genera Amblyeleotris, Cryptocentrus and Stonogobius
Many people have a goby-shrimp symbiont pair as the centerpiece of their aquarium, and most agree this can be one of the more interesting displays in the hobby (right up there with the clownfish-anemone display). While many gobies will escolhasegura establish symbiotic relationships with a variety of invertebrates ranging from urchins to sponges, the goby-shrimp symbiont species in the genera Amblyeleotris, Cryptocentrus and Stonogobius are among the best known and most readily available in the hobby.
There are 13 species of digging gobies from the genus Amblyeleotris, and many of them make excellent additions to the home aquarium so long as that aquarium is well-established, has a sandbed of at least two inches and, preferably, has a refugium as part of the overall system. These gobies eat continually in the wild, and they do best in an aquarium with well-established populations of pods and filamentous algae. The most common cause of captive losses is starvation. All tanks with gobies should be covered, as all gobies are prone to jumping to their death. Most will adapt to a captive diet of meaty foods including frozen mysis shrimp, raw table shrimp and other commercially prepared frozen foods, pellets and flakes. A real favorite of this genus is the Randall’s Shrimp Goby (A. randalli), which is one of the fanciest in the entire goby family. It is an excellent aquarium fish, especially if paired with a Pistol Shrimp from the genus Alpheus.
The genus Cryptocentrus is made up of 22 species including the colorful and personable Bluespotted Watchman Goby (Cryptocentrus pavoninoides). This fish has two color phases-one being the more popular orange with blue spots and the other being a drab albeit still attractive) olive with blue spots. The Bluespotted Watchman Goby pairs easily with Pistol Shrimp in a well-established system with at least a two-inch sand bed.