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Goby Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

goby care sheet

This care sheet covers a variety of goby species, including:

  • Yellow watchman goby
  • Clown goby
  • Diamond watchman goby
  • Rainford’s goby
  • Neon goby
  • Tiger watchman goby
  • Yasha goby
  • Sleeper goby



Scientific names: Crytocentrus cinctus, Gobiodon citrinus, Valenciennea puellaris, Koumansetta rainfordi, Elactinus oceanops, Valenciennea wardii, Stonogobiops yasha, Valenciennea strigata


Gobies are part of the largest fish families and are comprised of some of the smallest vertebrates, like the dwarf pygmy goby. One unique trait of gobies is that their pelvic fin has formed into something like a suction cup, which helps secure them onto rocks. Some gobies have a symbiotic relationship with some species of shrimp.


Typical appearance and behavior

  • Have a fused pelvic fin that acts like a suction cup
  • Gobies can change gender from male to female and female to male
  • Most gobies are bottom dwellers
  • The neon goby, aka “cleaner goby,” helps remove parasites from larger fish
  • Yasha gobies are well known for their symbiotic relationship with some species of pistol shrimp
  • Some goby species spend their day sifting through sand and creating borrows



Care Difficulty Intermediate to advanced, depending on species
Average Life Span Up to 10+ years with proper care, depending on the species
Average Adult Size .35-11 inches, depending on the species
Diet Omnivore or carnivore, depending on the species
Minimum Habitat Size 10+ gallons, depending on the species
Water Temperature 74–80°F
Specific Gravity 1.020–1.025



Habitat size

Keep gobies in an appropriately sized aquarium. A minimum of 10 gallons, depending on the adult size of the species, is recommended.


Building your habitat

Water health -

Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health. Low, moderate to strong water circulation should be provided to mimic water currents and high oxygen levels found in the goby’s natural habitat. Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing. The addition of a protein skimmer can aid with maintaining great water quality and high dissolved oxygen levels. An aquatic heater should be used to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than +/-2 degrees in a 24-hour period. The specific gravity should remain stable. Do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than +/-0.001 in a 24-hour period

Décor – Live rock can provide places to hide as well as a natural food source while also enhancing biological filtration


What do gobies eat?

A well-balanced goby diet consists of:

  • Small crustaceans known as copepods, amphipods, ostracods and polychaete worms
  • Live baby brine shrimp called artemia
  • Pellets, flakes and freeze-dried or frozen brine shrimp or mysis shrimp
  • A varied diet will help ensure proper nutritional balance


Things to remember when feeding your goby:

  • Feed them small amounts two to three times daily, no more than they will eat in 1 to 2 minutes
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding


Goby care

Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your gobies healthy

  • Daily: Check filter, water temperature and other equipment
  • Weekly: Test water quality at least once a week
  • Weekly to monthly: Change 10 to 25% of the total volume of water every two to four weeks or as needed; change filter media monthly

Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and disease


Where to buy a goby

Various gobies are available for purchase at Petco online and in store; availability varies by location. If visiting your local Petco Pet Care Center location, please call ahead to check availability.




Tank mates

Gobies can be very territorial toward their own species unless a mated pair

  • Dwarf angelfish
  • Large angelfish
  • Blennies
  • Clownfish
  • Dartfish
  • Filefish
  • Foxface/rabbitfish
  • Wrasse
  • Damselsfish
  • Dragonets



Signs of a healthy fish

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite
  • Bright, even coloring
  • Fins completely intact and undamaged
  • Free of parasites or disease


Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian.)

  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • Listlessness
  • Erratic swimming
  • Labored breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Cloudy eyes or pop-eye
  • Frayed fins
  • Bloating


Common health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueFin rot Symptoms or CausesFrayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueMarine ich or marine velvet Symptoms or CausesCysts on fins, gills and skin; rapid breathing; excess skin mucus or pale skin; fish rubs against hard objects or swims erratically. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish immediately and use a commercial parasite remedy; complete a water change, freshwater dips can help dislodge the parasites; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueBacterial infections Symptoms or CausesCloudy eyes, open sores and/or reddening of the skin. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; add freshwater aquarium salt; use a commercial antibacterial remedy as directed; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment
Health IssueViral infection (lymphocystis) Symptoms or CausesWhite nodule growths on fins or body. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.



  • What do goby fish eat? Gobies will feed on small crustaceans and can also be fed a variety of foods such as flakes, pellets, freeze-dried or frozen brine and mysis shrimp.
  • How long do goby fish live? Gobies can live up to 10 years with proper care.


Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as atypical mycobacterium and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about aquatic life and disease.


The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.