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FAQs on Violet Gobies Disease

Related Articles: There's a Dragon In My Tank! The bizarre and beautiful Dragon Goby By Jeni C. Tyrell,
Fresh to Brackish Gobioid Fishes

Related FAQs: Dragon/Violet Gobies 1, Dragon/Violet Gobies 2, & FAQs on: Dragon/Violet Gobies Identification, Dragon/Violet Gobies Behavior, Dragon/Violet Gobies Compatibility, Dragon/Violet Gobies Selection, Dragon/Violet Gobies Systems, Dragon/Violet Gobies Feeding, Dragon/Violet Gobies Reproduction, & Brackish Water Fishes in General

Dragon Goby super rapid gulping/breathing     8/9/12
Tank: I have a 39 gal tank that is a salty fresh water tank rather than a brackish water. I add in about 1or 2 rounded tablespoons of aquarium salt per gal. The water here in California is always very hard.
<But not brackish. That's the problem.>
Cleaning: I use a Mr. clean pad to clean inside walls of tank and to get algae off plastic plants. I sew my own filter bags and fill with charcoal bought in bulk (saves tons of money to sew your own!)
I vacuum the gravel-cleaning out about 1/3 of the water around once a month or if and when fish look stressed. I use 5 in 1 test strips and if I see pink in the top tab- I use ammonia treatment and vacuum the tank within a few days. I use the type of filter that hangs on the outside edge of the tank. It also has a 8" long air bubble strip.
Experience: 30 years of personal fish tanks with 8 years experience as a selective fish breeder. I created my own strain of miniature Albino Corey Catfish and a strain of extreme fan tail guppies. Raised about 12,000 for the local fish stores.(Hawaii) At that time I had 7 tanks. I had a Dragon Goby for 2 years while in Hawaii. He was my bad water alarm. He was very sensitive and reacted to water conditions going bad by swimming up at the top, taking breaths of air out of the water. 
<Is what they do; they are facultative air-breathers. In the estuaries where they live, they inhabit burrows. When the tide goes out they breathe air. They are very well adapted to this environment; it's a testimony to their inherent toughness that they survive for quite a while even in freshwater aquaria.>
My "stumpy" Corey. two adults with 2 baby. Adults average length 1" extreme  fantail.
Stock: 1- gray and 1- green/gray mature Cory Catfish, 1- 8" Dragon Goby,
<Does not belong here.>
7 Neon Tetra, 3 gold Tetra, 2-baby gold fish (2")  2 -looks like long fin tiger barbs, 2 silver fish the size of a half dollar that look like they are swimming upside down that stay at the top of the tank. 3 male guppy, 1- little water frog (2") and 1 Betta. that's 24 total- Sounds like a lot but the tank looks pretty empty because most are small.
Food: Tropical flake, Betta floating food, and once a week some green peas.(Dragon loves green peas. Most of the little bits of pea I cut are sucked into his mouth, he appears to chew them, then they come shooting out his gills!
Health issues: I set up the tank 6 months ago. I lost a baby Pleco (2") 3 Cory Catfish, 2 Puffer fish,
<What was a pufferfish doing here? What kind? Green Spotted Puffer?
Figure-8? Both kinds are brackish-water.>
1 tiger barb. Corey have had issues with what looks like fin rot- but doesn't cure with treatment.
<The "gravel" looks alarmingly sharp. My bet would be that the fish abrade themselves on the gravel, and sometimes bacterial infections set in. Your Dragon Goby certainly has terrifyingly ragged fins!>
Dragon Goby: When I first got him at Wal Mart he was in bad shape. lips had bites taken out of it. Back fin was half chewed off. When I put him in the community tank he was attacked by Tiger Barbs and the puffer so I put him in the little 1 gallon tank with my fighting fish. His fin healed up and he needed a bigger place to live so after a month in little tank I put him back in the big tank- and took out the puffy and tiger barbs. He was fine for last 3 weeks. I vacuumed the gravel a few days ago- Replaced 1/3 of the water in the process. Added a handful of salt.(1/4th-1/3 cup)  Next day he started gulping real excessively- I thought maybe he needed more salt so I put in another 1/4 cup. He's still gulping rapidly. If I walk near the tank- he stops and looks at me, after 5 seconds he starts doing it again.
He's eating fine- always hungry it seems. He likes flake food and will swim to the top or go up to get pieces as they float down. While they're said to have poor eye site- this one seems to see quite well.  
<They're actually almost blind (some species of Dragon Goby actually are blind).>
chewed up back fin
This fish also swam at the top when the water would go bad in the 1 gallon tank. He has not done that since being placed back in the big tank. He does the rapid gulping while resting in his little house.
Is there any way to visually tell if there's enough salt in the water for him?
<In brackish water with a soft, sandy substrate these fish will be happy and healthy. You aren't providing enough salt and the gravel is monstrous!
Hence, your Dragon Goby is severely stressed, and my guess would be that it has no long term future.>
His back fin looks perfect now and he filled out in the last month since getting him. When I got him- his face was all sunken in at his cheeks. His face made him look like he was staved. When I first put him back in the big tank- his face got sunken in again for 2 days- though he was eating same as normal.
<Good. I do believe that you have the skills to get this fish into good health, but you have definitely made two big mistakes with the gravel and the salinity. There's no reason the Dragon Goby can't be with other brackish water fish (mollies, glassfish, etc.) at a specific gravity of 1.005; that's about 9 grammes of marine aquarium salt mix per litre (1.2 oz/US gallon). Add a soft sand substrate (like pool filter sand, perhaps with some coral sand added for buffering the pH) and this Dragon Goby will soon perk up.>
Any idea why he's gulping excessively?
<They do so when stressed. When their environment is poor, they gulp air and generally make an effort to get more oxygen.>
Why the catfish seem to have a type of fin rot I cant cure?
<Poor water circulation at the bottom and/or the horrible jagged gravel.>
The female laid her first round of eggs- can she cross breed with the green and black spotted type?
<Corydoras paleatus varieties all interbreed; but mostly different Corydoras species do not seem to interbreed.>
Thank you-
<No real mysteries to keeping Dragon Gobies, but most die when kept in freshwater. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dragon Goby super rapid gulping/breathing     8/9/12
So- adding large amounts of aquarium salt to a fresh water tank does not make it any more suitable for a brackish water fish?
<Define "large". A tablespoon here, a tablespoon there isn't what we're talking about; but rather, carefully measured quantities. Put it this way: if you were adding enough salt to make the water brackish, your non-brackish livestock would be dead by now. Make sense? And yes, marine salt mix is different to "aquarium" salt; the latter is basically cooking salt without the iodine, and of little value except for treating Whitespot, etc. Marine salt mix is, as you'd expect, a mixture of things (including sodium chloride) that you'd find in seawater plus some minerals that raise the carbonate hardness and pH.>
I thought the more salt I added- the closer I was getting to what he needed.
<Sort of, but in the same way that putting a Band-Aid on someone who's been shot gets them "closer" to getting better; it stops some blood, but not enough to matter. Same here; a little salt is marginally better than no salt, but what Gobioides spp. want is LOTS of salt.>
That at some point, I would reach a brackish environment.
<Ah yes! But by that time you'd kill off the barbs, tetras, Corys, etc.>
Though Corys typically don't like salt in their water, the two I currently have don't seem affected.
When his health improved so rapidly-I thought it meant I'd made the water suitable enough for him to thrive in.
<Perhaps, but not in the long term. Dragon/Violet Gobies have a reputation for living a year or two in freshwater, but several years longer than that in brackish.>
Finding someone responsible with a brackish water tank to give him to will take time. What can I do to make the water as suitable as possible without killing the other fish in the tank? (until I can find a better home for him)
<You really can't. Ensuring a high general hardness and carbonate hardness will help a good deal, and also ensuring the pH is high too; aim for 15+ degrees dH, 5+ degrees KH, pH 7.5-8.5. Obviously such hard, alkaline conditions will be stressful for soft water fish (barbs, tetras, etc.).>
I bought him to save him from certain death, based on his poor condition.
<Likely so.>
I didn't restore his health just to kill him off slowly with the water he's stuck living in.
<A definite Catch-22.>
The gulping he's doing is all at the bottom of the tank.
<They are gulp feeders and do sift sand and filter-feed water while feeding; could this be what you're seeing?>
The gravel is what they sell at pet smart. "Premium" tank gravel. 
<Premium… no. If all else fails, "pea" gravel is good for burrowing fish (gobies, Corydoras, etc.) and you should be able to get this via garden centres and/or online retailers. Aquarium shops are always never the place to get good value substrates. In fact I just bought 25 kg (about 55 lb) of substrate today from a garden centre for £3 (about $5) together with some huge pieces of slate. From an aquarium store I'd have paid at least 10 times as much as I did for that lot!>
I just tested his ability to see. Even if I move very slowly, 5 ft away is where I see him notice me and respond. I make no sound so sight is the only option. If some are blind, wouldn't some swing the other direction and be better than average?
<Uh, no. Evolution doesn't work this way. Evolution tends to get rid of senses that don't provide much value while improving ones that are helpful. We have excellent colour eyesight because our ancestors were daytime animals but for the same reason our night vision is pretty lousy. Cats work the other way, their eyesight is good in terms of detecting things in weak light, but they're not good at detecting colour or having the same sharp eyesight we do. Anyway, Gobioides spp. live in tidal mudflats where visibility is minimal. Closely related to them is the genus Odontamblyopus, which includes species with eyes that are covered with skin, and likely detect little other than light and dark. Overall this group relies on two other key senses, olfaction (combination of smell and taste) and detection of vibration (combination of sound and touch, albeit that fish can "touch" through the water and not just by contact with things like we do). So, when you walk, you set up vibrations in the ground that your fish "hears" or "feels" and then responds to. Many fish work this way, and practically all fish respond strongly to vibrations -- ask any angler! Your Violet Goby may well be able to see you as a general shape or shadow, but I bet it's relying as much, if not more so, on vibrations and sounds. Cheers, Neale.><<Referral? B>>
Re: Dragon Goby super rapid gulping/breathing     8/9/12
I just did a 5 in 1 dip test
results show
water hardness is 300
total alkalinity is between 150 and 300
ph is 8.4
<Well, the water is nice and hard, but do bear in mind if you've added salt it's possible the test kit might be in error. But let's be positive and assume not! While this is helpful, if isn't a long-term solution to keeping your Dragon Goby. Yes, it needs brackish water, and no, it can't be kept with barbs, Corydoras, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Violet Goby assistance     5/30/12
Hello again! it's Ethan,
<BobF here>
You guys helped me before with my Goby when he had the Ich and he's been doing well since. =)
Just an update he now has a 20 gallon long tank, and I've upgraded the filter and also added a algae killer thing
<See WWM re... even flocculent (alone) types of these products are toxic>
 (like the filter I guess but kills particles in the water, probably not doing too much to help but I had a pretty bad brown algae infestation a little bit ago).
<Review the root causes of such algal outbreaks... seek to understand, counter>
 He has nothing but sand now, I also added a Marimo Moss Ball to the tank to help keep algae at bay.
<Ceratopteris, other plants would be better>
 I read online how in a salt tank one of those died after a month but I've had mine for about two now in my .009 brackish tank and it's still green! =) I also added some Ghost Shrimp which are surviving well and have even had babies! (I have about 10 in the tank with the babies now)
Either way my issue is that my violet goby seems to be getting lighter skin. It's almost like he's growing a see-through layer of skin. He's just loosing a lot of his color. I am not sure what is causing this. He almost looks like he has a tone of pink instead of purple.
<Bad... perhaps the algicide involvement... I'd be doing water changes>
The only thing I can think of would be that probably for about the past month he had tap water in his tank. I used the PH balancer on accident instead of my tank buddies water cleanser.
<I'd leave off w/ these as well>
 I feel incredibly stupid for doing so but life was pretty stressful for me and I wasn't paying enough attention (car died, college finals and whatnot). I have given two water changes in the past week of a good 50% to get as much of that out as I can.
So what I am wondering is if the tap water could have caused this over a month period. It's been fairly gradual, and at first I thought he just felt a little under the weather from a slight ammonia spike after adding the ghost shrimp. However he doesn't seem to have gotten better. He doesn't seem to be eating as much either.
<Likely the toxic exposure of the other chemicals mentioned>
So if you can help! I can gladly try to get pictures or whatever else you may need to offer any good advice =)
<Re-read on WWM re this species, care:
and the linked files at the bottom>
Thank you!
<Welcome, Bob Fenner>

Help! dieing violet goby dragons!    2/1/12
I have raised a violet goby dragon for 3 years living in 39 gallon tank,
<Water quality?>
 and was about to upgrade to a much lager <drinking or larger?> tank. It is 16 inches long and doing great until recently. He has developed a mouth desies that causes his lips to bleed and peel. But that isn't the worst part. He is doing fine.

 It is the new babies i bought. they get the sickness and it is far more deadly! I have lost 3 and a 4th is soon to go. For the babies it shrinks there head in around the eyes, mouth and fins peel, red gills, and finally surface swimming until they die. They die within a few days of attracting the sickness. I have been performing water changes like crazy, and adding Melafix and recently also Pimafix.
<Both worthless>
I thought it was fin rot because of the other fish and they are healing nicely, but not the baby dragons. I have 3 babies left and like i said 1 is about to die, another has just contracted the sickness, and the last one doesn't seem to have it yet. Please help me as i do not want the others to die. These are amazing fish and i love my adult dragon, it almost seems like he listens and understands me. It would kill me if i lose him to.
<... what? Are these animals in a brackish setting? Read here:
and all the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help! dyeing violet goby dragons!     2/1/12

> <... what? Are these animals in a brackish setting? Read here:
> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/VioletGobyDisF.htm
> and all the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Ok thanks. Ya i have been checking water quantity lots and it is fine,
<... subjective evaluations are of no use. Figures please>
 but i have been using aquarium salt
<Not useful either. Need to use marine salt... synthetic sea salt. READ where you've been referred to. B>
and not nearly enough. I will switch immediately to marine salt. But it isn't just the dragons affected. I lost a loach, unknown why, the girlfriend threw it out while i was away. there is a blue grammy that is going red, and a pelco bottom feeder that has what looks like a big cut in his head and it is growing a white mold on it. The fish are all starting to make a come back by the way, i hope that is a good sign for the dragons. The dragons mouths still have mold looking stuff on them. What medican would you recommend instead of Melafix or Primafix? And i realize that some of my wish wont last in that high of salt water, i will have to move them to another tank.

My Dragon Goby has the Ich!   12/12/11
I am about a month into seriously learning about how to take care of my fish properly, I have spent well over a hundred dollars within a week (probably over 200 or more in the last month) and I am stuck in a nasty situation. (For me as a learner anyway)
My Dragon Goby contracted the Ich about 28 hours ago I believe after I stupidly did a 30ish % water change and put tap water back into my tank (I learned that lesson a while ago now and use 100% spring purified water but slipped up).
<Actually, properly conditioned tap water is usually fine. There is almost never a need to use purified water.>

Although I believe he actually got sick from the Neon Tetra I got him as food the day before. (OR about 30ish hours ago my tank did get a randomly high Ammonia spike).

Either way I was sold my Dragon Goby at Wal-Mart (to save the poor guy from that awful place) Either way, I quickly learned I needed to get him sand, so I did, half the tank is sand now (the area his hide/eating spot is). I also learned that I need to get him Brackish Water and sadly I am now pretty well broke at the moment. So he is in Freshwater at the moment.
<Well, these are brackish water fish, and just don't do well in freshwater.>
I only have a heater that stays at 78º +/- 2º so I cant turn it up and cook that Ich away. So I'm doing what I can right now, I covered both long sides of the tank with tinfoil to keep it dark, and have been giving him QuICK Cure for Ich and protozoa parasites.
<Do remember to remove carbon from the filter while medicating. In any event, a salinity of 2 gram/litre will kill off Whitespot quickly.>
Now I can't tell all to well if he is doing much better tonight, he honestly seem like he may be getting a little worse (although I caught this almost within hours of it developing) He has been very active however, the morning before he got Ich he was even swimming to the surface and eating the tetra's flakes before the tetra could eat them! That was the first time he ate since he got here (Which was 3 days before then, he wouldn't touch the tetra but went for flakes). He is still very actively swimming around, ate some bloodworms only a few hours before he got Ich, so he still seems really healthy at the moment.
So my question is: Would I be able to use Aquarium Salt to help him heal more quickly for now?
(I haven't added any yet and haven't been able to find this specific question answered since I only want to heal him at the moment. I'm not foolish enough to use it to attempt to make my water Brackish, I know that won't work.)
<If you only have this fish on its own, or only with salt-tolerant fish, then low-end brackish conditions, 5 gram/litre, would be excellent and very effective. Keep the fish this way and he *could* stay healthy for months, a year even, until you get a brackish system figured out. Simply as a treatment for Whitespot, 2 gram/litre will do, and this won't harm freshwater fish, and only needs to be kept this way for 2-3 weeks. But for all that, it won't have any long-term benefits for your Goby -- this salinity is too low to substitute for brackish water.>
The nearest pet store with Marine Salt is 45 miles away and I'm broke at the moment either way. I'd really love any advice you could give me, I just want my buddy to live! (I'll be going to the Pawn Shop today to sell a bunch of stuff, hopefully I can make what I need to get to the pet store and buy proper salt).
<Aquarium salt will do for the short term. You can buy marine aquarium salt online. A budget-brand is fine.>
(BTW, if I left out any details you'd need just let me know, I've only gotten 6ish hours of sleep in the last 48 hours trying to save my fish while getting ready for finals so my brain is mush at the moment)
<Okay. Good luck, and I hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: My Dragon Goby has the Ich!   12/12/11

That's very wonderful advice! thank you so much, so I figure I'd update you, I had a very busy morning, I sold a bit of stuff at pawn shops to pay for gas and the marine salt, I added 1.6-ish tablespoons to a dish of the aquarium water and mixed it well then added it to the tank.
After reading your response and doing some calculations I should add about 3 more tablespoons to kill the Ick quick? My Gabby is looking more covered and doesn't seem to be as active today so I'm hoping I got the salt in time.
<Use the salt quickly. As stated, 2 grammes per litre is what you need if treating alongside freshwater fish. Use kitchen scales to calculate the required amount. Using spoons is hopelessly unreliable.>
Also the Gabby will be alone in his tank now since it is going Brackish, If I were to add a Puffer to keep him company should I use less salt than you recommended?
<Puffers aren't good companions for Violet Gobies. Remember the golden rule -- Puffers are kept alone. Gobies don't need friends. If you must add stuff, the best additions are things like Guppies that don't compete for food and largely ignore the Violet Goby.>
Also since Aquarium and Marine salt are different would I be able to mix them for a super Ick killer?
I'm guessing not since they are both a type of salt. If I can, or can't about how many tablespoons per gallon, or G per liter could I use with the Gabby and a Puffer?
<For the goby, 2 gram/litre strictly as a medication, or 5 gram/litre if you're planning on a true, low-end brackish system. Do see my Brack Calc application for other conversions.>
On a final note and question I've been using that QuICK Cure, would I be able to mix it with Ick Guard? Someone at Wal-mart told me they do but I don't trust what they have to say about much if anything!
<You shouldn't mix medications unless the manufacturer/s say it is safe to do so. Finish using one brand before starting another.>
Thank you so much again for the solid advice =)
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My Dragon Goby has the Ich!   12/12/11

I forgot to ask, how often should I add more Sea Salt to my aquarium for about how long? I'll need to get a Hydrometer next so I can be sure that things are balanced.
<Well, you have to add the right amount of salt to start with. So, if it's a 200 litre aquarium, and you're adding 2 grammes/litre, you need to add 200 x 2 = 2000 grammes of marine aquarium salt. Obviously you don't add this directly! You add this to some warm water, dissolve thoroughly, and then pour it into the tank in stages across half an hour or so. Once you've done this, your water changes only require replacement of lost salt. So if you take out 10 litres of water, you make up a new 10 litre batch of water with 10 x 2 = 20 grammes of marine salt mix stirred into it. Weight in grammes is adequate for treating Whitespot. Once running as a brackish water aquarium, you're aiming for at least 5 grammes/litre, which is about 1.003 SG at 25 C/77 F, and you may as well use your hydrometer to check this. Cheers, Neale.>
How to make brackish water (was: Re: My Dragon Goby has the Ich!)  12/14/11

Sorry to send this question again but it's getting close to the time I'd give my dragon goby more salt mix (if I do) that's what I'm emailing about, do I do the 5g/liter just the once?
<For the first time you do this, yes, if you want to quickly change the salinity to brackish. If the aquarium is 100 litres, you'll need 100 x 5 grammes = 500 grammes. Stir into some warm tap water. When dissolved, pour this salty solution into the aquarium, ideally across an hour or so to give your fish and plants time to adjust. This isn't very brackish -- a specific gravity of 1.002 at 25 C/77 F, but still, be nice to your fish and don't shock them!>
or do I add several doses over time?
<Yes, you can do this too. This is the best approach for a higher salinity.
Let's say, SG 1.005, which is 9 grammes/litre. You wouldn't want to make a change like this all at once. Instead, do a series of water changes across a week or month. Let's say you have a 100-litre aquarium and your bucket holds 10 litres. Let's also say you normally change 20 litres every weekend. You take out 20 litres of water, i.e., two buckets. You now need to add two buckets, i.e., 20 litres, of new water. With me so far? Now, each of those buckets needs to be at SG 1.005, which is 9 grammes/litre.
Since they're 10 litre buckets, you'd add 10 x 9 = 90 grammes of salt. Stir in. When dissolved, add that bucket of water to the tank. Repeat for the second bucket. The salinity of the aquarium will still be very low, but with each weekly water change, it'll get higher, and after 5 or 6 water changes, it'll be close to what you want, SG 1.005, or 9 grammes/litre.>
I couldn't find too much online (let alone the matched what you've advised so far) and you are the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to fish.
Thank you so very much for your time! I truly do appreciate it, and so do my fish =)
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
How to make brackish water (was: Re: My Dragon Goby has the Ich!)  12/14/11
OPS! So sorry I didn't see that reply, for some reason it popped up after
emailing you again, no need to reply to that last email then my mistake.
<Not a problem.>
Thank you very much that is clear as rain now =) I have no more questions for now, you've been such a wonderful help!
As said in the email that doesn't matter, thank you very much for your time, both me and my fish are much happier and I can probably sleep easier at night now. Thank youuuuuuu! =D
<Have fun! Neale.>
Subject: Re: How to make brackish water (was: Re: My Dragon Goby has the Ich!)  12/14/11

No need to thank me, it's just the truth, I have a hydrometer now, so I'll be sure not to make things to low or high, at the moment it is sitting at a .002 so I'll get it up to where it should be, you've given me some of the best advice I am soooooo happy I found your site, my dragon goby is worlds happier and the ick seems to be going away and he seems to be gaining some more color on his body.
<Glad he's doing so well.>
Just one more question or two, under his neck and around his gills is a reddish pink color, is this typical?
<Yes, their gills can look reddish. So long as the fish is happy and healthy, don't worry too much.>
this front fins seem a little roughed up but I believe I have his tank set up a lot better now, nothing but sand on the bottom that I spent 2 hours sifting to get debris out, getting all
the gravel out and adding the new sand made his water a little cloudy but I got some Accu-clear to clean that up. He also has been pushing his head above the water a LOT especially when I'm nearby his tank, he continually bobs his head out against the glass. I'm wondering if this could mean he's hungry, especially since he likes to eat either frozen blood worms, or freeze dried baby shrimp or bloodworms. When he eats the freeze dried stuff he searches the side of the tank like that. Just curious if it's a symptom of anything that you may know of.
<Violet Gobies feed in three ways: they gulp plankton, they sift mud, and they scrape algae. So, in the aquarium you can pour in live brine shrimp, and you can then see them happily strain the water, a bit like whales feeding on plankton. It's very funny! Secondly, they sift sand, and you'll see them do this when you add sinking foods like bloodworms. Finally, they scrape away at algae wafers if you provide them. In short, you can expect them to feed in all sorts of ways, and this is one reason they're so fun to keep.>
(on a side note about how much could this guy eat in a day? he's like 7 inches long now. I'm afraid I may be under feeding but don't want to overfeed)
<Violet Gobies have big appetites. Remember, they can get to something like 60 cm/24 inches in length, so your specimen will be a fast-growing youngster, and needs to be fed accordingly. So long as ammonia and nitrite are zero, and you don't see uneaten food, feel free to be generous with the meals. Healthy specimens have hearty appetites, and could easily take 3 or 4 meals a day. Be careful not to overfeed and ruin water quality, but otherwise yes, you can be pretty liberal with the food. Chunky seafood (like shrimp and tilapia fillet) might be more economical than wet frozen bloodworms. Maybe experiment a bit to see how much he eats before getting bored, and check afterwards to make sure water quality stays good. In practise these fish are extremely hardy, given brackish conditions, but starvation isn't uncommon, aquarists often underestimating just how big and hungry these fish can be.>
If you guys have a donation page or something set up I'd be willing to donate a bit you guys have been a tremendous help and you'll be the one's I ask if I have any future issues that I need help with. =)
<There's a "donate" button at bottom right of the home page, here:
Thanks again!
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Violet (Dragon?) Goby Questions   2/26/11
Hello there!
Recently, I lost my Dragon Goby of four years (How long I had him as a guest).
My setup was an 'L' shaped tank, usually 76-77 degrees Fahrenheit, specific gravity of somewhere like 1.008 usually (though sometimes it dipped down to 1.005 in the summertime, because the heat of outside kept my tank at 75 and when I had the heater on it leapt up to 80 or even 90...).
I tried to keep it ammonia free, and tested my water bimonthly (ever two weeks). I had a 30 gallon sump from Trigger Systems
that seemed to work very well. According to my test kit the alkalinity, pH, nitrate, nitrite, and hardness were in the optimal range for brackish water, and from what I've seen online its standards were pretty widely accepted. The substrate was 1-2 inches of marine sand over an inch of coral sand, and there were a few cheapy plastic plants, a fake mangrove root, some tunnels, and a little 'castle' type thing. I don't know how many gallons were in the tank, but it was 60" long for the long part of the L, 40" long for the short part, a consistent 20" wide, and 18" high. I kept the water line at like 16".
<There are about 231 cubic inches in a gallon... Multiply the L times W times H... divide by 231>
I guess basically what I'm going about asking is how I could avoid losing my next dragon goby, and what I may have done wrong. When he died, he had been seeming sick for two weeks, I noticed he stopped eating about a week beforehand and seemed lethargic two weeks beforehand. I thought he might have a fungus because I noticed a little bit of tearing at the ends of his pectoral fins and he seemed a little slimy, so I changed the water and when it persisted another two days treated with Maracyn. He ate his regular bloodworms,
<I would leave these out... implicated in troubles nowadays>
and had a few of his blackworms, but didn't eat any of the algae wafer (He usually went for that first).
Then he stopped eating anything except the bloodworms, and then he wouldn't eat those. I fed him a few blackworms and bloodworms and half an algae wafer every other day. When I came home 15 days after this all started, he was lying on the bottom of the tank, breathing a little bit but not very often, and he was very, very thin. He was like 15-16 inches long, and initially had gotten pretty fat too, but he was so thin. He died after about an hour. He had three bumblebee gobies as tankmates, which I'd been told would do well in the same temperature range and SG, and they're in an isolation tank right now but they seem okay. I continued the Maracyn treatment with them just in case. I'm wondering what else I should do for them, where my mistake may have been, etc. Also, I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful site! I first got interested in tropical fish after transitioning my goldfish into pond life (they grow so much better there!)
<Ah yes>
and having a bunch of empty tanks laying around. Before I got Mofish I did a lot of reading and your FAQ and article proved to be the most helpful quick reference I could find, and until recently it helped me keep him and his tankmates healthy. I'm not sure where I went wrong, and would love some insight to prevent this in the future. Thanks so much for your time!
<I would have you read t/here again:
Violet (Dragon?) Goby Questions (Bob, ideas?)<<I just sent my resp. to you...>>   2/26/11
Hello there!
<Hello Jill,>
Recently, I lost my Dragon Goby of four years (How long I had him as a guest).
<Was likely less than a year old when purchased, assuming that he wasn't full size. Most of them seem to be about half-grown when sold, maybe 30 cm/12 inches long at most, often smaller.>
My setup was an 'L' shaped tank, usually 76-77 degrees Fahrenheit, specific gravity of somewhere like 1.008 usually (though sometimes it dipped down to 1.005 in the summertime, because the heat of outside kept my tank at 75 and when I had the heater on it leapt up to 80 or even 90'¦).
<Ah, now, this is one factor. Violet Gobies are more subtropical than tropical. They're typical Gulf Coast fishes, and appreciate slightly lower temperatures than tropical fish. Something around 18-24 C/64-75 F would be about right. A little cooler or a little warmer for short periods would do no harm, but prolonged maintenance at higher temperatures will shorten their lifespan noticeably. That's a common enough phenomenon, and can be seen with other fish from similar latitudes: (wild-caught) Mollies, Platies, Goodeids, Hogchoker Soles, Florida Flagfish, etc.>
I tried to keep it ammonia free, and tested my water bimonthly (ever two weeks). I had a 30 gallon sump from Trigger Systems that seemed to work very well. According to my test kit the alkalinity, pH, nitrate, nitrite, and hardness were in the optimal range for brackish water, and from what I've seen online its standards were pretty widely accepted.
The substrate was 1-2 inches of marine sand over an inch of coral sand, and there were a few cheapy plastic plants, a fake mangrove root, some tunnels, and a little 'castle' type thing. I don't know how many gallons were in the tank, but it was 60" long for the long part of the L, 40" long for the short part, a consistent 20" wide, and 18" high. I kept the water line at like 16". I guess basically what I'm going about asking is how I could avoid losing my next dragon goby, and what I may have done wrong.
<For one thing, keep a little cooler than you are doing at the moment.>
When he died, he had been seeming sick for two weeks, I noticed he stopped eating about a week beforehand and seemed lethargic two weeks beforehand. I thought he might have a fungus because I noticed a little bit of tearing at the ends of his pectoral fins and he seemed a little slimy, so I changed the water and when it persisted another two days treated with Maracyn.
<I see. Now, one thing to try with brackish water fish is to raise the salinity substantially, and if you can, perform seawater dips for 20 min.s or more. These will clear up slime disease and certain other parasites, and with much less toxicity than medications.>
He ate his regular bloodworms, and had a few of his blackworms, but didn't eat any of the algae wafer (He usually went for that first).
<Indeed, a favourite food.>
Then he stopped eating anything except the bloodworms, and then he wouldn't eat those. I fed him a few blackworms and bloodworms and half an algae wafer every other day. When I came home 15 days after this all started, he was lying on the bottom of the tank, breathing a little bit but not very often, and he was very, very thin.
<Not a good sign.>
He was like 15-16 inches long, and initially had gotten pretty fat too, but he was so thin. He died after about an hour. He had three bumblebee gobies as tankmates, which I'd been told would do well in the same temperature range and SG, and they're in an isolation tank right now but they seem okay.
<They are quite hardy fish, if feeding well.>
I continued the Maracyn treatment with them just in case. I'm wondering what else I should do for them, where my mistake may have been, etc. Also, I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful site! I first got interested in tropical fish after transitioning my goldfish into pond life (they grow so much better there!) and having a bunch of empty tanks laying around. Before I got Mofish I did a lot of reading and your FAQ and article proved to be the most helpful quick reference I could find, and until recently it helped me keep him and his tankmates healthy. I'm not sure where I went wrong, and would love some insight to prevent this in the future. Thanks so much for your time!
<There are a few things that spring to mind. One is simple life expiry. When kept overly warm, these gobies won't live as long as otherwise. In addition, gobies generally don't have very long lifespans, and while 10 years is often mentioned as being possible with Violet Gobies, that's probably a best-case scenario, with something like 7-8 years being more likely. So if your specimen was already a year or so old when you got it, and you kept it a little on the warm side at times, it might well have been 5-6 years old when it died, but already into old age and all the problems that brings with it. Now, one other thing I'll mention with gobies is that they do seem prone to odd infections. I've had three completely different goby species in one tank and then watched as members of all three species sickened and died within a short period; the other, dissimilar fish in the tank -- catfish and so on -- didn't have any problems at all. Symptoms included bloody patches on the body, loss of appetite, wasting, lethargy, and then death. While I can't be sure, my hunch is that one of the gobies brought in some sort of infection that the other gobies caught. It may be that healthy gobies can fight off the infection, but older specimens, or stressed specimens, can't, and then they become ill and die. One last thing to consider with oddball fish is nutrition. Because they don't always eat flake, you're often stuck with using fresh or frozen foods, and these can be nutritionally incomplete. In particular, insufficient vitamins and/or overdosing thiaminase can cause problems that may take months or years to manifest themselves. The use of a marine aquarium vitamin supplement therefore makes a lot of sense when feeding carnivorous and oddball fish. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Violet (Dragon?) Goby Questions (Bob, ideas?)   2/27/11

Wow! Thank you so much for the fast reply.
<No problem.>
I went to my LFS just now and there were several vitamin options, which I wanted to run by you guys if it wouldn't be too much trouble.
<Any will do.>
I didn't want to trust the store clerk because they were the people who sold me my violet goby and when I bought him they had been keeping him and several others in a freshwater tank, so I wasn't sure they had the right stuff. So my options are something called Vitamarin-M, which looks promising by its high price *sarcasm* and was recommended,
<It's a fine product.>
but doesn't really list its ingredients or sources on the bottle. The second is Vita-Chem, which promises a full spectrum of vitamins, amino acids, and microorganisms but is not specific to marine fish (it says it's specific to 'fish),
<Another good product.>
and then there's one called Vitality, which promises the same benefits as vita-chem and is formulated for marine fish.
<From Seachem, and yet another good product.>
I was wondering if you had any personal experience with any of these and could recommend which is best. I have found mixed online reviews of all of them, except for the Vitamarin for which there were mostly positive reviews.
<They're all good, and all better than no vitamins at all. Do read here:
It's thiamin in particular that may be the "missing link" in understanding fish diets.>
In addition, Mofish was 8 and 7/16 inches when I got him. The pet store decided to measure him and charge me an extra 10 cents for every inch longer he was than all the other gobies, who were all labeled and priced as being 'small' (they looked about 3 inches or so). I guess he was a baby, though, even though he was very large compared to the others. Now that you mention the illness your goby specimens experienced, it sounds very much like what happened to Mofish, as the gill and fin hemorrhaging I saw the day he died I attributed to the other fish attacking him because he was sickly, but it may have been more like open sores now that I think about it.
<Indeed. The problem of course is that many nutritional problems result in open sores, so it's really hard to say for sure.>
I'm glad you mentioned the temperature as well, I'm going to be lowering it for the little gobies in small increments and waiting another week before I reintroduce them to their bigger tank. When I'm ready, I'll probably get another dragon goby too, thanks to your awesome advice! Again, thank you SO MUCH.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.> 

Help! My Dragon Goby just died!   5/2/09
It has been a sad day.
<Sorry to hear that.>
Our Dragon goby just died. Last night at feeding time he started to swim all haphazard, swimming backwards, upside down and on his side (we called him Zimbo, and generally called him a "him", but we don't know what sex he was). He looked like he was having convulsions and was gasping for air!
We knew something was not right, but didn't know what to do! It was our usual tank cleaning night, so we changed out about 30% of the water, added more salt, and water treatment, but he passed away this afternoon. Now we are afraid for the rest of our fish. Will they all die? What should we do?
<Whenever a fish dies unexpectedly, you should start by assuming a problem with the water rather than a disease. As such, review the basics: water quality, water chemistry, temperature, circulation and the possibility of toxins such as paint fumes or cleaning chemicals.>
Just a little background on the set up that we have and how we have been caring for our fish. First, I would like to let you know that this is our first time ever caring for fish. Having said that...We thought that we
would get our son a fish, maybe a goldfish, for his fifth birthday. We bought a 10-gallon tank kit and took our son to the store to pick out a few freshwater fish. He fell in love with two dragon gobies, a black finned
shark (catfish), and a plecostomus (sp.?).
<While Dragon/Violet Gobies (Gobioides spp.) and Black-fin Shark Catfish (Sciades seemanni) are brackish water fish, the Plecostomus (likely Pterygoplichthys sp.) is not. Water conditions that would suit the first two would be dangerous for the third.>
The lady at the store informed us that those fish would be good together, but that they were saltwater fish and would need higher temperatures.
<Eh? No, no, no. The Plecostomus catfish doesn't really like salt at all.
While it would tolerate a small amount, say, 1.003 at 25 C, that's far too little for either the Goby or the Shark Catfish which both need around 1.005-1.015 to do well, ideally something in the middle once mature, 1.010, about 15-16 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water.>
Our tank kit came with heating lamps, so she said that would do, and sent us home with a package of aquarium salt.
<Is this plain aquarium salt or marine salt mix? For brackish water fish, you must use marine salt mix because you're not just interested in salinity but also pH and carbonate hardness.>
After a few days, we started reading more about our fish on the internet.
It turns out that they need brackish water and maybe a different substrate than we have (we have gravel ).
<These Gobies do indeed need sandy substrates that allow them to dig.>
We have been changing about 25-30% of the water every week, using our gravel vacuum. We have a ten gallon tank, but we found out that we are definitely going to need to upgrade!
<For any one of the fish you have, let alone all three! For the Goby and the Shark Catfish (which is, by the way, a schooling fish and needs 2 or more friends) we're looking at something upwards of 55 gallons, and
realistically quite a bit more space than that; 100 gallons would not be out of line in all honesty. Shark Cats are frenetically active, and in small tanks, often pine away, treading water in the corner looking miserable.>
When we change the water, we pour the new tap water into the tank, then add the aquarium salt, then the water conditioner (that says it is good for removing chlorine and chloramines). We feed the fish once a day, at night, and usually it is a mixture of tropical flakes and granules, plus, freeze dried blood worms about twice a week. We tried freeze dried shrimp, but they were not interested.
<Both the Goby and the Shark Catfish are specialists. The Goby needs a mix of algae wafers, live brine shrimp, and wet frozen invertebrate foods such as bloodworms and krill. The Shark Catfish will happily eat wet frozen invertebrates but also enjoys chunky seafood: cockles, squid, mussels, prawns, etc. These catfish usually take good quality catfish pellets too.>
Also, our second goby has been hiding out inside the sunken ship decoration for about a week. Her name is Lucy. She looked like she was sick for a little while there, but is looking much better (we were only adding a 1/2 a tsp. of aquarium salt/gallon, but then upped it to 1tsp./gallon when I read that that might help her).
<Not nearly enough salt. At minimum, juveniles should be kept at SG 1.005 at 25 C, that's about 9 grammes (1.5 level teaspoons) of marine salt mix per litre. When kept in non-brackish conditions, issues such as Finrot are common. Download my Brack Calc application (Mac and Windows) at the link below; use this to determine the amount of salt you need to add to each bucket of new water. Note that temperature affects specific gravity, but both your brackish water species should be kept at the usual 25 C that most hydrometers are calibrated to.
Don't use tonic salt or aquarium salt; use marine salt mix.>
After reading your site, I think that she may have had fin rot.
<Treat this with an antibiotic.>
Now, her fins look much healthier, but she still seems to have no appetite or desire to come out of hiding. Zimbo, the one who died, always seemed healthy. He had a good appetite and a zany personality (no indication of fin rot, or anything). His death is a mystery to me. :)
<Not to me, unfortunately.>
So, my question is: are we doing ANYTHING right?
<Not really, no.>
What do you think happened to our goby?
<These gobies will not last long in freshwater, or freshwater with token amounts of tonic salt added.>
Should we be adding marine salt instead of aquarium salt?
And is it ok to add it directly to the tank, or do we need to add it before pouring the clean water in?
<You always add salt to each bucket of water, estimating the amount needed using Brack Calc for example. Stir well. Once you're done, use a hydrometer to check the specific gravity. If necessary, add more salt or water if needed (though in reality slight variation in salinity does no harm at all). Add the new water to the aquarium. Don't dramatically increase the salinity of your aquarium in one fell swoop: that will stress the filter bacteria. You certainly need to raise the salinity (after the Plec is taken out, of course) but do this in stages. Start by replacing the water you have in 25% chunks, adding new water at SG 1.005 at 25 C. Leave 7 days between each such water change. After about 6 weeks you should find the aquarium has stabilised at SG 1.005 and the filter is working happily.
Leave things like this for the next 3-6 months, doing water changes with SG 1.005 water. But after a few months, you may decide your fish are growing up and in the case of the Catfish, quite likely looking restless. This is the time to nudge the salinity upwards. As before, do a series of weekly water changes with water at SG 1.007-1.008. Once you're up at the elevate salinity, leave things running at that level again for a few months. Repeat this cycle again using 1.010 water, until your tank reaches the optimal specific gravity of 1.010.>
Should we be feeding them more often?
<Possibly, but more than likely the type of food being offered is the issue, not the quantity.
Can these fish live together or do they need separate aquariums?
<Plec no; Goby and Shark catfish, yes, albeit in a very large aquarium.
Dragon Gobies get to 40-50 cm in length, depending on the species. Shark Catfish routinely exceed 20-25 cm in captivity, and wild fish are quite a lot bigger. They are super-active fish, and need strong water current or they become listless.>
Any suggestions would be helpful!
Thank you so much,
<Do start here:
When you're done with the linked files there, buy or borrow my "Brackish Water Fishes" book if you want even more information. Although incredibly adaptable fish, brackish water fish do have certain requirements, and things like tankmates should be chosen with great care. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Help! My Dragon Goby just died! & Plecos in gen.  -- 05/02/09
Wow, thank you, Neale!
Such great advice! We will definitely be doing everything you suggested ASAP! Just a few questions, though...
To treat the goby for the fin rot, should we put her in a separate tank for the treatment?
<No real point. Treat the Goby along with all the other fish, unless there's a compelling water chemistry or financial cost to do otherwise. If treating the Goby in its own aquarium, keep the tank basically empty, but
us a PVC tube for a burrow; these Gobies love such homes!>
Also, when we move the Plec to his own tank, should it be freshwater, then?
<Ideally, yes.>
Can you suggest any companions?
<Almost anything. Plecs tend not to get along with other Plecs, but beyond that, they're basically bomb-proof, so work well with all sorts of things. Ideal companions would be medium-sized midwater fish: Rainbowfish, Congo tetras, Bleeding heart tetras, Giant Danios. Plecs also work well with most
cichlids, including Angelfish, Firemouths, Kribs and so on.>
Is the gravel that we have in our current tank ok for him?
<Plain gravel is fine. Plecs do like to dig, but they tend to be messy, so it's just as good to use plain vanilla gravel.>
Are the tropical fish flakes and pellets ok to feed him, or does he need something special as well?
<Regular food is good, but Plecs do enjoy stuff from the kitchen. Bits of carrot, sweet potato, courgette (zucchini) and cucumber all go down well.
Some of these sink, some float, in which case, tie with a rubber band to a rock or something. You can get special "screwcumbers" and other such devices for the purpose too. Once a week, offer something meaty to chew on: a prawn, a small piece of white fish, a clam or mussel on the half-shell.>
What about temperature?
<Most anything should do, but ideally 25 C/77 F.>
Our current tank has two heat lamps. We turn them on during the day and off at night. The tank stays in a temperature range of about 78 degrees F to 82 degrees F.
<A trifle warm, so do check circulation of the water is good, or else you may have oxygen problems at the bottom of the tank. I'd always recommend against heat lamps for warming aquaria, but if you must use them, adjust the time they're on so the tank varies between no lower than 18 C / 64 F at night and no higher than 30 C / 82 F in the daytime.>
Thanks so much for everything! We will definitely check out your book!
Thanks, Monica
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Learning to speak Violet Dragon Goby   3/9/09 Greetings! I've been reading on your site and others about dragon gobies having recently acquired two. They started out in my 80 gallon community tank and seemed very happy living with the rest of the community. Digging their own tunnels under the decorations, burying themselves from time to time into the sandy sections created for them. The community consists of : 2 Opaline gouramis 2 peacock eels 2 adult black lyre tail mollies 2 adult silver mollies 4 pot belly mollies 25 silver molly fry 1 plecostomus 1 African feather fin cat fish 12 red Platys One of the gobies seems to be more reclusive than the other hiding in caves most of the time, rarely seen even at feeding time unless the decorations are disturbed and the other, active and visible especially at feeding time. Diet consists of Algae tablets, brine shrimp, Spirulina brine shrimp and blood worms with occasional sprinkles of flake food. I noticed that the recluse had developed a film of what appeared to be a fine coating of sand or tiny air bubbles all over his body. At first I thought it was ICK and treated the tank accordingly for 7 days...treat, wait 48 hrs, water change and treat again, wait another 48 hrs water change wait 24 hrs and treat again. At the end of the treatment there was no change so I asked the local fish store and determined it might be Velvet and treated for that. After 48 hours we finally got them into their own 65 gallon brackish home with a salinity at the low end of brackish .001 since moving them into their brackish home, they have both taken to floating vertically taking large gulps of air and blowing it out through their gills swimming horizontally from time to time but spending most of their time in that vertical position. What I think was velvet seems to have reduced in size but they don't seem to be doing as well in the brackish tank as they were in the fresh water tank... Any recommendations or thoughts would be appreciated. I looked on line but couldn't find anyone with similar issues. Thanks in advance Wizard <Greetings. I'm not familiar with this particular problem, and certainly haven't seen Gobioides spp. do this. Velvet and Ick could both be treated simply by maintaining these gobies in the brackish water system. Raising the temperature to around 28-30 C (82-86 F) will speed up the life cycle, and that will shift the parasites from the host into the water column, where the salinity should kill them. Personally, I'd raise the salinity up to 1.003 at least; this won't stress your filter bacteria, but will help the gobies. Do otherwise take care that water quality is appropriate. Don't feed the fish for the time being, but after a couple of days, if they've settled down, offer some live food and see if they behave normally. One last thing. Gobioides spp. are territorial, and the one you aren't seeing much of is clearly the one bullied by the dominant fish. Take care to put hiding places at each end of the tank, so they can at least space themselves out. Cheers, Neale.>

Question about the Dragonfish, or Violet Goby -- 04/12/09
Hello all,
I have a Convict cichlid and a Dragon fish in a QT. I'm unsure of what they have but my LFS the "Aquatic Specialist" told me it would be okay to treat them for a variety of things because she wasn't exactly sure of what they have either.
<Hmm... this "scatter gun" approach rarely works well. Would you trust a doctor who didn't check your symptoms first, and instead gave you a bottle of the first pills he found in his medicine cabinet?>
After 5 days of treatment my cichlid is looking way better yet, my dragon doesn't. It's swimming erratically, laying upside down, running into the sides of the tank, sticking his head out of the water, and freaking me
<Let's clear something up first. Is this Goby in brackish water? Gobioides spp. "dragon" or "violet" gobies are all brackish water fish, pure and simple. They cannot be kept in freshwater aquaria. Period. End of
discussion. Under such conditions they will eventually get sick of any one of a myriad potential problems.>
Honestly I feel bad for him, I know they don't do well with treatment and am afraid he's dying. The fungus or whatever is getting better but it's not acting like it's doing any better.
<He won't get better until transferred to brackish water at SG 1.005 or more. Note that a brackish water tank IS NOT one where the user has added a teaspoon (or whatever) aquarium salt per bucket of water; a brackish water aquarium is one where marine salt mix has been used, for this species at around 9 grammes per litre at 25 degrees C.>
I thought it was Ich, so I treated them for just that and after 2 days there was no noticeable change. When I started treating for a variety of things after 24 hours there was a difference. But the dragon had "spots"
all over it and in his mouth. Whatever this is/was got a hold of them after a few hours time.
<Not good...>
What can I do?
<Did you read anything about Gobioides spp. before buying your specimen. No book would have recommended this fish for a freshwater aquarium. You have three options. Return the fish, move the fish to a brackish water system, or euthanise it. Keeping it in a freshwater tank isn't an option.>
Like I said the cichlid is looking way better and eating fine. The dragon looks better but is acting a bit off.
<Read, learn:
T. Sturdivant
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Question about the Dragonfish, or Violet Goby -- 04/12/09
Wow at the response time, amazing!
<Happy to help!>
I know it's a brackish water fish. I am *trying* to get rid of him for his own safety. (As I do not have the space for him.) I didn't buy him. I wouldn't have simply because of the space issue.
<I see...>
I read up about them after he was brought to me. (Lots of article on here as well as several other sites.)
No place will take them sick. I tried. So I was hoping he could be saved then given to a new home.
<Possibly; difficult to diagnose from the symptoms you gave, but depending on his tankmates, you could raise the SG to 1.003. This wouldn't be optimal for Convicts, but they should tolerate it for a few weeks without problems.
Once healthy again, you could try and find a new home, e.g., via an online fish forum.>
Also I took pictures of the fish and took it in to the LFS where they couldn't decide if it was a fungus, Ich, or Velvet. :\
And apparently no medicine treats all three.br /> &<No, because they're caused by different things. Brackish water will kill Ick and Velvet quickly, even at SG 1.003, and you'd then be free to treat against Fungus and Finrot using an appropriate medication such as eSHa 2000, Seachem NeoPlex or Seachem Sulfathiazole
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwfishmeds.htmbr /> >
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Question about the Dragonfish, or Violet Goby -- 04/12/09
Once again, thank you for the quick response.
<Most welcome.>
In my main tank I have American cichlids and African cichlids, which will each get their own tank in a few months, a Pleco, and a peppercorn Cory.
<Many Central American cichlids do well in slightly brackish water; do review the literature on the species you have. If you visit my Brackish FAQ
(the online precursor of my book) you'll find a section on cichlids, naming the salt-tolerant species:
Do also read the section of Gobies, for background and specific information on this species. Common Plecs usually tolerate slightly salinity fairly well, but Peppered Corydoras probably will not. Corydoras spp. shouldn't be with Central American cichlids anyway, given the aggression of those cichlids.>
Thank you so much for the help. If at all possible I'd rather him live than die.
<As would I. Cheers, Neale.>

Dragonfish question... hlth... sys... fdg.  7/17/2008 Hey guys! I love your site, and I normally google stuff on your site when I have a question, but my computer's not loading the search page, so I decided to email. Sorry if the answer's on your site somewhere...I just can't find it. <Oh?> x.x <No idea what this means.> I used to have a Dragonfish (Violet Goby) about a year or two ago, and she was a really amazing fish. But she developed some sort of tumor in her stomach and died suddenly. I was pretty devastated. <Unlikely a tumour, which is a pretty rare problem with wild-caught fish. Was she maintained in brackish water? The common mistake people make with Gobioides is to keep it in freshwater. Short term that's fine, but long term it places such a stress on the internal chemistry of the fish it invariably succumbs. So swelling of the abdomen was most likely organ failure of some sort. At least, if the thing was in freshwater. Gobioides need to be kept in fairly brackish water to do well, certainly not less than SG 1.005, and ideally around 1.010.> I just got a new one a few days ago, and I had a feeding question...When I had Shasta, I had to feed her a very specific way. She would come up gulping at the surface at about 8:00 at night and I would wait until the exact second her mouth was at the top, then I would drop bloodworms into her mouth. Needless to say, I didn't go on vacation much... <Making things far too complicated. Gobioides has three feeding modes. One is plankton gulping, which is where the live brine shrimps and daphnia come in. The second is sand sifting, which is shoveling mouthfuls of sand through the gill rakers, where food is extracted. Frozen bloodworms are ideal for this. Finally there is algae rasping, which is what their sharp little teeth are for. In the wild they scrape algae from rocks and things, but in the aquarium standard algae wafers work just fine. You need at least a mix of algae and invertebrates for a healthy fish. A lack of algae could mean a lack of fibre, and constipation can cause damage to the internal organs, and this can cause abdominal swelling... so again, another common cause for a dead Gobioides. Do also note that these fish don't do well in tanks with gravel. Must be sand so they can feed normally.> xP <What does this mean?> I was just wondering if that was actually normal for dragonfish to eat like that. <Yes.> I've only had one, so I don't know what to expect. I just got my little (actually HUGE, since he's 10 inches long!) guy yesterday, so I don't know what to expect from him. Do they all eat like that? <They eat in three different ways.> Because I heard that they were filter feeders...and Shasta NEVER sat around gulping like Zumi (the new dragon) does... <Depends what you're offering them.> Thanks in advance for your reply! And I'm terribly sorry if this question's already been answered...maybe there's something wrong with my computer, because normally the google search page works fine... Have a nice day! Ashley <Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/violetgobyfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i3/Dragon_Gobies/Dragon%20Gobies.htm Much written about them here at WWM to get you started. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Goby with Mouth fungus   10/6/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Good morning Crew - your site has been an incredible resource to me for a loooong time. Thank you all so much!! <You're very welcome!> On to the terrible situation: I recently purchased a Violet Goby (Dragon goby). He (or she) is roughly 6 inches long and appeared healthy in the freshwater tank in which he was being kept for 3 weeks at the LFS. I assumed that this fish was acclimated to freshwater from his stay at the store and when I brought him home I put him in my cycled freshwater QT tank. <Still though, it needs to be kept in brackish water.> Well, it's only been 3 days and his health has immediately dropped. His physical symptoms are a bleeding, white-rimmed mouth, faded color, and he is not eating. It's terrible to behold and I'm in absolute horror. I immediately contacted the fish store to see if could possibly return him to "safety" but they are closed for a week. Here are my QT tank parameters: capacity is 10 gallons PH is right around 7.8 Alkalinity is stable Zero nitrite and ammonia Temp. ranges from 74-78 I have fluorescent light on 10 hours per day water hardness is high Nitrate is between 20 and 40 ppm (on the high side) I treat the water with AquaSafe, a small amount of Stress Coat, and a very small amount of aquarium salt. Only tankmate is a small algae-eater (my QT janitor) The nitrates couldn't be causing this fish detrimental distress, right? The only thing I can think of is the gravel is larger grade stuff and he could have injured himself sifting for food. It almost appears that he has mouth fungus, but as I have never seen anything quite like this, I am hesitant to treat. However, I do have "Maroxy" in my fishy supply cabinet if this is the case. I have attached pictures of the Goby's mouth. Please be warned that they are disturbing. What is your advice at this point? I feel terrible and at fault - it breaks my heart to see this fish in distress and pain, but my hands are tied until I know what the cause is. I am changing a small amount of the water every 4 hours to lower nitrates. http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b360/Meechity/goby2.jpg http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b360/Meechity/goby1.jpg Thank you very much for your time, and I'm sorry to have bad news like this to dampen your day :o( <It looks to me, that the goby has damaged it's mouth foraging through some extremely rough or dirty  gravel.  These fish are filter feeders that scoop up sand into their mouth & filter out food particles.  The Maroxy should help but I'd also add Melafix & Pimafix.  In addition, get marine salt & a hydrometer & raise the specific gravity of it's tank to 1.005.  It will take around 2 cups of salt (pre-dissolved) to reach this salinity.  The algae eater will not appreciate salt.  I doubt the fish will start to eat again until it's mouth is feeling better.  Make sure whatever foods you feed it reach the bottom of the tank, so the fish can find it (they are practically blind).   Generally, they do not eat flakes.  Mine loves blackworms, plankton, brine shrimp (as a treat only) & algae wafers.  Good luck, I hope he heals up quickly~  ~PP>

Sick dragon goby (Paisley) I hope you can help me. We started our tank at the end of December. We have had our goby ever since, he has done really well until yesterday when I noticed he had a white "film" on his back. I have tried looking up diseases but can not find anything. Needless to say, he was dead this morning and was even whiter. Can you please help me figure out what it could have been.  Thank you, Sherrie <It sounds as if your fish might have Columnaris.  This is a bacterial infection that spreads across the skin of the fish.  It can be extremely hard to get rid of unless caught early.  With use of a quarantine tank I treat with Maracyn and it usually helps the fish return to health.  It can spread to other fish, so keep an eye on them.  If any of it's tankmates should start to have this move them to a separate tank and start treatments.  Good luck. -Magnus>

Regrowing Fins, Violet Goby  9/25/06 Hello! <Hi Cari, Pufferpunk here>   I have had my 2 F8 puffers and Violet Goby for nearly a year now. They  have survived the tribulations (with the help of this website) that I  experienced as a new-to-brackish owner. Until very recently, I've kept the trio in a 10 gal, pH fairly stable at 8, 0 ammonia, Nitrate under 30, SG about 1.01 (via hydrometer).   <From what I can tell so far, that tank is seriously overstocked, as the puffers require at least 10g ea (15g better) & the goby at least 30g.> Violet Goby purchased at PetSmart (*groan*, sold as fresh water, of  course).  Was originally about 5 inches, seemed very healthy, if not a little skittish, for the first few months. I went through a small amount of trouble getting him(?) to feed, eventually he settled on shrimp pellets & finishing off whatever frozen food the puffers dropped. I have also bought a variety of tubing in an effort to provide a place  for him to hide. Last December, after purchasing a rubber tube, I noticed a steep climb  in pH. Thinking the tube could be causing this, I removed it and the  goby became very desperate to hide, wedging himself between the filter tubes & the glass, racing around in terror, digging up all the plants, making a general mess. Within a short time, he refused to eat,  Stranger--within two weeks he had lost all of his fins completely!  Only the tiny nubs of muscle where his pelvic fins should have been remained! <Ouch!> Goby made a slow recovery once I purchased new, plastic tubes to serve as caves. Eventually his anal, ventral and pelvic fins regrew (though his pelvic fins seemed 'wrinkled' and slightly malformed, anal  and ventral fins show no sign of the incident, no deformities and no ragged edge), his tail is growing back in ragged parts but his dorsal fin shows almost no sign of regrowth. He is eating tremendous amounts, has almost doubled in size, is very active almost a year later from this incident but has not regrown all of his fins.  Because he now measures over 8 inches, I switched the trio to a 29 gal just last week and all seem very satisfied with the move. <Aha!  That's what I was waiting to hear! =o)> I used most  of the water and gravel from the 10 gal and water conditions are  stable. <You say "gravel" & earlier, mention "pH fairly stable at 8".  You can keep it most stable, by using crushed coral or aragonite as a substrate, instead of gravel.> Is his diet affecting his fin growth? Does he need some sort of  vitamin? He will not touch algae wafers and there was plenty of algae  growing in their old tank. <That's surprising.  Mine loves algae wafers & I see him constantly nipping on the algae growth in his tank.  Blackworms are also one of his favorites.  I soak them in Zoe vitamins while in storage in the fridge.> I've never observed the F8 puffers nipping at his fins and it seems highly unlikely they could eat his entire anal and ventral fins in the first place. The puffers are very lively, adorable and have never had  any fin or health problems at all. Thank you for reading my letter! <It may be too late, as the fins were lost quite a while ago but it wouldn't hurt to add Melafix to their water.  ~PP> Cari

Violet Goby... sys., hlth.  1/2/08 Normal environment is a hexagon 55 gallon tank. Had a leak develop and pulled up an emergency 10 gallon. All fish are fine and healthy. Came into the kitchen this morning to prepare breakfast and felt something under my feet. It was my violet goby on the floor! As near as I can tell he went out a small area that allows access to the heater control. Anyway I snatched him up and got him back in the tank. He had some floor dust on him - I touched him long enough to clean that off. He appears fine minus the huge dorsal fin that runs down his back - I cannot see the fin. No idea, no explanation but if it was somehow damaged what are the chances of it growing back? I put some frozen brine into the tank and he ate, everything appears normal but the fin concerns me. I do not see any open "wounds" per say, just a line down his body where the dorsal should be. <Violet gobies are excellent jumpers; indeed most gobies are, and eel-shaped fish even better, so an eel-shaped Goby is at real risk of leaping out of uncovered tanks! In any case, within reason, fish will recover from the trauma of landing on the floor. Fin membranes will grow back quickly, and spines eventually, though sometimes not to their full extent. Skin grows back quite quickly. The prime risk is Finrot/Fungus, to treat against these as a precaution. Do also remember these are BRACKISH water fish, and are extremely prone to disease when kept in freshwater. So don't keep at less than SG 1.005.> The other tank has a sealed top and they will be moving back into it today. This should eliminate the problem reoccurring. <Very good.> Thanks <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Violet Goby   1/9/08 It turns out he was ok from that - fin intact - he just had it laid down. Now, starting last night he swims to the top of the tank and pokes his head out, sinks down and back up again. Pretty much lethargic. Water is almost perfect, about 77 degrees and the rest of the fish are fine. He is still breathing and other than swimming to the top of the tank and drifting back down a few inches there is little or no movement. Ideas? <You haven't mentioned water chemistry. These fish must be kept in brackish water; when kept in freshwater, they do poorly, and usually sicken and die. So please tell me what the salinity is in the aquarium. I cannot stress this point strongly enough: you should be adding marine salt mix (not tonic salt) to each bucket of water at not less than 9 grammes per litre (i.e., SG 1.005 upwards). In addition, Violet Gobies (Gobioides spp.) must have suitable hiding places as well as soft sand (not gravel) for digging in. Wild fish forage by shoveling mud and silt through their gill rakers. In the aquarium, they will do the same thing with silica sand, removing small food particles easily. But gravel stops them doing this, and ultimately these fish are at serious risk of starving. Violet Gobies are in part algae eaters, so once or twice per week should be given algae wafers or pellets. They will feed on these quite happily as they soften up on the substrate. Otherwise, stick with wormy/plankton foods -- bloodworms, brine shrimps, daphnia, etc. It should be very obvious that Violet Gobies are not "normal" fish that can be dumped in a community tank. On the other hand, they mix wonderfully with brackish water things such as Mollies that leave them alone.> They are back in the big tank, as an FYI. <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Dragon Goby Health 9/26/07 <Hi Patty, Pufferpunk here> I have a 3 year hold dragon goby. Over the last 2 months I have watched him eat (hand fed him) and he continues to lose weight. <What exactly are you feeding him?> He looks dangerously thin now. Could he have some type of parasite? <Possibly, They are generally wild-caught fish which can very well come to you with internal parasites.> He shares a 50 gallon tank with a mud skipper and another goby who seem to be very healthy. <It would help to know more information, like the specific gravity, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates & pH. What is the other goby? It wouldn't hurt to treat him for internal parasites. Try soaking his favorite food (mine loves live blackworms) in an anti-parasitic drug like, Metronidazole (a freshwater fish medication) or Levamisole Hydrochloride (a livestock dewormer. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/internal-parasites-prevention-and-treatment/ > Thank you for your help, Patty <I hope this helps. ~PP>

Dragon Goby... hlth.    1/28/08 Hello there, <Hello,> I bought a dragon goby, Gobioides broussonettii at the end of December, after Christmas. <Nice fish.> It's been getting along nicely in my 29gallon tank but my problem, or rather his problem, is that his fins were kinda jagged upon purchase, the biggest tear healed right away but what's left isn't really healing. I've got a very fine sand for substrate with some crushed coral in there underneath, and he lives under the pile of rocks that I have on one side burrowing away most of the daytime. None of the rocks are sharp, and his fins do seem to be healing to some extent. They're clear in the damaged areas from the regeneration, but these spots never seem to regain their colour. <Likely Finrot or similar bacterial infection; use an antibacterial (e.g., eSHa 2000) or antibiotic (e.g., Maracyn).> I was wondering if there's anything I could be doing about this, or if I should just let him be, and it will heal over time? <Bacterial infections sometimes heal by themselves but usually they do not, so its best to treat all wounds with an anti-Finrot medication.> If his diet is a factor, he's currently being fed algae tablets that I crush up for him after I turn the lights off, I will be buying some brine shrimp soon enough. <These fish are quite easy to feed. Live brine shrimp are a great treat, but have little nutritional value. Algae pellets and (wet) frozen bloodworms make a good basic combo.> Specific gravity is at 1.005 <This is at the low end, but should be adequate, and unlikely the problem.> -Collin <Cheers, Neale

Violet Goby HELP! -- 1/28/08 I have read, what I am sure is all there is printed to read on the Violet Goby. <Perhaps, but seemingly not everything on Tetraodon fluviatilis or Tetraodon nigroviridis; these pufferfish are widely reported as *not* good community fish, and wild fish are known to eat fins/scales along with their normal diet of plant material, algae and small invertebrates of various types.> I foolishly put my young Violet Goby in my tank (55Gl) with my 3 GSP. there is plenty of places to hide and have lived seemingly peaceful for the last two weeks today however, in a course of 12 hours the goby's fins are almost gone. <"Hiding" is not what Gobioides spp. want to do -- they are burrowers. If at all possible, keep in a tank with a sandy substrate.> I have moved the Goby to my quarantine tank, it has been cycled and have the same water conditions as my community tank. levels are perfect ammonia nitrite nitrate all 0 PH 8.0.( temp 75. Sal. 1.005 ) They are all fed their own proper diets. my question is can my Goby regrow his fins and live a long healthy life. <Yes, they will regrow, but you will need to make sure Finrot doesn't set in by treating appropriately.> or should I just make him comfortable as he slips away? <Nope.> any answers would be much appreciated. thank you Jessica <Cheers, Neale.>

Fish didn't make the move, Violet Gobies (Gobioides spp.)   1/26/08 Hello, I'm in a crisis. <Oh?> I've just moved and have been doing so in shifts. We brought the tank and fish (violet goby, molly, Plecostomus, and 2 angels) the other night, but as I got them here and setup the tank again, I noticed one of my angels did not make it, and then discovered that I had forgotten the box that has all products in it (salt, test strips, water remedies...etc.). So, I made a made dash to the store to purchase these things. I got the tank setup and the fish all seemed fine that night. When I came back the next day, my Violet Goby was not doing well at all. He had what looked like blood in his fins and his tail seems paralyzed at the tip. <Please understand this first: Violet Gobies (Gobioides spp.) are BRACKISH WATER FISH and their lifespan in completely freshwater tanks is poor. Since you also have a Plec and some Angels, I'm assuming this is a freshwater tank.> I had once again forgotten the box of supplies, but the neighbors have a pool, so I asked for a testing strip to at least get a rough idea of what was going on in the water. Everything seemed fine to me, but I touched up the conditions a bit. <The fish has a systemic bacterial infection, likely caused by Aeromonas spp. similar to those that cause Finrot and bacterial septicaemia. These bacteria block the blood vessels in the epidermis and fins, and this is what causes the inflammation. After a while the surrounding tissues die. The bacteria get in when fish are physically damaged or exposed to high levels of ammonia for extended periods. So either rough handling when you were transporting the fish, or else problems with filter in your new aquarium, were the triggering issues. You'll need something like Maracyn to deal with this. In brackish water Violet Gobies are basically hardy, but in freshwater they are already severely stressed, and any little thing can tip them over the edge. That's what happened here.> Now today, the water is fine, but the blood in its tail is vibrant and in a much bigger spot. I have not found ANY information on this. I need help. <Define "fine". Unless you're keeping this goby in brackish water at SG 1.005-1.015, then it most certainly is NOT fine.> I'm not sure what to do for it. If it can pull through, I want to give it the chance, but I don't want it to suffer. <Comes down to this: If you put the fish in a brackish water aquarium and treat with Maracyn, there's a good chance the fish will recover. At the moment the tissues look inflamed rather than necrotic, so you still have time. Your Mollies will do better in a brackish water tank than otherwise, and up to about SG 1.003 the Plec would adapt as well (and SG 1.003 would certainly be better than nothing). But the Angels will NOT tolerate brackish water. On the other hand, if you can't be bothered to set up a brackish water aquarium and would sooner just kill off a fish that you didn't research properly and is sick because you kept it in the wrong conditions, then nothing I say will change your mind. But in a plain vanilla freshwater aquarium this fish is, basically, doomed.> It seems o be hanging in there, but I have to check on it, because it will look like it died, but then when I scoop it with the net, it starts flailing about again. <I bet. It's in agony!> I've attached a picture. <Yuk.> I would really appreciate any help you can offer. ~Stephanie <Done my best! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fish didn't make the move  1/26/08 Thanks for your quick response, first off. <Not a problem.> I use aquarium salt... I guess not the same? <Nope. Marine salt mix is [a] not overpriced cooking salt, but more importantly [b] raises the carbonate hardness as well as the salinity. These two things are required for brackish water.> It was doing just fine before the move and I've had others before this one and kept them in the same conditions. <And how long did they last? Unless they all lived for an average of 10 years and reached their adult size of 40-50 cm, then they didn't do "fine". Most brackish water fish will muddle through in freshwater for a greater or shorter period of time, just like people can live for a while on nothing but McDonalds. But ultimately both scenarios will end the same way: badly. And it's not just me saying these are brackish water fish (though I flatter myself I know a little about the topic). Feel free to visit Fishbase to confirm. http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=3856 Note the "Prefer muddy bays and estuaries" statement. In fairness, you don't need a lot of salt to keep them happy, and even 10% seawater salinity (SG 1.003) should help enormously.> What do I need to do to make it brackish? <Ask and ye shall receive: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsystems.htm There are various useful linked topics from there as well.> and where can I find Maracyn? <In the US of A, most anyway aquarium store. In other states, you may need to ask your vet for Erythromycin.> ~Steph~ <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Fish didn't make the move  1/26/08 Ok, sorry. I found a store but do I need the Maracyn or Maracyn 2? ~Steph~ <I'd start with Maracyn first. Erythromycin is a pretty general purpose medication and should handle the bacteria causing the problem here. If it doesn't, you can always switch to Maracyn Two down the line. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fish didn't make the move... Dragon Gobies  1/27/08 Thank you so much for your help! I didn't even wait for your reply. I did some more researching and ran to the store. <Cool.> I'm pretty frustrated with pet stores in general right now though. <Can happen. While many stores offer excellent advice, some do not, and if you're unlucky enough to buy an exotic type of fish and receive poor advice at the point of sale, things can get real messy, real fast.> I went to a PetSmart and got the items I needed and out of curiousity asked if they had Dragon Gobies. The girl pointed out the tank with 2 of them in it. I asked if it was salt water to which she replied, "No, it's freshwater". <Not good. When you see this, it's heartbreaking to know that in all probability that fish will die a miserable death within six months.> Then I explained what I am going through and she said, "Well, it seems just fine in there" <Humph.> This is a BIG problem. Wal-Mart sold me aquarium salt for my dragons. <Oh dear. For what it's worth, it's better than nothing, especially if the water is already hard and alkaline. But long term, you want marine salt mix. By my reckoning, 6-9 grammes per litre is required to create SG 1.003-1.005 conditions. The Mollies will thrive, but the catfish less so and the Angelfish definitely not, and should be removed as soon as possible.> (Oh, and by the way, the other two dragons I had were killed by my husbands puffers. They were literally eaten alive. It wasn't pretty.) <I bet. On the whole puffers do not make good community fish.> Do these companies know/care? <Difficult to say. I imagine that few businesses actively want to mislead their customers or abuse animals. But do all companies work equally hard to ensure that customers receive accurate information on the fish they buy? That's a trickier question, and in all honestly I think many stores can definitely do a better job than they are doing now. But this does underline what Bob Fenner and all of us here at WWM say to aquarists: read up on a fish before buying it.> Obviously, they do not care enough to ensure that their employees are trained to give advice on any matters fish related. <Certainly seems this way sometimes. But some stores do make an effort, and it's up to us to patronise those stores that do.> Anyway, thank you again for your help. Hopefully, my little guy will pull through this and I have definitely learned something today :) <Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Dragon Goby - please help!  3-11-08 Hi Guys! I desperately need help with my new Dragon Goby. <Ah, before we get started, do make sure you have this fish in a proper brackish water aquarium; their lifespan in freshwater aquaria is poor.> I was at Pet Smart the other day to buy some small fish for our freshwater tank when I saw their new addition: Dragon Gobies! <Uh oh.> So I asked the sales associate (who on previous occasions had proven to be quite knowledgeable when it came to freshwater setups) whether or not this little guy would make a good addition to my tank. He assured me that the Goby should get along famously with his new tank mates and that the setup I had would be perfect. <I see where this is going...> So I bought one and took him home. <Never a good idea BEFORE you've read up on a fish. This is absolutely crucial when we're talking about oddball fish because so many of them have "issues" that need to be accommodated. That's why they're oddballs and not common community fish -- because they're DIFFERENT to regular community fish!> Our tank is 110 Gallons, fresh/brackish water. <No such hybrid; that's like being both pregnant and not pregnant at the same time. You either have a freshwater tank or a brackish water tank. Yes, some freshwater fish do well in brackish water (e.g., Guppies) but that doesn't mean that you can set a tank up that is acceptable to both brackish and freshwater fish at the same time.> We have a cichlid substrate in the bottom, so the PH is a steady 8.0. <You mean coral sand? Good; that's fine for this fish.> The filter is well established and our ammonia is nonexistent, as is the Nitrite level. We don't have a heater in the tank, but the temperature never falls below 70F. <Nope, you need a heater. Doesn't work this way. Gobioides broussonnetii shouldn't be kept below 72F/22C, and most other brackish water fish are from the tropics, and will be stressed when the water temperature stays below 77F/25C for any length of time.> Everything is natural - slate backdrop, substrate floor, tree roots and live plants... and recently plenty of algae. <Algae is good: Gobioides broussonnetii is partly an algae-eater, and uses its sharp teeth to scrape green algae from rocks.> The inhabitants are: 6 African and South American Cichlids in varying sizes from 3-5 inches in size, a small group of Platys and a handful of mini crabs, all of which get along great. <Most of these cichlids are likely salt-intolerant, so long term this is going to work. The Platies will do fine at SG 1.005, the minimum specific gravity for Gobioides broussonnetii maintenance. Acclimate them slowly though, because they aren't really brackish water fish, merely salt-tolerant by dint of their evolutionary history. Cichlids are a mixed bag: some species occur in brackish and even marine environments, but many get stressed by prolonged exposure to brackish water. 'Malawi Bloat' is a fatal disease associated with the excessive use of sodium chloride in tanks containing Mbuna and other Malawian fish.> We feed the fish color bites, which they love (all other food winds up decaying - they don't even touch it). <Long term Gobioides broussonnetii needs a mixed diet with lots of algae; I recommend Plec-type algae wafers. Frozen (not freeze-dried) worm foods such as bloodworms are also important. Live brine shrimp are a favourite. Colour-enhancing fish foods are NOT a staple food, especially for your African cichlids that need green foods to do well. You're dicing with death here, because once cichlids become constipated they become very vulnerable to bacterial infections.> When we put Leroy (yes, they all have names) into the tank, he seemed quite happy and none of the other fish were bothering him. <I say this too often, but fish couldn't care less about having a name. What they want is the right environment and the right diet.> He eats the small snails that hang out on the glass and the plants - I've never seen him go after the regular fish food. <Indeed not.> However, within a couple of days, he started showing small gashes in his fins. <Likely Finrot or Fungus, perhaps caused by attacks by the Cichlids; I have seen Mbuna for example shred the fins on Polypterus, a fish of similar size and shape to Gobioides broussonnetii. Moreover, if your Cichlids are not getting a balanced diet (and they're not) they will be opportunistically trying out anything.> We thought that maybe one of the other fish had started picking on him...but to this day, I've never seen any of the other fish acting aggressively towards him. <I've never seen a house get broken into by thieves -- but I'm told it happens!> The Cichlids fight amongst themselves, but seem to regard neither Leryo nor the Platies as competition and completely ignore them. <Not convinced...> Leroy's fins have deteriorated badly - they look ragged and in some places have all but disappeared. Yesterday, I saw that he had something that looked like an open wound under his left side fin which is sticking out a bit too. <Finrot and/or Fungus. In any case you MUST do two things, stat! First, raise the salinity of the aquarium to at least SG 1.005. That is about 25% seawater, 9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre (about 1.2 ounces per US gallon). This will obviously stress/kill the cichlids, so the cichlids or the Goby will have to go. Your choice which. But doing neither will result in the death of one or other type of fish. Secondly, you treat with a combo Finrot/Fungus medication such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000.> I've already tried running a full treatment of Melafix through the tank, but to no avail (I couldn't get to the filters to take the carbon out - but since it wasn't a necessity, I hope that didn't affect the outcome of the treatment too much). <Two things here: One, you MUST remove the carbon. This isn't negotiable. Carbon removes medication. Simple as that. You can add as much medication as you want, but if the carbon is in the filter, you'll achieve precisely nothing. Secondly, Melafix doesn't work. It's cheap and "new age" and I suppose that's why people buy it. But it doesn't work very well either.> Two of our other fish have ragged fins, but not nearly as bad as Leroy's ( plus they're the two that get picked on by the bigger fish, so a bit of wear is to be expected I think). <Definitely serious. Treat the tank at once.> Leroy's still swimming around and active, but it's very painful seeing a great fish like him deteriorating and not knowing what to do about it. <I suspect you know exactly what to do, you've just chosen not to, for reasons that passeth all understanding. This fish is dying because you bought it without thinking whether you could house it properly.> All his symptoms point to a bacterial infection, but since I couldn't find too much about Dragon Gobies, I decided to do more research and found your site. <Oh, there's plenty about these fish out there. Articles on this site, my book, the Aqualog book, and most decent aquarium atlases have this fish too.> Last night, we've started running a treatment of Tetracycline in the tank - complete with filter change and removing of the carbon. <Thank the gods!> I'm stopping by the store on my way home to buy the remaining 3 courses for the treatment. From what I read in your other advise on Dragon Gobies, I'm not sure whether that might be too harsh of a treatment.. but it's the best I could come up with. <Certainly better than what you've been doing up until now, but let me make this crystal clear: without BRACKISH WATER, this fish has little to no chance of survival in the long term. And adding a "teaspoon of salt per gallon" or whatever doesn't make water brackish; go measure out 1.2 ounces of MARINE SALT MIX (e.g., Instant Ocean or whatever, not "aquarium salt") and you'll see how much you need to add PER GALLON.> Is there anything I can do to help him heal without compromising the other fish in the tank? <Nothing. Nix. Nada. Nyet. Non.> Thank you in advance for your help! Yours, Nina <Good luck, Neale.>

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