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FAQs on Violet Gobies 2

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, & 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 Disease, Dragon/Violet Gobies Reproduction, & Brackish Water Fishes in General

Dragon Goby Injury      3/3/19
Good afternoon,
<Hello Joel,>
About three weeks ago, I noticed some injuries appear on my Dragon Goby. A few round holes appeared on his skin (see attached pictures) as well as redness localized to a few areas such as on the underside of his head, though these have since faded. He is also less interested in food and more
lethargic. I honestly thought he was dead yesterday given how little he moved during the day but it picked up some at night.
<I see these holes. While clean, which indicates bacterial infection is minimal, you're obviously looking at muscle, so the skin has been punctured quite deeply. Usually such wounds indicate either physical injury (e.g., abrasions) or attacks by other fish.>
The tank is a 55 gallon brackish tank kept at about 77F and 1.006 specific gravity.
<Sounds fine.>
I am unsure of the pH/hardness of the water, but the water used in tank changes causes hard water stains so I never was too concerned with brackish fish.
<Indeed. If you're using a good quality marine salt mix, pH and hardness should be taken care of automatically.>
Ammonia and Nitrites are 0, Nitrates were at approximately 40 ppm when I noticed the issues but this has been reduced to about 10 ppm. Tank filtration is done with two power filters adding up to about 7x tank turnover per hour. Current tankmate is a Silver Scat, about 6.5" long. I have seen no new issues with the Scat, though for the past year she has been skittish.
<They are skittish fish, and often settle down better alongside similar fish or even Monos or Sailfin Mollies. But even then, they are restless and they can be nervous. Silver Scats are beautiful though, and never seem to get too big, maybe 20 cm/8 inches under home aquarium conditions. So in a big tank, keeping three or more might be a possibility. My specimen, however, cohabited with a trio of Monos, a West African Mono, and an Archerfish. All got along fine in 200 gallons.>
Understand that this tank is too small for the adult size of these fish; I have purchased a new home that I move into in about 6 weeks which has a basement suitable for a 150-200 gallon tank.
After noticing the injuries, I tried a few things in an attempt to fix what I perceived may have been environmental root cause:
1) I did 33-40% water changes every other day for about 10 days. I also added a bit of marine iodide into each water change on three of the days.
Nitrate levels reduced but no positive change in behavior. In the event that low hardness was a concern, I also added in approximately 1 tablespoon of unscented Epsom salt per gallon of water changed to the buckets on two of the days.
<Certainly ensuring good water quality will be key, alongside a reliable antibiotic or antibacterial.>
2) I noticed gray areas in sand where anaerobic bacteria patches are. The sand bed is about 3" deep so understood that this is normal. I cleaned up the areas and added another half inch of sand to the bottom of the entire tank. No change in behavior.
<Is the sand too sharp perhaps? Are there any rocks in there, such as Tufa rock or dead coral, that might scratch the fish? One popular approach with these Gobies is to find some PVC pipe work of appropriate diameter and length, silicone on a nice layer of sand and gravel, leave to dry, and once cured, partially bury in the sand. The Goby will happily use this, and being smooth on the inside, it's nice and safe. Any hollow ceramic ornament is likely to be used, too, and things like clay sewerage pipes (obviously new ones!) look very authentic once covered with algae, giving a harbourside feel to the tank if used carefully, perhaps with a few empty oyster shells silicone on for decoration.>
3) I added in an air power box filter to the bottom of the tank, thinking additional oxygenation may be helpful. No change in behavior.
<A good call, though these fish are actually quite well adapted to low oxygen levels.>
I can think of a few potential root causes; physical injury from something rough in the tank or envenomation from the Scat are two I am leaning towards. Looking through the Handbook of Fish Diseases by Dieter Untergasser, the only skin condition which may fit the symptoms is Fish TB, but I am unsure if I see any bent spine concerns given how sinuous they move to begin with. But if that is the case, I'd like to take action sooner rather than later.
<I do not think a Mycobacteria infection is the issue here. The wounds are very clean, with little evidence of dead tissue or bacterial scum.>
The pH of my tap water is approximately 7.5, but the tests I use do not seem to work well with the brackish water and so I get varying numbers. I am confident, though, that the water here is hard and basic.
Any thoughts you have on the matter would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
<Hope the above helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dragon Goby Injury (RMF?)<I'd remove the Silica substrate>      3/3/19

Thank you so much for following up.
The sand is approximately 85% pool filter (silica) sand with the rest being aragonite sand mixed in for buffering purposes and a small amount of rounded gravel for aesthetics.
<Sounds fine.>
There is a few pieces of lava rock in the tank which could very well be the cause here.
<Would agree; remove.>
I sanded down the rock until it was smooth to my skin (though "your mileage may vary" as the saying goes) and used cyanoacrylate to adhere oyster shells to it, creating an oyster reef look which I had gotten from WetWebMedia. When I upgrade I will consider whether I want to leave this out or not.
<Understood. I'd be removing any/all abrasive rocks/shells for now. Have only the soft substrate and water worn cobbles or whatever. See how the fish recovers. If all goes well, you can probably be sure the rocks were the cause of abrasions, e.g., when the Goby was burrowing. They're adapted to mudflats and have little need for rocks, nor understanding of how to avoid them.>
Interestingly, I do have some PVC pipe in the tank but the Goby mostly ignores it. Half the tank I have unlit to allow the fish to come out only if they choose and the Goby historically spent it loafing openly on either side.
<Fair enough!>
As an aside, I have gotten great mileage out of your book Brackish-Water Fishes, and have used it for reference on many occasions. It is by far my favorite aquarium hobby book in my collection.
<Thanks for saying so. It was a team effort, most of the authors being other hobbyists who I met on a long-defunct mailing list (remember those!).
While I'd change a lot if writing the book now, I'm pretty proud of what we achieved.>
I will look into a suitable antibiotic for this situation.
<I am optimistic that together with clean water and removal of sharp rocks, this Goby should recover. Have seen fish survive similar deep, but clean, wounds before.>
Thank you again for your assistance with this.
<Glad to have helped. Cheers, Neale.>

Switching from Freshwater to Brackish    4/4/18
Hello Crew!
<Hello Renee,>
Well, my latest sick Oscar has recovered (thank you Neale) and left this afternoon for his new home.
<Well done!>
So now I have an open 72 gallon tank that I would like to change from freshwater to brackish for a dragon goby.
<Interesting choice. These big, quite friendly fish make good pets. They are a little demanding in some ways, needing brackish water for example, but in other regards extremely tough. Their biology in the wild is fascinating. They live in tidal rivers where they are sometimes forced to survive for hours in a wet burrow when the tide has gone out! So unusually among marine fish they are able to breathe air. Many species in their group lack eyes, and even the ones with eyes have such tiny little eyes it's hard to imagine they see much. In the wild about half their diet is reported to be algae and organic detritus, so needless to say they're not fussy feeders, but their large size does mean they need quite a bit of food.
Besides algae wafers and the like, they readily consume bloodworms, brine shrimps, and other small invertebrates, but even the adults (which can measure over 40 cm/16 inches) very rarely take live fish, even Guppy fry, unless absolutely starving.>
I've done my research and spoke to the company I would be getting the goby from and they say the fish (about 4 inches) is currently a freshwater fish.
<Yes, often the case that they're shipped that way, but trust me, they all come from estuaries and tidal mudflats. They are highly specialised fish, rather like Mudskippers, that only 'make sense' in very specific situations.>
So my thinking is that I would get the fish, put it in my currently freshwater 72 gallon tank, and slowly acclimate both the fish and the tank to brackish water.
<That would work fine. You might want to change the decor of the tank though, which you can do with the filter running. Depending on the circumstances, you might want to remove any live plants (these are unlikely to do well in brackish water) and replace gravel with smooth silica sand (which these gobies like to burrow into). Rocks should be smooth water worn cobbles to avoid scratching the goby, and the use of hollow tube-shaped ornaments will provide useful hiding places. These fish are rather shy initially, so shelter is important.>
But I want to be very careful doing this as I use RO/DI water with Equilibrium and baking soda for a healthy pH/kH which has been working very well.
<Unless your tap water has very high nitrates, there's really no advantage to using RO water instead. Because you're adding minerals to the tap water, and these fish demand high levels of dissolved minerals, tap water rarely
presents any serious problems for brackish water fish. The exception is high nitrate, which can cause algae problems. Otherwise things like ammonia and copper in the water can be treated in the traditional way, with a good water conditioner.>
I plan to use Instant Ocean to make the brackish water.
<A fine choice. But because brackish water fish are less demanding than marines in terms of pH and mineral, even cheap generic sea salt brands can be fine, and save you a few bucks over the years.>
I have sent e-mails to both Seachem and Instant Ocean telling them of my plan and asking these same questions: 1) I normally do 20 - 25% water changes weekly, Can I slowly acclimate the tank through my weekly water
changes or should I do it more quickly or more slowly than once a week?
<I would go much more slowly than this. Assuming the fish is in freshwater now, I'd introduce the fish, and then immediately do a 25% water change with water that has a salinity of SG 1.004-1.005. The resulting salinity in
the tank should be around SG 1.001. That's fine for the first day or two.
I'd then do something similar, a 25% water change with SG 1.004-1.005 water, every other day. Crucially, this would result in the salinity going up gently over the course of a week or so, allowing the filter bacteria to adapt. Nobody really knows if marine aquarium bacteria, brackish water bacteria, and freshwater bacteria are all the same things or different species, so it's best to assume the latter, and allow the tank to do a 'mini cycle' over the course of a few weeks. Once at SG 1.004-1.005, leave the tank alone for a couple of weeks at least. This should be fine for the goby, and if he's feeding happily, there's no need to raise the salinity further for a good while yet.>
2) will the Instant Ocean in the replacement water cause drastic changes in pH/kH as it mixes with the water currently in the tank that contains Equilibrium and baking soda or are there any other potential interactions
between Equilibrium/baking soda/Instant Ocean that I should be aware of?
<There will be little difference in the pH before adding the salt and afterwards, though it might go up a tiny bit. The hardness (both general and carbonate) should go up a little too. But not enough to harm the fish.
Similarly, while these changes will have an effect on your filter bacteria, if you go slow, it won't be noticeable. Normally, there's no need to add Equilibrium and baking soda to tanks with marine salt mix added, because
marine salt mix essentially includes those two chemicals in its formula.>
3) in my research I came across a random post in a saltwater forum that Instant Ocean is not sufficient to keep a healthy kH when used with RO/DI water (this was a saltwater forum, not brackish) and that I would need to
use Seachem Alkaline buffer for that purpose. Would this be accurate for a brackish tank?
<This is a debatable point, but worth thinking about. Normally, marine salt mixes contain alkaline chemicals that buffer against pH changes, so you shouldn't have to add anything extra, such as baking soda or a commercial
alkaline buffer. But if you find the pH drops too quickly between water changes, then you might need to do so. If we recall that pH drops are caused by decaying organic matter in the tank, then if we have a spacious tank that's well maintained, there's no reason to anticipate a rapid drop in pH. Make sense? Bear in mind that these fish come from highly variable habitats, and are MUCH less fussy about pH than their marine cousins. So provided the pH doesn't go below, say, pH 7.5, you're probably fine without adding anything beyond the marine salt mix.>
4) The information I've found said that the best SG for a dragon goby is 1.006, does that sound right to you?
<Anything between freshwater and full marine would be experienced in the wild, so yes, 1.006 is fine. As noted earlier, I'd aim for 1.004-1.005 initially, simply to allow the bacteria in the filter to adapt. Once you go above 1.005 you seem to get a mini-cycle kicking in, so I'd wait for the goby to be settled in, and only change the salinity up if you feel the need, and even then, in little steps through weekly water changes to allow the filter to adapt. What you don't want is an ammonia spike. To be fair, these fish actually handle high ammonia levels quite well, being forced to live in wet burrows at times, but this isn't something you want to deliberately cause for obvious reasons! Furthermore, your final salinity might depend on your chosen tankmates. Many people keep these gobies with
livebearers, whether Guppies or Mollies, since these 'dither fish' help the goby feel more settled and secure, and add some colour and activity to a tank that can sometimes seem a bit Spartan. Mollies are also good for algae
I have buckets spread all over my bathroom and I'm going to start testing as soon as I pick up some Instant Ocean tomorrow, but any guidance you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I'd love to have this fish, but I
have to be sure I can take care of it well before I jump in. Thank you!
<Hope this helps. These fish are genuinely not difficult to keep. But do make sure they can't jump out: like most eel-shaped fish, this can be risk if the tank has any large holes in the hood. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Switching from Freshwater to Brackish      4/5/18
Thank you so much for all the information and guidance.
You've made getting this fish fun instead of stressful now that I have a plan!
Attached is a picture of his/her tank.
It's a 72 gallon with a Fluval 405 canister filter on it.
<A good filter.>
Tank temperature is 78 degrees.
The substrate is pool filter sand and all the plants are plastic.
<Both good choices. Algae control may be a problem without live plants though. Various approaches here, from the use of brackish water snails (such as Batman and Spiny Nerite snails, Clithon corona, Clithon sowerbyana, and Neripteron auriculata; also some US native species can work too, e.g., Neritina reclivata) through to careful control of lighting duration (4hrs on, 2hrs off, 4 hrs on) and nitrate control (minimal food in, regular water changes out). Still, if you get the tank right, with a good strong current in particular to keep down blue-green algae, the only pest algae will be diatoms, and they're easily controlled with Nerites.>
It's been up and cycled for a little over a year. It has a plastic egg crate top that I cut specifically to fit this tank that did very well keeping my Rope Fish in there when they had that tank.
It has a very snug fit to, so if the fish push on it, they won't be able to move it. That mass of plastic plants in the center is actually covering 4 - 2 inch pvc pipes, one on top of the other and fastened with zip ties. One tube is 24 inches, the next up is 18, next is 12, and the top tube is 6 inches. I know these fish get to be about 16 inches long, but I don't know what to expect in terms of diameter, but I'm prepared to make him/her a new "fish condo" out of 4 inch pvc if necessary.
<Understood. Juveniles should fit happily in the tubes you already have, and under aquarium conditions they're unlikely to get quite so big as in the wild. I think you're going to be fine for a couple years at least, and should you need to upgrade, that shouldn't be hard to do. Any ceramic ornament big enough for an adult Plec will be fine for an adult Violet Goby.>
Also, I have cut holes at 4 inch intervals along the tubes, about 1 inch in diameter, on both sides to ensure water movement within the tube so it doesn't stagnate. I can't find anything online that says these fish like a strong current, so I do not have a powerhead in the tank.
<They do like strong currents, as do most gobies, but I'd be using a strong current more to avoid blue-green algae than for the fish. Still corners tend to be where blue-green algae starts off, and once in your tank, it's a real pain to eliminate.>
I use RO/DI water for all the tanks because I'm on a well in a very rural area and my tap water has 1 ppm of ammonia in it AND human remains (probably wouldn't bother the fish, but it gives me the heebie-jeebies!)
<Understood, and yes, the fish couldn't care less. Ammonia will be neutralised by a good quality water conditioner, and as for the human remains, "parts-is-parts" so far as the biological filter goes. The reason I often advocate against using RO or DI water is a cost issue: people are more likely to do more frequent water changes if they can use the cheap water from the tap. If they need to be spending money on RO membranes, carbon filters, and all the rest of it, they're more likely to minimise the use of new water for doing water changes. Ultimately it's a balance. For sure, RO water is best, but 5 litres of tap water trumps 1 litre of RO when it comes to water changes! Make sense?>
I actually have never tested the tap water for nitrite or nitrate.
<Neither are critical factors here, but if your nitrate is very high, say, more than 20 mg/l, then algae problems are more of a risk, and you should take precautions as mentioned above.>
So I ordered the fish and he should arrive Friday. I have to have him delivered to the fish store where I get my supplies because UPS doesn't come out to my house. When I pick up the fish, I'll pick up the Instant Ocean and the store owner is going to loan me a refractometer until I can afford to buy my own.
<Refractometers are nice an' all, but for brackish they're overkill. At 25 C/77 F, 1.005 water is about 8.9 gram marine salt mix per litre (1.18 oz per US gallon) and can be made up using kitchen scales using these values
according to however much water your bucket holds. For example, a 5-gallon bucket would need 5 x 1.18 = 5.9 oz marine salt mix. Once you've done that, and it's all dissolved nicely, a plain vanilla hydrometer can be used to
check the specific gravity, and if the hydrometer is 'off' a point or two, just make a note of that, perhaps by putting a permanent marker line on the scale, and remember that's the level you want, not the number on the scale.
Refractometers are fiddly and need calibrating, and don't, in themselves, mean you're getting more accurate readings just because they're more precise (accuracy and precision being completely different things).>
Thank you for the suggestion about the Mollies for dither fish, but how many should I get without pushing the stocking limits of this tank?
<Oh, for a tank this size you could safely start with 6-8 specimens and let nature take its course. I'd get a single variety so that you can share the offspring with local pet stores, Mollies being popular fish. If you were feeling ambitious, you could get one of the two Sailfin Molly species, as these occur alongside the Violet Goby in the wild, so that'd been very authentic. Giant Sailfin Mollies in particular are expensive and difficult to breed in freshwater, but in a brackish tank will breed readily, adding value to your set-up. Alternatively, there are things like Micropoecilia picta and Micropoecilia parae that are very beautiful, difficult to keep in freshwater, and rare enough that any offspring produced would be easily sold on. As their name suggests, Micropoecilia are small, so you'd easily be able to keep a large group of them in a tank this size. As we've discussed, Violet Gobies generally ignore small fish, so you should be safe, but you might try out a few Micropoecilia first before buying a whole
So as you read this, can you think of anything I've missed?
<See above! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Switching from Freshwater to Brackish      4/6/18
Thank you again! Have a wonderful day!
<Off to the pub to meet a couple of friends, so that should be nice; my toddler deciding to vomit all over the sofa, less of a highlight. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Switching from Freshwater to Brackish      4/6/18

P.S. Per your suggestion, I just put a smaller powerhead in the tank. When I moved the BGK and the Ropefish to my 125 gallon, I had to get them a bigger powerhead. So I put their old one back in the 72. I don't remember the gph, but it worked well for the BGK when it was in the 72 gallon.
<Should work fine. To combat blue-green algae, what you want is the water *across the substrate* to be moving. So position the powerhead accordingly.>
Also, you mentioned the goby will need algae wafers for a balanced diet.
Will this fish also enjoy cucumber, zucchini, and peas like my Bristlenose Plecos do?
<Yes indeed. Violet Gobies are omnivorous, and very adaptable in captivity, but all reports on wild specimens confirm that their stomachs are more than half-filled with algae and organic detritus. In other words, very similar
to Plecs, and a similar diet should work nicely. Indeed, have odd little teeth in their mouths that can be used to scrape rocks, and some aquarists have seen them feed this way in their tanks. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Switching from Freshwater to Brackish      4/6/18

Oh, I'm sorry about your sofa! But at least you have a little while before the baby starts asking for the car keys!
Enjoy your day, and thank you again!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

OMG! He's Eating!  Dragon Goby      4/8/17
Hi Crew! Hi Neale!
<Hello Renee,>
Just so excited I had to give you an update - the Goby has barely been in his new home for 24 hours and he's out in the middle of the day, with the tank light on (it does have a diffuser) and he's eating. With everything I read about this species on the Internet, I was expecting to have a problem getting him to eat, so this is better than I dreamed possible!
<Certainly sounds promising.>
When I got him home yesterday, he went right to the bottom of the tank and just stayed there for about 20 minutes and then vanished into all the great hiding spaces I made for him. So I did as you suggested and did a 25% water change and mixing the replacement water to SG 1.004. As you predicted, that brought the whole SG of the tank up to 1.001.
<Sounds about right.>
Then I just left the lights off and let him rest for the remainder of the day. Then last night, just before lights out, I made him a little stew of mostly nori, but spiced up with a little bit of chopped bloodworms, Tubifex (Hikari) worms, and some brine shrimp - fed that and turned out all the lights in the room.
<Do be careful not to mince particles of food too small -- these end up in the filter and decay, doing the water quality no favours. Better to have fragments big enough you can remove any surplus easily if you need to.>
Didn't see him this morning, but didn't really expect to, so I just gave him a little bit more "stew" and went about my day. But just ten minutes ago I saw him out swimming around the tank until he found a pretty good sized piece of nori and the he just sat there eating away till it was gone and swam off in search of more. So here's my happy question; my aquarium supply store sells sheets of algae for marine fish. Should I get him some of that? Is it healthier for him? Or should I stick with the nori because he's eating it?
<The algae sheets sold in pet stores for marine aquaria is usually exactly the same stuff as the nori sheets sold in Asian food markets. Use either; use both; whatever suits your budget and/or convenience best!>
(all smiles!)
<Indeed! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: OMG! He's Eating!     4/8/17

<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Dragon Goby      5/11/18

P.S. The Dragon Goby that you helped me with that I got in back on April 6th (he was about 6 inches long then) has been responsible for me getting a lot of "guff" from members of the local aquarium club.
<Well, that's good, isn't it!?>
They thought I was wrong to feed him seaweed (green, red, and brown - he loves them all!) and only the occasional bloodworms and Mysis shrimp - they insisted he was a carnivore and needed an exclusively "meat" diet AND a freshwater fish.
Well, they're eating their words now as he has grown to more than 10 inches in just a month and his girth has quadrupled.
He is absolutely stunning with his silver and cobalt blue coloring (I keep trying to get a picture of him, but all I get is a silver-blue blur - I'll send you one when I get it) and he swims around the tank strong and bold as brass day or night, tank lights on or not.
<Quite so. Their other common name, Violet Goby, refers to this lovely colouration they can develop under good conditions. Healthy specimens might not be pretty, as such, given their weird proportions, but they are certainly impressive.>
Now everyone wants to know where I got my information on feeding this fish correctly and I gave them the address for your site.
Thanks for setting me straight on caring for this beautiful fish!
<Ah, and thanks for this kind, informative and very welcome update. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Violet Goby       5/11/18

Yes, it is good! What's even more fun is to see peoples' reaction when they see him. They don't just stop talking, they stop breathing for a bit (no one as fainted yet!).
<They are certainly distinctive pets!>
I've been looking for more specific information about the different seaweeds that might shed some light on the Goby's menu selections, but so far I haven't been able to find anything (and the nutritional information on the package says they're all the same as far as percentage of protein, fat, fiber, etc.).
<Oh, I would not worry too much: while there is some variation, the essential nutrients in seaweed, such as iodine, will complement nicely the nutritional composition of things like algae wafers and frozen krill.>
But he definitely has his preferences; he always eats the red seaweed first, always.
<Yum! This group, the Rhodophyta, includes many of the ones humans consider most palatable, including Nori and Laver.>
Then he'll eat the green or the brown as he seems to like those equally, unless I have put a Algae Wafer or Veggie Round in the tank - those are preferred over the green or brown seaweed. I'd love to understand why (there I go again with the "why").
<Algae wafers will contain nice smelly proteins that attract fish to eat them. Red algae may well be extra tasty in the same way that your Japanese sashimi wouldn't be as good without the Sushi Nori wrapped around it!>
Anyway, I almost didn't get this fish, which would have been my loss, because the Internet says they are very difficult to transition to frozen foods. Now I know why.
<A common story with many oddballs. They're not difficult; they just can't be kept in a community tank and fed flake. Once you get past that, oddballs offer up some really fun pets.>
Maybe my experience will help someone else make more informed choices and be able to enjoy this incredible gift of nature.
<Quite so. Regards, Neale.>

Violet goby ideas     5/14/17
<Hello Meghan,>
I'm still playing around with different ideas of how to eventually house my violet dragon goby. Currently it is alone in a 55 gallon brackish tank, SG 1.005 (varies a little with water changes).
<All sounds fine. Precise specific gravity doesn't matter at all. The main thing is that there's "some" salinity, and it's not kept in plain freshwater indefinitely.>
I was thinking about an enormous tank, but I'm concerned with the ongoing cost of marine salt - especially considering 10-20% weekly water changes.
<Weekly water changes won't be necessary if you lightly stock the tank. 2-3 week gaps between water changes will be fine. Monitor nitrate (make sure it doesn't go too high) and pH (make sure it doesn't drop too much) and use these as a guide as to when to do water changes. Fundamentally, water changes are about keeping nitrate low and preventing acidification. We don't do massive weekly water changes to outdoor ponds precisely because
they're modestly stocked and have "natural" ways of avoiding high nitrate levels and fluctuating pH levels. Oh, and one tip -- if you can get old water from a reef tank, that's usually easily good enough to use in a brackish system! Mix with tap water, of course, to get the right salinity, maybe one part reef tank water with three parts tank -- and you'll get something around SG 1.005 that'll be fairly low in nitrate without needing any expense on salt!>
So now I'm thinking about a much smaller tank. 55 gallons - 48" long is the minimum size for the goby.
<Correct, though it's lookalike species, Gobioides peruanus, is considerably smaller.>
I read that dwarf fuzzy lionfish can handle an SG of 1.015 and up. My goby should be fine with that, too. I can even add a protein skimmer.
<While these lionfish (and other, Pterois spp.) do occur in below normal marine salinities, I'm not convinced they inhabit such waters indefinitely.
SG 1.018 would be fine, and standard procedure for many (robust) marines in the 60s and 70s, but SG 1.015? Seems a bit low to me, especially when there *are* true brackish water fish of similar type out there, such as Notesthes robusta and Neovespicula depressifrons, this latter being very similar in size and appearance to Dendrochirus spp. That said, the Dwarf Fuzzy is certainly easier to get, so I will let BobF chime in here before I get too adamant about its suitability or otherwise!>
So I'm thinking about a 55 gallon tank with the goby and some dwarf fuzzy lionfish. I'd love some little blue leg hermit crabs, too, but I'm betting the lions would eat them, right?
<It isn't common, but it does happen, yes. A lot depends on the relative sizes of the lionfish and the hermit crabs' shells.>
Would a 55 gallon be sufficient space for my goby plus 3 or more of the little lions?
<I would think not; when keeping marines, more space is better, especially if you're trying to reduce workload/expense.>
And would live rock work at that low SG? And would the rough surface of the rocks be a danger to the goby?
<Live rock will in theory work, in the sense that once the bacteria colonise the anaerobic crevices, you'll get denitrification alongside nitrification on the aerobic parts of the rock. But the marine invertebrates and algae? Nope, they'll die at reduced salinities, except in a few cases which often end up as little more than green-brown algal slimes. Might as well just get Tufa rock, lava rock or "dead" live rock. Bacteria will colonise these just as well. Will they scratch the gobies?
Well, it's a risk, yes; given these gobies come from muddy rivers and estuaries, abrasive rocks and reefs aren't something they're programmed to deal with. So I'd be looking at bogwood, water worn cobbles, that sort of thing.>
Maybe I should go full strength sea water so I can try corals or something, too. Would the goby be happy & healthy long term at the higher salinity?
<Gobioides broussonnetii can/does live in fully marine habitats. Not coral reefs though, and it might well be stung/irritated by polyps and the like.>
My goby isn't an aggressive feeder - it let Sailfin mollies & guppies munch the food intended for it. That's why it is alone now. Would the lions cause the same problem?
<Keeping them with livebearers is ideal, given that Gobioides are primarily herbivores and detritus feeders in the wild, so they all eat the same stuff. Algae flake, Plec wafers, and a few offerings of small invertebrates such as brine shrimps ticks all the right boxes. Easy peasey. Adding a nocturnal predator complicates things, and obviously would view small livebearers as prey. But shouldn't be a threat to the Gobioides, assuming the latter was much too big to be viewed as food. But predators need meaty food, which means nitrate because a problem more quickly, which would in turn mean more frequent water changes. So do-able, yes, but optimal, probably not.>
Thank you for all the help with my questions!
- Meghan
<Most welcome. Neale.>
re: Violet goby ideas (Bob, Dwarf Lionfish at SG 1.015?)     5/14/17

"Dwarf Fuzzy is certainly easier to get, so I will let BobF chime in here before I get too adamant about its suitability or otherwise!"
<As Neale hints; the genus Dendrochirus Lions can be kept at reduced spg, but not this low permanently. Too damaging to their kidneys, other internal organs. Bob Fenner>
Re: Violet goby ideas (Bob, Dwarf Lionfish at SG 1.015?)     5/15/17

Oh, and let me add Meghan, that you have another crepuscular predator option in the US trade; namely Butis butis, and beautiful species despite its “Crazyfish” moniker. Eminently suitable for life alongside Gobioides and *adult* Sailfin Mollies; will view bite-sized companions as prey. Please see attached for a photo of this underrated gem, a true brackish water specialist adaptable to anything from hard freshwater to full marine, but probably best in middling salinities. Adult length to 15 cm/6 inches; hardy, territorial but otherwise peaceful.
Bottom line, unnecessary to maintain (and possibly stress) a marine predator at suboptimal salinities when there’s a good range of brackish water predators out there to choose from!
Cheers, Neale

Intertwined violet goby aquarium & guppy utility questions       7/26/16
Hello all,
I thoroughly enjoy your site and the friendly, expert advice of your staff.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have yet again spent days searching the Internet and this site in particular and not found the information I'm seeking, so I come for a little knowledgeable advice. I have a young, small violet goby who has been waiting for an appropriate tank while I save the necessary money for such a set up. Also, after buying a few random "pretty guppies" for fun and ending up with bucketsful of fry, I am in the process of switching gears to selectivity breed them for fun (and perhaps profit) and have many healthy but "ugly" fish to deal with.
Also, in the next month (barring the unforeseen) I'll finally have the necessary money saved to get a large used aquarium. My multiple 10 gallon breeding set up will also finish cycling -- which will free up the 55 gallon that currently houses most of my guppies.
<As you're seeing, Violet Gobies don't eat livebearer fry! It's very surprising to some when fish as big as Violet Gobies end up being so harmless.>
So I'll have two potential tanks to fill.
Part of my problem is although I have almost all the cash I need, the 55 gallon I already own is large enough to house the goby - the minimum.
However, it would need to be modified from its present set up. I'm also not sure how I feel about only providing this fascinating fish with only the minimum.
<Can you sell the surplus Guppies?>
Another issue is that in the quest for beautiful, possibly sellable guppies, there are many casualties. First go any with obvious deformities or illnesses. I can handle that. But then there are the healthy "ugly" ones. That is a problem for me.
<Shouldn't be. My classroom has a 4-ft long aquarium filled with "moggie" Guppies that sport a total mishmash of colours - reds, blues, and so on. Their jumbled up colours look surprisingly nice, and much closer to what wild-type Guppies look like. They're also very hardy and easy to keep thanks to their healthier combinations of genes, ideal as classroom pets.
Non-pedigree Guppies might have no great value compared to the pedigree strains sold in pet shops, but they're better fish for community tanks and far more reliable. The better aquarium stores in the UK, such as Maidenhead
Aquatics, regularly take in unwanted fish including Guppies, and sell them on as inexpensive pets. Your local aquarium shops may offer a similar service, though I note than in the US a "feeder guppy" mentality persists where non-pedigree Guppies are sold as live food, something that is both expensive and unhealthy. Finally, local tropical fish clubs are a good way to rehome surplus fish among like-minded hobbyists.>
I am opposed to wasting life - specifically - killing without express, worthwhile purpose. Although I find "get rid of the ugly ones" a logically sound standpoint when breeding for beauty, I find it stomach turning in practice.
<One way to avoid this is to keep just one strain of a pure-breeding Guppy.
All offspring should match this type and be easy to sell as Red Cobra Guppies or whatever. Unfortunately, a lot of retailers sell pedigree males alongside non-pedigree females, I think because the Guppy breeders want to monopolise production of pedigree Guppies. So you can buy Red Cobra males but not females. Tropical fish clubs are often a better source of pure-bred females as well as males.>
I just can't kill based on ugly alone. However, I'm an omnivore and not opposed to culling as long as the healthy culls are utilized as food for other animals.
Is this a flawed idea? These aren't parasite and disease ridden pet store feeder guppies, but healthy fish I've raised with the same care and on the same varied diet of flake food (multiple types and brands), frozen blood worms, live black worms, steamed veggies, frozen brine and Mysis shrimp, etc.
<And should, theoretically, be perfectly safe food for predatory fish. My only issue here is that the predator be one that kills instantly rather than by chasing the Guppies and harassing them opportunistically. In reality, Guppy fry will be eaten by almost anything predatory, even Angelfish!>
And these culls would be only part of a varied diet for whatever omnivorous or carnivorous fish I choose. And even though adult guppies often eat the odd guppy fry, I wouldn't feed culled guppy flesh back to guppies.
How to go about the actual killing and feeding is a question if this seems logical, moral, and otherwise acceptable.
<Euthanising fish using Clove Oil is easy. 30 drops in 1 litre of aquarium water will put them to sleep very quickly. Vets treat fish death as 10 minutes after the last gill movements; in practise I find leaving the fish in the water for 30 minutes does the trick. Fish killed this way ARE NOT safe to be used as food. Instead bury the bodies in the garden or dispose of alongside the appropriate household waste (I'd put the bodies in the composter).>
Personally I insist on either direct "natural" predation - as in putting live culls in with predatory fish - or as humane a method as possible and then using the dead fish as fish food of some sort.
<See above re: euthanasia. So far as predation goes, a large predator able to swallow the Guppies whole will work. In a brackish system, something like a Butterfly Goby Waspfish (for fry and smaller adults) or an Archerfish (anything they can swallow whole with their huge mouths) would be on my consideration list. Also, I'll mention that Monos will happily consume Guppy fry, and very effectively at that!>
But at the same time I'm pretty grossed out by the thought of killing and then chopping or grinding up little fish I raised. Not sure how I'll get past that!
If using culled healthy guppies as fish food (in some way) is acceptable, I have four choices to make, each of which informs the others:1. What piscivorous fish will eat the guppies? (Target fish)
<See above for my picks. Targetfish are a bit boisterous, sometimes nippy, and need to be kept in big groups, so aren't an easy option.>
2. Will the guppies be live or pre-killed?
<If you're going to euthanise Guppies, I don't see the point of buying a predator. Just dispose of the bodies.>
3. If pre-killed, how - exactly? And will I have to make some kind of fish food mixture or just feed whole or chopped guppy bits?
<See above.>
4. What aquarium size and set up will the piscivorous target fish need to thrive?
<Butterfly Goby Waspfish (Neovespicula depressifrons) is fairly small, up to about 10 cm, so will be fine in a 55 gallon tank. It has similar requirements to the Violet Goby and the two should get on.>
- I could put the violet goby into the 55 gallon and use the saved money to buy the set up for the target, piscivorous fish. --OR--
- I could buy the violet goby a new set up and stick to (a) target fish that will thrive in the 55 gallon tank I already have.
- I could set up the new goby habitat, then set up the 55 for juvenile piscivorous fish and start saving again for the larger sized aquarium they will need.
- I could find a target fish that can live with my goby. If I can learn to be comfortable with grinding up guppies in a food processor, I could mix the meat with veggies and see if the goby will eat some of it, I guess.
<Sounds like a hassle.>
I'm not asking you to give me all the answers, but enough insight and some suggestions to get me started would be greatly appreciated.
I'm not very familiar with predatory fish - especially those suited to my local high pH, very hard water. The pH varies with the seasons from about 7.8 to 8.4. Other than driftwood, dirt, or peat in the tank, I don't like to try to modify these (using chemicals) My house has a bunch of stairs, too, so hauling RO water from another location is out of the question.
Currently, I'm researching leopard Ctenopoma and Bircher. Then I'll move on to Pacu and Pictus catfish.
<There's nothing to stop you feeding Guppy fry to either Ctenopoma or Bichirs, but there's some evidence live food increases aggression. So personally, I'd only use live feeders in situations where the predatory fish simply won't eat any other sort of food. Butterfly Goby Waspfish for example, or South American Leaffish if freshwater. Otherwise, you'll do better offering adaptable predators the usual dried and frozen foods.
Safer, cheaper, easier, less likely to cause behavioural changes.>
I really prefer oddball fish with lots of personality.
Thank you! I look forward to your reply :)
- Meghan
<Welcome, Neale.>
re: Intertwined violet goby aquarium & guppy utility questions   7/31/16

For my violet goby, I've decided to go ahead and buy a larger tank - at least 75 gallons, but larger if I find a decent used one at a good price.
Ideally I'd like 100 gallons or more.
<Bigger is always better, but 75 gallons is ample.>
Assuming I'm only able to get a 75 gallon, how does this stocking, equipment, and planting plan sound?
SG 1.003 - 1.005
<Should be fine, especially if pH and hardness are high.>

EQUIPMENT: sand substrate - tan "silver sand" (is tan okay? I've heard that many fish are more comfortable over a dark substrate and will be more active and outgoing. If this is true I'll spend the extra $$ for dark sand)
<A mix of silver sand, a bit of coral sand for buffering, and some very fine dark gravel can work nicely, providing something "diggable" while not too bright. I get my silver sand from garden centres rather than aquarium shops, which tend to sell it at much higher prices. The garden centre stuff needs a bit of cleaning though. I'm told pool filter sand is the same thing, but don't know for sure.>
3" thick Hamburg matten filter - powered by either pond pumps or powerheads - I'll shoot for at least 8 x per hour water turnover.
If you think extra aeration is needed I'll go for at least one powerhead with a venturi.
<I think circulation is the key, so any of these, or a decent airstone, will be fine. Something that gets the bottom level of water dragged up to the top.>
I'll build a "dam" of gravel against the bottom edge of the foam to keep the goby from digging under it.
<Good luck on that! Violet Gobies tend to level the sand after a while, mostly while foraging at night. So I wouldn't plan on sand holding anything in place. Some smooth rocks would be better, IMO.>
heater - sized for larger than needed for the tank (or two smaller heaters)
Florescent or LED lights sized for tank Tight - fitting lid with all openings taped
<Sounds good.>
LIVESTOCK: Bottom strata - 1 violet goby All strata - 6 adult giant Sailfin mollies (Poecilia velifera) - (I'll try to get 1 or 2 males with 4 or 5 females) plus their young over 3 inches. I'll remove the pregnant females prior to dropping fry and raise the fry separately.
<Good plan.>
After a while I'll sell or trade their young so the tank doesn't get too crowded. How many do you think will be "too many?"
<Hard to say. In a tank this size, I'd have thought ten adult Sailfins would be about right, plus a bunch of juveniles. My perception of livebearer tanks is that the numbers level off after a while, and the filter gradually accommodates much higher numbers than you think would work. Still, keep tabs on ammonia and nitrite, and if they creep up above zero, "thin the herd" a little.>
All strata - 6 adult Montezuma swordtails (Xiphophorus montezumae) plus fry 3 inches and over ( as above). Will they get along with the mollies?
<Should do, though males of both species can be feisty.>
Bottom strata - Hogchoker sole (Trinectes maculatus) - not sure if this is a good match or how many to stock. Will it eat all the swordtails?
<Soles are indeed nocturnal predators, though primarily on worms and things like that. So hard to say if they'll take the fry of either species. No risk at all to adult fish above, say, half an inch in length.>
They have long tails but smaller bodies than the Sailfin mollies. I've heard soles can be hard to feed - but the same is also said of violet gobies - but I find mine simple - just target feed by partially burying food in the substrate near the goby.) Should I fed the sole in a similar way?
<Yes; they will consume frozen bloodworms and krill at night, but tend to be hidden away by day. I think in a tank with livebearers alone they'd be fine, because they'll be the only fish eating the bloodworms at night. But with the Violet Goby, I suspect there'll be a lot of competition, so I'd want to get the Sole settled in and feeding in another tank first, and only when I'm sure it's putting on weight transfer to the Goby tank.>
Or perhaps provide sinking wafers or bottom-dwelling live food?
<I have seen Soles and Flounders consume catfish pellets, but not regularly enough to recommend it. They're hard fish to keep in community settings.>
Would the swordtails or mollies be too quick - and eat all the food I put out for the sole before it gets a chance?
<See above; they're nocturnal mostly.>
All strata - Butterfly gobies/Waspfish - not sure about these or how many to stock. I love the look of them!
<They are adorably cute too. Have a look at videos online. They're active little things that flap about in midwater like marine aquarium groupers.>
They're small but sounds like they can be fierce little predators.
<Up to a point. They'll eat stuff up to about one-third their body size. So juvenile Mollies definitely on the menu. But adult Sailfin Mollies at no risk.>
Seems like they need lots of live prey.
<They will take frozen bloodworms, krill, etc.>
If I decide on them I plan on feeding live earthworms, Blackworms, meal worms, small guppies and fry, perhaps crickets (I already have those), occasional ghost shrimp, brine shrimp (although I've never had much luck getting them to adulthood), occasional daphnia, maybe Tubifex, and frozen blood worms, Mysis, etc. - if they'll eat frozen. Top strata - wrestling halfbeaks. Not sure if these guys will get eaten - they're pretty slender, small fish.
<I don't think they're ideal for this tank. Very small, very nervous. Best kept on their own. Halfbeaks are hands-down my favourite aquarium fish; they're wonderfully interesting animals with lots of neat features. But they're better kept in small tanks with only peaceful bottom dwellers.
Wrestling Halfbeaks and Bumblebee Gobies would be fine, for example, in a 10-15 gallon tank.>
PLANTING & DECOR: floating java moss - lots! Java fern anchored to driftwood jungle Vallisneria - not sure about this one - it is less salt tolerant and not sure if it can be anchored.
<Up to SG 1.003 the Vallisneria will be fine, and you could do what I do, and "plant" it in a decorative terracotta urn that keeps it from being uprooted. But above that salinity it's less reliable. For sure try it out (some Vallisneria species certainly do inhabit low-end brackish environments) but don't be surprised if it fails for one reason or another.
Since brackish tanks can be prone to algae, there's something to be said to just using rocks, wood and plastic plants/ornaments that can be easily cleaned every few weeks. A few Nerite snails would provide excellent algae-removal services in this sort of tank too.>
The violet goby is a strong digger and pretty much anything not weighed down will get dug up on a repeated basis. Lots of rounded rocks - many with little "legs" siliconed on to prevent them from crushing the goby, others siliconed together in interesting piles and shapes. Driftwood with plants attached I'm getting excited! Thank you for taking time to help me plan this tank!- Meghan
<Welcome. Neale.>
re: Intertwined violet goby aquarium & guppy utility questions       8/2/16

Hi Neal, I'm so excited! Thank you for your expert advice.
BTW my local water pH is 7.8 to 8.5 and always "very hard." So this is what I'm thinking in terms of stocking:
1 violet goby
6 giant Sailfin mollies at first (plus 3 inch and larger young)
6 Montezuma swordtails at first (plus 3 inch and larger juveniles)
1 to ? butterfly gobies/Waspfish - not sure how many to stock. One article I found online said they are social among themselves and should be stocked in trios at least. But not sure how reliable this information is. Do you have any insight on keeping multiple Waspfish together?
<They do seem reasonably easy going as juveniles, but the species hasn't been widely kept, so any recommendations are, at best, provisional.
Waspfish generally are territorial rather than aggressive, and in a big tank I'd expect a trio to be fine. On the other hand, if your plan is to use Waspfish to control Molly population, I'd have thought a singleton would be adequate, and any additional specimens would end up requiring extra food, and by then they'd be so used to live food (Molly fry) that
weaning them onto alternatives might be a hassle. So personally, I'd keep one.>
If multiple Waspfish are happier, how many would be appropriate?
<Singletons or odd numbered groups are generally safest with non-schooling, non-pair-forming fish.>
And do you have any tips for avoiding stings?
<Keep your hands away. Seriously, not something I'd be overly concerned about. Colombian Sharks, Scats, even some of the popular freshwater catfish are equipped with stings, but they're entirely defensive and the fish in question doesn't go out of its way to waste venom for no reason. The only thing I'd do is make sure your friends/family know what type of fish you're keeping. Maybe stick an "in case of emergency" label on the tank somewhere.
Something stating the species (Neovespicula depressifrons) and the type of fish (Waspfish, a.k.a family Tetrarogidae). This way, if you or someone else did turn out to be allergic to the sting (unlikely) and went into shock (the venom itself is no worse than a bee sting for most people) then any medics would know precisely what to do. Make sense? This is a good approach when keeping any venomous animal, whether fish, snake, spider or whatever. Realistically though, see how many people keep pet Lionfish in marine tanks without worrying. If in doubt, trap the Waspfish with a big
net, place at one end of the tank, perhaps with the handle weighed down with a stone, and work away with your aquarium maintenance in complete safety. When done, release the Waspfish. First couple times, you might want
to have a friend or family member stay in the room with you, while you get used to things. So basically not a big deal, and many aquarists have kept Waspfish (and Lionfish) in aquaria without the least trouble.>
I have my hands in my aquariums all the time for maintenance, feeding, etc.
This is especially true for my violet goby tank - I feed it by partially burying food in the substrate - generally 2 to 3 times a day. I don't want to be terrified of getting stung. I'm not allergic to bees or wasps. Is it really awful?
<See above. Painful, yes; dangerous, not to most people.>
12+ Nerite snails to keep things clean between manual cleanings Malaysian trumpet snails - I read they can handle salinity up to 1.010 if properly acclimated.
They reproduce quickly - in line with the amount of leftover food and I like to use them as an indicator to let me know if I'm overfeeding. ?
<I would not bother with them. I don't think you need "clean-up crew" in a tank like this. The Goby will consume any food in the sand, and any surplus beyond that should be siphoned out (or use a turkey baster to spot-clean).>
Hogchoker soles. These fish fascinate me. But I'm not sure if I can balance the competing feeding needs of both the violet goby and sole, as my violet goby tends to scavenge after the lights go out as well as during the day. I could try stocking a large "clean up crew" of beautiful Nerite snails and just over feed via food hidden in the sand.
<Nerites are not really clean-up crew. In fact they aren't, full stop. All they eat is diatoms. End of story. They graze the glass and rocks. But they don't eat uneaten food. There are some brackish water invertebrates out there, but hardly worth it in this system. Will create more problems than they solve.>
If I go this route I might skip the Malaysian trumpets - as they can ruin the look of a tank when chronically overfeeding.
<Quite so.>
But I'm not sure Nerite snails clean under the sand.
<They don't.>
Do you think I'd get toxic gasses building up in the sand this way - even with my Diggy violet goby?
<Zero chance of toxic gases. You need a fair depth of sand, maybe 8 cm/3 inches, for anoxic conditions to form. On top of that, with a plain sand substrate, a simple stir-and-siphon approach to cleaning will remove any buried waste.>
If there are too many issues with keeping this fish I'll skip it.
<Talking about the Hogchoker sole? Agreed, they're difficult. As I say, I'd have one settled, feeding and putting on weight before adding anything competitive. If that isn't an option, I'd skip for now unless you happened to see a really big, fat specimen on sale (the ones sold in the UK are tiny; thumbnail sized).>
Zero wresting halfbeaks. Is there another robust top-dwelling fish that might be appropriate?
I looked at the hatchet fish, but they wouldn't do well in my alkaline, hard water and seem pretty small.
<Correct. Not an option here.>
Thanks again! - Meghan
<Welcome, Neale.>
re: Intertwined violet goby aquarium & guppy utility questions       8/2/16

Hello again, Neale,
Realized I was misspelling your name -- I'm sorry!
<No problem.>
One quick question: if I want to do a small Waspfish (butterfly goby) tank for just one - is 20 gallons sufficient? Some sources online say 30 gallons minimum while others say 20, so not sure.
<They get to about 10 cm/4 inches in length, so I'd say 20 gallons is a bit small. A youngster would be fine in there for year or two, though. They don't grow particularly fast.>
I'm asking because I have an Eclipse brand aquarium top (integrated filter, hood, and light) that is sitting unused that can fit either a 20 gallon tall (currently $20 at Petco) or a 30 gallon tall (over $100 and rare as hens teeth).
<Understood. You might look to see if you can make or commission a "glass box" that fits your existing hood. It has the built-in lighter and filter, right? Usually these hoods are loosely siliconed in place, and can be worked free from the original glass tank. Have done this with at least two tanks in recent years. So long as you make a tank with the same length and width as the existing tank, the hood should clip straight on.>
- Meghan
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dragon fish... Using WWM      10/9/14
Could u tell me what fish are good tankmates for the dragon fish?
<.... ? Read here:
and the linked files above. Learn to use WWM. BobF>

Dragon Goby Stuck in Cave   /RMF     4/22/12
Hi, my name is Susan.  I have a BW tank for my dragon goby.  He is about 14" long and pretty thick. We also have hollow rocks that make great caves, especially when the dragon goby was smaller.  Well I was gathering up some mollies to move them to another tank and I think I spooked the dragon goby.
 When he didn't come out to eat, I searched the tank and found him squished inside a rock.  He is not coming out and feels pretty packed in there.  I can break the rock since its ceramic, but I don't want to hurt him in the process.
I also thought these fish might be air breathers and I'm thinking he is probably dead.  Is there a way to break the rock without hurting him? 
Should I break the rock?  Thank you very much for your time.  You guys have a great website and do a great service to the fish keeping community. 
<I would break this ceramic... just underwater... from the "head end" where the goby is stuck... with a metal tool... likely a wrench... Bob Fenner>
Dragon Goby Stuck in Cave   /Neale     4/22/12

Hi, my name is Susan.
<Hello, Susan!>
I have a BW tank for my dragon goby.  He is about 14" long and pretty thick. We also have hollow rocks that make great caves, especially when the dragon goby was smaller.  Well I was gathering up some mollies to move them to another tank and I think I spooked the dragon goby.  When he didn't come out to eat, I searched the tank and found him squished inside a rock.  He is not coming out and feels pretty packed in there.  I can break the rock since its ceramic, but I don't want to hurt him in the process.
<I can see that would be a risk.>
I also thought these fish might be air breathers and I'm thinking he is probably dead.
<Hmm… wouldn't bank on it just yet. These fish are normally quite resilient.>
Is there a way to break the rock without hurting him?
<Yes, assuming this is ceramic or lava rock rather than a tough rock like limestone. Put the object on a wet towel. Tap firmly with a hammer. Hopefully he'll slither out before the thing actually breaks, but ceramic is pretty brittle and should break with little harm to the enclosed fish. If actually rock, then things become riskier. I'd wait a 3-4 hours, but if he's still in there, I'd do as above, but carefully.>
Should I break the rock?  Thank you very much for your time.  You guys have a great website and do a great service to the fish keeping community. 
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Dragon Goby Stuck in Cave      4/22/12

<I would break this ceramic... just underwater... from the "head end" where the goby is stuck... with a metal tool... likely a wrench... Bob Fenner>
<<Ah, you see I thought to break the ceramic outside of the water… easier to be careful and less concussive force transmitted through air than water, so less shock to the fish. On the other hand, in the water will provide cushioning against damage, to some degree at least, lacking in air. Six of one, half dozen of the other… Neale.>>
<I just hope this fish will be okay. B>
Re: Dragon Goby Stuck in Cave    5/6/12

I greatly appreciate you both for your help. Sadly it was too late for my favorite fish. Again thank you for your quick response.
<Thank you for this follow-up. Will share w/ Neale. BobF> 

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.> 

Dragon Goby Questions 1/13/11
Firstly, I would like to thank you for the time and effort you put into answering these letters as thoroughly as you do.
<Welcome Kim>
On another frequent visit to my local fish store I saw what looked like a snake
or an eel in a tank with some Pleco's. The name on the tank stated that it was a Dragon fish/ Dragon Goby/ Violet Goby. I asked my favorite clerk who knows a good bit about the fish they frequently stock. He said that they could survive in fresh water
<Not for long, well>
but thrived and preferred Brackish water. He said they can reach 20 inches long!
I asked if they were predatory and he said that he wasn't sure because he hadn't had the time to really research them yet as they were new arrivals but that he felt sorry that they couldn't provide it with a brackish display tank to live in while it was there. I said since it gets to be 20 inches long what size tank should it be in?
<Mmm, let's skip ahead here and have you read:
and the linked files re this species at the bottom tray>
He responded with... well if you really want to give it room to swim something twice the full length of the fish would be good. So I came up with a 40 inch tank in my head. I resisted the urge to have him scoop one of these predatory looking giants into a bag and let me take him home in favor of thoroughly researching the new captor of my heart.
I then went home and did some research. I found a brackish book online and found it at my local library. But to my surprise it had nothing in it about this dragon I'd seen and there were no other books on brackish water fish in detail.
So I came home and started to Googled it. I found a LOT of conflicting information. Some sites claimed that this fish could live in freshwater as they're found in fresh water as well as brackish water while others claimed that they would NOT do well in freshwater. I found a rather shady looking forum that had a man on there that claimed to be a fish shop owner that had "impulse bought" one of these giants and said that "through experimentation" and the many experiences of his clients that he'd come to "realize" that these fish are highly adaptable and can live in practically any water conditions. I was slightly appalled...
<I as well>
sure they can adapt but they shouldn't have to! But he seemed to latch onto anyone claiming that they had one in a freshwater tank and it was okay and used that as "undeniable proof" that they're adaptable. The forum was so heated over the issue that a moderator had to come onto the forum and state "Keep it friendly or this thread will be locked it's being watched very closely".
There was also a lot of debate about the size of tank to use with these guys but Liveaquaria and several other sites say that 50 gallon minimum. Which is great because I have a fifty gallon aquarium that I've converted to a brackish water aquarium.
The one thing that no one ever really mentions is tank mates. Some people (those who ignorantly and defiantly believe that they can keep it alive and healthy in a freshwater aquarium) stat that they "wouldn't hurt a neon". I then began to research possible brackish water fish and creatures and came up with a pretty slim selection of fish. Monos, scats, mudskippers, fiddler crabs, archers, and a wide array of puffer fish. I then went onto Yahoo! Answers and posted the following question: "Dragon Goby tank mates?" and got only two answers that lacked that certain... truthfulness I desire. One said that he had 20 years
of experience with aquariums and stated that he had a Dragon goby in a 30 gallon tank with some neon tetra's and guppies and that it was brackish.
<Mmm, doubtful. Neons don't "like" salts>
I then said that I did not want to mix fresh and brackish fish because of the different water requirements to which he vehemently and quite defensively added that "he'd had his Neons alive for 2 years in that tank". and the other answer claimed that they weren't brackish water that they were marine and showed me two different
marine fish including a Firefish and some other marine goby that "proved" this.
They weren't even the same fish for crying out loud!
So here are my definite questions
1. What specific gravity do they need? (I found on your site that they like 1.005 to 1.010)
2. What tank mates can I have with him?
<Posted... see Compatibility FAQs...>
3. I found some archer fish at my LFS that I like a lot. Would these be a possibility and if so would they thrive in 1.005-1.010 salinity and a 50 gallon tank? How many could I "reasonably" fit in there if any.
<Depends on the species of Toxotid... see here:
My equipment consists of:
1. one 50 gallon tank with the measurements 48 long, 19high, 13wide
2. several small/medium sized rocks
3. PH neutral sand
<Mmm, you may want to switch this out or add some calcareous media in time>
4. One 45 gallon HOB filter and one internal 30 gallon filter
5. One appropriate sized heater that reliably heats to the temperature I set it at.
6. Hydrometer
7. Internal floating glass thermometer
Any suggestions on decorations that will be practical as well as aesthetically pleasing would be much appreciated. It's not only my passion but my joy to provide fish with the proper care in order to see them at their greatest.
The tank has been running for 4-5 weeks now and is fully cycled. I will be adding oceanic salt to it soon and monitoring the levels. I just don't know what fish I'll put in there to make sure the bacteria stays alive. I have a Green spotted puffer but they're sensitive and I hate putting them in an unstable tank.
Any suggestions on that since my grandmother won't allow me to keep pure ammonia in the house?
<A bit of flake food daily will do...>
Thank you for tanking time to read this have a blessed day.
<And you Kim. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dragon Goby Questions 1/13/11

Okay sorry if I'm bugging you I just like to be exceptionally thorough when researching.
I explored the links you gave me and have a couple more questions for the time being.
Sand: You said something more calcareous in nature. This is to keep the pH high yes? The water here most often reads between 8.0-8.2.
<Yes and good range for this species>
Archer fish: They were specifically Toxotes jaculatrix I wrote it down... I always carry a notebook with me to my favorite LFS because they're always getting new fish species in.
<Dang! You're an ideal aquarist~!>
(It's part of the reason I currently have 8 tanks up and running 1 ten gallon shrimp tank, 2 ten gallon Halfmoon Betta tanks (one male per tank and nothing else except some stupid pond snails I can't get rid of), one ten gallon Fiddler crab tank (brackish at 1.005), One thirty gallon Green spotted Puffer tank (brackish at 1.012), One cycling Fifty gallon tank using Seachem's Stability and 6 Zebra Danios that will be a Multifasciatus Dwarf cichlid tank, and one brackish 50 gallon tank with nothing in it yet)
Would those specific archers go well? If so how many?
<T. jaculatrix is fine, and if they can be purchased small/ish (1-1.5" overall), three would be a good number... placed all at once if possible>
Thanks for your patience, Kim
<Glad to share w/ you. BobF>
Re: Dragon Goby Questions, fdg... rdg.  1/13/11
I just thought of something else that seems to be debated. I read on this website that they won't particularly eat pellets or flakes but prefer frozen/ live foods. I feed my puffer beef heart, frozen blood worms, and brine shrimp (frozen and alive when I can get mine to hatch). Would these foods work? I also have shrinking shrimp pellets and bottom feeder pellets as well as Spirulina wafers Hikari brand always if I can find it.
<... I referred you to these links:
I'm sure I'll have questions on the archers when I can get home from work to research them. There's an archer section that goes in depth on them from this website?
<... see our last email. B>

advice... Whacko rant/jokester... re    6/14/10
I've had my violet gobies for years.
<Nice fish.>
The big ones about 10 inches.
<A fair size, though can/will get to about twice that size eventually.>
I got them from a buddy who started to breed them awhile ago, because they're hard to find, and he gets a good price for them.
<Seriously? He breeds Gobioides broussonnetii? Never, ever heard of anyone do this. Without photos of the eggs and fry, I'm sorry, I have to assume you're either [a] pulling my leg; or [b] breeding another fish entirely.>
I think my big one is getting ready to spawn and my buddy is not around right now so I thought I would give you guy's a try.
<Apropos to what?>
But I see what a bunch a geeks you are with this saltwater crap.
<Meaning what? These are brackish water fish. Go look it up on Fishbase.>
He got his from a freshwater tank, and all are doing great-on flake food.
<No-one said they don't eat flake. It just isn't what they need, and mostly they ignore it. If your specimen eats flake, that's great. But mostly they don't, and if you many visit aquarium shops, you'll see a LOT of very skinny specimens on their way to death by starvation.>
You soulless XXXXards are obviously just pushing sales.
<Sales of what? We don't get paid by salt manufacturers, trust me. And I'm a pretty vocal critic of the use of salt when it isn't required.>
Keep living for that almighty dollar and Karma will get you!
<There's lots of bad karma chasing people who keep their fish in the wrong conditions and end up killing them. If your specimen is fine in freshwater, then you got lucky. Most Violet Gobies do badly kept that way, believe me.
I've been doing this a very long time. Cheers, Neale.><<Time for your pills big boy. RMF>>

Dragon/Violet Goby, sys., fdg. gen.  -- 01/13/2010
<Hello Melanie,>
I have a 38 gallon tank that is 36"x15"x17" and have it stocked with one 1 Goby, 1 Rainbow Shark (yes I know it's actually a minnow), 3 Sunburst Platies (2 female, 1 male), 1 Rosy Barb, 1 Black Skirt Tetra and an unknown amount of ghost shrimp (there were 7, have only found up to 5 at any one time).
<Shrimps don't always do well in community tanks, if for no other reason than they get damaged while moulting.>
I added 1 tsp aquarium salt per every 2 gallons of water and it looks like from reading I do need to increase it
and possibly switch to marine salt
<Yes; I'd start at about 9 grammes marine salt mix per litre of water (1.2 oz per US gallon), for a specific gravity of SG 1.005 at 25 degrees C (77 F). This will be just about sufficient for long-term success with Gobioides, and acceptable for a variety of other fish too, including Platies, Mollies and Guppies, should you want to add them. The shrimps might do okay. But the Minnows, Barbs and Tetras would have to be re-homed.>
and get a hydrometer, the poor goby was in fresh water at the LFS.
Draco, the goby was quite thin and fairly inactive at the store.
<Likely, though usually a question of starvation rather than water chemistry. Gobioides can tolerate freshwater for months, but they are finicky feeders in some ways, and easily starve in busy community tanks.>
That is no longer the case it has gotten very fat off a diet of algae wafers, shrimp pellets and thawed frozen blood worms (2-3 times a week), so fat I'm a bit concerned it's belly may burst.
<Then don't feed so much! Honestly, a healthy fish should have a gentle rounded abdomen rather than a beer belly.>
Other than that it seems healthy in that it moves around the tank a lot and seems to nearly always be looking for food. I always drop the food in the same place under a fake root thing he/she and the Rainbow Shark like to hide out in, that way he knows where his food is. The shark actually keeps the other fish from getting at the worms but doesn't chase the goby away so that is good.
I don't have a sand substrate but it is a very small gravel size that's nice and rounded. I plan on getting sand, marine salt and a hydrometer next month since my paydays are monthly.
<Cool. Plain smooth silica sand from a garden centre will be cheap and 100% aquarium safe. Avoid anything "sharp" as this'll do more harm than good. If you want, you can stir in some coral sand as well, to raise the carbonate hardness.>
Oh and I've had Draco for about 10 days now he is about 5-6" long and there are no extra bits of food on the substrate the fish eat all that's given and want more but both Draco and Red (the shark) are much plumper and a bit longer than when we brought them home (they were bought at the same time and both eat the same foods).
Any information you can give me about my goby's fat belly would be greatly appreciated. My only guess is that Draco is not a he but a she and perhaps it's eggs that have it so bloated.
<It's quite possible you're overfeeding. This is simple enough to check.
Don't feed for a few days, and see what happens. If the fish become thinner, there's your answer. Would consider that before worrying about anything more serious.>
Thank you
<Sounds to me as if you have the situation well in hand. Good luck! Cheers, Neale.>
re: Dragon/Violet Goby -- 01/13/2010
Thank you for your swift reply. I did plan not to feed him for a few days but feel a bit bad about that so just gave him far less of the shrimp pellets, though yeah I know in nature food supply is not always so plentiful so I'll try that.
As far as water hardness we have hard water here as is fairly usual in CA, but just the same I did add a piece of coral to the water since coral sand & Aragonite is good in order to buffer the water and increase hardness, therefore a piece of coral should help with that.
<Indeed. Marine salt mix will dramatically improve things, to the degree you won't have to worry about water chemistry at all.>
Draco has dug himself a little pit area under and behind the aquarium heater,
<Heater guard installed, I hope. Otherwise a boiled goby is on the cards here...>
silly boy (yes I do know it's in his nature but it's still cute.
<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.>

Violet gobies, moving, sys.  9/23/08 Hi Neale, <Shawna,> I'm moving in a couple of days and need to know how to transport my 2 gobies. It's a 10 hour trip. I also have 2 zebra Danios and 2 Plecos to transport. I don't have much room in the front of the moving truck so I am limited to things I can do. Do you have any suggestions? I don't want my fish to die on the way up there. Thanks, Shawna <Go buy two or three big buckets with lids: something of the order of 5 gallons. I got mine for a shop where they sell paint, for painting walls and stuff. I think professionals use these buckets are used to store large quantities of paint. Anyway, half-fill with water, put a sensible number of fish in each of them (e.g., two the gobies and the Danios in one, the two Plecs in the other). Put the lids on. Bundle the buckets up with towels, heavy overcoats, or most anything that will keep them insulated. They will be happy like that all day long. Every few hours you might decide to lift the lid to let some fresh air get in, but otherwise leave the fish be. Remember, when transporting fish the key things are to stop them getting chilled and to keep them supplied with oxygen. Beyond that, they're quite easy to transport, otherwise the whole tropical fish exporting business wouldn't be viable! Hope this helps, Neale.>

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