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/The Conscientious Reef Aquarist

Clown Gobies, Genus Gobiodon 

By Bob Fenner

Gobiodon okinawae 

Clown or Coral Gobies, The Genus Gobiodon. Thirteen species.

I must mention these tiny chubsters; they've got to be close to the best fishes for reef and "mixed" aquariums. Though only attaining a miniscule 2 1/2 inches, Gobiodon are huge on color and spunky personality. Due to their noxious body slime no other fish bothers them, and they're happy as proverbial clams with some Acropora coral to live and feed on or their skeleton and a little live meaty food. Coral gobies should only be housed with non-aggressive feeders such as Cardinals, Seahorses and Pipefishes.

When kept as a small group they readily form pairs and mate. The genus are hermaphrodites, with females turning into males. The female deposits circular bands around a branch of host coral that are immediately fertilized and subsequently guarded by the male. Perhaps owing to their small size, rearing the young has not proved easy.

The lemon-drop-like Citron Goby, Gobiodon citrinus is the most commonly kept. The equally adaptable Yellow Goby is frequently mixed and sold as the citron; it lacks the latter's beautiful blue and white lines. Also check out the gorgeous blue-spotted coral goby, Gobiodon histrio; often mis-identified as Gobiodon rivulatus.

Keep your eyes open for the coral gobies of the genus Gobiodon and do try them if you have a mixed invertebrate/peaceful fish set-up or reef system with Acropora polyps to spare... as this is what this genus largely lives and feeds on in the wild. Found in the wild with small damsels and juvenile hawkfish which share their Acroporid perches. 

Gobiodon atrangulatus  Aquarium image by Emily. See: Gobiodon Identification,

Gobiodon citrinus (Ruppell 1838), the Citron or Poison Goby. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, African coast to Samoa. Found in close association with table top Acropora species. To two and a half inches in maximum length. Below: "Normal" and dark ones in captivity, and one in the Red Sea in a typical setting, on top of its table coral domain.

Gobiodon okinawae Sawara, Arai & Abe 1972. To 3.5 cm. in length. Western Pacific; southern Japan to GBR, Micronesia. Live on and amongst Acropora coral stands in the wild in groups of 5-15 individuals. Aquarium image. 

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Gobiodon rivulatus (Ruppell 1830), the Rippled Coral Goby. Indo-West Pacific; Red Sea, eastern Africa to the Tuamotus. To two inches in length. Aquarium image.  http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=9952&genusname=Gobiodon&speciesname=rivulatus

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The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

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