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FAQs on Shrimp/Watchman Gobies Behavior

Related Articles: Shrimp Gobies, Marine Scavengers, Alpheid (including Shrimp) Gobies

Related FAQs:   Shrimp Gobies 1, Shrimp Gobies 2, & Shrimp Goby IdentificationShrimp Goby Compatibility, Shrimp Goby Selection, Shrimp Goby Systems, Shrimp Goby FeedingShrimp Goby Disease, Shrimp Goby Reproduction, & Alpheid (including Shrimp) GobiesTrue Gobies Gobies 2Goby Identification, Goby Behavior, Goby Selection, Goby Compatibility, Goby Feeding, Goby Systems, Goby Disease, Goby Reproduction, Amblygobius Gobies, Clown GobiesNeon GobiesGenus Coryphopterus Gobies, Mudskippers, Sifter Gobies

This gravel needs washing!

Hi there Bob

My LFS occasionally sells pistol/goby pairs.  Which got me thinking: if I buy a goby will it mean that the pistol shrimp that's been living in my system for month will partner up with it and become more visible.

I think the pistol shrimp arrived on some live rock and I've never actually seen it, I just hear it's clicking.

Also can I ask, when the LFS sells goby/shrimp pairs are they caught as a pair in the wild or do they make friends in the dealer's tanks

Steven, by email 

The hopeful pairing of Alpheids (Pistol Shrimps) and their goby species symbionts (not all are by far) is a tricky business Steven. They don't always get along, not by a far shot'¦ and I do mean as in a pistol shot! I do encourage you to find and flush out (outside the tank seltzer water, in a plastic pan, applied to the hole in the rock you suspect the shrimp to occupy) and try to identify the Alpheid to species, look up on the Net, in books re its natural symbiotic goby species'¦ Sometimes even then, species of shrimp and symbiont goby that are known to pair in the wild will totally ignore each other'¦ at times, one or t'other will show interest only to be shunned by its would-be partner.  Also, do know that there are independent/ solo species that don't live w/ gobies of any sort.

Having collected these animals in the wild, I can tell you first hand, that they are gathered at the same time and place on occasion; as well as being 'introduced' by dealers as strangers to see if they'll bond.

Whichever route you go, either mixing known pair or hoping for a marriage twixt your present one and a novel goby, DO provide plenty of space and rubble for them to choose to be together or not.

Recent experiences with Cryptocentrus cinctus and Alpheus bellulus.     8/1/17
Hi :)
Just sharing a curious experience. A year or two ago I inherited an unlikely pair from a fish store that was closing down.
An Alpheus bellulus and an Istigobius sp. I say unlikely because obviously, despite the claims of the LFS guy they were not symbiotic, although the Alpheus never attacked it. Anyway, I brought them home and added them to my
tank (330 litres, 10 cm DSB).
<Various shrimp gobies DO associate w/ diverse shrimps in captivity... outside of pairings that are known to occur naturally>
Of course the Istigobius never paid any attention to the Alpheus (as expected) and the only thing it has done
is to triple its size (it was tiny when I added it, it's really fat now and it has reached 10 cm).
However I was surprised by the Alpheus. First, I didn't have a symbiotic goby in the tank at the time, but I have
a group of three Ptereleotris zebra. They of course burrow in the DSB. What was curious is that they didn't seem to bother when the Alpheus invaded their burrows. The Alpheus also ignores them except for a protesting click
now and then, I guess it does it when one of the "hakes" (I call them hakes because they are rather large) blocks
its way.
Everything has been peaceful since I introduced them. So, first curious observation, as far as I know there
hasn't been any aggression despite being a reef tank with several fish species and a Stenopus hispidus. I guess
the Alpheus doesn't venture far from its burrow anyway.
<Some don't>
The second phenomenon happened two weeks ago. I found a Cryptocentrus cinctus at a LFS and brought it home.
From my past experiences I assumed that it would settle peacefully upon finding a proper sand bed and an Alpheus burrow. Surprisingly, a couple of hours after introducing it I found it in panic, circling the tank close to the surface. There were no torn fins nor any signs of aggression. It was clearly stressed, having turned almost white.
I just let it be assuming that it would eventually explore the bottom and find the burrow. Next day, however, I found it in the sump (which means it jumped but, thanks to a net covering the tank in order to prevent Ptereleotris incidents, it fell into the overflow). I insisted and put the fish into the tank again, this time luring it with my hand trying to guide it to the Alpheus burrow.
And that's been it, I have seen no signs in two weeks, so I assumed the worst. I couldn't check out the burrow easily because it was oriented in the wrong way, I couldn't peek inside. Until today! The Alpheus has decided to do some renovations (I find their sudden renovation sprees rather amusing) and the burrow was oriented towards the front glass. And, surprise! Inspecting with a flashlight, a calm Cryptocentrus was staring at me from inside the burrow.
I hope it will venture out more when it grows (it is tiny, 6 cm or so).
Adding food to the tank I've also seen it feeding rather aggressively (frozen Mysis and krill) so i guess it's well
settled now.
The good thing is, I have a goby-shrimp pair again and it seems they are doing fine with their tankmates.
However, any clues about that initial panic reaction?
<Not from here. Don't know what might have been going on>
As I said, my tank has a DSB and less than one third of the sand surface is covered by rocks. The sand surface is really obvious.
For the record, the tank mates are: 1 Zebrasoma flavescens, 1 Centropyge bicolor(*), 4 Sphaeramia nematoptera,
4 Chromis viridis, 1 Pterosynchiropus splendidus, 1 Pseudocheilinus hexataenia, 3 Ptereleotris zebra, 1 Gobiodon
histrio, 1 Istigobius sp, 1 Chryspitera hemicyanea, 1 Acreichthys tomentosus,
(*) The same bicolor mentioned in my messages from 2011.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Follow-up Cryptocentrus panic and additional observations     11/13/17

Hi :)
Just a follow-up about the panicking Cryptocentrus (8/1/17). It settled nicely. I hardly see it once in a week because the burrow is in a really secluded location, but when adding food late in the evening it uses to come out with full color and the fins completely extended. It is really skittish though, more than one I had for several years in a small tank.
<Likely will become less so with time>
Now, this is curious. That burrow must resemble the (in)famous Marx brothers cabin. Sometimes up to two of my Ptereleotris zebra get into it, which means it’s two large zebras, the Cryptocentrus cinctus and the Alpheus bellulus.
<Oh, yes; they do share... in the wild and captivity... have even seen very large Bristleworms in their caves/tunnels>
I haven’t seen any squabbles at all, they just seem to ignore each other. Although it must be quite uncomfortable inside the burrow when the zebra brutes decides to turn around.
<And you, BobF>

Goby / pistol shrimp relationship     5/10/15
I have a 3 year old 125g reef and two of the original inhabitants are a pink spot goby and a tiger pistol shrimp. When I placed them in the tank, they paired almost immediately. Watching them together was one of my favorite things about the tank. However, about 2 months ago, the shrimp moved out and has taken up residence inside of my very large frogspawn. The
goby is still in the original burrow. Is this normal?
<Does happen; yes>
Any chance of them reconciling their differences and moving back in with one another?
<Yes to this as well... sometimes the addition of another organism seems to urge reunions, separations>
Thanks so much for your time and input!
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Antenna shrimp goby, beh.     9/25/12
Hi I have had the goby for 3 days now has not come out of hiding, and I cant see him, is this a shy fish, I am worried he will never come out, all I have in my tank is a pair of clown fish.
<May be harassing it>
should I just be patient,
 does not come out to feed at all.
thanks alot
<No such word>
val sammut
<Bob Fenner, USA>

Watchman Goby And Hermit Crabs 10/21/10
Hi Crew,
<Hello Lea>
First, I'd like to thank you all for your devotion to this site and being knowledgeable and attentive! You have all helped me set up my tank and avoid a nervous breakdown during various "downs". Currently experiencing "ups", which I think is largely due to all of you.
<You're welcome and glad you are on an upswing.>
I have a 24gallon Deluxe JBJ that I've retrofitted with a HydorFlo Rotating Water Deflector. I've got about 35lbs of live rock and about 1" of live sand (need to add more - it keeps getting sucked up when I do a water change). Livestock include:
Cnidarians: 1 small toadstool leather, a few Ricordea florida heads and 1 mushroom Corallimorph head
Clean up crew: 4 turban snails, 1 Nassarius, 4 small hermit crabs Misc.: 2 feather dusters (based on size, I think they are Bispira sp., but am not positive)
Fish: 2 False Percula (Amphiprion ocellaris) and 1 Yellow Watchman goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus)
I think I'm done with animals, though may add some fancy algae later on.
<Yes, you are at your limit as far as fish stocking.>
I perform weekly water changes, usually replacing about 2 gallons instead of a strict percentage. Water parameters are (perhaps surprisingly) stable and considered normal.
<Why "surprisingly", it's the goal.>
The Yellow Watchman is the latest addition and is a great joy to watch.
He's settling in nicely, having taken over the "depths" of my live rock structure. For the past couple of days he has started acting strange in regards to the hermit crabs. He alternates between "yelling" at them
(opening his mouth super wide and then snapping it closed after a few seconds), laying on his side next to them (almost trying to get under them) with his mouth open (kind of looks like he wants them to clean him), and perching on their shells.
<Likely defending his lair.>
I can't tell if he's being aggressive toward them or if he's a really confused watchman goby and has formed a symbiotic relationship with them due to a lack of a proper pistol shrimp. Any ideas?
<Normal behavior for this fish.>
After seeing this I was tempted to get a pistol shrimp for him, but don't know if that'd confuse him even more.
<It would be a great addition and an interesting combination. The Tiger Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus bellulus) would be a good choice.>
Thanks again for your help!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Watchman Goby And Hermit Crabs 10/21/10 - 10/22/10

Hi James!
<Hello Lea>
Thanks for the advice.
<You're welcome.>
Stable water parameters are *perhaps* surprising due to the small volume. While I find it relatively easy to keep them stable (maybe because I have access to nanopure water so my source is always the same chemically), I was warned about how hard it can be. Vigilance pays off, too.
Yes, definitely requires more attention. I'm glad I can add another critter, even if it's not fish! You suggested A. bellulus (Tiger Pistol), which is great. I was wondering how you felt about A. randalli (Red Banded).
<Also good.>
I prefer to buy my livestock from LFS so I can see it first, so thought I'd ask in case one is available and the other isn't.
<The latter likely easier to find.>
And are they compatible with cleaner shrimps (e.g., Lysmata amboinensis, L. debelius)? I need to get one for my tank, but am worried about the Pistol shrimp preying on the more peaceful cleaners.
<Shouldn't be a problem providing the Pistol Shrimp gets his share of food.
They rarely expose their entire bodies so you must ensure food gets in or very near its burrow.>
Finally, any suggestions on acclimating shrimp are also appreciated. I tried a few peppermint shrimp when I started out and had zero luck (all seemed OK, but would molt within 2 days and then die soon afterwards). I figure it's probably my acclimation procedure. It includes: keeping in LFS water, but in tank for 15-30min to acclimate to any temperature change and then incrementally dumping out LFS water (down drain) and adding my tank's water until it's at all my water in 20min intervals (based on volume removed and added - obviously I can't ensure all traces of LFS water are gone) - usually takes about 60-80 min. Should I change anything?
<Yes, shrimp are sensitive to changes in water parameters and must be drip acclimated. Supplementing iodine/dide will help in making the molting process a little easier.
Inexpensive drip acclimation kits are available from several etailers.
Take a look here.
As always, thanks for your input!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Yellow Watchman Goby Markings  7/31/10
Hope all is well over there!
<Asi asi, thanks>
I have a question about my new Yellow Watchman Goby that I recently added
to my 85 gallon reef.
The goby is adjusting well, staked out a territory in the tank that is very visible to view him, and is true to his "watchman" persona in that he looks at me with that quizzical frown every time I come up to the tank.
He is eating well, both frozen food and Spectrum pellets.
"Neville" is a bright yellow with pale blue spots all over his head and mid section. However, on his body, I see faint dark barring, about three bars starting, the first one on his mid section, the last on his tail area.
The barring is faint, but nonetheless present.
<Natural... occurs in some specimens when young>
I was hoping for a classic bright yellow on this little guy. I should add, he is only 1.5". I don't know if the barring is permanent, stress related to being new in the tank, or possibly due to being a juvenile specimen. I would love your opinion.
He is staying nonetheless!
Very best,
Laura Garmizo
<Very likely this fish will "yellow" with age. I would not be concerned.
Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Very Strange Behavior Question... or Question re...  4/20/10
Greetings Crew,
Its been about 2 years since I have had to write in for your advice. I have recently added a Valenciennea strigata, aka a Golden Headed Sleeper Goby to my 95 gallon reef tank. The tank has a 25 gallon sump/fuge with Chaeto and EuroReef skimmer. I also run a Fluval 305 canister filter for running Chemi-pure elite. My water parameters are Ammonia=0 ppm, Nitrite=0 ppm, Nitrate=15 ppm, Temp= 79, Salinity=1.023,
<A bit low>
pH= 8.1, and I am running 4 T5 bulbs at 7 hours a day and have 2 power heads in the display tank. The problem lies with the goby, I added him about 3 days ago now and he is not living up to his sand sifting legacy.
<Often take a while to adjust...>
When the lights are on he spends the time following his reflection on the glass
<I'd cover (temporarily) with a piece of paper...>
and at nights I have only observed him sleeping in the sand once, otherwise he sleeps near the top of the water column. Which I don't believe to be normal for his kind. Any suggestions? As I am worried that he will eventually waste away.
Thanks Nic.
<Patience... this fish may have physiological challenges from being moved... Low blood cell count, an inability to respire... a few weeks should see its behavior improve. Bob Fenner> 

Yellow Goby, beh.    4/17/10
I would like to thank you for all your past help and advice, you have the web site available! My question is my mom has a 29gal reef tank with a couple Nemos, a few star fish and a Yellow Watchmen Goby, she has had the
tank up for almost three years, over the past two weeks her Goby has turned from bright yellow to almost grey.
<Mmm... is this Cryptocentrus cinctus? Read here:
I did a little research of my own and read that they some time change colors as they change sex,
if they are stressed or just because they feel like changing colors. I'm not sure about the sex changing reason, we haven't added anything to make it stressed, water quality is good. It is eating normal, no cloudy eyes or any signs of infections or disease, any advice would be grateful. thank you once again Terry FL
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Faded Yellow Watchman Goby  4/1/10
You awesome fish folks have a couple FAQs that kind of hit on this, but I'm still perplexed. I have an 8 gallon
<... small>
that has been up and running for a bit more than a year. It has a deep sand bed, some live rock, Zoanthids, a frogspawn coral, a candy cane coral, assorted snails, a couple Mexican red leg hermits, a peppermint shrimp, and
an emerald crab. I added a tiger pistol shrimp and a yellow watchman goby about a month ago. Both seem happy, and are extremely entertaining to watch for the hour or two that they come out to play and feed every morning. Unfortunately while the goby was bright yellow when I got it, it faded to cream with charcoal colored bars over the first week or so.
<Not surprising...>
Based on the other FAQs I thought maybe this was just a settling in thing and it would color up soon enough, later based on some other research I thought maybe it was a vitamin deficiency, so I added Spectrum pellets to the diet to cram in some extra vitamins, which it gobbles even faster than the Mysis shrimp, but that hasn't helped either.
The fish and shrimp seems happy, there are no other fishes in the tank, and my water parameters are all in good order, albeit with a tendency for the pH to dip slightly (carbonate/bicarbonate balance issues, though I'm finally climbing on top of that)
I have a hard time imagining that this is enough to stress the fish enough to cause weird coloration. While the fish is fun in black and white, I would kind of prefer the yellow. Any ideas?
<Very likely some forms of chemical allelopathy at work here with the Zoanthids, Euphyllia... and stress of being in such a small world period.
Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
Bob Fenner>

Re: Faded Yellow Watchman Goby, Zoanthid toxicity, lack of searching...    4/17/10
Thank you so much for your ideas. My understanding was that Zoanthids did not produce the type of poisons you discuss.
<Oh! Indeed they do; in abundance! . Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/zoanthidcompfaqs.htm
This is why I stocked them rather than say mushrooms or xenia which do.
This information was from CR Brightwell's "The Nano Reef Handbook" on page 78. Is this incorrect?
<If this is what was stated, yes indeed>
Do you have a reference specific to Zoanthids I could look at for more information? Thanks again for all the great help.
<... please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Observation on pistol shrimp and gobies  11/28/09
Hi WetWeb,
First of all, thank you for being there and taking the time to answer so many questions.
I have a 55 gal DT with a 15 gal sump that I started in May, 2009. It is coming along well and right now I am in the stage of mostly watching what is happening in the tank with the various coral, invert and fish inhabitants. It's so fascinating.
<Ah yes!>
One of the things I really wanted when I started this was a shrimp/goby pair. It was frustrating at first. I acquired a Randall's pistol shrimp and a Yasha goby to start. The Yasha died after 3 weeks. Later I tried a 2nd Yasha and it died in 2 days. The tank was fully cycled at the time and the animals appeared healthy at the outset; I was confused and sad. I didn't want to be responsible for any more Yasha deaths, so I let the shrimp be alone for a few months. I was his surrogate goby and fed him by putting food near the burrow.
It seemed to work as he thrived.
About 2 months ago, I bought 2 more shrimp gobies, thinking perhaps this shrimp has preferences over what species he lives with.
<Could well be>
So, I got one Randall's goby and one Stonogobiops nematodes. For at least a solid month neither paired with the shrimp. They lived on opposite sides of the tank and equidistant from a resident Jawfish.
All the burrowers were eating well and healthy, but unpaired. Then, a couple of weeks ago (the tank is now
6.5 months old) the Randall's paired with the shrimp. Success! It happened overnight. He lived with the shrimp for a week or so and then, again overnight, the partners switched and now the Hi Fin goby lives with the shrimp.
Do you have any insight you can share as to why this happened?
<Perhaps like cats and some men/women... "they" go live where/with whomever "feeds them better">
Do you think the fish or the shrimp has the
dominant opinion in these matters?
<I suspect both are free parties in the matter... that this, in human view is a mutually beneficial, perhaps in the wild, obligate relationship>
What seems strange, is that the tank seems so quiet at night fish-wise.
<Indeed... a prophetic statement of worth: "Things are not often what they appear">
They seem to be asleep. And yet, these behaviors and partner switching things go on.
Mostly just wanted to share, but any insight is appreciated!
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Crazy YWG, beh.  9/21/09
Hello!<Hey, Will N. with you today!>
I just recently started a 28 gallon nanocube salt water tank.<Fun time! Fishless-cycled, I presume?> So far
I have 1 emerald crab, 8 hermit crabs, 6 cleaner snails, 2 yellow tail damsels,<Can be territorial, especially when kept in even-numbered groups> 1 large cleaner shrimp, & 1 tiny yellow watchman goby.<Ahh! A great fish, one of my personal favorites> I also have 2 small coral frags.
I got the goby because I saw a tiny pistol shrimp after I added the first few things.<Mmm, certain species of goby only pair with certain species of shrimp... Not a guaranteed relationship by any means...> I guess somehow he stayed alive in either the live
rock<Good bet> or live sand I put in there. However, I haven't seen him since. <Probably won't for some time, these shrimp love secluded places to burrow>I was hoping the goby would find him & protect him if need be. <Can honestly hold their own against most small predators>
During acclimation he quickly swam right out of his bag into the tank. He seemed to be in a hurry to get out. He was acting normal <Which is...?>
afterward so I don't think it hurt him any. All day long he stayed at the bottom of the tank not really swimming around much.<What they do...> I figured he
would explore the tank & find the shrimp after he got comfortable.<Could be weeks.>
I woke up in the middle of the night to find him swimming around the top half of the tank like crazy. He's darting every which way. I thought he might be searching for food since he didn't come out for feeding at all today so I added just a tiny bit of frozen brine shrimp. He continued to stay at the top, but didn't seem to be going for any of the food. I haven't been able to sleep because I can't stop watching him. I'm as much amazed as I am worried. He keeps trying to swim against the wave blowers that we have in the tank. He's been doing it for a few hours now.<Definitely not normal. These are perching fish, not water-column dwellers like Firefish. Generally the best feeding method is to target-drift the food (vitamin-soaked mysis is my personal favorite) past the YWG's perch.>
I realize this is a new tank so it's normal for a fish to act a little strange, but I figured he would want to hide somewhere instead of being out in the open like this. <Oh, yes>Is this normal or should I be worried? If it's not normal what should I do about it?<Please write back with water parameters (numbers, not "pH good"). Likely an environmental issue, although he could just be acclimating to his new home. Do look up your pistol species if possible, unlikely he will pair otherwise>
Thanks so much!<No problem!>
<Will N.>

Black ray shrimp goby, beh.    3/21/08
Thanks for all your work, I refer to your pages often. I did not locate an answer to my question, although it might be in the thousands of questions you have already answered!
<I see>
My 3 month old set up is: 30 gal tank, overflow to a tiered 14 gal refuge centered with only 1 inch of miracle mud covered with 1 inch of live sand and a bit of rubble. On the first compartment in the refuge is a mini penguin bio wheel (with an added Algone packet) and a sea clone skimmer (I know, but bought it years ago, and it works to produce about 1 cup of greenish black gruel a week.) There is about 40 pounds of LR and 2-5 inches of live sand in the main tank. My parameters are 0: nitrites, ammonia. <10 nitrates, pH 8.3. I don't have much coral, just a few sun corals that were cast offs (free) that I am reviving nicely- polyps expanded all day, a button coral (happy) and moon coral (not expanding, and will be returned  to the LFS) a Xenia frag and lots of kelp and sea lettuce growing on the rocks.
I had bought a handful of Chaeto for the refugium, but took it out after seeing the growth of the red kelp and other red species on the rocks. I recall reading that competing marine plants don't do well?
<Sometimes this is so... but not always... and being from different Divisions helps>
Suggestions for
the refugium are welcome.
The fish are : 3 zebra Dartfish, a Rainford goby, a mandarin ( I have so many copepods they are visible all day on the rocks, thanks to stocking DT's pods and Tigger pods long ago) 2 pink clowns that ignore the 2 BTA anemones, (!) 3 peppermint shrimp (that ate the Aiptasia!)
a blood shrimp, a handful of snails and handful of hermits, an emerald crab, a baby serpent star, 3 narcissus, 1 Cerith and a recent yellow cucumber. I know it's a lot of fish, but I do plan to add a Jawfish.
<I would not... for two good reasons here... This tank is about full-up psychologically with fish life, AND an Opistognathid would dig up your sand bed, spreading the Mud>
Here's the question- the other inhabitants are a tiger pistol shrimp, which I added about three weeks before I added just one black ray shrimp goby, two weeks ago. The shrimp stayed holed up, and I moved some sand aside to feed it daily (mysis, squid, marine cuisine, Cyclopeeze). The evening I brought in the goby, well...it was very happy, doing it's life work. The thing about it is, the shrimp has kept the fish in the burrow since then!
I make it a point to open it up to feed them and I know the fish has not been eaten by the shrimp, but when will the behavior be more typical, with the fish outside the burrow?
<Days, weeks>
It is like they don't exist in the tank. Is there any way, should the fish appear, that I can discover the sex and add a mate?
<I would not add more here>
The other thing I wanted to ask about is microbubbles from the powerheads, I think they are spitting them into the tank, and there are fine bubble on the underside of the rocks, any concern here?
<Not if not too fine or numerous...>
Thanks so much,
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>


Yellow Watchman Goby Brings Buddy Along 2/4/09 <Hi Rachel> I didn't find much on Google for this - only someone that asked something suspiciously familiar here on WWM. Last night I received a hitchhiker in the most interesting of ways. I went to the LFS and picked up a Yellow Watchman Goby to replace the High-Fin Goby that jumped the tank about a month ago (apparently, he didn't like the new aquascaping layout). At the store, the Yellow Watchman Goby was paired with a pistol already, and though I didn't want to break up the pair, I figured it would probably happen anyways and my pistol shrimp needed a new buddy. After acclimation, the goby was put into the tank. At first, he stayed near the glass, which is when I noticed that his mouth looked funny. I got up right in front of him, and lo and behold, there's a pistol shrimp tail sticking out! I can only imagine that the yellow watchman goby decided to bring his buddy with him and wasn't going to eat it (otherwise I assume he would have swallowed it by that point). By the time I thought to grab my camera, the goby had retreated to a much more secluded area of the tank. Has this behavior ever been documented before? <Not to my knowledge, but thank you for sharing your experience with us. James (Salty Dog)> Cheers, Rachel <<... VERY interesting indeed. RMF>>

Where's my Goby??, 8/28/08 Hope all is well with you. <Yes, thanks.> Thanks for taking my ?? <Welcome> I have a 75 gal reef tank with a Yellow Watchman Goby and his cohort, a pistol shrimp. I have grown accustom to seeing him daily or every other day during the evening feeding. Goby often comes out at these times and feeds or waits for me to drop some pellets to him...then on his way he goes. Anyway, I have not seen him since Saturday (he is not in the overflow or sump either). <Have you checked the carpet?> Could this be considered normal for prawn gobies? <Could be.> Or, should I be concerned that he has "kicked the bucket". <Also possible.> His tankmates include a Ocellaris pair, two blue-green chromis, Kole Tang, three Pajama Cardinalfish, serpent star, sand sifting starfish, two emerald crabs, two cleaning shrimp, several hermits, and various snails. <If he did die his carcass would be quickly consumed by his tankmates.> I also have hardy, beginner corals...Zoanthids, mushrooms, colt coral, finger leather, candy cane, and open brain. ---77 F, 1.025 SPG, 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, 0 Nitrate--- Thanks for your time, -Phil <Could be either way, check around the tank to see if he jumped. Otherwise time will tell.> <Chris>

How does one encourage a pistol shrimp/goby to move to a new location? + other?s Hello, >>Hi, Travis. >I started my first reef tank about six weeks ago.  The tank is a thirteen gallon with about fifteen pounds of live rock, some corals, a tube worm, blue legged hermits, and Astrea snails.  The only other inhabitants are a yellow watchman goby and pistol shrimp pair.  Tank has about 60 watts of light, and a protein skimmer that came with the tank.  The tank and skimmer were made by CPR.  I feed my tube worm about a grain of rice worth of Black Powder around once a week.  Is the Black Powder a sufficient food for the worm?  Should I feed the worm more often?  >>I like to see a variety of foods offered, and if you can see your way clear a culture of rotifers offered to all the filter feeders would be helpful, same thing with plankton in general.  Some also really appreciate getting the "juice" that's exuded from foods such as squid, clams, shrimp, and fish.  Also, you would want to keep an eye on both alkalinity (buffering capacity of the water) as well as your calcium levels.  If you feed but have insufficient biomineral availability you might not see the growth you should. >>As for frequency of feedings, I would like to see them feed a bit more frequently--remember, in nature they're feeding daily. >Also, much of the bottom of my tank is covered with live rock except for a small patch of sand (approximately 6"/6").  Unfortunately, my shrimp and goby have decided to set up home behind the live rock where I cannot see them.  Sometimes the goby peeks around the rock and the shrimp snaps, so I know they are there.  How can I encourage them to take up residence in the open spot so that I can see them? >>This last problem is a much more difficult issue, as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, eh?  The only thing I can offer you is to use a combination of feeding ONLY in a certain area, and possibly recreating the structure that they're so fond of in a more easily viewable area.  Otherwise strategically placed mirrors have been my own solution, though it's never really bothered me that I can't see some things.  I'm just happy to know that they're there and thriving. >>I would also like to encourage you to consider the addition in the future of a refugium.  The development of a 'fuge with a deep sand bed would be of so much benefit you would end up being quite happy with the time and investment.  Good luck!  Marina Thank you very much for your help.  Travis.

Pistol shrimp and goby 3/30/03 I started my first reef tank about six weeks ago.  The tank is a thirteen gallon with about fifteen pounds of live rock, some corals, a tube worm, blue legged hermits, and Astrea snails.  The only other inhabitants are a yellow watchman goby and pistol shrimp pair. How does one encourage a pistol shrimp/goby to move to a new location? <you may encourage the move by providing a tube (plastic pipe) buried in the sand under a rock. They often find this hospitable. Best regards, Anthony>

Bob the Yellow Watchman I've had Bob (my yellow watchman goby) for about 3 years. All the sudden he has turned very pale and the brownish stripes around his body are darker - he doesn't act too sick and no other fish appear to be sick. Any other ideas?  Thanks. <These colors you are seeing are due to stress - the cause of the stress is what you need to determine.  First and foremost, check your water parameters, most importantly pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and specific gravity/salinity.  If any of those are amiss, fix with water changes.  Another thing to consider is the shy nature of this species.  They really do need sufficient hiding spaces that aren't used by other fish, where they can hole up and feel snug and safe.  If your watchman doesn't have that, it might be the source of his stress.  -Sabrina>

- Shrimp/Goby Pairing - I recently got these [Yellow Watchman Goby and Red Pistol Shrimp] and they don't seem to be pairing up... maybe the goby just doesn't know where the pistol has made his home at.  But I have read the FAQ's and didn't read much about the red pistol shrimp type.. but that most watchman will pair up with these kind.... Do you have any idea what might be taking so long... <Need to ask the Goby... no exact science here, so no exact answers.> Also I haven't noticed the pistol coming out of his home, does he just come out at night. <Yes, mostly nocturnal without the help of the Goby.> Thanks: -Roger <Cheers, J -- >

Not so Yellow watchman goby Hello.  I recently purchased a yellow watchman goby to add into my 55 salt tank.  When he was added into the tank, his coloration remained yellow, but over the past couple of days he has turned a white color with brown stripes.  He is still eating and is active, he has found a place under our live rock to hide out, and is showing no signs of stress.  His only other tank mates are 3 damsels, a scooter blenny, a clown goby, emerald crabs, hermit crabs, snails, and a sand sifting star.  Is this coloration a warning to the other tank mates or something else I should be worried about.  I have tested the water and there is no ammonia, nitrite, and only 10 nitrate.  Temp in the tank is 80.  Water changes are done monthly, filtration is a Fluval 404 canister, penguin 330, and an emperor 280.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks-Deanna  <May be due to just settling in, but this species should not lose this much color in such a short period of time, though do so with sex change.... Please do re-write if this fish doesn't color up within a week or so. Bob Fenner>

Missing watchman goby Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2005 Hi, first off I love your site. I am quite worried, I recently purchased a yellow watchman goby. Unfortunately my LFS did not have any pistol shrimp in stock to pair up with it.  <They don't always pair up. Certain gobies will only associate with certain shrimp, and that's if the shrimp allows him.> Anyways, the first couple of days went great, he ate right away and what not. Then suddenly he disappeared, nowhere to be found. I assume he might have died, but I can't even find a body! Should I look for him under rocks or what? It's only a 12 gallon tank so I know that wouldn't be too hard. Any advice on this situation would be greatly appreciated.  <Chris, watchman gobies live very secluded lives to begin with. I rarely see mine. Don't panic yet, they are a hardy fish and he should show up again. James (Salty Dog)>

Missing watchman goby Okay so it has been almost a week now and I still can't find him. It's not exactly a large tank either, there isn't that many hiding spots for a two inch long yellow watchmen. Before he disappeared, he would normally show himself for feeding, but I don't see him during feeding either. It wouldn't bother me so much if he died, but the fact that I can't even find his body is letting keep faith. Is it possible that my crabs would eat his carcass? <Yes, very possible>  (I do have a couple of opportunistic crabs) Should I do a small search by taking out some of the rock temporarily? <Yes, I would. I really don't like anything dead in my tank, turns into organic waste, ph reduction.>  There is another catch to the story, see I want to buy the prawn/shrimp that goes with this guy, <I would say your odds are 50% that any watchman and pistol shrimp will pair up. I myself have a yellow watchman and pistol shrimp combo and since about one month, I don't think they have ever saw each other.>  but I definitely don't want to buy him and then find out they never paired since the watchmen is dead...Anyways any advice would be appreciated.  <Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> 

Watchman in filter system Hi, I found my watchman, he's in the filtration system, well behind the tank.  I have no clue how he got there. I took out all the various filters. I have a 12g Nanocube if you are familiar with the brand. I have no net that small and I don't believe any exist that small, the part he's in is can fit about a fist, since my hand will fit. He's still alive but I have no idea how to get him out, everything in my tank is out as well. Please help!!  <Well Chris, you could make a net out of a coat hanger small enough to get in there. Funny, they are not known to be jumpers. Other than that I don't know what to tell you since the filter part is not removable. If there is a will, there is a way. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> 

Emergency Thanks for your advice, I ended up draining the tank to about 2 inches of water and grabbing him with my hand, was not easy but worked in the end. He is now happy and alive swimming freely (weird behaviour of a watchman) in my aquarium, must have been all that confinement, loves the freedom. Anyways thanks a lot for all your advice.  <Glad you watchman is happy now. James (Salty Dog)>

Sick orange watchman goby? No Hi, I don't know if my Orange Watchman goby is sick. I just noticed his behavior is weird. He just sits under a rock and doesn't move around all that much. He used to be active digging holes, etc. but now he just sits under this rock and when I feed the fish he does go out and grab food. Today I saw that he grabbed some food and went back under his rock and it almost looked like some of the food went through his gills/sifter part of his body. Is there anything I should do? <Not abnormal... this is how this species sieves food from substrate> This has been going on for a few days and I just been observing. Should I worry? <No> What do you think it is? I added some new live rock and a Niger triggerfish to the tank maybe 2 days ago, but it seems to go back further than when I added the new stuff. Thanks, Kristofer <Keep your eye on the trigger... the Goby is a much more peaceful, passive animal... Bob Fenner>

Goby and Pistol Shrimp Take Off Together WWM Crew, I have a 65 gallon reef tank that is 24" high with a built in overflow. No live rock or coral come within several inches of the overflow grates. Among my tank's inhabitants include a 1 1/2" watchman goby and 3/4" pistol shrimp who, until very recently shared the same "burrow" together in a deep sand bed under some live rock.  <They do this> A few days ago, I found my goby and pistol shrimp in a prefilter bag in the sump below my tank. I understand how it's possible for the goby to have gotten down there (as he can swim, albeit not very well) but how in the world did his friend end up with him? <Scooted over the edge evidently> It's almost as if the shrimp would have had to clamp onto a fin as they made there two foot ascent towards the overflow.  <Some Alpheids do maintain close physical contact... mostly through larger pair of "antennae"> (The overflow is also protected by several jets that blast enough current to only allow the top 1/2 inch of water to pass into the overflow. Any animals going near the overflow would be forced back to the bottom of the tank.) Can the goby carry the shrimp in his mouth. (I know the last question sounds ridiculous.) I am really at a loss here. Thanks. Jack <Neat proposition/speculation... Bob Fenner>  

Yellow Watchman Goby Hello Bob, We purchased a YWG last month and he or she has established a "garage" at the base of our live rock in an L shaped pattern to patrol the front and side of our 65 gallon tank. Joe, as it is named, likes to hide most of the time which I know is normal and there are the unmistakable grooves in the sand where digging has taken place.  This fish has been afraid for the most part of our six lined wrasse, cherub angel, blue-green Chromis and fire fish goby. However, after thoroughly cleaning all of the glass in the tank Joe has been out of his/her garage much more recently and it seems that he/she keeps looking into the glass if admiring his/her beauty. I was just wondering if this is settling in behavior or is he/she looking at the mirror image as another Goby? Any thoughts? <I do like the reference to Frank Zappa... his actual garage isn't far from us, my parents place here in San Diego. All sounds well with your goby... Not to worry here. Bob Fenner>

Are Pink Spotted Watchman Gobies aka Pink Spotted Shrimp Gobies  sand sifters???? 8/13/05 <To some extent, yes... they make their "living" from sifting some sand... though not as much as other genera (e.g. Valenciennea) of gobies. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/valenciennea.htm and linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Shy Yashia Goby... they are  9/19/05 Hi, <Hello Tom> I received a Yashia Goby and Randall's Pistol Shrimp on August 8, but the fish died the next day.  On August 15, I received a new fish, and it and the shrimp have been doing OK so far (4+ weeks). The fish and shrimp are in a quarantine tank, with a handful of mixed size coral sand and a PVC pipe structure made of small diameter short pieces connected with a few elbows and tees.  The fish and shrimp live in this pipe structure. The shrimp has arranged the coral sand to block one visible entrance to the pipe structure, and to landscape the other visible entrance.  He seems to keep this second entrance blocked most of the time, opening it briefly about once a day in the evening (that I have been able to observe).  When I see the Goby with his head out of this entrance (and usually also see the shrimp working with his coral sand) I put in a little food (usually dry flakes since they float around the tank better).  The Goby will eat a flake or two if it drifts close enough (4-5 inches) from his entrance.  But the slightest sudden motion in the room will send the Goby back into the pipe structure for a while. <Normal> My question is whether it is normal for this kind of fish/shrimp pair to be so shy. Will they come out more after while? <Yes...>   If they go into a display tank with lots of hiding places, will I never see them again?  Or will they be more comfortable in such a tank and come out more often? <The latter> I could put them into a 75 gallon that has live rock and 2 clownfish, or into a 20 gallon with nothing but live rock (and possibly a few VERY small crabs and pistol shrimps that hitchhiked in on the live rock).  Which would be better? <The first> Any thoughts? <Few and dwindling...> Thanks, Tom <I would cut short these animals quarantine, match their water with your larger tank over a few days time... by moving, supplanting the QT water with its... and translocate them. Bob Fenner>

Yellow Watchman goby changed color  12/15/05 Your web site is the best and extremely helpful but so far I haven't found any specific information about Goby's changing color. I have a 135-gal tank. I started off with a couple snails, hermit crabs and a Tiger Pistol Shrimp and Yellow Watchman Goby. They had the tank all to themselves for about a month before I added several green Chromis out of Q.T. At first the Goby stood outside his den and "yelled" at the Chromis swimming by and then his color changed to white with dark bands. <Good descriptions> The color change certainly seemed stress related. He looked ticked off. The Aquarium shop stated that it was typical and his color should return to normal within a few days. <With the removal of the stressor/s...> It's been 3 weeks now! He is eating fine and appears to be in overall good health. All tests with the tank are fine. It's driving me nuts. Then to add to my "stress", I come across a photo of two yellow watchman goby's. And my first reaction was  maybe it's a sex thing? And maybe he's not a he but a she? <Possibly> Any ideas? My goby looked like the one on the right and now looks like the one on the left of the picture. <Is possibly maturing... but the "mouthing" is indicative of a behavioral component at play here. If there was a way to remove/separate the damsel and see what happens, I would do this. Bob Fenner>

Yashia shrimp goby stuck in refugium   1/21/06 Well I finally got my 30g refugium set up on my 220g tank this week. I put in a 5in sand bed, Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha, and about 5 portions of pods I bought from florida Pets.com.  Everything looks great and seems to be doing good. I see a lot of pod activity, which is my main goal for this tank. I have a lot planktivores in my main (Anthias, fairies wrasses, etc.) and I wanted to keep a suitable amount of zooplankton to feed them. Anyway, my refugium is gravity fed by one of the two overflow outlets on my hang-on overflow box. The other goes to the main sump and skimmer, the refugium also empties into the sump. The first night I set up my refugium I noticed my Yashia Shrimp Goby had not only got caught in the overflow box but made a new home in live rock rubble I set up for my pods in the refugium. I then proceeded to catch him and return him to the main tank. All was fine for a couple days, but now its in there again and loving all the new forage. I'm not only surprised he ventured into the overflow again, I'm wondering how he fit through the grid teeth and how he was so lucky to once again make it down the right outlet into the refugium. Now I know he's obviously more happy in the refugium, but I also know from your book that its no place for him. I guess my question is how much damage can he do to my pending pod population? <Have to wait/see> and what can i do to make him stay in the main? <Better screening> I have 250lbs of live rock and a live sand. There's no overly aggressive predators in the tank, so I'm wondering why it keeps venturing down the overflow. Would setting up a pile of rubble in the main tank make it more appealing? Thanks Brandon   <Likely "jumping" in response to the water movement. Bob Fenner>

Cryptocentrus leptocephalus - Pink Spotted Watchman (Shrimp) Goby Question  - 03/11/2006 Hi - First off I want to thank you for all the great reading information. I've learned more in 2 days of reading your posts then I would have learned in a month from any other site I've seen!  I'm not exactly sure how you have your site setup though when it comes to questions so if I should go through another method to request help please let me know. <Mmm, nope. This is it>   I've researched what I can to find the species names (hoping it would make it easier) <Appreciate this> I've stumbled into your site while looking for information on worms and my god I never thought there would ever be so much information on worms.  (I've recently discovered bristle worms and two other species that I'm trying to identify).  But that's not exactly what has prompted me to look for some help or advice.  Actually it's about my goby that I've had for many years 3-4 now.  From the very setup of my 90 gallon tank he has been by my side very healthy, active and always "around" sifting and basically doing his thing.  The past week or two he's suddenly started to get sluggish and today he's staying in his shell that he claimed from the day he landed (ha ha) into my tank.  Actually he's been staying in it more and more as each day has passed.  I don't want to start going crazy with anything (fearing something has gone astray with my tank) so I've been trying to find something to determine if it's possible if he's just getting old now.  One other important note is that I have another fish a Royal Gramma Basslet (Gramma loreto) that has also become slow, but he only started acting this way when he started getting attacked by my Neon Dottyback (Pseudochromis aldabraensis).  Originally they got along fine for 5 months then suddenly they started battling over territory. <Very common twixt these species, families... similarly shaped, resource using...> I also have a wide variety of fish from an angel - clown - tang - fire shrimp - clown goby - Hawkfish - <Surprised the Hawk hasn't consumed the shrimp...> others mentioned above and maybe one or two I'm forgetting. (trying to give a little more info on the situation in the tank).  With all this in consideration should I be worried about the sudden change in the goby? <Such behavioral changes/observations are always a source of concern, input> Is it that he's nearing his natural life span?  Or do you think I might have some unknown problem in my tank that I have yet to determine? <Best to watch all livestock, keep monitoring water quality... When, where in doubt, water changes, the use/replacement of chemical filtrants, abatement of supplementation are good considerations. Bob Fenner> Thank you in advance Anthony Watchman Goby/Acclimation  - 05/22/2006 Hello Crew, <Good morning> I just purchased a fine looking Watchman Goby yesterday from a reputable LFS, and after an acclimation period, placed him in my QT. The QT has some base rock and I put some aragonite on the bottom to ease the transition for the goby. I have tried feeding him a couple of times with brine shrimp but he won't eat. He stays hidden 95% of the time. I know that's how they are but my concern is his lack of eating and not swimming out from his hiding place at all since I've brought him home. My QT ammonia level is 0. Is this lack of eating and extreme shyness "normal" for a newly purchased watchman goby male? <Not abnormal at all.  There are times when I won't see mine for a week.  Give it some time, all should be well.  Do read FAQ's here on goby feeding.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gobyfdgfaqs.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Watchman Goby ... beh.   4/30/06 Hi. My parents have a 60 gallon salt water tank. For the past 2 years they have had a yellow watchman goby. Just recently they bought three new fish. A Yellow Fin Black Angel, a Flame Hawk, and a Flame Tailed Flag fish. <Too much, too soon> There are now five fish in the tank. Nothing has changed in the Gobi's behavior, however, it's coloring is changing drastically. It now appears to be getting black markings. The markings appear to be zebra type stripes on his body and black fringing around it's fins and eyes. As mentioned before none of the Gobi's behaviors have changed. Is this something to be worried about. Thank you. <Just "signaling", "dominance" flashing here... from being suddenly crowded. Watch out for further stress-induced problems. Bob Fenner>

Re: JBJ 24Dx... and shrimp goby systems, beh.   3/16/06 Thanks for the quick reply! I had another question about our system.  It's about 1" deep sand bed, not fine or rough grade, in between.  Would this be adequate for a yellow watchman goby, without a shrimp? <Should be, yes.>   I believe the gobies can be fine without shrimp, is this correct? <Yes> We can add to the sand bed if necessary.  Thanks again for the help! Alex <Bob Fenner>

Reappearing Watchman Goby  - 08/26/06 Hello All, I will apologize for the length of this story in advance, but it is truly amazing.  I have an unusual story, that hopefully you can give me some explanation.  Approximately 4-5 months ago we introduced a Harlequin Tusk to my tank (300 gallons, live rock and substrate, bubble tip anemones, blue hippo, yellow tang, emperor angel, 3 pink skunk clowns, pinstripe wrasse, 4 cleaner shrimp, 2 fire shrimp, many snails and hermits). <Am surprised the Tusk hasn't taken to consuming these last> Anyway it wasn't long before my wife witnessed in horror the harlequin swallowing her favorite yellow watchman goby whole!  Only to regurgitate it a couple of hours later. <They're not "that" tasty>   The Harlequin unfortunately had a disease that wasn't present while in QT and we were able to save all of the fish except the tusk.  We then bought a juvenile yellow watchman and all seemed right with the world.  Until, he disappeared just after a few weeks.  We couldn't find any remains and no strange activity in the skimmer.  It has been approximately 8-10 weeks since we last spotted the goby in his favorite "cave".  Until tonight, my wife started yelling in excitement and I couldn't believe it.  Sure enough, now looking quite large at 3" and a good girth to him.  He also seems to have completely changed colors.  Instead of the original and traditional yellow watchman he now looks gray, with blue spots and blue fins.  How is any of this possible? <Maturity... changed into "the other" sex> In the last 24 hours he seems to be back to his old behavior of checking out the tank, playing with the small plastic jewels we put in the tank for his amusement...and ours!  Thanks for any help you may be able to provide. Skip Whitworth <Easy to miss such a small, cryptic animal in a good-sized volume. Cheers! Bob Fenner>

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