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Cleaning Gobies
(Elacatinus evelynae & Gobiosoma Randalli)

neon cleaning goby, Elacatinus evelynae

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Cleaning goby belong to the family Gobiidae. There are two species commonly referred to as cleaning gobies, the Elacatinus evelynae and the Gobiosoma randalli. Cleaning gobies are native to the tropical reef formations of the Gulf of Mexico. Their habitat ranges from the coastline of Texas to Belize.

Cleaning gobies are small torpedo shaped fish. They only reach an adult length of around 1.5 inches. The name cleaning goby is a direct reference to their dietary habits in their natural habitat. These fish actually set up cleaning stations where other fish line up line up like cars at a car wash to have the parasites removed from their bodies. Even much larger fish who would normally not think twice about having a goby for lunch will line up for cleaning. This symbiotic relationship is beneficial to everyone involved. The larger fish are healthier after ridding themselves of harmful parasite infestations. The gobies food source comes to them. The presence of predators also acts as a means of protection for these tiny fish.

These fish are commonly marketed under the name “neon gobies” because of their intense color palette. Neon gobies come in a variety of colors but they all have darker bodies with a prominent horizontal stripe on both sides. These stripes have a highly reflective quality. They appear to almost glow under direct lighting. Cleaning gobies are short lived creatures with an expected lifespan of only 1.5 years.

Cleaning gobies make an excellent addition to a reef aquarium. Even the most novice aquarium keeper will find them easy to keep alive and healthy. Their small size makes them perfect for nano-reef setups. They can feel right at home in aquariums as small as 5 gallons. They have no territorial issues with other fish or other members of their own species. So you can keep a group of them without fear of squabbling. Avoid mixing them with large predatory fish and they will thrive in their new environment. These gobies are bottom dwellers. In their natural habitat they live in rocks when they are not performing community service. You will need to provide them with abundant hiding places.

They are not picky eaters in captivity. They will eat virtually any and all frozen or live foods. They can even become accustomed to eating flake or pellet foods. Gobies are shy by nature. If they are forced to compete against larger more aggressive species for food they have been known to go hungry.

These are exceptionally easy fish to find. This was the first marine fish to be successfully bred in captivity. Captive breeding programs have made several species readily available. If given a choice, a tank-raised goby is always preferable. Fish that were raised in captivity are less likely to have escalated stress levels in their new surroundings then one who has been recently removed from its natural habitat.

Goby Breeding

Sexing gobies is difficult. Fortunately it is also unnecessary. Gobies will pair up instinctively. Place a section of small diameter plastic piping in the bottom of your aquarium. This will act as a breeding chamber. This species are demersal egg layers. They will instinctively lay their eggs on the bottom of the chamber. The female will protect the eggs until they hatch. If you have a breeding tank you can remove the pipe and the mother to insure the fry are not eaten by the tanks other inhabitants once they become free swimming. Fry can be feed zooplankton. They will be fully developed in about 30 days.

Environmental Parameters


pH Level Specific Gravity
72-78  °F 8.1-8-4 1.020-1.025

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