The Gobies are found in the family Gobiidae, a huge family comprising over 2000 different species of fish. The typical habitat for a goby fish is shallow parts of the ocean, such as coral reefs and seagrass meadows, but quite a few species have adapted to a life in brackish environments where freshwater rivers empty themselves into the sea, such as mangrove forests. A handful of goby species live in freshwater, such as the Asian river goby (Rhinogobius spp.) the European freshwater goby (Padogobius bonelli) and the Australian desert goby (Chlamydogobius eremius).
To make things a little confusing, the group of fishes commonly known as “Sleeper Gobies” or “Sleeper Goby fishes” does not contain any true gobies at all. The Sleeper Gobies belong to the family Eleotridae and the fused pelvic fin present on true gobies is not found in sleeper gobies. Eleotridae and Gobiidae are however closely related families and the members are very similar when it comes to size, body shape and habits.
The abovementioned fused pelvic fin helps the goby to stay attached to various surfaces and avoid being swept away by currents and waves. Evolution has caused the pelvic fin to fuse and develop into a disc-shaped sucker. Similar suckers can be seen on other fishes as well, such as the lumpsuckers of the family Cyclopteridae, but the gobies are not closely related to the other “suckers”. The fact that many different unrelated fish groups have developed suckers to stay attached to surfaces is an example of so called convergent evolution. When gobies are kept in aquariums they will often attach themselves to the aquarium glass and give you the opportunity to study the sucker in detail.
A few large species can be found in the family Gobiidae but a majority of the members are really small. A few of the smallest known vertebrates in the world are actually found in this family; the tiny fishes of the genera Pandaka, Trimmaton andTyson. These species will not exceed 1 cm (3/8 inches) in length.
If you wish to try one of the easier goby species in your marine aquarium you can for instance pick the Masked Goby, Coryphopterus personatus. This species hails form the western parts of the central Atlantic and can be kept in a 40 L (10 gallon) aquarium. It will normally stay smaller than 4 cm (1.5 inches) and is considered reef safe. It is a peaceful species and many aquarists have successfully kept several Masked Gobies together in the same aquarium. Never house this docile fish with more aggressive fish or vertebrates since this will be highly stressful for the goby. Unlike many other gobies this species is fonder of swimming around than staying attached to a surface. This goby fish needs a carnivore diet to stay healthy and happy. In the wild, it feeds chiefly on plankton but it will accept most foods in the aquarium, including prepared meaty and algae based food types. Provide your goby with a varied diet to ensure optimal health and do not give it dry food only.
Orangespotted Shrimp Goby – Amblyeleotris guttata
Pinkspotted Shrimp Goby – Cryptocentrus leptocephalus
Randall's Shrimp Goby – Amblyeleotris randalli
Yellow Clown Goby – Gobiodon okinawae
Yellow Watchman Goby – Cyrptocentrus cinctus