Just like a peacock, the Peacock goby (Tateurndina ocellicauda) sports a remarkable display of beautiful colors and patterns. In addition to being beautiful, it is fairly easy to care for, have a peaceful temperament and rarely exceeds 7 cm in length. It is therefore a great addition to a community aquarium inhabited by other small and peaceful species that appreciate the same type of environment and water conditions. The Peacock goby is also known as the Peacock Gudgeon and the One-eyed sleeper goby.
The Peacock goby hails from the island of New Guinea where it has been found in a limited part of eastern Pompau, near two small towns named Safia and Popondetta. This region is covered in rain forest and the Peacock goby habit consists of the many slow moving streams and ponds that can be found in this part of the New Guinean jungle. Due to the very limited range of this species and the inaccessibility of the rainforest, the Peacock goby was only known by the local New Guinean inhabitants until the mid 20th century. It was first stumbled upon by foreigners in 1953, and within two years it had been official described by John T. Nichols of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It would however take an additional three decades before it was introduced to aquarists in Australia and Europe.
The Peacock goby is a part of the Sleeper Goby family Eleotridae and just like all the other members of this family, it has separate pelvic fins. This sets the sleeper gobies apart from the true gobies of the family Gobiidae where all the species have fused pelvic fins that can be used as suction cups. Most other species in the family Eleotridae are rather drab and it is hard to fathom that they are actually close relatives of the flamboyant Peacock goby.
Sexing Peacock gobies is very easy. The females stay around 4-5 cm in length while the males can grow up to 7 cm long. The male is also equipped with a noticeably bigger head and sports of type of cephalic hump, while the body of the female is much more streamlined.
Both males and females are very colorful with both sexes displaying bright red vertical markings over a blue main body color. Both sexes are also equipped with bright yellow fins and have a characteristic black dot on their caudal peduncle. The female differs from the male by having a yellow belly and a black edge on her anal fin.
For a single pair, a 10-20 gallon aquarium is big enough to serve as breeding tank. If you want to keep more than one couple, you should ideally get a bigger aquarium to prevent the males from fighting each other during the breeding period. Peacock gobies spend there adult life close to the bottom and are therefore often housed together with fish species that prefer to stay in the upper parts of the aquarium.
The Peacock goby is known to appreciate a dimly lit aquarium where the temperature stays within the 76-80 degrees F range. The recommended pH-value is 7.0-7.4 and the total water hardness should not exceed 80 ppm.
If you want to breed Peacock gobies you must provide them with suitable spawning sites. You can for instance include caves, flowerpots and PVC pipes in the setup.
Peacock gobies, especially wild caught ones, are not very fond of dry foods such as flakes and pellets. You can train them to accept it, but keeping them on a strict dry-food diet is certainly not recommended. In the wild, they feed chiefly on insects, insect larvae and small crustaceans and they will therefore prefer a similar diet in the aquarium. They love brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, bloodworms and similar foods.
Feeding your Peacock gobies plenty of protein rich food and keeping the water quality up is important if you want them to breed. As mentioned above, they prefer to spawn inside caves and are especially fond of narrow PVC pipes.
When the male has chosen one of the spawning sites he will start to swim around it and try to make a female enter it. If she is willing to breed with him, she will swim inside and start attaching her adhesive eggs to the roof. The male will alternate between staying inside and fertilizing eggs and staying outside to keep any intruders at bay. When the female has released all her eggs, the male will chase her away and stay to care for the eggs alone. A female Peacock Goby can produce up to 200 eggs per spawning, but young and small specimens produce much less than this.
It is recommended to let the male stay with the eggs because he will fan them with fresh water, thus preventing fungus and bacteria from attacking the eggs. He will also remove any unfertilized eggs and keep all other adult fish away from the spawning site.
As the fry emerge, the male will stop caring for them and they can therefore fall prey to other adult fish in the aquarium or even be eaten by the father. It is therefore safest to move them to a separate fry rearing aquarium. The rearing aquarium should be set up well in advance and contain live plants, e.g. Java fern and Java moss, since infusoria that lives among the plants will serve as first food for the tiny fry. Soon they will be big enough to eat microworms and when they are roughly one week of age you can start giving them newly hatched brine shrimp.
Poor water quality will result in high fry mortality and small and frequent water changes are therefore imperative. Even when kept in ideal conditions and provided with nutritious food Peacock goby fry are slow growers and will normally not develop any coloration until they are at least three months of age.