Orange Spotted Goby: Care, Tank Mates, Diet & More
Posted by Miles Harrison on 12/02/2022
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The Orange Spotted Goby (scientific name: Amblyeleotris guttata), also sometimes referred to as the Orange Spot Goby, Sunspot Goby, or Spotted Prawn Goby, is a peaceful and tiny member of the Gobiidae family and is a favorite amongst saltwater aquarium enthusiasts.
Only discovered within the past century, this fish was formally classified by the Pennsylvania-born zoologist Henry Fowler, a friend of famous author Ernest Hemingway. While it may not be as common as the similar Pink bar Goby or Yellow Watchman Goby, the Orange Spotted Goby is the perfect choice for hobbyists looking to add a peaceful, low-maintenance goby fish to their aquariums.
If you’re considering adding an Orange Spotted Goby to your tank, there are a few things you should know about before purchasing this species. But don’t worry, in this post, we’re going to cover everything you’ll want to know. We’ll discuss diet, lifespan, tank mate options, and we’ll even discuss whether or not it’s possible to breed this fish in captivity.
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Native to the Ryukyu Islands, Australia, and the Western Pacific Ocean, the Orange Spotted Goby is often mistaken for another goby species, the Diamond Watchman Goby (scientific name: Valenciennea puellaris). Aquarists should be aware that these two species share quite a few similarities and differences. It’s also common to see Orange Spotted Gobies labeled as Diamond Watchman Gobies, and vice-versa.
The Orange Spotted Goby is a small fish, making them some of the best saltwater fish for a nano tank. Whether you have a small aquarium or a large one, you can’t go wrong with an Orange Spotted Goby.
In the wild, these fish can be found living in self-dug burrows throughout the Indo-Pacific reefs. They adapt well to life in an aquarium, but you’ll want to re-create their native habitat as closely as possible. It’s your duty as a responsible aquarium owner to give your inhabitants the best life possible, so you’ll want to be well-versed in your inhabitant’s care requirements.
Orange Spotted Gobies have all-white bodies covered in small orange dots that are outlined in a light-brown color. Their pectoral, dorsal, tail and anal fins are translucent in coloration but are also covered in small orange dots. It’s quite interesting to see, at times it can appear that the orange dots are hovering around the fish due to the actual fins being transparent.
The eyes of the fish are off-white with small brown blotches, and their pelvic fins have a translucent-black coloration. Behind the head of this fish, a maroon/brown coloration change can be seen on the underbelly.
Males will tend to have reddish-colored dots and will have a black throat covered in metallic-blue dots. Both are features that are not as prominent in females.
Orange Spotted Gobies will grow to reach about 3.5 inches in length.
Juveniles will be much smaller than adults and will reach their full height after about 6-12 months. Providing these fish with a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet will help these fish reach their full adult length.
Orange Spotted Goby Care
These fish are relatively undemanding. Their small size gives an aquarist a lot of flexibility when it comes to stocking options and tank setup. Known as a beginner-friendly fish, once transitioned, these fish adjust extremely well to an appropriately sized saltwater aquarium.
Still, you’ll want to do your best to give this fish everything it needs to thrive. While it may seem difficult to re-create the conditions of the Indo-Pacific, we’re going to cover everything you’ll need to do to make it happen.
Healthy Orange Spotted Gobies should live for about 2 years when kept in captivity. Gobies are a short-lived species, so it’s no surprise that the orange spotted goby also has a similar lifespan.
Typically these fish will be sold as juveniles, but occasionally they are sold as adults. Always make sure to inquire about the age of the fish before purchasing to get a good estimate of the fish’s potential life expectancy.
You’ll need an aquarium that’s at least 10 gallons in size if you plan on keeping an Orange Spotted Goby.
However, many aquarists like to add additional tank mates. Since the orange spotted goby can be a bit on the shy side, other peaceful species, such as a snowflake clownfish can be added, but you’ll need a much larger aquarium. The bigger the aquarium, the more options you’ll have when it comes to keeping additional tank mates.
These fish inhabit Indo-Pacific reefs, typically up to 6-100 feet below the surface. Even with ongoing ocean acidification, pH levels tend to be close to 8.1, putting the native habitat of the orange spot goby in hard-water territory.
Even though the Orange Spotted Goby is known to be a relatively-hardy species, you’ll want to aim for the following water parameters when housing this species:
Specific Gravity: 1.020-1.025
Temperature Range: 72°F-78°F
KH: 8-12 dKH
Maintain these conditions and regularly test your water with a reliable testing kit . If you're planning on having a heavily-stocked aquarium, perform 15-20% water changes every 1-2 weeks. If your tank has few inhabitants, a monthly 25% water change should be all that’s needed.
There are tons of possible aquarium configurations for an Orange Spotted Goby. One of the first decisions you’ll likely make is choosing the right substrate. Since orange spot gobies dig burrows in their native habitat, a sand substrate is an absolute must when keeping this species. CarbiSea’s Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand is a great option, but if you are fortunate enough to live near an ocean, ocean sand will do just fine. Just make sure you have added enough substrate so that your Orange Spotted Goby can dig a burrow.
A tight-fitting lid is crucial if you plan on keeping any type of goby, including the orange spot, as they are known as jumpers. These fish get spooked easily and will dart around the tank if threatened.
You’ll want to add plenty of aquarium live rock, which you can position to create caves and tunnels that will be appreciated by your orange spotted goby.
If you’re planning on adding corals, you’ll be happy to know that this fish is reef-safe. Just be sure not to overcrowd your aquarium. Always leave a large open space for your fish to swim.
As with almost all saltwater aquariums, you’ll want to provide plenty of flow, a filter that’s rated for your aquarium size, and a reliable heater. Consider adding a protein skimmer which will remove waste and oxygenate the water.
There are no aquarium diseases that specifically target goby fish, but they are still susceptible to all of the common diseases that affect most other saltwater inhabitants. One of these diseases is known as Saltwater Ich or Marine White Spot Disease. This disease is often brought on by stress and/or poor water quality. It’s typically diagnosed by small white spots that appear over the body of the affected fish.
Treatment for Saltwater Ich can be tricky. Some aquarists have had success with copper-based treatments, but this solution is incredibly harmful to invertebrates or coral in a reef aquarium.
You’ll need to collect and move all of your aquarium fish into a quarantine tank for several months to starve out any remaining parasites. In the fish-only quarantine tank, you can treat with Copper, Chloroquine Phosphate, or Hyposalinity. Hyposalinity treatment involves raising your specific gravity to 1.010-1.013, which is safe for marine fish, but lethal to saltwater ich.
Marine Velvet is another common disease, and its symptoms look similar to Saltwater Ich. You can differentiate the two diseases by examining the small white dots that appear on the body of the affected fish. If the dots are larger and more spread out, you have saltwater ich. If they’re small and clumped together, it’s Marine Velvet.
You’ll need to act quickly if you notice signs of Marine Velvet. The disease is lethal and spreads quickly, often killing inhabitants in a matter of days. You’ll need to transfer all of your fish into a quarantine tank, and treat them with Chloroquine phosphate or Ruby Reef Rally . You’ll need to wait 6 weeks until the dinoflagellates that are responsible for causing Marine Velvet to die off.
While these diseases are frustrating, they are curable. But the best treatment is always prevention. Always inspect and quarantine new fish before adding them to your existing aquarium, and frequently test your water with a reliable test kit to ensure optimal water quality.
Food & Diet
Orange Spotted Gobies should be fed thawed Mysis and brine shrimp, copepods, and live blackworms 2-3 times a day. Since these carnivorous fish tend to hang near the substrate, you can make feedings easier by using a feeding tube .
These fish will constantly sift through the sand bed to find new food sources. If you don’t have an aquarium that’s been established for at least 2 years, consider adding additional copepods once a week to make up for the lack of microfauna. The extra copepods will ensure that your Orange Spot Goby is getting the nutrition they need.
Behavior and Temperament
Orange Spotted Gobies will not aggressively sift sand around like a Diamond goby. These fish are members of the Crytocentrus Genus. Gobies in this genus are also known as Watchman gobies, named after the symbiotic relationship they form with Pistol shrimp. These alpheid shrimp will dig a burrow, which will be protected by the Orange Spotted Goby. It’s a fascinating relationship to observe.
When burrowed, these fish can be hard to locate, and they are known to be quite skittish and will retreat to their burrows if they feel threatened.
Don’t be surprised if you don’t see your fish for the first few weeks after they’ve been introduced to the aquarium. Over time, they will become more confident and periodically swim throughout the tank.
Known for their peaceful temperament, there are plenty of possibilities for different tank mates.
Without question, the best tank mate for an Orange Spotted Goby is a Japanese Pistol Shrimp. The relationship these two species will form in your aquarium is one of the most interesting things to witness in the hobby.
If you have a large enough aquarium, you’ll be pleased to know that the Orange Spotted Goby’s peaceful temperament allows for many interesting tank mate additions.
Some potential tank mates include:
Spotted Cleaner Shrimp
Just stay clear of more aggressive species, such as the Maroon Clownfish or Tessalata Eel. Orange-spotted gobies are shy enough as-is, the last thing you’ll want to do is cause them additional stress by introducing more aggressive species.
Aquarists looking to breed this species will be pleased to know that they breed quite easily in captivity. If you’re fortunate enough to have both a male and female, you can increase their chances of spawning by offering stable water parameters, optimal water conditions, and a stress-free environment.
These fish should spawn regularly, you can expect spawning to occur once every 3 weeks. You’ll want to have an established nursery tank with a sponge filter ready to go.
You’ll want to start preparing a rotifer culture at least a week beforehand. Fry diet should consist of rotifers and copepods, such as Apocyclops panamensis and Parvocalanus crassirostris.
Around 3 days after spawning, you can remove the eggs with a syringe, and transfer them into the nursery tank, where you’ll begin raising the fry.
Raising fry is difficult, you’ll need to feed the fry daily, provide optimal water conditions, do daily 10% water changes, and siphon any waste from the bottom of the tank. Avoid bright light, you’ll want to blackout the tank for the first 4 days, after this period ends you can add low-intensity lighting.
After a few days of a rotifer diet, you can begin to feed bits of brine shrimp. If you can keep the fry alive for a few months, you’ll be out of the fry-raising danger zone, and you'll have successfully bred the Orange Spotted Goby!
The Orange Spotted Goby is a fascinating and peaceful aquarium fish. Now that you’ve learned all of the important aspects of caring for this species, do you think this fish could be your next favorite fish?
We guarantee you’ll love all that these fish have to offer, whether it’s their appearance or unique relationship with Pistol shrimp, the Orange Spotted Goby is sure to please!
If you have feedback or questions about this species, add a comment below and check out our community forum where we discuss coral, aquarium equipment, and everything else related to the reef community.