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FAQs on Violet Gobies Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: There's a Dragon In My Tank! The bizarre and beautiful Dragon Goby By Jeni C. Tyrell, Fresh to Brackish Gobioid Fishes

Related FAQs: Dragon/Violet Gobies 1, Dragon/Violet Gobies 2, & FAQs on: Dragon/Violet Gobies Identification, Dragon/Violet Gobies Behavior, Dragon/Violet Gobies Compatibility, Dragon/Violet Gobies Selection, Dragon/Violet Gobies Systems, Dragon/Violet Gobies Disease, Dragon/Violet Gobies Reproduction, & Brackish Water Fishes in General

Don't live on flake, dried food alone...

Dragon Goby... system, feeding...     7/16/12
I have a 10 gal. freshwater tank with a male Betta, 5 ghost shrimp, 2 loaches,
<What kind? Unless these are Dwarf Loaches (Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki) your tank is too small for them.>
and an algae eater.
<Oh gosh! What kind? If the standard "Chinese Sucking Loach" algae eater sold to beginners (no-one else wants them), also known as Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, your tank needs to be at least 5 times bigger, and the Chinese Sucking Loach will soon throw its weight around, harassing your other fish.
If, on the other hand, we're talking about a Pterygoplichthys species of some sort, commonly called the "Plec" or "Pleco", then the tank needs to 75 gallons or larger, because it gets huge, 45 cm/18 inches within two years.
My hope is you're talking about Ancistrus, the Bristlenose Plec, and while I'd recommend 15 gallons for this species (it does get to about 12 cm/5 inches long) it won't die in, or destroy, a 10-gallon tank like the two species mentioned above.>
My question is, could I put a dragon goby in with them without any problems?
<Gobioides broussonnetii? Not a chance.
Besides being much too big (around 45-60 cm/18-24 inches), it's a brackish -- not freshwater -- fish. Some retailers will tell you it is fine in freshwater, or it's been "specially bred" for freshwater, but they're talking rubbish and taking advantage of their customers' ignorance.>
And I keep hearing about a special diet for the dragon goby. Would freeze dried bloodworms suffice?
<No. Gobioides broussonnetii needs a mixed diet including live brine shrimp, frozen (rather than freeze-dried) invertebrates, and algae (algae wafers will do). It's a fish for reasonably advanced aquarists, which I fear from your stocking list you are not.>
Thank you!
-Sarah
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Violet (Dragon?) Goby Questions   2/26/11
Hello there!
<Jill>
Recently, I lost my Dragon Goby of four years (How long I had him as a guest).
My setup was an 'L' shaped tank, usually 76-77 degrees Fahrenheit, specific gravity of somewhere like 1.008 usually (though sometimes it dipped down to 1.005 in the summertime, because the heat of outside kept my tank at 75 and when I had the heater on it leapt up to 80 or even 90...).
<Yikes!>
I tried to keep it ammonia free, and tested my water bimonthly (ever two weeks). I had a 30 gallon sump from Trigger Systems
<Unfamiliar>
that seemed to work very well. According to my test kit the alkalinity, pH, nitrate, nitrite, and hardness were in the optimal range for brackish water, and from what I've seen online its standards were pretty widely accepted. The substrate was 1-2 inches of marine sand over an inch of coral sand, and there were a few cheapy plastic plants, a fake mangrove root, some tunnels, and a little 'castle' type thing. I don't know how many gallons were in the tank, but it was 60" long for the long part of the L, 40" long for the short part, a consistent 20" wide, and 18" high. I kept the water line at like 16".
<There are about 231 cubic inches in a gallon... Multiply the L times W times H... divide by 231>
I guess basically what I'm going about asking is how I could avoid losing my next dragon goby, and what I may have done wrong. When he died, he had been seeming sick for two weeks, I noticed he stopped eating about a week beforehand and seemed lethargic two weeks beforehand. I thought he might have a fungus because I noticed a little bit of tearing at the ends of his pectoral fins and he seemed a little slimy, so I changed the water and when it persisted another two days treated with Maracyn. He ate his regular bloodworms,
<I would leave these out... implicated in troubles nowadays>
and had a few of his blackworms, but didn't eat any of the algae wafer (He usually went for that first).
<Really?>
Then he stopped eating anything except the bloodworms, and then he wouldn't eat those. I fed him a few blackworms and bloodworms and half an algae wafer every other day. When I came home 15 days after this all started, he was lying on the bottom of the tank, breathing a little bit but not very often, and he was very, very thin. He was like 15-16 inches long, and initially had gotten pretty fat too, but he was so thin. He died after about an hour. He had three bumblebee gobies as tankmates, which I'd been told would do well in the same temperature range and SG, and they're in an isolation tank right now but they seem okay. I continued the Maracyn treatment with them just in case. I'm wondering what else I should do for them, where my mistake may have been, etc. Also, I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful site! I first got interested in tropical fish after transitioning my goldfish into pond life (they grow so much better there!)
<Ah yes>
and having a bunch of empty tanks laying around. Before I got Mofish I did a lot of reading and your FAQ and article proved to be the most helpful quick reference I could find, and until recently it helped me keep him and his tankmates healthy. I'm not sure where I went wrong, and would love some insight to prevent this in the future. Thanks so much for your time!
<I would have you read t/here again:
http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i3/Dragon_Gobies/DragonGobiesart.htm
BobF>
Violet (Dragon?) Goby Questions (Bob, ideas?)<<I just sent my resp. to you...>>   2/26/11
Hello there!
<Hello Jill,>
Recently, I lost my Dragon Goby of four years (How long I had him as a guest).
<Was likely less than a year old when purchased, assuming that he wasn't full size. Most of them seem to be about half-grown when sold, maybe 30 cm/12 inches long at most, often smaller.>
My setup was an 'L' shaped tank, usually 76-77 degrees Fahrenheit, specific gravity of somewhere like 1.008 usually (though sometimes it dipped down to 1.005 in the summertime, because the heat of outside kept my tank at 75 and when I had the heater on it leapt up to 80 or even 90'¦).
<Ah, now, this is one factor. Violet Gobies are more subtropical than tropical. They're typical Gulf Coast fishes, and appreciate slightly lower temperatures than tropical fish. Something around 18-24 C/64-75 F would be about right. A little cooler or a little warmer for short periods would do no harm, but prolonged maintenance at higher temperatures will shorten their lifespan noticeably. That's a common enough phenomenon, and can be seen with other fish from similar latitudes: (wild-caught) Mollies, Platies, Goodeids, Hogchoker Soles, Florida Flagfish, etc.>
I tried to keep it ammonia free, and tested my water bimonthly (ever two weeks). I had a 30 gallon sump from Trigger Systems that seemed to work very well. According to my test kit the alkalinity, pH, nitrate, nitrite, and hardness were in the optimal range for brackish water, and from what I've seen online its standards were pretty widely accepted.
<Cool.>
The substrate was 1-2 inches of marine sand over an inch of coral sand, and there were a few cheapy plastic plants, a fake mangrove root, some tunnels, and a little 'castle' type thing. I don't know how many gallons were in the tank, but it was 60" long for the long part of the L, 40" long for the short part, a consistent 20" wide, and 18" high. I kept the water line at like 16". I guess basically what I'm going about asking is how I could avoid losing my next dragon goby, and what I may have done wrong.
<For one thing, keep a little cooler than you are doing at the moment.>
When he died, he had been seeming sick for two weeks, I noticed he stopped eating about a week beforehand and seemed lethargic two weeks beforehand. I thought he might have a fungus because I noticed a little bit of tearing at the ends of his pectoral fins and he seemed a little slimy, so I changed the water and when it persisted another two days treated with Maracyn.
<I see. Now, one thing to try with brackish water fish is to raise the salinity substantially, and if you can, perform seawater dips for 20 min.s or more. These will clear up slime disease and certain other parasites, and with much less toxicity than medications.>
He ate his regular bloodworms, and had a few of his blackworms, but didn't eat any of the algae wafer (He usually went for that first).
<Indeed, a favourite food.>
Then he stopped eating anything except the bloodworms, and then he wouldn't eat those. I fed him a few blackworms and bloodworms and half an algae wafer every other day. When I came home 15 days after this all started, he was lying on the bottom of the tank, breathing a little bit but not very often, and he was very, very thin.
<Not a good sign.>
He was like 15-16 inches long, and initially had gotten pretty fat too, but he was so thin. He died after about an hour. He had three bumblebee gobies as tankmates, which I'd been told would do well in the same temperature range and SG, and they're in an isolation tank right now but they seem okay.
<They are quite hardy fish, if feeding well.>
I continued the Maracyn treatment with them just in case. I'm wondering what else I should do for them, where my mistake may have been, etc. Also, I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful site! I first got interested in tropical fish after transitioning my goldfish into pond life (they grow so much better there!) and having a bunch of empty tanks laying around. Before I got Mofish I did a lot of reading and your FAQ and article proved to be the most helpful quick reference I could find, and until recently it helped me keep him and his tankmates healthy. I'm not sure where I went wrong, and would love some insight to prevent this in the future. Thanks so much for your time!
<There are a few things that spring to mind. One is simple life expiry. When kept overly warm, these gobies won't live as long as otherwise. In addition, gobies generally don't have very long lifespans, and while 10 years is often mentioned as being possible with Violet Gobies, that's probably a best-case scenario, with something like 7-8 years being more likely. So if your specimen was already a year or so old when you got it, and you kept it a little on the warm side at times, it might well have been 5-6 years old when it died, but already into old age and all the problems that brings with it. Now, one other thing I'll mention with gobies is that they do seem prone to odd infections. I've had three completely different goby species in one tank and then watched as members of all three species sickened and died within a short period; the other, dissimilar fish in the tank -- catfish and so on -- didn't have any problems at all. Symptoms included bloody patches on the body, loss of appetite, wasting, lethargy, and then death. While I can't be sure, my hunch is that one of the gobies brought in some sort of infection that the other gobies caught. It may be that healthy gobies can fight off the infection, but older specimens, or stressed specimens, can't, and then they become ill and die. One last thing to consider with oddball fish is nutrition. Because they don't always eat flake, you're often stuck with using fresh or frozen foods, and these can be nutritionally incomplete. In particular, insufficient vitamins and/or overdosing thiaminase can cause problems that may take months or years to manifest themselves. The use of a marine aquarium vitamin supplement therefore makes a lot of sense when feeding carnivorous and oddball fish. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Violet (Dragon?) Goby Questions (Bob, ideas?)   2/27/11

Wow! Thank you so much for the fast reply.
<No problem.>
I went to my LFS just now and there were several vitamin options, which I wanted to run by you guys if it wouldn't be too much trouble.
<Any will do.>
I didn't want to trust the store clerk because they were the people who sold me my violet goby and when I bought him they had been keeping him and several others in a freshwater tank, so I wasn't sure they had the right stuff. So my options are something called Vitamarin-M, which looks promising by its high price *sarcasm* and was recommended,
<It's a fine product.>
but doesn't really list its ingredients or sources on the bottle. The second is Vita-Chem, which promises a full spectrum of vitamins, amino acids, and microorganisms but is not specific to marine fish (it says it's specific to 'fish),
<Another good product.>
and then there's one called Vitality, which promises the same benefits as vita-chem and is formulated for marine fish.
<From Seachem, and yet another good product.>
I was wondering if you had any personal experience with any of these and could recommend which is best. I have found mixed online reviews of all of them, except for the Vitamarin for which there were mostly positive reviews.
<They're all good, and all better than no vitamins at all. Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/vitaminmarfaqs.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
It's thiamin in particular that may be the "missing link" in understanding fish diets.>
In addition, Mofish was 8 and 7/16 inches when I got him. The pet store decided to measure him and charge me an extra 10 cents for every inch longer he was than all the other gobies, who were all labeled and priced as being 'small' (they looked about 3 inches or so). I guess he was a baby, though, even though he was very large compared to the others. Now that you mention the illness your goby specimens experienced, it sounds very much like what happened to Mofish, as the gill and fin hemorrhaging I saw the day he died I attributed to the other fish attacking him because he was sickly, but it may have been more like open sores now that I think about it.
<Indeed. The problem of course is that many nutritional problems result in open sores, so it's really hard to say for sure.>
I'm glad you mentioned the temperature as well, I'm going to be lowering it for the little gobies in small increments and waiting another week before I reintroduce them to their bigger tank. When I'm ready, I'll probably get another dragon goby too, thanks to your awesome advice! Again, thank you SO MUCH.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Dragon Goby Questions, fdg... rdg.  1/13/11
I just thought of something else that seems to be debated. I read on this website that they won't particularly eat pellets or flakes but prefer frozen/ live foods. I feed my puffer beef heart, frozen blood worms, and brine shrimp (frozen and alive when I can get mine to hatch). Would these foods work? I also have shrinking shrimp pellets and bottom feeder pellets as well as spirulina wafers Hikari brand always if I can find it.
<... I referred you to these links:
http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/VioletGobyFdgF.htm
I'm sure I'll have questions on the archers when I can get home from work to research them. There's an archer section that goes in depth on them from this website?
<... see our last email. B>

My dragon goby question (in FW, not feeding... hmm...) -- 3/31/10
Hello,
<Hello,>
I have a question concerning my dragon goby.
<A fascinating brackish water species. Doesn't do well in freshwater tanks (usually).>
I've had him for about 2-3 weeks now and I'm still wondering what he eats OR if he eats!
<Mostly zooplankton, plus algae and worms. Essentially a mix of wet-frozen foods (e.g., bloodworms, krill) alongside live brine shrimp and algae wafers. They need a good, varied diet. Starvation is extremely common, with this species refusing to eat pellets and flakes, and worse, being kept in freshwater.>
Now, I know they usually eat at night, right?
<No, in the wild they feed according to the tides. They live on mudflats, and when the tide comes in, they leave their burrows and feed.>
The thing is... after supper, I always see him going in the corner of my aquarium and going straight up and standing there and letting himself go up and down... It kind of shows that he is hungry because he keeps staring the top but once I tried, I said to myself I'll wait until he does that and I'll put some food right in front of his face. With success, I was able to do it but unfortunately, he didn't eat nothing!
<What are you offering? What conditions are in the tank?>
Then, he goes to the other corner and does the same thing! ( up and down, up and down) In my mind, he is searching for food!
<Or trying to get from freshwater into the brackish water where he belongs.>
But I don't know and I'm getting worried! What do I feed my fish, I have Top fin Betta bits, top fin tropical color-enhancing flakes, Tetra TetraMin tropical granules, Nutrafin basix bloodworms, Wardley shrimp pellets and occasionally I put some Spirulina discs which are also made by Wardley.
<Spirulina discs good, but otherwise needs to be wet-frozen and live foods.
All this is in the literature for this species. Read my Brackish-Water Fishes book from TFH, or the similarly entitled book from Aqualog.
Unfortunately this species is often bought by people who don't read before they buy their fish, with the end result the poor goby ends up dead.
Luckily there's a nice article about them here on WWM:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i3/Dragon_Gobies/DragonGobiesart.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/violetgobyfaqs.htm
>
Now, in my opinion I would guess that in all this he is only eating the shrimp pellets, but I've never seen him and it really really bugs me.
<Try reading about what the fish needs. This is a very easily maintained species in the right tank.>
My aquarium is a small 10 gallon
<Too small.>
but I am buying a 55 Gal. in the next week.
<A good size for this species.>
I only have a couple other fish like small fin zebra Danios, a couple guppies and one catfish, a snail, a horse loach and another sort of catfish that is all.
<Only the Guppies will tolerate the brackish water fish species requires. Aim for SG 1.005.>
I also know that they have a really poor eye sight. I really hope you guys can help me!! I just want to know what to feed him exactly, how do I know he is eating, will I ever see him actually eat ?? (I've even tried peeking with a flashlight at night hehe) I forgot to mention... I feed my fish just before going to bed therefore when I put the shrimp pellets that sink and then disintegrate, all the lights are off.
Thank you for taking the time to read this,
<Happy to help.>
Joey
<Cheers, Neale.>

Dragon/Violet Goby, sys., fdg. gen.  -- 01/13/2010
Hello,
<Hello Melanie,>
I have a 38 gallon tank that is 36"x15"x17" and have it stocked with one 1 Goby, 1 Rainbow Shark (yes I know it's actually a minnow), 3 Sunburst Platies (2 female, 1 male), 1 Rosy Barb, 1 Black Skirt Tetra and an unknown amount of ghost shrimp (there were 7, have only found up to 5 at any one time).
<Shrimps don't always do well in community tanks, if for no other reason than they get damaged while moulting.>
I added 1 tsp aquarium salt per every 2 gallons of water and it looks like from reading I do need to increase it
<Yes.>
and possibly switch to marine salt
<Yes; I'd start at about 9 grammes marine salt mix per litre of water (1.2 oz per US gallon), for a specific gravity of SG 1.005 at 25 degrees C (77 F). This will be just about sufficient for long-term success with Gobioides, and acceptable for a variety of other fish too, including Platies, Mollies and Guppies, should you want to add them. The shrimps might do okay. But the Minnows, Barbs and Tetras would have to be re-homed.>
and get a hydrometer, the poor goby was in fresh water at the LFS.
<Oh!>
Draco, the goby was quite thin and fairly inactive at the store.
<Likely, though usually a question of starvation rather than water chemistry. Gobioides can tolerate freshwater for months, but they are finicky feeders in some ways, and easily starve in busy community tanks.>
That is no longer the case it has gotten very fat off a diet of algae wafers, shrimp pellets and thawed frozen blood worms (2-3 times a week), so fat I'm a bit concerned it's belly may burst.
<Then don't feed so much! Honestly, a healthy fish should have a gentle rounded abdomen rather than a beer belly.>
Other than that it seems healthy in that it moves around the tank a lot and seems to nearly always be looking for food. I always drop the food in the same place under a fake root thing he/she and the Rainbow Shark like to hide out in, that way he knows where his food is. The shark actually keeps the other fish from getting at the worms but doesn't chase the goby away so that is good.
<Hmm...>
I don't have a sand substrate but it is a very small gravel size that's nice and rounded. I plan on getting sand, marine salt and a hydrometer next month since my paydays are monthly.
<Cool. Plain smooth silica sand from a garden centre will be cheap and 100% aquarium safe. Avoid anything "sharp" as this'll do more harm than good. If you want, you can stir in some coral sand as well, to raise the carbonate hardness.>
Oh and I've had Draco for about 10 days now he is about 5-6" long and there are no extra bits of food on the substrate the fish eat all that's given and want more but both Draco and Red (the shark) are much plumper and a bit longer than when we brought them home (they were bought at the same time and both eat the same foods).
Any information you can give me about my goby's fat belly would be greatly appreciated. My only guess is that Draco is not a he but a she and perhaps it's eggs that have it so bloated.
<It's quite possible you're overfeeding. This is simple enough to check.
Don't feed for a few days, and see what happens. If the fish become thinner, there's your answer. Would consider that before worrying about anything more serious.>
Thank you
Melanie
<Sounds to me as if you have the situation well in hand. Good luck! Cheers, Neale.>
re: Dragon/Violet Goby -- 01/13/2010
Thank you for your swift reply. I did plan not to feed him for a few days but feel a bit bad about that so just gave him far less of the shrimp pellets, though yeah I know in nature food supply is not always so plentiful so I'll try that.
<Cool.>
As far as water hardness we have hard water here as is fairly usual in CA, but just the same I did add a piece of coral to the water since coral sand & Aragonite is good in order to buffer the water and increase hardness, therefore a piece of coral should help with that.
<Indeed. Marine salt mix will dramatically improve things, to the degree you won't have to worry about water chemistry at all.>
Draco has dug himself a little pit area under and behind the aquarium heater,
<Heater guard installed, I hope. Otherwise a boiled goby is on the cards here...>
silly boy (yes I do know it's in his nature but it's still cute.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Dragon/Violet Goby has Problems Swimming 3/3/04 Hey :) <Hey yourself, it's Pufferpunk again> I'm sorry to be troublesome, but this is regarding our inherited violet goby. <No trouble at all!> We suspect he may have swim bladder disease, probably as a result of the trauma he has experienced.  I know this is common in gold fish -anyone ever seen it in a goby before?  <Not yet> Any suggestions?  I'm concerned that it may be a bacterial infection.  He is spending an inordinate amount of time at the top of the tank, and seems to have trouble swimming to the bottom. <You could start out with his diet.  Try feeding him shelled peas, or algae wafers.  What is he eating now?  My goby does a lot of hanging out on the glass sometimes.  Is he able to get to the bottom at all?> Thanks in advance Julie <Hope it's just his diet, let me know. ~PP>

Dragon/Violet Goby Foods?  3/4/04 Hey all and especially Pufferpunk :) <Hello> Well things looked real rough this morning but we did another water change and tonight he looks a lot better.  <Yippee! =o)> This morning he was really struggling to get to the bottom.  When I got home tonight he was hanging out on the side of the tank about 2/3 down, and now he's resting peacefully on the bottom. SO I'm hoping maybe this means we're past the worst - truthfully I was doubtful if this poor guy would even survive the transition to our home at all. <I hope this was all just caused by stress.  Like I said before, he had acclimated himself to survive in poor conditions.  Even though you knew his conditions needed to improve, it is still shocking for him to adjust to a cleaner tank, along with the water parameters that change with it.> what do you feed your goby?  We've got live brine shrimp and also shrimp pellets. <Mine loves blackworms & algae wafers.> Wow its crazy getting used to this new fish!  I have a 20 hex of freshwater - guppies - and I'm slowly moving that colony into a fully planted 72 bowfront.  I know a fair amount about freshwater and about plan tanks, but nothing about this guy!  Lucky for him anyway I do have experience with fish.  It makes me mad that a pet store is so irresponsible to sell this fish to someone without explaining its needs, much less explaining that it gets very large and needs a large tank! <Unfortunately this happens more often than not.  Sometimes I just hang around my LFS listening to how they sell BW fish & puffers.  I am always printing out info for them give to the customers to read when they purchase these special fish.  Your dragon's lucky to have you!> Julie <Enjoy! ~PP>

Feeding a Dragon 4/11/04  This message is directed to Pufferpunk.  <Hi, it's me, PP>  This is Julie, the one who inherited the Violet Goby from the well-meaning brother-in-law. The fish is doing very well and has grown a lot since we got him! All signs of swim-bladder disease disappeared within 24 hours, and no problems since.  <That's great!>  A few questions, I hope you'll be willing to answer. We got a nice big tank for him, and so we want to get it set up. What do you use for your substrate?  I have mine in a tank with other BW fish, so I use crushed coral (or aragonite is good) to keep the pH stable at around 8. Your dragon would prefer something small enough to pick up & scrounge around in, making caves as he goes.>  Also, When you feed your fish worms do you just dump em in, or do you use one of those worm feeders?  <I use a cone worm feeder. My goby always knows when there are worms in there & waits underneath for them to fall.>  So far ours doesn't seem real interested in anything other than algae tablets.  <Some dragons like shrimp pellets too.>  Thanks, in advance. hope all your fish are doing well :)  Julie  <Yes, all my fishies are happy & healthy. You're dragon sounds like he's in for the same too! ~PP>

"There's a Dragon In My Tank!"  Gobioides broussonettii - questions, comments... 2/12/07 Hi All (This one is really for PufferPunk, if possible), <Hi Cathy, you've got me!> I wanted to thank you for a very informative web site - I've been doing a lot of researching for my brackish tank and it seems that all roads lead to WWM :) <Most do but there are also a few other good ones...> My question is about substrate for these awesome fish.  "Smaug" is about 4"long, has been in a 29 gallon tank which has been gradually "brackified" to a SG of 1.005 over 2 weeks' time.  I originally had plain gravel and crushed coral in the tank but have decided that he should have a sand substrate for a more natural habitat.  Long story short, I put this little one into my 10 gallon "guest tank" with some of his salty water and put fine marine sand into the 29G tank (it's still "settling"... I didn't know how to rinse the sand very well.  It's fine sand, how are you supposed to rinse it?).   <I just rinse in a bucket, while stirring with my hand, till clear.  Pour off the top water & repeat.  Never do get all the particles out...  Adding some filter floss to the filter, usually clears the water up in a day.> Then someone told me that this fish might eat the sand and get impacted or sick from it.  Is that true?   <Never heard that one--ask the fish in all my SW tanks or the fish in the ocean.  They seem to have no problem with sand.> Since I have bought this sand and put it in the tank, I'd hate to waste the investment and effort but I don't feel good about putting him back in until I have some idea that it will be ok for him.  I also have a bag of calcite (by Seachem), grey coarse sand but it seems kind of jagged and sharp.  These are my options at the moment, gravel, sand, calcite or any combination of them. <The sand is fine.> I do also have some comments about the article "There's a Dragon in my Tank"- I would have liked to email the author directly but there was no email in the article.... so hopefully this will reach her. <It has> While it is a very informative article and I am so glad for this resource, some of my experiences with this fish have been different than what I read in the article.  For example, "Lacking the normal fish's swim bladder, they are poor swimmers and wiggle back and forth like a snake in the water or scoot along the substrate and rocks on their lateral fin."  Hmmm...  Mine swims all over the tank at night, gliding around and performing graceful aquabatics that put any other fish to shame.  Yeah, kind of snakelike, eelish, but definitely not a poor swimmer.  Perhaps this is a sign of stress?  Or because he is young and small?  But to my (albeit untrained) eye, he seems to be having a pretty good time.  He does occasionally go to the surface, then back down but there is no ammonia or nitrite in the water - I've checked. <Definitely does not swim like any other "fish" I've seen.> "This is not a fish for beginner aquarists or even experienced freshwater aquarists beginning in brackish water." Why on earth not?   <Mostly because of their difficulty to feed.  Many starve to death, considering their poor eyesight & distaste for flakes.> Can I just say, this is my first brackish tank.  I'm not what you'd call an experienced aquarist (I've only had a FW community tank for 5 months before this one). I guess I don't understand what the difficulty is in keeping this fish.  Proper marine salt, properly dissolved, gradually added to the tank - check.  Hydrometer - check. Regular water changes/good water quality - check.  Proper feeding (he eats everything I've offered - shrimp pellets, brine shrimp, bloodworms, Hikari Sinking Wafers...).   With all due respect, I feel like the article is "preaching to the choir" - the person who is researching the proper care of this creature is exactly the kind of person who should have them.  Do people really say, "I feel like starting a brackish tank.  Now, what kind of fish likes slightly salty water?"  I think most of us have certain critters in mind, and go from there. <Unfortunately, you are not the norm for most beginner fishkeepers.  Even when you go to almost any LFS, they'll tell you "BW consists of just adding a little aquarium salt to your tank.  Sure, you can keep them in a 10g tank.  Oh yeah, they'll eat flakes."  Lost of folks go years without ever doing a water change on their tank--only topping off.  I can go on & on about how poorly fish are kept, even by some so called "experienced" hobbyists.> And lastly... "A lot of these are sold because of their odd appearance and common names. Who wouldn't want a purple dragon? But that is insufficient reason to buy a fish".  IMHO these are perfectly good reasons to buy a fish.  They are fascinating in appearance and behavior - I know that's why I wanted to get one :)   It's just that... nobody should ever take on any animal without knowing what their needs are and being prepared to meet them.   <If only everyone thought like you!  Then I wouldn't be so busy helping fix all the mistakes everyone makes, because they didn't do any research of any kind & bought this really cool purple dragon that their LFS told them would be fine in their FW community tank, with just a little bit of salt & flakes for food.>   So kudos and thanks to you all, for helping me be more informed - mission accomplished, no? :) <Kudos back to you, for being the kind of fishkeeper that all should be!  ~PP> Thank you for your time, Cathy
Re: "There's a Dragon In My Tank!"  2/12/07  - 02/15/07 [...] gravel, sand, calcite or any combination of them. <The sand is fine.> Sand it is, then.  I'm sure he'll be happy to leave the small "guest tank" and go back to his 29g. I do also have some comments about the article "There's a Dragon in my Tank"- I would have liked to email the author directly but there was no email in the article.... so hopefully this will reach her. <It has> I appreciate your patience :) [...] <Definitely does not swim like any other "fish" I've seen.> Nope.  But it's the coolest thing I've seen in my tanks since the molly's last brood of babies :) "This is not a fish for beginner aquarists or even experienced freshwater aquarists beginning in brackish water."> Why on earth not? <Mostly because of their difficulty to feed.  Many starve to death, considering their poor eyesight & distaste for flakes.> I can definitely see that.  Actually tankmates seem to be the biggest problem - I tried a few mollies, but the females actually gorged themselves eating their flake food and then his food (they were sick on the bottom the next day with tummyaches - but fine now).  After I took out the 2 females, the male started chasing the Dragon around trying to mate with him (it sounds funnier than it was- but I can't help laughing when I say it).  Maybe guppies would be nicer. Anyway, for now the little fella will just have to have the tank to himself.  I was thinking about getting a Knight Goby... maybe a couple of Bumblebees, and make it a brackish goby tank.  Any comments or suggestions on tankmates?   I know that 29g is not a very big tank, I'm still thinking on it. <<Other gobies should work well.>> Nobody should ever take on any animal without knowing what their needs are and being prepared to meet them. <If only everyone thought like you!  Then I wouldn't be so busy helping fix all the mistakes everyone makes, because they didn't do any research of any kind & bought this really cool purple dragon that their LFS told them would be fine in their FW community tank, with just a little bit of salt & flakes for food.> Well thank you :)  I've been involved with avian rescue for some years... the stupidity never fails to amaze me, both on the part of the people who buy parrots and the stores that sell them. By the time our organization sees them the stories get pretty sad.  ("What, you didn't KNOW that a wild animal in your home will behave like a wild animal?  Millions of years of evolution will be undone just because you brought this creature indoors?")  So I know where you're coming from.  By all means - carry on, carry on - and thank you again for your time :).   <<Glad you understand my intent.>> Attached is a photo of Smaug, if you would like to have more "dragon" photos for the web site, I will send you some more when I take better ones and the tank is all finished settling in :).  Also attached is a photo of my African grey parrot feeding peanut butter to my dog (just because it's cute)  LOL <<Very cute--thanks for sharing!  ~PP>>

 Dragon Goby--Sand  2/15/07 Thank you so much for all your help. Just so's you know - the sand is perfect, he *LOVES* it :) <Wonderful, glad to help.  ~PP>

Dragon gobies    5/21/07 I know that there isn't much info on these fish but I know that more is  being discovered. <There's actually lots about these fishes in the aquarium press. Take a look at the Aqualog brackish water fishes book, or perhaps my one from TFH. Goby scientist Naomi Delventhal covered this species in considerable depth in her chapter on gobies.> I went to Wal-Mart (yes, bad idea, but I had to rescue  them from there) and bought 1 dragon goby, a 10 gallon tank some rocks  and plants. <10 gallons far too small. A healthy specimen will reach 30 cm or so within the first year, and up to 50 cm when fully grown.> Cleaned all and put him in. At the store he was all swimmy but once he settled in he became secluded (which I know is common) what I'd like to know about are his uncommon traits. The water is not brackish, yet he seems to be doing fine. <These are indeed hardy fish, and will tolerate freshwater conditions for long periods. BUT NOT FOREVER.> His tank mates are a snail, a Pleco, 12 swordtails (male and female), a very docile female crown beta that itself is very social, and some unknown number of ghost shrimp. <None of these fishes are really suitable, except maybe the swordtails, which will do okay in brackish water at SG 1.005. Swordtails don't like brackish water, but at low salinity it won't harm them.> Now, I didn't notice him eating before, but noticed he's been living for a few weeks now and my shrimp population is dwindling... <When starving, dragon gobies will eat shrimps and small fish. Their normal and preferred diet is a mixture of infaunal invertebrates (worms and insect larvae, for example) plus algae. They also filter feed from the water (live brine shrimp are ideal). It is likely you are not giving the goby enough food to eat, and since he's hungry, he's eating what he can. Bear in mind that when properly cared for these are NOT PREDATORY, and people have kept them with even guppies and not lost any fish.> So, someone suggested I feed him algae wafers, so I did which he seems to like. (He does the whole gulp and inhale nibble thing). <Quite so. The little teeth in his mouth are for scraping algae from rocks. Try offering some fresh algae, e.g. sushi Nori, and see if he goes for that.> My questions being, One: if my swordfish mate, will he eat the eggs? <Swordfish don't lay eggs, they produce live babies. If properly cared for the goby will ignore them, but if hungry he will eat them. But your swordtails will do that, too.> Two: even though he is doing ok in freshwater, should I put him in brackish anyway? <Yes, he needs a bigger, brackish water tank. At least 30 gallons, and ideally 55 gallons.> Three: I know this is asked a lot, but how can I mate the dragons (hoping for new info)? Do I just buy many and hope for the best? <Not been done yet, and probably complex. Many of these brackish water gobies lay eggs in burrows but the baby fish are planktonic, drifting around in the sea for a couple of months. Anyway, the first step is getting a group of them. They are territorial. In  a big tank people do keep them in groups, and they are quite fun like that. The fish "fight" by lining alongside each other, and push one another to see who is the strongest. Either way, each fish must have a PVC tube burrow of its own.> Four: should I put my goby pal on a diet and try to feed him live food vs. wafers? <He needs BOTH. They are filter feeders AND algae eaters, so doing just the one thing is wrong. A mixed diet of frozen bloodworms, live brine shrimp, and algae pellets is an excellent starting point. Watching them filter feed the brine shrimp is terrific fun -- they swim in the water, gulping the brine shrimp into their huge mouths like baleen whales!> Thank you for your time! -Dave <No problems, and good luck.>

Violet goby not eating   4/12/07 I have a violet goby. <By which I assume you mean Gobioides sp., a large, greyish fish with a big mouth and tiny eyes, right? This is, as I hope you know, a brackish water fish, and needs 25-50% salinity to do well, i.e., SG 1.005-1.010. It will not do well in freshwater though, and will likely die kept under such conditions.> It has been doing well for a good three months but in the last 3 days it has stopped eating and it's face has begun to look emaciated. <This often happens in freshwater aquaria when brackish water fishes are kept in such tanks. So, first question, what water conditions do you have? If in freshwater, it is doomed, so please provide brackish water conditions. Aquarium tonic salt is *not* acceptable here, you need proper marine salt mix.> I don't know what to do I try to put food near him so that he doesn't have to go far to eat but he just doesn't seem to care. <What foods are you offering? These are algae eaters and filter feeders, so you need to give them algae and tiny, tiny foods such as brine shrimp however large and predatory they may look. They prefer to sift sand when feeding, and will gulp the sand, spit it out, and extract the goodies they find in it. They will also scrape algae from rocks (that's what their teeth are for). They also enjoy small or broken algae pellets, bloodworms, blackworms, and chopped earthworms. They have little interest in larger foods such as river shrimp or feeder fish, whatever the retailers sometimes suggest.> Do you have any ideas of what to do? <Well, first check the living conditions: you want brackish water, a soft, sandy substrate, and suitable burrows for the fish to hide away in (PVC tubes are ideal, but hollow ornaments will do fine). Secondly, the usual things: check the pH (at least 7.5) and the hardness ("hard" on whatever scale you use). Thirdly, reflect on its tankmates. Because they are essentially blind, they cannot compete with fast-moving things like scats and Monos. Far better to keep them with other slow-moving species such as fat sleepers and flatfish. Fourthly, do bear in mind they need lots of space. These are among the largest of all gobies, and your specimen has the potential to reach around 50cm/20 inches in length. Hope this helps! Neale>



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