How to Care for Dragon Gobys?

Welcome to the Dragon Goby Care Guide for beginners! Dragon gobies, also known as Violet Gobies (Gobioides broussonnetii), are fascinating, long-bodied fish that originate from the brackish waters of Central and South America. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything from tank setup to breeding, ensuring you have all the essential information needed to care for your very own goby. Let’s get started!

dragon goby

What Supplies You Need to Keep Dragon Goby?

To properly care for your Dragon Goby, it’s important to have the right supplies on hand. Below, you’ll find a table listing some essential items to help keep your goby happy and healthy.

Supply Purpose
Spacious Aquarium Dragon gobies can grow up to 24 inches long, so a larger tank (at least 55 gallons) is necessary.
Brackish water They originate from brackish waters, so partial saltwater is essential for their well-being.
Sponge filter A gentle sponge filter helps maintain proper water quality and won’t damage your goby’s delicate skin.
Sand or fine gravel substrate Dragon gobies like to burrow, so a soft substrate is key for their comfort.
Heaters Maintain a consistent water temperature of 72-78°F (22-26°C) by using an appropriate heater.
Decorations (caves, PVC pipes) Due to their shy nature, ample hiding places are crucial for your goby’s well-being.
Test kits and adjustments Regularly test your water parameters and make adjustments to ensure a stable, healthy environment.
Quality Food A varied diet of live, frozen, or even high-quality pellet food will keep your dragon goby happy and well-fed.

Now that we’ve gone over the essential supplies, let’s discuss some factors to consider before getting a Dragon Goby.

What to Know Before Getting a Dragon Goby?

  • Cost: Caring for a Dragon Goby requires an initial investment in equipment, as well as ongoing expenses for food, water treatment, and tank maintenance.
  • Availability: Dragon gobies may not be available at every pet store, so you might need to search online or visit specialized fish stores to find one.
  • Tank space: As mentioned earlier, a large tank (at least 55 gallons) is essential for a Dragon Goby, so make sure you have enough space in your home for such a habitat.
  • Brackish water: Dragon gobies need brackish water, which is a mixture of freshwater and saltwater, so be prepared to maintain the specific water parameters they require.
  • Time commitment: Regular maintenance, including water parameters testing, cleaning, and feeding, is necessary for your Dragon Goby’s well-being, so make sure you have the time to dedicate to their care.
  • Tank mates: Although Dragon Gobies can be kept with other brackish water fish, they may become territorial or aggressive. It is essential to select tank mates carefully and monitor their behavior.
  • Local regulations: In some regions, keeping a Dragon Goby may be regulated or not allowed. Always consult your local fish and wildlife regulations before purchasing a new pet.

If you’ve considered these factors and have decided to proceed with getting a Dragon Goby, let’s move on to setting up their ideal tank environment.

What is the Ideal Tank Setup for Dragon Goby

  • Tank size: As previously mentioned, a minimum tank size of 55 gallons is necessary, as Dragon Gobies can grow up to 24 inches in length.
  • Substrate: Choose either sand or fine gravel substrate, which will allow the Dragon Goby to burrow comfortably and safely.
  • Hiding places: Incorporate various hiding spots such as caves and PVC pipes, giving your goby a sense of security and encouraging natural behaviors.
  • Aquatic plants: You can add brackish-friendly live plants (e.g., Java Fern, Anubias) to your tank, which provide additional hiding places and help maintain water quality.
  • Filter: Install a sponge filter or a hang-on-back filter with a sponge pre-filter to ensure gentle water flow and maintain your goby’s skin health.
  • Heater: Use an appropriate heater to maintain a consistent water temperature between 72-78°F (22-26°C), which is vital for your goby’s well-being.
  • Lighting: Provide moderate lighting levels in the tank; a planted brackish tank may also benefit from a specially designed aquarium light.
  • Aeration: Optional air stones or bubblers can be added to ensure proper oxygen levels in the water, especially in warmer climates.

Once you’ve set up the ideal tank environment for your Dragon Goby, the next crucial aspect is understanding and maintaining the water requirements for this intriguing species.

What are the Ideal Dragon Goby Water Requirements?

  • Salinity: As brackish water fish, Dragon Gobies require a specific gravity of 1.005-1.012, which can be achieved by adding marine salt mix to your aquarium water.
  • Water temperature: Maintain a consistent water temperature between 72-78°F (22-26°C); fluctuations outside this range can stress your goby and lead to health issues.
  • pH levels: To ensure a stable environment, maintain a pH level of 6.5-8.0, which is suitable for most brackish water species, including Dragon Gobies.
  • Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate: As with any aquarium setup, ammonia and nitrite levels should remain at 0 ppm, and nitrate levels should be kept below 20 ppm.
  • Water hardness: Dragon gobies prefer water that is moderately-hard to hard, with a dH (degree of hardness) level between 12-18.
  • Water changes: To preserve optimal water parameters, perform a 25-30% water change weekly or biweekly, depending on the stocking levels of your tank.
  • Test kits: Regularly use aquarium test kits to monitor water parameters such as pH, temperature, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and adjust accordingly.
  • Water conditioners: Use water conditioners to remove chlorine and chloramines from tap water, and ensure your aquarium water is safe for your goby.

Now that we’ve covered the essential water requirements for the Dragon Goby, let’s discuss its dietary needs and how to feed this unique species.

What is the Best Diet and Feeding of Dragon Goby?

  • Feeding habits: Dragon gobies are bottom dwellers and primarily use their specially adapted, toothless, suction-type mouths to dig, filter, and suck up their food from the substrate.
  • Natural diet: In their natural habitat, Dragon gobies feed on small crustaceans, insect larvae, algae, detritus, and other tiny organisms found in the substrate.
  • Captive diet: In an aquarium setting, provide a varied diet that includes live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, mysis shrimp, and krill.
  • Pellet food: High-quality pellet foods made for bottom feeders or carnivorous fish can also be included in your dragon goby’s diet, but should not be their main food source.
  • Feeding frequency: Offer food to your dragon goby 1-2 times per day, keeping the serving size small to prevent overfeeding.
  • Monitor growth: As your dragon goby ages and grows, adjust its diet and feeding regimen to ensure it receives proper nutrition for its size and life stage.
  • Avoid overfeeding: Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues and obesity, so be mindful of portion sizes and remove any uneaten food promptly.

Now that we understand the dietary needs of a Dragon Goby, it’s time to discuss regular care and maintenance schedules to keep them healthy and happy.

What is the Ideal Care Schedul for Dragon Goby?

  • Daily: Observe your Dragon Goby for signs of illness or stress, and monitor its behavior to ensure it’s eating and interacting with tank mates properly.
  • Daily: Check your aquarium equipment (heaters, filters, lights) to ensure they’re functioning correctly, and maintain the desired temperature and lighting conditions.
  • Weekly: Test water parameters, including salinity, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, making appropriate adjustments as needed to maintain optimal conditions.
  • Weekly or biweekly: Perform a 25-30% water change, replacing the old water with fresh, dechlorinated, and properly mixed brackish water.
  • Monthly: Clean your aquarium filter (sponge, hang-on-back, etc.) to ensure optimal water quality, and replace any filtration media as needed.
  • Every 3-6 months: Inspect and, if necessary, replace essential equipment such as heaters and lights to maintain a consistent environment.
  • Annually: Thoroughly inspect your aquarium and equipment for signs of wear or damage, and address any issues that could potentially harm your Dragon Goby.

By following this care schedule, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy environment for your Dragon Goby and be prepared to address any potential health problems that may arise. Let’s discuss common health issues and how to identify and treat them.

What are the Common Dragon Goby Health Problems?

  • Poor water quality: Poor water conditions, such as incorrect salinity levels or fluctuating temperatures, can cause stress, infection, or disease in your Dragon Goby.
  • Parasites: Like many fish species, Dragon Gobies can suffer from external parasites such as ich or flukes, which can cause noticeable symptoms such as scratching, white spots, and lethargy.
  • Fungal infections: If your goby’s skin appears white or cotton-like, it may be suffering from a fungal infection, which requires treatment with antifungal medications and improving water quality.
  • Bacterial infections: Fin rot, ulcers, and scale loss can all be signs of a bacterial infection, which should be addressed by isolating the affected fish and treating with appropriate antibiotics.
  • Injuries: Dragon gobies have delicate skin and can sustain injuries from rough tankmates or sharp objects in the tank; remove any potential hazards and provide a stress-free environment for healing.
  • Digestive issues: Overfeeding or feeding inappropriate foods can lead to constipation or bloating; monitor your dragon goby’s eating habits and provide a balanced diet to prevent these issues.
  • Preventive care: The best way to mitigate health problems is by maintaining a clean, stable tank environment, providing a proper diet, and promptly addressing any signs of illness.

Understanding potential health issues and how to address them is essential in keeping your Dragon Goby healthy. Let’s now explore which species make suitable tank mates for your Dragon Goby.

What are the Best Tank Mates for Dragon Goby?

  • Brackish water species: Look for tank mates that can thrive in brackish water conditions, such as mollies, swordtails, archerfish, and some pufferfish species.
  • Peaceful behavior: Choose tank mates that are peaceful and less likely to nip at or harm your Dragon Goby, as their delicate skin can be easily damaged.
  • Size compatibility: Dragon Gobies can grow up to 24 inches, so avoid tank mates that are far smaller and could be viewed as food or easy prey by your goby.
  • Similar water parameters: Select tank mates that have similar water parameter preferences as your Dragon Goby to ensure a stable and harmonious environment for all inhabitants.
  • Territorial habits: Some Dragon Gobies can be territorial, so provide ample hiding spots and territorial boundaries to prevent conflicts with tank mates.
  • Community setup: When establishing a brackish community aquarium, introduce all inhabitants simultaneously, or rearrange the hardscape to disrupt territories when adding new fish.
  • Observe interactions: Keep an eye on the dynamics within your community tank and intervene if conflicts or aggressive behavior are observed between your Dragon Goby and its tank mates.

Now that we’ve covered potential tank mates for your Dragon Goby, let’s dive into some breeding tips and insights to ensure the survival and propagation of your goby’s offspring.

What to Know about Dragon Goby Breeding?

  • Sexing: Sexing Dragon Gobies can be challenging; however, males typically have more developed dorsal and anal fins and may display a more vibrant coloration during breeding season.
  • Breeding tank: Set up a separate breeding tank with similar water parameters, temperature, and hiding spots to encourage spawning and protect vulnerable eggs and fry from other tank inhabitants.
  • Spawning sites: Provide plenty of nesting sites, such as PVC pipes and caves, which will facilitate the courtship and egg-laying process in the breeding tank.
  • Conditioning: Before attempting breeding, condition your Dragon Goby pair with a protein-rich diet, which includes live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and mysis shrimp.
  • Mating behavior: Watch for signs of mating behavior, such as the male courting the female, cleaning the spawning site, or the pair swimming side by side.
  • Egg-laying: The female will lay her eggs within the nesting sites, which the male will promptly fertilize; the eggs typically hatch within 48-72 hours.
  • Fry care: Once the fry has hatched, provide them with a suitable food source, such as infusoria or commercially available fry food, keeping a close eye on water quality within the breeding tank.

By following these guidelines on Dragon Goby breeding, you’ll be well-prepared to support the successful propagation of your goby’s offspring. Now that we’ve covered all aspects of Dragon Goby care, let’s conclude this comprehensive guide.


We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights for successfully caring for your Dragon Goby. If you have any questions or experiences to share, we invite you to leave a comment below. Happy fish keeping!

Updated: June 5, 2023

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