Freshwater Goby (Stiphodon Sp.) – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

Goby is the name given to fishes that belong in the Gobiidae family, which also happens to be one of the most extensive fish family in the world – it encompasses over 2000 species.

Most gobies are very tiny, with a length of about 4 inches. Some species are even smaller; they only grow up to a 1 inch in length.

Freshwater Goby (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

Each of the goby species is unique, but the freshwater gobies are for the most part peaceful and they’re compatible with most community species. Stiphodon, a freshwater goby genus, originates in Ocean and Asia where it inhabits clear streams that are near the sea.

The 36 Stiphodon gobies that are currently known all have restricted distribution in single streams and single islands. They are small with square looking bodies. The largest stiphodon is a female S. Multisquamus that’s 60.4 mm in length.

If you have a mature nano aquarium, this peaceful and fascinating fish – which is also a biofilm and algae grazer – will be a great addition to your tank.


Gobies are a colorful family. Their marine species are most colorful, but fresh gobies too exhibit diverse and vivid colors.

For instance, there is the Red Neon Stiphodon – a rare dwarf freshwater Stiphodon goby – which is native to the Philippines, Cook Island, Japan, and Samoa.

The males of specimens of this species are known for their red neon and orange appearance. Females are colorful too; their bodies have beautiful cream and black stripes.


The Stiphodon species hails from the fast-moving and clear streams of Asia. This means you have to mimic those conditions in your aquarium they’re to thrive. To ensure your freshwater gobies remain healthy, you should provide strong water movement and high aeration.

Use powerheads to create an oxygen-rich and fast-moving environment. Check the airline tubing to ensure it is channeling in the fresh air. Also, increase water movement and filtration by using slightly oversized filters. High water temperatures lead to dissolving of oxygen content, so you should be vigilant about that, too.

To recreate the freshwater goby’s habitat, replicate a stream bed by aquascaping with many river rocks of different shapes and sizes.

Algae and other vegetation that grows on or encrust river rocks are a vital food source for the freshwater gobies. Your tank should be, at minimum, 20 gallons and it should have a lid to prevent escape.


While in nature, freshwater gobies (stiphodon Sp.) graze on algae and biofilm. They can also feed on frozen meaty foods, but you should only feed them such foods occasionally.

These fish also sometimes feed on high-quality dry foods, but algae and biofilm are essential and so they should be available in your aquarium. Otherwise, your gobies will, in the long-term, have poor health or they may even slowly starve. You can supplement the freshwater goby’s diet with algae wafers.

Stiphodon gobies are entertaining and hardy, but for them to thrive you need a mature and well-maintained aquarium with high water flow as well as algae and good biofilm. These freshwater gobies won’t bother your aquarium plants.

In fact, you should have the Anubias species in your tank because when placed in an aquarium with moderate to high to light, it fosters significant algae/biofilm growth.

Water & Tank Requirements

Freshwater gobies (stiphodon Sp.) are super sensitive to the quality of water. The fishes are native to clear and fast-flowing water, so your aquarium should have heavy water flow (at least over 10 times turnover in every hour).

The temperature should hover between 68° to 82° F (20°  to 27.7° C). PH should range from 5.5 to 7.0 and KH between 4 to 8 dkH.


Most small peaceful fish like hillstream loaches, tetras, and rasboras, can be excellent tankmates for Stiphodon gobies. Thanks to their diet and size, Stiphodon gobies can cohabit with dwarf shrimp, although they may eat some of their fry.

Dwarf shrimp cohabit particularly well with Stiphodon gobies when the aquarium is large enough for them to find spots where the flow of water is lower.

You can also keep Stiphodon Gobies with peaceful bottom-dwelling fish. You should, however, be careful about this or else your gobies will be outcompeted for food.

Stiphodon gobies often huddle together even when in the same community with other goby species. The males can tell apart the females of different species during courtship.


Freshwater gobies breed by laying eggs, although their breeding patterns vary across the species. But in general, female gobies lay eggs in the substrate or rocky areas and then the males fertilize them.

Often, male gobies guard the eggs until they are hatched, which is usually less than a week after spawning.

There have been cases of Stiphodon Gobies Spawning in the tank. But, currently, raising the fry to adulthood is almost impossible because of their complex larval phases.

In their natural habitat, Stiphodon Gobies spawn and their fry hatch in their freshwater surroundings, but then the fry are instantaneously swept down into the marine ocean environment where they develop and feed.

Once the fry are close to adulthood, they swim back into freshwater streams. During their journey back to freshwater, they often cover great distances and end up in islands that are far off from where they originated.

At this point, the fry are young adults and so they soon exhibit adult coloration and mature sexually.


Freshwater gobies (stiphodon Sp.) have a huge appetite for freshwater algae. They actively comb surfaces and thus provide your tank with important algae-cleaning services.

Like other gobies, Stiphodon gobies are intriguing, full of personality, and thoroughly entertaining.

With the right care, this diminutive and sleek freshwater gobies are a fantastic choice for freshwater hobbyists who’re seeking a unique and peaceful addition to their tanks. Freshwater gobies are live peacefully with other fish with nonviolent invertebrates.

Besides, they can cohabit with dwarf shrimp and they exhibit fascinating social behavior when they’re in colonies. They can climb glass though, so a lid is necessary to thwart escape attempts.

Featured Image: Laurent Pasteur WikipediaCC BY-SA 4.0

Updated: March 2, 2020

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