Care Sheet for Dragon Goby

  • #1
Dragon Goby Care Sheet

The dragon goby, also commonly known as the violet goby or dragon fish, is becoming more and more popular in the aquarium trade. Though they may look ferocious with their sinuous bodies and large mouths, they are the gentle giants of the brackish world.

As they are not easily bred in captivity, the dragon gobies that you will find in your fish and pet shops were likely captured from the estuaries of the Western Atlantic Coast or the Gulf of Mexico. Often around 4-5 inches in the pet shop, if housed in proper conditions, dragon gobies can grow at least a few inches every year, reaching an average 12 – 16 inches in home aquariums. Dragon gobies can survive fresh water for 2-3 weeks, but they will show signs of stress if not soon placed in brackish waters. Dragon gobies are also quite sensitive to ammonia and will gasp at the surface of the water if suffering ammonia poisoning.

A content dragon goby needs brackish water, sand substrate, a diet of small frozen foods and sinking pellets, and plenty of hideouts. They will bury themselves under rocks and décor, and they often create trails along the edges of the tank. PVC pipes, securely leaning slate or driftwood, and hollow logs long enough to cover the length of their body all make excellent dragon goby hideouts. Once they are comfortable in their new homes, they will venture out during the day; though sudden noises or movements will send them back to their secure hideouts.

Scientific Name: Gobioides broussonnetii

Common Names: Dragon Goby, Dragon Eel, Dragon Fish, Violet Goby

Care level: Moderate

Life Span: More than 10 years

Size: 12 - 24 in (30.5 – 61 cm), potentially much larger in the wild

Appearance: Dragon gobies have a long, sinewy body of a light violet hue with shiny gold bands along the length of the spine. They have large mouths with very small teeth used for scraping algae from stones, as well as large gills for filtering out sand. Their modified ventral fins allow them to cling to the walls of aquariums.

pH: 7.0 – 8.0

Temperature: 74F – 80F (23C – 27C)

Salinity: 1.005 – 1.008 SG

Substrate: Sand

Origin/Habitat: Estuaries of the Western Atlantic and coasts of Gulf of Mexico in North America and coastal waters of South America

Temperament/Behavior: Peaceful, shy

Breeding/Mating/Reproduction: Breeding is not common in aquaria. Reports of successful breeding involve very large aquariums with groups of a single male with three or more females. The females require many hiding places. The males will build the nest. Condition the gobies with high quality live food. Lower the salinity levels to near freshwater and then raise the SG to near marine levels; the shift in salinity is similar to natural shifts wild dragon gobies experience in estuaries. The male will spawn with the females and then guard the eggs for a couple days until they hatch. Fry require infusoria and green water until they are large enough to eat baby brine shrimp.

Tank Size: minimum 48 inches

Compatible Tank Mates: They are territorial among themselves, so multiple adult dragon gobies would require at least a 6 ft. aquarium. Avoid keeping with aggressive species. Dragon gobies are suitable for any peaceful brackish community. Potential tank mates include mollies, guppies, swordtails, platies, bumblebee gobies, glassfish, knight gobies, orange chromides, Celebes rainbowfish, and targetfish. Remember: always check compatibility among all tank mates, including adult SG requirements, adult size, and temperament. Nerite snails, amano shrimp, and ghost shrimp make excellent scavenger cleaning crews for the brackish tank. A variety of plants will do well in a dragon goby tank, including Anubias, Vallisneria, Hairgrass, Marimo Balls Java Moss, and Java Fern; don’t forget – dragon gobies are likely to uproot any plant that is not secured above substrate level or otherwise protected from digging.

Diet: Dragon gobies are sifters. In the wild, they will use their tiny teeth and gills to filter mud and sand for small organism and algae. They will do well on a diet of frozen blood, black, and tubifex worms and sinking shrimp pellets. Their throats are quite small compared to their mouths and they do not see well, so they will not attack even the smallest tank mates.

Tank Region: Bottom

Sex: Not identifiable from external characteristics.

Outside Sources:



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  • Thread Starter
  • #2
There is so much misinformation and confusion out there regarding dragon gobies that I felt it would be good to have our own care sheet for them in the Brackish section.

Would it be possible for the moderators to make this a fish profile, too? (Or if they could please tell me how to do so myself.)

The vast majority of the information is from my own experiences with this awesome fish. Melvin is the name of my dragon goby. He's grown a few inches since those pictures were taken. I've had him for two years and he is by and far my favorite fish out of all five tanks. They are so misunderstood and it breaks my heart to see them kept improperly where they cannot flourish and exhibit their true personalities and beautiful colors. I hope this helps future goby owners!

I know there are at least a couple other dragon goby owners here. Please post here if you have more info regarding these awesome dudes, and I can potentially edit it into the initial post.

  • #3
My Dragon Goby eats rocks and snails. He also likes munching on sinking algae wafers, I sadly have to say I received him when I bought my 102 gallon tank and do not have him in brackish but freshwater, he is about 13" or bigger.

He has a cave that he loves and shares with 6 KhulI Loaches, he enjoys their company.
  • #4
I now have 2 dragon gobies. One I've had for a little over a year and the other I just got 2 days ago. They are in a fresh water tank with many other tank buddies...Mollies, mollie babies, 2 betas, 2 frogs, 1 platie, 1 beacher, and 1 coy fish. The gobies are doing just fine. I have also read through much web surfing that it is extremely difficult to tell, but the male gobies have slightly bigger eyes than the females. That is hard to tell being is that they both have small eyes, but the male eyes are a tiny bit bigger, but besides that, they don't really know how to sex them.
  • #5
Gravel or sand?

Hi! I am setting up my 37 gallon tank right now. I found these so interesting and can't wait to get some. I was wondering, do they do best with gravel or sand? Or does it matter? Thanks!
  • #6
Sand.... such an old thread.
  • #7
Sand...the pictures of these guys are gorgeous!
  • #8
I might get one one of these days

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