Firefish Goby Species Overview, Care & Breeding Guide

Firefish goby is especially a popular pet fish among beginner marine aquarists. Most fishkeepers get attracted to its brilliant colors.

It is especially suitable for reef aquariums as it doesn’t attack the reefs. So, if you’re ready to know more, dive in!

What are the Main Characteristics of Firefish Goby?

OriginIndo-Pacific region
Scientific NameNemateleotris magnifica
Common NamesFirefish goby, fire dartfish, magnificent firefish, red fire goby, orange firefish
IUCN Red List StatusLeast Concern
AppearanceYellow head, white anterior, pinkish to reddish-orange posterior.
SizeUp to 8.0 cm (3.14 in)
LifespanUp to 3 years
TemperamentPeaceful towards other species; Aggressive towards own species
Reef SafeYes
Tank LevelBottom and middle-water dwellers (benthopelagic)
Water Temperature72-78 °F (22-25 °C)
pH Level8.1-8.4
Specific Gravity1.020-1.024
Water Hardness8-12 dGH
Care LevelEasy to moderate
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons for one adult, 55 gallons for a pair
Tank EnvironmentEnough hiding space in the substrate, enough space between the water surface and lid, and a tightly closed lid
DietMainly carnivorous
Tank MatesClownfish, shrimp gobies, other slow-moving, timid fish

What is the Natural Habitat of Firefish Goby?

This fish is naturally found in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Specifically, it is spotted in East African to Hawaiian regions, Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia), Pitcairn Islands, (British Overseas Territories), North of Ryukyu Islands (Japan), South of New Caledonia Island (France) and Austral Island (French Polynesia), and all over Micronesia.

The species is mainly found in the coral reefs of these areas at about 6-70 meters deep. But often, it frequents 6-28m deep. These are the upper part of the external reef slopes.

This fish often frequents the water level just above the bottom levels (pelagic zone) and faces the current to feed on small invertebrates like copepods, crustacean larvae, and zooplankton.

The adult fish reside in burrows individually or in pairs. On the other hand, multiple juvenile fish share a single bolt hole, and they also swim in smaller groups.

The fish was last assessed in 2009 for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and was found in the Least Concern class.

Which Family does Firefish Goby Belong?

The fish belongs to the family Gobiidae and the order Gobiiformes. The scientific name of the species is Nemateleotris magnifica.

This fish is commonly known by a variety of names like firefish goby, fire dartfish, magnificent firefish, and red fire goby.

However, it is often confused with decorated dartfish.

Fun Fact: The fish is also known as fire dartfish because it hurries to its burrow also known as “bolt hole” like darts when it feels threatened.

How does a Firefish Goby look?

Firefish goby inside aquarium

Other than its unique color, it also has a striking elongated first dorsal spine that twitches up and down.

What is the Size of Firefish Goby?

The adult male or unsexed fish is known to be 9.0 cm at most in length. In captivity, it grows only to around 8.0 cm.

What is the Color of Firefish Goby?

The head of the fish is pale yellow, which slowly fades into the white shade near its body. Again, the hue slowly changes to pink or orange-red near the tail. The fins also fade from yellow to red.

The dorsal, caudal, and anal fins are black.

What are the Features of Firefish Goby?

The first dorsal ray is elongated. Other features are:

  • Total dorsal spines: 7
  • Total dorsal soft rays: 28-32
  • Anal spines: 1
  • Anal soft rays: 27-30

Does Sexual Dimorphism exist in Firefish Goby?

Sexual dimorphism is non-existent.

However, the adult female fish seems to be more slender and smaller than the male fish.

What is the Behavior & Temperament of Firefish Goby?

The firefish is usually of calm temperament and social towards other species. The young fish harmoniously swim together since birth.

However, as the school of young fish grows up, they might fight for dominance within the same species.

It’s better to leave only a pair or one fish in one aquarium. A pair of mates can live peacefully.

Observe a pair once you keep them together for long hours, whether a fight breaks out. Since sexual dimorphism is absent, you can’t know whether the pair is a male and a female or not.

The species is diurnal, i.e., stays active during the day and sleeps at night.

What is the Lifespan of Firefish Goby?

The fish is known to survive up to 3 years in optimal conditions.

Author’s Note: The firefish goby usually passes away earlier due to high stress, damage, lack of nutrition, and housing with predatory tankmates.

How to take care of Firefish Goby?

Fire goby pair

It’s better to mimic the natural habitat of the firefish goby to keep it free from any kind of stress. So keep these in mind while setting up its aquarium.

What is the Tank Size for Firefish Goby?

For a single fish, a 30-gallon aquarium is enough. However, if you’ll keep more than one, the size must consequently increase as the fish is territorial.

The base of an aquarium with two of these must be 2 square feet and the volume must be 55 gallons minimum.

What type of Water Chemistry is required for Firefish Goby?

To sustain the fish up to its full lifespan, these water conditions must be met:

  • pH Levels: 8.1-8.4
  • Water Temperature: 72-78 °F (22-25 °C)
  • Water Hardness: 8-12 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: Below 25 ppm
  • Synthetic Salt Level: 26-33 ppt
  • Specific Gravity: 1.020-1.025

What is the Tank Environment for Firefish Goby?

The fish often feels threatened and tries to hide to protect itself. So, it needs a calm aquarium, with lots of hiding places. Let’s find out how to create that.

What Substrate does Firefish Goby need?

Since it likes to burrow and hide, use only fine aquarium-grade sand substrate or small and smooth pebble substrate. This will protect the fish from getting its fin or body damaged. Maintain a thick layer of sand for digging burrows.

What type of Lighting does Firefish Goby need?

To make your pet fish feel more comfortable and protected, keep your aquarium moderately lit.

Which Décor does Firefish Goby need?

The firefish need lots of rockwork and outcropping to feel less exposed and sheltered whenever it gets agitated. You can also add corals for shelter.

What type of Filtration does Firefish Goby need?

The fish is robust and can adjust to new environments easily. However, ensure that you still maintain good filtration as it is sensitive to nitrite and nitrate concentrations.

It’s better to install an oversized filtration system with 10-20 times the tank volume for strong oxygenation. A venturi system can efficiently enhance the oxygen dissolution rate during summer.

What is the Water Flow Rate required for Firefish Goby?

The current must also be of moderate flow to keep the fish stress-free.

Fish Care Tip: When stressed or frightened, the fish tries to jump out. So, ensure that there’s plenty of space between the lid and the water surface and the lid is tight. If you have an open-top halide system, get a 10” tall edge trim.

To avoid water pollution, change 20-30% of the water volume monthly. You can use Jaubert, biopellets, denitrator on sulphur, or vodka method for this.

What do Firefish Goby eat?

The species thrive mainly on a carnivorous diet, including small crustaceans like copepods, meaty frozen food, small flake, pellet food, brine shrimp, and mysis shrimp.

The fish also thrive on artemia, red daphnia, and minutely chopped mussels and fish. It can sometimes consume algae and vegetables.

It must be fed twice or thrice a day in small proportions as it has smaller guts.

Dietary Tip: When you bring the fish to your aquarium, it will initially hide for several days. So, warm it to the new place with live prey. Once it gets used to it, only then feed it frozen food.

It isn’t greedy and can become picky. So, try to stick to more carnivorous food even if it consumes vegetables.

What are the Tank Mates for Firefish Goby?

Their best buddies inside a tank are clownfish, shrimp gobies, and other slow-moving fish. It is also a great addition to other shy fish of similar size as it works as dither fish.

Which Tank Mates to Avoid for Firefish Goby?

It’s advised not to keep it with other firefish gobies, especially males (unless it’s a mated pair) or bigger fish that can eat it. Avoid larger and more lively tank mates.

What Common Diseases are Firefish Goby Prone to?

Usually, this species is pretty hardy and disease resistant. But you must still keep an eye out for these.

Disease NameCausesSymptomsTreatment
IchParasitic infectionWhite spotting, flashing, appetite loss, lethargy.Temperature elevation, aquarium salt addition, and ich medication.
ColumnarisBacterial infectionFin fraying, grey or white patches, appetite loss, lethargy.Water quality enhancement, stress reduction, and antibiotics.
Fin rotBacterial infectionFin fraying, fin discoloration or red streaks, appetite loss, lethargy.Water quality enhancement, physical injury source removal, and antibiotics.

How to Breeding Firefish Goby in an Aquarium?

These fish are monogamous, so one male can stay peacefully with one female partner. If more than one adult fish of the same gender stays, fights may break out to get the upper hand.

Hardly much is found yet about their breeding rituals or habits. However, some believe that they are not any different from other goby species.

But it’s observed that the females are known to be egg layers, i.e., she lays eggs on the substrate or in burrows.

The fertilized eggs are then guarded by one of the parents or the male parent.

Breeding Tip: Do not mix species of the same genus or same species but different varieties to avoid hybridization risks.

A word from FishInAquarium

The firefish goby has a unique personality and is often extremely transparent by nature. It is one of the first pet fish for many aquarists as it is inexpensive, easily available, and attractive.

So, if you had a gala time learning about this fish, don’t forget to share it with others. But if some questions are still bugging you, feel free to mail us!

Minnie B Miller - Professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium

About Minnie B Miller

Minnie B. Miller, a professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium, has over 8 years of expertise in fish breeding and care, gained through her roles at AquaticTX and Sea Lion Landing. Having honed her skills with various aquatic species, she is dedicated to empowering fellow enthusiasts by sharing her knowledge and experience.