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Firefish Goby Overview, Care, Tank Setup & Breeding

Fire Goby fish is a small saltwater fish with an attractive appearance. The fish can make a great addition to small saltwater aquariums.

Fish owners rave about the great personality and elegant appearance of the fish.

You will learn about fire goby care tips in the guide, including recommended diet, water condition, aquarium setup, joint disease, and other helpful information.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
AppearanceYellow, white, and red color
Life Expectancy3+ years
Size2 to 3 inches
Aquarium (Tank) Size29 gallons
Water Conditions720F-800F (220C-270C); pH 8-8.4
Aquarium (Tank) EnvironmentLive rocks and caves
Aquarium (Tank) MatesLarge non-aggressive fish

Firefish Goby (Nemateleotris Magnifica) has a unique shape and color that makes them highly sought after by aquarists. The fish belongs to the family Microdesmidae and is generally peaceful. You can find their purple relatives here.

Other names of the fish include fire goby, fire dartfish, and magnificent dartfish. The species can survive for up to 3 years with proper care.

Natural Habitat

Fire Goby are found in the Pacific and Indian sea. The fish in the reefs around Maldives, Indonesia, Hawaii, and Africa.

We can find this species in depths of 20 to 200 feet deep water. Young fire goby are generally found among corals and hidden in shells.

The coral reef is a defense mechanism that protects them from larger prey. The small size allows them to remain hidden from large predators.

They are not territorial and remain nonviolent towards other fish. Instead of hunting, the fish face the current allowing the prey to come to them.


The fire goby fish has a slender appearance with a yellow-colored face. The front of the fish is yellow, while the back of the fish is red. The caudal and anal fish is in black.

The first dorsal fin spine is elongated which is the size of the fish. The extended dorsal fin stands erect in case of danger. It alerts other fish and a locking device that locks to a provider similar to the triggerfish.

The fire goby also has a swim bladder. The unique structure allows the fish to hover in one location for long periods with the face pointed upwards. This movement is valuable in detecting predators in the wild.

Gender Differences

Males and females are of the same size. There is no discernible difference between the two. It creates incredible difficulty when it comes to breeding fish. You cannot know about the gender of the fish. The five or six fish you have bought from the store may all turn out to be males.

Males are not only aggressive towards other males and also female goby fish. It adds to the difficulty in determining the gender of the fish.

Behavior & Temperament

Fire goby spend most of the time in their hiding places. They are not territorial or aggressive.

The fish is gregarious and calm. It is compatible with a large number of fish, making it ideal for community aquariums.

Some aquarists have reported that the fish prefers a moderately moving part of the aquarium.

Fire goby fish tends to swim in groups of five or more in the wild, where they feed on planktons.

In the native waters, several juvenile goby fish share the same hole.

But adult fish are generally territorial that don’t tolerate others even of the other gender.

Adult fire goby fish require about 1.5 to 3 square inches (10 to 20 square cm) of vertical space. They will form a hierarchy of dominance inside the aquarium, similar to a hen’s pecking order.

Adult healthy fish will dominate smaller and weaker fish. The smaller and weaker fire goby will respect the alpha fish’s command staying away from its path.

Fire goby fish have a peculiar behavior of flicking the first dorsal fin back and forth when swimming. They are diurnal, and most of the activities occur during the day. They return to their hiding spots during the night. The fish like to swim around the rocks and crevices.

Fire goby fish will tend to seek out unused areas inside the aquarium. They tend to claim empty large caverns or overhangs as their home. If there are no caverns or rocks, the fish will swim to the lower half of the aquarium.

If the fish becomes stressed, they tend to jump out of the aquarium. The fish usually become stressed when due to low water conditions.

They are timid and feel threatened by larger fish. It will force them to spend most of their time hiding and reduce their lifespan. If larger fish harass them, they will become stressed and try to jump out of the aquarium.

The fire goby will hide in the tank for days once introduced into the aquarium with other fish. It makes some owners think that the fish has disappeared. But the fish will reappear once it feels comfortable with the more contemporary surrounding. Once the fish overcome their timidity, they will chase small food scraps from other fish inside the aquarium.

The fish are generally gregarious and friendly with other fish. They are also non-aggressive fish that won’t harass other fish.

Reef Safe

Fire Goby are reef safe. The fish won’t nip and kill the corals. The fish will not eat soft corals and also corals with large polyps. It even won’t eat invertebrates such as snails, shrimp, and crabs. So, you can safely add the fish to your coral aquarium.

Tank Mates

Firefish goby inside aquarium

Fire Goby can be kept in a fish community in a small aquarium. They are not territorial and aggressive which makes them compatible with other peaceful fish. It would help if you considered keeping them with small fish. Larger fish might treat the fish as food and devour them.

Fish that are not compatible with fire goby include pufferfish, triggerfish, lionfish, butterflyfish, batfish, wrasses, and sweetlips. They are also not compatible with eels since both like to swim through small holes and rocks.

If you want to keep them together, you should make sure that there are plenty of rocks and other hiding places.

Good tank mates with the fish include juvenile clownfish, peaceful tangs, basslets, surgeonfish, and wrasse. Smaller fish like benthic fish are also ideal mates for fire goby fish.

Fire Goby is an excellent choice for the reef aquarium. They don’t pick at corals or bother other fish. The fish like to spend most of the time swimming above the coral reef to feed on plankton. The small fish can also not bother invertebrates, including ornamental shrimp.

When picking mates for Fire Goby, you should not select species that are of the same group. They are aggressive towards other fire goby.

You can place a male and female pair as they won’t be aggressive towards each other. But identifying a couple is not easy since they appear the same.

Ideal Tank Conditions

Fire goby are sensitive to water conditions. You should make sure that the water temperature inside the aquarium is between 72 °F and 80 °F (22 °C and 27 °C).

The water should be alkaline with a pH between 8 and 8.4 since they are saltwater fish.

Water should be kept clean at all times. Low quality and dirty water can increase the stress that reduces the immune system of the fish.

You should change about 15 percent water after every two weeks in 30 gallons aquarium.

For larger tanks above 30 gallons capacity, you should change about 30 percent water once a month.

Keeping the pH value to the desired level is necessary. The pH levels should be maintained using water changes rather than using chemicals. You must use proper testing equipment to check the pH level and nitrate or ammonia level inside the tank.

Aquarium Setup

Fire goby fish require a large aquarium of at least 30 gallons. The fish will not attack other fish but will be aggressive towards their species if kept in a small tank.

The tank should be wider instead of taller. The aquarium should contain a coral reef. They also require lots of hiding places with plenty of crevices within rocks and caves. But avoid sharp rocks that can damage the body or long fins of the fish.

Food & Diet

Fire goby fish are omnivores and eat a large variety of food. Young fish commonly eat algal food types. Adult fire goby eats various food items, including brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, finely chopped and frozen seafood, and vitamin-enriched commercial food.

Eating mostly meaty food items will reduce the attractive color and may also reduce lifespan. It should not give the fish a meaty diet as they may become spoilt and avoid eating other nutritious foods.

It would help if you gave frozen food formulas that are available at most pet food stores. Moreover, you can also get algal-rich food from the stores.

Fire goby fish are quick and should not have much trouble in getting the food. However, they become timid when feeding with larger fish. Avoid placing the fish with larger fish.

But if you want to place them with larger fish, you should keep an eye out to ensure that the fish is feeding correctly. Consider spreading the food throughout the tank so that the fish has a chance to provide it.

It will help if you avoid feeding the fish as that may make them susceptible to various diseases. Consider providing them with as much food as they can eat in about six minutes. It will help if you spread out the feeding two to three times a day.

Firefish Goby Breeding Guidelines

Fire goby pair

Fire goby are hard to breed since identifying males and females is different. You cannot tell by the aggression of the fish toward each other. While fire goby fish are aggressive towards each other, they attack irrespective of gender.

A male will protect its territory from both the male and female species. Successful breeding of fire goby fish is rare.

They sometimes mate near the seafloor. The female goes inside the breeding hole, followed by the male.

Common Diseases & Treatments

Fire goby fish are resilient and hardy. They don’t succumb to illnesses unless the water quality is low. The fish may also become ill if they are continuously don’t stressed out inside the aquarium.

A diseased fire goby fish may sometimes have marks or sores. Knowing a bacterial infection often causes much about this illness. The fish may also act out strangely and may appear to be lethargic.

Aquarists have success in treating the condition using Furan medication such as Nitrofurazone. It would help if you gave a total dose of the medicine in a separate tank. Make sure that there is plenty of aeration in the aquarium used to quarantine the fish.

Avoid feeding the goby fish when they are on medications. It will make the water toxic which will cause more severe health issues. Using erythromycin and tetracycline has also been found to be effective against the disease. It would help if you used the total dose; otherwise, the infection might reappear and be difficult to treat.

Similar to other saltwater fish, rock fire goby is also prone to protozoan and parasitic diseases. You should ensure that the water remains clean at all times. Aquarium with plenty of decoration items to ensure that they don’t get stressed out. A stressed goby fish is more likely to get a disease due to compromised immune systems.

Keep the fish happy by feeding appropriately and changing the water regularly. It will ensure that the fish lives for a long time. You should also closely monitor the water conditions and clean the water at regular intervals. The fish will rarely become ill if you take great care in keeping the water clean and compatible with the fish.

Care Tips

Fire Goby should get a nutritious diet so that they remain healthy and happy. It would help if you considered giving them a variety of food items. Consider mixing the food items to ensure that they get the most nutrition from food.

Remove uneaten food items inside the aquarium after about an hour. The food items will break down over time, resulting in excessive waste.

Another concern is getting them to eat when they are in quarantine. The fish will reject most food as it will be stressed out when kept in quarantine due to disease or when introduced to the aquarium. It would help if you enticed the stressed fish to eat by giving gut-loaded feeder shrimp or frozen food mixed with sponge pellets.

Where to Buy?

You can find Fire Goby for sale in most online stores. They are mostly available in pet stores in small sizes. Before introducing the newly bought fish to the aquarium, you should quarantine them for a few days to ensure that they are healthy.

Ask about the diet fed to the fish. It would help if you bought from a store that has provided the fish with a mixture of meaty and plant food. It is crucial since a fish that got only meat-based food will reject all other food. The result will be less healthy fish with a reduced lifespan.

Fire Goby are sold when they are small. Juveniles are more likely to jump when stressed due to the new environment. It would help if you kept a tightly fitting lid with holes covered to prevent the fish from jumping out of the aquarium.

Make sure to tape areas around the heater power cord, filtration, and overflow box. The fish will not jump as they grow and become accustomed to the new environment.

Wrapping Up

Fire goby is a colorful fish and a joy to watch inside the aquarium. They are easy to care for and don’t have special nutritional requirements. It makes the fish suitable only for beginner aquarists. But the water parameters and feeding guidelines must be followed so that the fish remains healthy.

Fire goby fish are peaceful fish that make it easy to match tank mates. You can keep them in a small aquarium with other similar size fish. Taking care of the fish is not demanding. The alluring appearance and engaging personality make that perfect for reef and regular aquariums.