FIA is community supported website. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.

Marbled Sleeper Goby Profile, Care, Tank Setup & More

Are you having a large aquarium that you will want to fill with amazing creatures inside it? Then you could take a look at a marbled sleeper. It is a large fish that you can easily find in the rivers, ponds, swamps, and forests.

If you have ever explored tropical forests in South East Asian countries, you might have seen this creature as the familiar one to note.

They are usually situated in shallow, or no water movement areas. The freshwater fish can make a great buddy in your aquatic environment.

The maximum length can reach up to 65 cm in their natural habitat. Their sizes are usually smaller in captivity. However, you can also reach the closer natural sizes if you breed them well.

Species Overview

Level of CareModerate
TemperamentTerritorial, sedentary, aggressive
AppearanceSlender, cream-colored body with a yellow head and a thin, blue horizontal band
Life Expectancy5 years
Size26″ (65cm), usually smaller in aquaria.
DietCarnivorous foods
FamilyGobies, Butidae
Tank Size565 litres
Tank EnvironmentBogwood, PVC tubing, or clay flower pots for hiding.
Tank MatesScats, Batfish, Catfish, not smaller fish

There are many nicknames for the astonishing marbled sleeper such as:

  • Marble Gudgeon
  • Sand Goby
  • Sleeper Goby
  • Soon Hock
  • Marbled Sleeper Goby

The marbled sleeper (Scientific name: Oxyeleotris Marmorata) originates from the fresh and brackish waters of the Mekong Basins. But you can find it in many countries like Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, as well as the Philippines.

Breeding in the maximum conditions, an adult goby can reach a length of 65 cm. However, in most captivities, the specimens you take won’t exceed 30 cm.

This species population has been enough to cater to several purposes like farming, fisheries, as well as hobbyist markets.

While in some countries it can be a delicious source of protein, it is more than just the food in the Chinese community.

Due to its tasty white flesh, it is often demanded as a mouth-watering healing property. The Chinese community claimed that this fish is a great healing item for those who have undergone surgeries or childbirth.

In Malaysia, fish commercialization is less than the latter. The fish are not always available for the consumers. For that reason, the prices are often peaking in the Malaysian marketplace.

This species has different views in other countries like Thailand. It is not promoted as a source of protein or a healing property, but rather the folk tale character in “The Golden Goby Fish“, Thailand’s story. The characters have been performing in some TV series and movies.

Being a Goby family, the marbled sleeper has its own endeavors.

Five rectangular to square dots on the midline and a wavy head stripe from mouth corner to gill cover characterize this slender, straw-colored fish.

There is a subterminal mouth on both dorsal and caudal fins. On the pelvic disc, males can be recognized by the presence of bilateral streaks.

It thrives in muddy, grassy areas near rivers, streams and ditches. Estuaries and bays with minimal salinity are home to this species.

Tank Setup

As the fish love to dig, it is recommended that the aquarium be set up with a sand substrate. The sand substrate will give them chances to dig around and explore the bottom-dwelling in your aquascape.

Keep in mind that not all sand is the same. The sand that you’ve gotten from the home improvement store does not mean to be working for your goby’s tank setup.

Your buddy needs a specialized sand product that is labeled with the aquarium sand brands. If you only focus on the top branded products, you can rest assured that your fish will thrive and have fun.

You could check and treat the sand thoroughly before placing it in the aquarium.

It is imperative not to mix the fine sand with the coarser gravels since the sand will struggle to reach the bottom.

With bogwood, PVC tubing, or clay flower pots, you may create hiding places. Since this species is nocturnal, low lighting is preferable.

Besides, this species is also a sedentary creature. Thanks to the size of the specimen, you will need larger tanks. Tanks with 565 liters capacity should be enough for the large buddies.

Don’t forget to purchase the right aquarium filters for your goby. Goby is big enough so that you don’t have to use the canister filter.

Make sure to add more sand to several inches of depth. Some specimens would love to partially bury themselves to enjoy their leisure time.

  • Temperature: 72-82 °F (22-28 °C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Hardness: 10-15°H

As mentioned, the fish originated from freshwater and brackish water. So, they need to live in a slightly acidic environment.

They can survive in worse quality water. But you can’t risk it if there is ammonia and nitrates there.

Also, you will need to get the aquarium with a tight-fitting lid.

Although these fish dwell at the bottom-most of the time, they will suddenly jump if they want to. They’d try to escape if they see the opportunities to do it. Make sure to check every lid part of your aquarium. If there’s any slit, it can affect the fish’s behaviors.

Some marbled sleeper creatures can live in the smaller tank. If you only have these smaller tanks, it is okay to proceed. Just make sure to add more plants and bogwood to give them more objects to conceal and hide. These items will make them feel comfortable and secure.

Marbled sleeper goby looking at you

Marble Goby Tank Mates

It is not recommended to keep these fish in groups since the dominant fish will devour the others as well as any smaller fish in the tank.

When fully mature, it will consume any fish that is less than 9 inches long. Because they can’t capture anything, they’re best suited to surface dwellers and fast-moving animals.

And they’ll devour everything that can fit in their massive jaws, including other sharks. The Arowana is a fish that may live in different regions of the aquarium with other fish of similar size.

However, we recommend that you leave it alone. Such a mission would necessitate the use of a massive tank.

It is imperative to comprehend that the marbled sleeper is a territorial species. They are known as the eaters of all tank mates that fit in their mouths.

Although it seems to be aggressive, these buddies can be tagged with large-sized tank mates Scats, Batfish, Catfish, etc.

Do not overcrowd your tank with many other tank mates. Sleeper goby is a sedentary fish. So, they will get anxious when the community fish is more crowded. Due to their silence, they are hard to notice in the large tanks.

These gobies are carnivorous. So, when you look at their cute behavior, you don’t want to get deceived. What they do by digging, burying themselves, and staying still, are their tricks to take on their prey.

As mentioned, everything that fits in their mouths can be considered prey. So, keeping your marbled sleeper with the smaller fish is not a good move.

Food & Diet

Even though nature is what it is, many confined animals may be trained to eat pelleted food. Nonetheless, it should be given a largely meat-based diet.

When fish are young, they eat bloodworms, miniature earthworms, and other little creatures, but as they become bigger, they eat whole prawns, gigantic earthworms, and lancetfish. Keep in mind that these fish are voracious eaters, so don’t overfeed them.

It is quite simple to feed your pet. These fish are voracious feeders and will devour almost everything they can get their teeth on. It enjoys krill and shrimp feeders designed for marine fish.

These animals’ major favorites of sustenance include crabs, tiny fish, aquatic insects, molluscs, and shrimps.

Occasionally, you can also give them frozen foods if you can’t find live foods. But some aquarists reported that their sleeper gobies look happier with the live prey on the bottom-dwelling.

Naturally, they half-bury themselves and use their strategic position to wait for their prey to come into their trap. It is their natural behavior. So, allowing them to do what they usually do is also a great way to feed them.

Marble goby sleeper face closeup

Breeding Guidelines

First things first, you will want to differ between the genders. The male gobies usually have longer anal fins. In the second dorsal fin of the males, the size is long.

The males also have more pointed genital papillae.

However, breeding them can be difficult in captivity. Some attempts from the aquarists turned out to be a disaster due to the marbled sleeper’s territorial nature.

The goby species is still having the possibility to reproduce in the aquarium. But it is not for beginners. One will need to know how to replicate the natural habitats of the fish to give them the chance to mate naturally.

You will need to have advanced facilities to support its reproduction.

The success rate to breed them in the aquarium is also lower than other fish. Therefore, it is best to let the professionals handle the job for you.

Many success stories come from fellow aquarists. But we can’t confirm how many times they failed before succeeding. Or, we can’t also confirm the truth of the story.   Experts do not recommend breeding it yourself if you have no extensive research and knowledge about the fish.