Firefish Goby: A Detailed Care Guide To This Vibrant and Peaceful Saltwater Fish 

Firefish Goby swimming in Saltwater Aquarium

Firefish Goby, also known as Fire Dartfish, is a stunning, tiny saltwater fish. This fish is one extremely popular choice among many aquarists. Firefish Goby belongs to the Actinopterygii class and Gobiiformes order. 

As their name suggests, these fishes have a vibrant, fiery hue to their skin. They are tremendously gorgeous and are equally peaceful and friendly. Additionally, they are readily available and are decently priced. They are comparatively easy to care for and have a likeable personality. 

If you are interested in having a Firefish Goby as your pet, then you’re at the exact right stop! Here, we will provide you with expert information and guidance on their care guide, diet, behaviour, breeding and other fascinating facts. 

So, follow through to know it all! 

Key Specifications of Firefish Goby

Firefish Gobies are extremely gorgeous. If you are really thinking about including them in your family then, below is a brief outline of their primary characteristic traits. Let’s have a look! 

Scientific Name Nemateleotris magnifica
OriginIndian and Pacific Ocean 
Lifespan3-4 years
ColourReddish-orange, yellow and white
Size2-3 inches
CompatibilityOther similar-sized, mild-mannered fish
Tank Size15-20 Gallons
Care Level Easy
Water Temperature 22-26.6 Degrees Celsius
Water ConditionspH 8-8.4


Firefish Goby (Nemateleotris magnifica) is one of the most striking fish of the dartfish species. These fishes are also commonly known as Fire Goby, Magnificent Dartfish and Fire Dartfish. Firefish Gobies have an enchanting appearance and a brilliant glint to their skins. They are bottom dwellers and thrive in saltwater habitats. They are considerably easy to care for. 

These fishes are territorial in nature and love to swim through slow to moderate water currents. These fishes are quite hardy but that doesn’t erase the fact that appropriate care and maintenance are required to maintain a healthy lifestyle inside an aquarium. 

Origin and Habitat of Firefish Goby

Firefish Gobies are naturally found in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Since, they are bottom-dwellers, they swim at an ocean depth of 20 and 230 feet. These fishes thrive in the reef environment located in and around Hawaii, Africa, Indonesia and Maldives. 

The species of Goby prefer to live in sand burrows. They inhabit areas of high water density and saline concentration, and alkaline pH.

Appearance of Firefish Goby

Firefish Gobies have a long, slender body shape. They have blue-tinted eyes which give them even more of a vibrant look.  

Their pectoral, dorsal and anal fins are accented in black. These fishes have a tri-colour pattern on their skins. The dorsal fin of a Firefish Goby draws great attention. This spine-like fin is quite elongated and has a pointed end. 

These gobies use their dorsal fins as locking devices. The sledge like structure helps the fish to hook and lock their bodies to the wall inside a fissure so that no predator can pull them out of their crevices. Additionally, these dorsal fins also signal other firefishes. 

Firefish gobies also have a swim bladder which allows floating for a long time in a single place by keeping their heads up.

Although there are no distinctive features of identification for a male and female Firefish Goby, you will however notice that the female ones have a comparatively slender and long body than the male ones. 


An adult Firefish Goby can grow up to 3 inches if given a healthy diet and is properly taken care of. Due to their small size, they are a preferred choice among many aquarists. 


Firefish Gobies are flamboyantly coloured. The face of the fish is yellowish-green in colour. Their upper portion of the body is white and the hue changes to a luminous orangish-red near the rear end. 

This unique and vivid sort of colouration gives the fish their name. 

Behaviour of Firefish Goby 

Firefish Gobies are truly peaceful and quite friendly and societal in nature. They are very shy and timid. In the beginning, when you add them to your aquarium, you will start to notice and panic about them going missing. Please don’t be troubled. These fishes are bashful and so, they prefer to often hide in caves or burrows, especially when introduced to a new environment. 

These fishes are territorial in nature and require at least 10-20 square centimetres of their own space. So, when they see a potential threat or competition, they turn aggressive. 

Firefish Gobies swim swiftly against the water current. This is their own strategy of catching prey that swims in the direction of the water current. 

These Gobies prefer solitude and only live happily in pair with another Firefish Goby whom they mate with.

For communication, they twitch their tapered dorsal fins for sending signals to others in the wild. 

Lifespan of Firefish Goby

A Firefish Goby can live up to 3-4 years if given the proper care. There are several factors that actually affect their health and thus lifespan. For instance, diet, water parameters, stress level and community interaction play a great role in determining their survivability.

Diet of Firefish Goby

Firefish Gobies are primarily carnivores. However, in a captive environment, they will follow an omnivorous diet. They don’t like putting much effort into catching their prey and looking for food or live preys that float and are readily available to them. Although these Gobies love to eat meaty food, they can also show interest in some vegetarian edibles. 

They Prey on:

  • Zooplankton
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Algae
  • Tiny Crustaceans including Copepods
  • Blackworms

Commercially Available Fish Food:

  • Algae Tablets
  • Supplemented Vitamins
  • Frozen Fish Food
  • Fish Pellets and Flakes 

You must pay keen attention to their feeding time and diet. Firefish Gobies have a small gut, so avoid over-feeding and instead feed them 3-4 times a day. 


Firefish Gobies starve to death when they are stressed out, bullied or have gone through a fight. So, look out for their behaviours and always maintain a proper diet.

Tank Requirements of Firefish Goby

If Firefish Gobies really intrigue you and you want them as your pet, then you need to put effort into their maintenance, tank conditions and care. Here is an easy yet expert guide on the various tank requirements of a Firefish Goby. Get detailed guidance on setting up a saltwater fish tank. 

Tank Size

Firefish Gobies are quite small in size and hence, can easily survive in a normal-sized tank. Although they can easily fit in a 5-10 gallon tank, it’s always best that you go for a 15-gallon tank or a maximum of 20 Gallon. This is because Firefish Gobies are solitary in nature and they really love to swim around, explore and find their own space. 

Tank Shape

Since Firefish Gobies are bottom dwellers, you should really consider getting a rectangular shaped tank for them. They require adequate space to swim. So, a sphere-shaped fishbowl should definitely not be the right choice. 

Tank Lid

Firefish Gobies have this high tendency of jumping off of the tank. This is one of the vital reasons behind their death and they only have a lifespan of 3 years. So, you need to make sure that you cover your tank with a strong and tightly closed lid. 


For this type of saltwater fishes, you need to make sure that the aquarium conditions replicate their natural habitat. For Firefish Gobies, you should add a soft and smooth sand substrate. These Gobies really love to live in recluse and so they dig out burrows in sand to feel secure. 

Do not use rough sand as it may bruise their skin and cause serious injury. 


Since Firefish Gobies are quite hardy, they do not require large or extremely strong filters for their tanks. However, since they may get prone to bacterial and parasitic diseases, you should install a good and decently ranged filter inside your tank. 


Firefish Gobies get scared easily and prefer to live in seclusion. So, if you really want to make them feel at home and also, decorate your tank, then you should add certain hiding places like caves, lava rocks, reefs and live corals. 

Additionally, if you really want to get even more creative with it, you can cut out a portion of a PVC pipe, paint it black and surround it with lava rocks, so that it gives a cave-like feeling. 


Since Firefish Gobies are bottom dwellers, they thrive in low-light regions. So, inside your aquarium, try to maintain the lighting from moderate to low. These fishes get scared and alarmed by bright light. 

Presence of Flora

For Firefish Gobies, you should indeed include plants inside the tank. They improve oxygenation and also mimic their natural environment. Some great plant decor options for your Firefish Goby tank include 

  • Halimeda (Caulerpaceae): They are a type of calcified green algae that are found in deep oceans. They will create a natural environment for your Firefish Goby. 
  • Red Gracilaria Algae: These are brilliant red and transparent algae that help in nutrient cycling inside the tank. They will also act as a great decor plant for your tank. 
  • Red Mangrove: The germinated seeds of this plant., called propagules, will act as an efficient addition to your tank. They help in maintaining the nitrate levels inside the tank. 
  • Spaghetti Algae (Chaetomorpha linum): These are free-flowing, brightly green coloured plants. They will pleasantly decorate your Goby tank. 

You shouldn’t go for plants like Java Fern, Anubia Nana, Hornwort and Amazon Sword. These plants belong to tropical vegetation. 

Cleaning Methods

Make sure that you keep the aquarium glass/acrylic walls clean regularly. Scrape out the algal growth on the walls of the tank with the help of a metal or plastic blader. Adding activated carbon to your reef tank will have tremendous benefits. They remove harmful organic and inorganic buildup and also get rid of odours.  

Make sure that you change at least 10% of the tank water at least once or twice a week. 

You can use vacuum pipes to remove food wastes deposited within the crevices of the substrate. 

In addition, you can invertebrates like certain snails, crabs, starfishes and sea cucumbers in your fish tank, which will greatly aid in cleaning your aquarium. They will scourge for food day and night and eat away the unwanted food wastes in the water and within the substrate layers. Moreover, their presence will also give your tank a startling look. Make sure that you are taking the right measures for cleaning your fish tank.                                                 

Water Types for Firefish Goby

Maintaining proper aquarium conditions and water quality is a must when it comes to Firefish Gobies. These fishes are quite sensitive to even slight, undesirable alterations in the water parameters. Ensure that you fully cycle the tank before introducing your Firefish Goby to the aquarium. 

Water Temperature 

Firefish gobies thrive the best in a water temperature ranging from 22-26.6 Degrees Celsius. So, to round it off and provide a comfortable environment, you should keep the water temperature between 21-28 Degree Celsius. 

Use the best heater and aquarium thermometer to maintain, regulate and check your aquarium temperature. 

pH Level

Firefish Gobies live in a slightly alkaline environment. You should maintain the pH of the water between 8 and 8.4.  So, you must maintain the proper pH level inside the tank.


For a Firefish Goby, you need to make sure that the water hardness lies between 8-12 dGH. 

Specific Water Gravity

Since Firefish Gobies are bottom dwellers and prefer salinity, you should maintain the tank gravity between 1.020 to 1.025. 

Water Flow Rate 

Firefish Gobies love to swim in an opposite direction through swift water currents. So, to ensure that their aquarium environment mimics their natural habitat, you can install pumps inside your tank to maintain the required and proper flow rate. 

Compatibility of Firefish Goby

When it comes to compatibility, you must pay special heed to your Firefish Goby’s behaviour and temperament. You must only introduce those species of fishes in your tank which are similarly sized and are equally peaceful. Firefish Gobies are extremely calm and they always mind their own business. However, since they are territorial, they will feel intimidated by the larger sized fishes and this, in turn, will lead to a fight. When threatened, Firefish Gobies stress out, stop eating and ultimately starve themselves to death. 

Additionally, it is highly unlikely that a Firefish Goby will live in harmony with its own kind. They will get into fights for dominance and claim their power over a territory. Therefore, you should not keep two Firefish Gobies in the same tank. 

Suitable Tank Mates 

Unsuitable Tank Mates 

Breeding of Firefish Goby

There is not much-known information on the breeding pattern of Firefish Gobies. First off, they are solitary and can’t live in harmony with fishes of their own kind. Secondly, since they are so shy, their mating behaviour is still a mystery for us. Additionally, there are no distinctive distinguishing physical features between a male and a female Firefish Goby. 

As we have already seen before, due to their territorial nature, Firefish Gobies don’t live well with their own kind or other Gobies. However, if you really want to introduce more than one Firefish Goby into your tank, then you should bring and nurture them at the same time. Make sure they grow up together. Other than that, you can also look for pre-mated pair of Firefish Gobies when you decide to buy them from your nearby pet store. 

It’s very difficult for a Firefish Goby to blend with its own kind. However, once they do so, they will live the rest of their lives in peace and harmony. Firefish Gobies are monogamous. 

How Does the Breeding Take Place?

You will rarely get to see a mated pair and their spawning in captivity. Nevertheless, people at times have actually gotten lucky enough to witness their breeding in captivity. For aquarists, the breeding of these fishes poses a moderate difficulty. The female Firefish Goby lay their eggs in crevices or caves. After that, the pair looks after the security of their eggs. 

It has been noted that during a potential attack by other larger species of fishes, The Firefish Goby mating pair do not directly choose to indulge in a fight or physically defend the eggs. Instead, they hover around the eggs. It is their own way of signalling the predators to stay away. 

When the eggs hatch, they develop the planktonic characteristic of floating at the top of the tank. When they gradually age, they start swimming towards the bottom and find their comfort there. 

What should you do? 

You should separate the eggs to a different tank with a simpler DIY filter system like a sponge filter. You can feed them live infusoria and then when they grow up, they can feed on brine shrimps and other foods. 

When your fishes are in the breeding season, make sure that you keep the tank water cl4an and the fishes adequately nourished. 

Disease and Treatment of Firefish Goby

Firefish Gobies are quite hardy. However, there are certain common saltwater diseases that you must look out for. 

Saltwater Ich

This is a common disease among many saltwater fishes. The primary symptoms are that you will notice little white dots all over their body and tails, lethargy and loss of appetite. 

To treat ich, you should first change the tank water and separate the fish to a different tank. Use a proper filter to remove all the existing parasitic life forms and purify the water. Additionally, you can consult a vet and treat them with copper-free medication. You can also treat the fish by inducing  hyposalanity inside the aquarium. 


Dropsy is a bacterial disease that causes bloating. This is caused by the accumulation of fluid inside the body. 

For treatment, you should make sure that the tank is clean and that you feed proper quality food to your Firefish pleco. You should also see a vet if the problem persists. You can treat the fishes with penicillin-based drugs as well. 


On a closing note, if you are really looking forward to getting a Firefish Goby as your pet fish, then let us tell you that you’ve got an amazing choice! These Gobies are extraordinarily beautiful and have an extremely winsome personality. 

A Firefish Goby will indeed be a great option if you have just started with the fish-keeping hobby. Their care level is comparatively easier than many other fishes. Additionally, due to their small size and calm demeanour, they are a feasible choice among many aquarists. 

So, if there’s anyone out there who is yearning to get a gorgeous, extraordinarily beautiful and personable fish for your tank, then go, ahead! Just make sure that your Goby does not have to share its tank with other semi-aggressive/aggressive species of fishes. That will end up on a bad note for both your Firefish Goby and the other fishes. 

Firefish Gobies would make a great company and their presence will absolutely enthrall you. Do make sure that you are taking proper care of them and looking after their needs. 

Interesting Fact

Did you know why are Firefish Gobies also known as Fire dartfish? This is because they have the ability to dart themselves into a crevice or hole within seconds when they feel threatened.

Similar Care Guides 

If this article interests you then, don’t forget to visit our sites for further care guides on other saltwater fishes.