Gobies – Firefish Goby (Nemateleotris magnifica)

Updated on January 30, 2021 by

If you wish to keep a peaceful tank of hardy species, then the Firefish Goby will give you no regret at all, but plenty of satisfactory and fun moments. It is inexpensive and small but nonetheless a stunning fish that is just perfect for your nano reef tank.

Quick stats – Firefish Goby

Category Info
Origin Africa, Coral Sea, Maldives, Philippines
Max size 3” / 7.5 cm
Aquarium Min 20 gallon / 75 liters
Water 72-78° F / 22-26° C

dKH 4-10, pH 8.1-8.4

sg 1.020-1.025
Care level Easy
Behaviour Peaceful
Diet Carnivore
Family Gobiidae
Colors Blue, yellow, orange

Firefish Goby description

Firefish Goby is one of the peaceful species belonging to the Microdesmidae family. They are native to the reef areas of the Pacific and Indian Oceans spanning through Hawaii and certain areas in Africa.

They are bottom dwellers and are usually found at about 20-230 feet depth, just above the bottom always facing into the current in a bid to hunt for prey.

The Firefish Goby has a long and slender body with stunning coloration. The face is rather yellow in color, with a white front half and a red rear half.

They possess an elongated dorsal fin which is almost as long as the entire body. This elongated fin is often used in warning other Firefish of impending danger and also used to lock itself into a hiding spot in order to resist the predator from pulling and preying on them. In this scenario, the dorsal fin is called a ‘’locking device’’. This behavior is similar to Triggerfish.

They are also called Dartfish due to their ability to quickly dart into hiding whenever they feel intimidated and threatened. It can be seen swimming in the open, then immediately darting to a cover.

They also possess a swim bladder which enables them to swim in one direction for a long time with its head pointed upward.

There is no clear distinction between male and female sex, only for the fact that females tend to be smaller and thinner than males.

They are hardy species, can adapt to varying tank conditions, and are resistant to most diseases.

Firefish Goby in the natural habitat

The Firefish Goby is native to the reef environment near the Pacific and Indian Ocean. They are also found in reefs around Hawaii and some parts of Africa. 

They are bottom dwellers and mostly found in deep water within 20-230 feet just above the bottom level.

The juveniles are often seen swimming in groups, but as they begin to mature, they tend to separate and may even start to quarrel with each other.

In the wild, they are omnivores, and will feed on a variety of meaty food and vegetables along with algae and zooplankton matters. These species have an unusual way of hunting prey. Unlike other fish species that hunt for their prey, these species would rather face against the current in a bid to catch prey carried by the current.

Firefish Goby in the ideal aquarium

FireFish Goby - Nemateleotris magnifica

The Firefish Goby can be kept in a fish only tank or preferably in a reef tank. Due to its small size and peaceful temperament, these species are most suitable for nano reef tanks. However, they are comfortably housed in a larger tank to provide them with enough space for its darting nature.

The saltwater tank should maintain the traditional reef aquarium standard.

This requires setting up a well-filtered minimum of 20-gallon nano tank to house the Firefish Goby. 

But due to its darting nature, a larger tank can be provided. Firefish are active species and have the tendency of jumping out of the tank, so the tank should be provided with a tight lid.

The water flow should be strong with the following parameters; 22.2-26˚C temperature (72-80F), 8.1-8.4 pH, 8-12 dGH and sg 1.023-1.025.

They can thrive in many substrates, but the substrate should be rather smooth, so as not to wound the fins or body of these bottom dwellers. This can be compensated with a sand substrate that is deep enough for the Firefish Goby to burrow into.

They require a lot of hiding spots, so the tank can be decorated with lots of live rockwork having caves and crevices. This should also facilitate algae growth.

Corals and ornaments are safe with the Firefish Goby as these species will not harass nor disturb your corals. Floating plants can be used to provide them with shades.

Strong lighting will inconvenience and stress out the Firefish Goby, so they require a low to moderate lighting.

Care must be taken in selecting tankmates for the Firefish Goby. They are best kept alone, save for the sake of breeding. If more than one species should be introduced, they should be closely monitored.

Your precious corals are safe with the Firefish Goby. This includes SPS coral. LPS coral, Leather corals etc.

However, they are good community species and can be kept with other fish species. They are most suitably introduced first into the tank. This will enable them to get acquainted with the environment and perhaps define their territory before other species are introduced.

If the Firefish should be introduced to an already established tank, then the tank may need to be void of territorial species, else the Firefish Goby may become a victim of bullying which might always send them into hiding.

They are suitable tank mates with similar sized and peaceful species such as small Goby, Clownfish, and shrimp.

They are great tankmates with other peaceful, slow-moving and shy species, as they have the ability to encourage other shy fish species to come out of their hiding place. For this purpose, they are often regarded as ‘dither fish’.

They are safe with invertebrates such as Snails and Prawn.

Large, aggressive, and predatory fish species such as Triggers, Lionfish, and large Angelfish should be greatly avoided, as these species have the tendency of preying on the Firefish Goby.

Nonetheless, Firefish Goby is a perfect reef tank fish as they are so peaceful and will not bother other species in the tank, including fish, invertebrates, and corals.

Firefish Goby feeding

In the wild, the Firefish Goby are omnivores and can feed on a variety of meaty and vegetable diets.

They can be fed with a variety of meaty frozen and live food such as brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and high quality prepared food that is rich in vitamins.

They can be fed with vegetables such as blanched cucumber.

They will often feed on the algae and zooplankton matters that grow in the tank.

Their meal should be supplemented with the recommended flaked and pellets.

Firefish Goby is most suitably fed 2-3 times a day with just enough they could finish in a few minutes.

Firefish Goby breeding

Breeding Firefish Goby can be quite difficult, this is due to the fact that these species are difficult to identify the male and female species. Usually, when two Firefish Goby form a pair, they are assumed as the opposite sex, and most often they are.

The shy nature has made it hard to observe their breeding patterns both in the wild and in captivity. However, they are egg layers and their breeding pattern is assumed to be similar to other Goby species.

To conclude

The Firefish Goby species is a great and fun choice for your reef tank.

Firefish is a perfect reef tank species and can be singly housed in a nano tank. They are peaceful and great community fish, and will not bother other tank species they are housed with.

They are quite hardy and immune to many diseases. This enables them to adapt to different water conditions.

They are omnivores and can be fed with a variety of live and frozen meaty foods, vegetables, flakes, and algae matters.

There has not been any report on their breeding pattern, but they are egg layers and are assumed to have similar breeding patterns with other Goby species.

With proper care and adequate tank condition, Firefish Goby can live up to 3 years whilst growing up to 3” (7.62cm).

Firefish Goby FAQs

How long does a Firefish Goby live?

With proper care and right tank conditions, Firefish Goby can live up to 3 years.

What is the maximum size of Firefish Goby?

Firefish Goby can grow up to 3” (7.62cm) long.

What are suitable tank mates for Firefish Goby?

Firefish Goby can be housed with similar sized and peaceful species such as small Goby, Clownfish and shrimp. They are also safe with corals and other invertebrates.

What is the best food for Firefish Goby?

Firefish Goby can be fed with a variety of meaty frozen and live food such as brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and high quality prepared food that is rich in vitamins.

They can be fed with vegetables such as blanched cucumber.

They will often feed on the algae and zooplankton matters that grow in the tank.

Their meal should be supplemented with the recommended flaked and pellets.