Saltwater aquarium fish

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Black-Ray Goby

The black-ray goby or Stonogobiops nematodes belongs to family Gobiidae. The black-ray is endemic to the western region of the Indo-pacific. It inhabits the sandy ocean floors and rocky outcroppings off the shores of the Philippines and Indonesia in depths ranging from 15 to 30 meters.

This species of goby has a slender, elongated, white body with black vertical markings. Its head is yellow and its fins are translucent. This is a smaller marine species. It only obtains a length of about two inches when fully grown.

The saltwater aquarium industry also markets this species under the following names; black-ray shrimp goby, black-ray prawn goby, and high-fin prawn goby. You will notice that each of these names contains a reference to a crustacean in them. This is because of their symbiotic relationship with Randall’s shrimp and pistol (candy-striped) shrimp. These shrimp will share a burrow with a goby couple to help protect each other. It is recommended to add two species rather than one to your reef tank.

A word of caution: Pistol shrimp do not share the benign nature of their roommates. Pistols will exhibit predatory behavior toward most other smaller species of shrimp.

These little guys are docile to the point of being timid. They are considered completely benign and pose absolutely no threat to your typical inhabitants of a marine reef aquarium. They are so shy that they will instinctively seek shelter when first introduced to their new environment. It may take them weeks to work up the nerve to leave their sanctuary and begin to explore their new surroundings. They display their aggression by opening their mouths really wide and yawning at their would-be assailant. If that doesn’t scare the bee-geebies out of their confronter they will turn tell and run. The only thing that initiates an aggressive streak in these little guys is attempting to keep to males together in a smaller aquarium. Black-rays make the perfect tank mates for more fragile species like seahorses and pipefish.

These gobies are bottom dwellers. They have the tendency to burrow into sandy substrate to hide when frightened. You will therefore want to use sand as your substrate. They should also be provided with other hiding places on the aquarium floor. Avoid overcrowding your reef tank with bottom dwellers. You don’t want them to have to compete for hiding places and food.

Black-ray gobies are primarily carnivorous fish. They can be fed vitamin enriched brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and frozen meat-based foods prepared for marine fish. They can also be fed small amounts of finely chopped up seafood from your grocer. They have been known to eat algae on occasion. This may be to satisfy a nutritional requirement not found in their primary diet.

Between their beautiful coloration, benign temperament and their symbiotic relationship with shrimp, these little reef fish are in high demand among saltwater aquarists. Mated pairs are a rare find.

Black-rays are monogamous by nature. It is best to keep a couple. A single goby will not feel at home in your aquarium.

Environmental Parameters

TemperaturepH LevelSpecific Gravity
72-78 °F8.1-8-41.020-1.025

This article was authored by S.J. Broy

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Document modified on Mon May 30 2:35:18 UTC 2011
Document created on Wed Jan 6 6:18:00 UTC 2010
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