Fire goby or Nemateleotris magnifica belong to the family Gobiidae. There are more than 800 cataloged species of gobies. The fire gobies habitat encompasses the Indian Ocean and vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean. Populations in the Pacific Ocean extend from South African to New Caledonia and northward to the Hawaiian Islands. These shallow to mid-water dwellers can be found in depths ranging from 20-200 feet.
Fire gobies have a thin profile as opposed to the rounder bodies typical of most other gobies. This species has a white anterior with yellow and or purple markings on its head. Posterior coloration varies from yellow, orange, red or pink to a deep violet. Their most prominent features are their thin, elongated anal and secondary dorsal fins. When extended these fins have the characteristics of a feather or the tail end of a dart. This resemblance earned them the nickname, “dartfish.”
The fire goby is marketed by the aquarium trade under various names including firefish, firefish goby, fire dartfish and the magnificent dartfish a derivative of its scientific classification.
This is one of the more timid species among marine life. They are known for their use of bolt-holes. A bolt-hole is exactly what it sounds like. This is a hiding place that a fish most generally remains within close proximity to. When they feel frightened or threatened they bolt into theses holes for sanctuary. Fire gobies are burrowing fish. They will be more inclined to create rather than adopt a bolt-hole. But they should still be provided them with plenty of hiding places they can use when they venture outside of their burrows.
This species is considered reef-safe and will make a wonderful addition to your marine reef aquarium. This is a smaller species. It only reaches a total adult length of around 3.5 inches. You will want their tank-mates to be of similar size and temperament. This species is so timid it will regularly starve itself to death rather than brave the elements of a hostile environment. They will, however, exhibit territorial behavior toward members of their own species. Unless you have a large aquarium you will only want to add a single goby or a couple to your tank to prevent territorial disputes.
A word of caution when it comes to keeping fire gobies; these fish are incredible jumpers. They will often jump out of the water when they are excited or to avoid being eaten. You will want to house them in a lidded aquarium. If you succeed in keeping them in their aquarium you can expect them to live in excess of ten years.
One of the characteristics common to many gobies is the perception of hovering. In nature, this species will often feed by remaining stationary in a water column rather that swimming through it while ingesting zooplankton.
This is a carnivorous species. Getting fire gobies to feed when they are first introduced to an aquarium can be problematic. They are accustomed to eating live food. If you are attempting to feed them dead food turn your water filter capacity up to the point where the food appears to be moving rather than stationary. Offering them live brine shrimp will most likely induce them to start feeding. Once they acclimate to aquarium life fire gobies will often eat meat-based marine flake food. Their diet should be supplemented with live food or chopped fresh sea food to help keep them healthy and to maintain their coloring. Prepared zooplankton is commercially available and should also be a part of their diet. Providing them with plenty of living rock to graze on is highly recommended.
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