Bicolor Goatfish (Parupeneus Barberinoides)

bicolor goatfish

Last updated on June 26th, 2022 at 12:42 am

Parupeneus barberinoides, also known as the bicolor goatfish, is a member of the family Mullidae and subfamily Mullinae native to the western Pacific Ocean and surrounding waters. This species can reach 12 in (34 cm) in length, though most are not over 30 cm. It occasionally makes its way into the aquarium trade and is considered an excellent choice for this purpose due to its size and adaptability to captivity.

If you’re looking to add a beautiful fish to your marine aquarium, look no further than the bicolor goatfish (Parupeneus barberinoides). This fish is as colorful as it is hardy, and it can thrive in even the most basic home aquariums with little difficulty. This article will tell you everything you need to know about caring for this fascinating species and how to keep your own thriving bicolor goatfish population at home!

What is a bicolor goatfish?

The Bicolor goatfish, Parupeneus barberinoides, is a fish found in marine and brackish waters. In older texts, it may be referred to as Haplochromis vittatus and Psammogobius melanostigma. It is occasionally kept in reef aquaria but can be aggressive toward other fishes and invertebrates when small, so requires careful maintenance if kept successfully.

Origin and description

bicolor goatfish

The bicolor goatfish is commonly found along rocky shorelines and coral reefs in tropical regions of Southeast Asia, Australia, and Oceania. They are easily recognized by their distinctive coloration: yellow body with a broad black band on each side that terminates at an angular black blotch below.

Like other members of Parupeneus, they have two spines above each eye and large canine teeth. Bicolor goatfishes reach up to 50 cm in length, but average 20 – 30 cm; females are larger than males. They feed mainly on invertebrates, algae, seagrass leaves, and macroalgae; juveniles also consume a small amount of plant materials, they eat copepods for several months before beginning to specialize into predators or herbivores as adults.

Coral Catfish - The Full Overview And 3 Ways To Care For Them

Species profile

bicolor goatfish

The Bicolor goatfish, Parupeneus barberinoides, also known as Barberini’s goatfish, is a large species of goatfish found in tropical waters. It is characterized by an oblong snout, a relatively high number of spines along its dorsal and anal fins, and vivid yellow-and-black coloration. Adult Parupeneus barberinoides typically reach lengths of 30 – 45 cm (12 – 18 in), though they can grow up to 53 cm (21 in).


The bicolor goatfish can be found in shallow waters of coral and rocky reefs, as well as among vegetation or in seagrass beds. Juveniles are often found near mangroves. Within their range, they are also known to inhabit tide pools and estuaries. Their small size, mouth placement, and short lips make them an efficient scraper feeder.

Bicolor goatfish favor certain sea urchins such as Diadema antillarum, probably for easy access to their spines which are a good source of nutrition.

They will also only eat fish smaller than themselves, though it has been observed eating algae, mollusks, and other invertebrates on occasion.

Bicolor goatfish size and weight

These fish reach a maximum size of 12 inches (30 cm) in length and weigh around 17.5 oz (500 g).

Bicolor goatfish tank size

The ideal tank size is 50 – 60 gallons per fish. A minimum tank size of 100 gallons is required to house a pair of bicolor goatfish. Tank volume is not critical, if ample surface area, swimming room, and open space are provided.

Tank set up

The tank should be well lit, with a sandy substrate and plenty of hiding places. The water should be well oxygenated and a pH between 7.0 – 8.0 is recommended for marine fish such as goatfish, although it can handle higher pH levels as well. Unlike other marine fish, goatfish will occasionally venture into brackish water conditions if salinity rises above 10 ppt, so keep that in mind when stocking your aquarium.

If you want to create an accurate representation of their natural habitat using live plants and rocks is essential as they are used to these habitats in nature. While many species do occur in reefs or lagoons, some species are found near rocky drop-offs which should be replicated in aquaria. Try not to mix various species together as they may become aggressive towards each other and crossbreed causing hybrids.

What Is A Goatfish? - 5 Amazing Facts You Should Know

Typical reef compatible invertebrates should also be avoided, including smaller shrimp like Lysmata amboinensis which may be eaten by larger specimens like Parupeneus spp., Sepia pharaonis, and various crabs including Haematopus moquini, Percnon gibbesi, and Stenhelia maculata amongst others.

Bicolor goatfish tank mates

These goatfish prefer to be housed with less aggressive fish of any type. As long as the fish is non-aggressive type, bicolor goatfish will be fine.


The Bicolor goatfish is a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning it can change sexes from female to male. However, before becoming a male, it must first be bred as a female.

Females are easy to identify since they remain silver until after breeding; there should always be more females than males so that food doesn’t become an issue during the breeding season.

Bicolor goatfish are egg layers that deposit their eggs in a sheltered area such as on a coral head. For two to three weeks after fertilization, they will take care of their eggs. They brood them by gently fanning their eggs with their pelvic fins and keeping them free from debris.

Breeding occurs from spring through fall, but it will happen throughout the year if water temperatures are warm enough. Spawning takes place in warm offshore waters with coral or rock structure that has patches of sand or gravel on which eggs can be laid.

When ready to hatch, baby goatfishes break out of their egg capsule and are on their own.

Are Bicolor goatfish aggressive or peaceful?

They are very peaceful, not aggressive to other fish but might go after your corals or invertebrates if you put them in with them. They get along well with most fish that are of similar size and should do fine in a community tank as long as they have places to hide from more aggressive fish like lionfish and puffers. In tanks larger than 60 gallons, they will be too big for most invertebrates.

Lawnmower Blenny Fish (Salarias fasciatus)

Bicolor goatfish care

bicolor goatfish

Bicolor goatfish are reef safe and should be housed in a tank of at least 50 gallons. They should have plenty of rocks, and coral for them to feed on. Bicolors prefer live foods such as shrimp, krill, squid, or brine shrimp. These fish can be somewhat aggressive towards other fish in their tank, so a small number of hiding places such as caves should be provided for timid fish.

What do bicolor goatfish eat?

In their natural habitat, bicolor goatfish feed on algae and plankton. In captivity, they should be fed high-quality marine flake food or spirulina flakes, along with frozen Mysis shrimp or squid. They also eat some green veggies such as spinach, kombu, and fresh cucumber slices.

Bicolor goatfish are open water swimmers that move from one hiding spot to another in search of food. Since their digestive systems aren’t completely developed when they’re young, it is important to supply them with copious amounts of food until they reach maturity at 6 to 8 months old.

Water parameters

bicolor goatfish

The bicolor goatfish originates from brackish water estuaries, rivers, and mangrove swamps where salinity is between 1.005 – 1.010sg. The optimum temperature for keeping these fish is 25 – 27 degrees C (77 – 81 degrees F). They are highly adaptable to different water types but prefer slightly alkaline conditions with a pH range of 8.0 to 8.5gH at 18 – 20 dkh (11 dkh) being optimal.

Bicolor goatfish lifespan

The bicolor goatfish can live for more than 10 years with good care. As with most fish, their lifespan is affected by water quality.

Parasites and diseases

The bicolor goatfish may become host to a variety of parasites. These include: Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, Ichthyobodo necator, and Epistylis sp. To treat fish infected with Ich or other diseases, use copper-based medications such as copper sulfate. It is important to perform a 25% water change every two weeks while using copper medications.

Three-band Clownfish Care And Tips "Amphiprion Tricinctus"

Additionally, be sure to treat all of your aquarium’s inhabitants for parasite infections. If you have other fishes sharing an aquarium with your goatfish, be sure that they are treated as well. Even if your bicolor goatfish appear healthy upon treatment, it is still important to monitor them closely for several days in case any additional symptoms develop later on.


The natural predators of bicolor goatfish include larger fish, turtles, and larger sharks. Their coloration makes them particularly easy to see in their native habitat, making it easier for predators to locate them. Additionally, since they stay near soft corals, they can be easily harmed by accident by an unknowing diver. They are very intelligent and will remain still if they feel threatened by a predator or diver so as not to draw attention.

Do Bicolor goatfish make good pets?

Yes. They do make good pets, but only as long as you are willing to spend a lot of time with them. They can be skittish and don’t like to be bothered too much. But, they’re fun fish and they’re pretty easy to take care of, so if you have some time to spare on a regular basis, then go for it!