Diamond Gobies (Sandsifter Goby) Care

Diamond gobies, also known as the sandsifter goby, diamond watchman goby, or valenciennea puellaris, are small fish native to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. These attractive fish are great additions to reef tanks, though they need some care to thrive in captivity.

First described in 1878, the diamond goby (Valenciennea puellaris) was given its name due to its diamond-shaped markings on its side. This species of fish occurs throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans and is common in marine aquaria, but you may not know how to take care of a diamond watchman goby if you’ve never had one before.

If you’re thinking about adding this species of fish to your tank, here’s everything you need to know on how to properly care for them and what kind of conditions they prefer.

Origin and descriptions

Sandsifter fish is native to South Africa up through southern Asia and into Australia. Diamond watchman gobies are sometimes referred to as sandsifter goby or valenciennea puellaris. They are easily recognizable by their bright yellow coloring marks, which often extend over much of their body, including their fins and tail.

There is also usually some black coloration dots on some of the fish. These bright colors make these tiny fish difficult for predators to spot, even when they aren’t burrowed into gravel.  If you want to keep your diamond watchman goby healthy, it’s important that you provide an environment that mimics their natural habitat.

Sand sifting gobies should be kept in tanks with plenty of live rock and live sand in order to replicate their natural reef environment. The tank should be equipped with plenty of hiding places so that your fish can feel safe while it isn’t swimming around looking for food.

Species profile

diamond gobies - sandsifter goby

The diamond gobies belong to the family Gobiidae. There are about 500 species in total, with about 90 found in freshwater. They are native to Asia and Africa, and some species have been introduced into North America. A number of species have become invasive.

Diamond watchman goby (Valenciennea puellaris) is one such species that has become an invasive pest in Australia and New Zealand. It was first spotted in New Zealand waters in 1987 and has since spread throughout coastal areas from Auckland down to Wellington.

Diamond gobies are small fish, growing up to 15 cm long. They are often mistaken for juvenile common blennies or juvenile sand perch because they share similar coloration. However, diamond gobies can be distinguished by the distinct blotches on their body.

They feed on zooplankton and benthic invertebrates living on soft sediments at depths between 10-20 m.

Scientific name

The scientific name of diamond gobies is valenciennea puellaris

Habitat

The diamond watchman goby is most commonly found in brackish waters. The water should be well-oxygenated and maintained at temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your diamond watchman goby in a tank with other peaceful species that won’t compete for food or space. Some suitable tankmates include clownfish, blennies, cardinalfish, and damselfish.

Diamond goby size

When fully grown, diamond gobies can grow to full size of 6 inches (15 cm) in length.

Tank size

Due to their size, the minimum recommended tank size is 30 gallons (114 liters), however, bigger tanks, like 55 gallons (208 liters), are needed for a full-grown fish.

Tank requirements

Diamond gobies are found in shallow waters, most commonly in tide pools. They live in tropical and sub-tropical regions and will thrive when kept at an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The tank must also be covered so that it maintains higher levels of oxygen than normal, making it necessary for aquarists to have powerheads and air pumps for circulation.

They require saltwater tanks with a pH level between 8.1 and 8.4 but do not need specific salinity levels because they are used to living in varying salinity environments.  It is important to note that diamond gobies should not be housed with larger and more aggressive fish because they will eat them.

Diamond gobies can grow up to 6 inches long and should only be housed in aquariums of 30 gallons or larger unless they are being bred or raised by a professional breeder.

Tank mates

The diamond goby can be housed with small, non-aggressive fish that occupy different areas of your tank. The best tank mates for gobies are other small fish; in fact, there’s little evidence that gobies prey on fish smaller than themselves. However, it’s not uncommon for gobies to pick at fish scales and fins if they live together, so it’s important to research each potential roommate before you add them.

Some good tank mates are damselfish, cleaner wrasse, dwarf angelfish, blennies, cardinalfish, clownfish, shrimps, filefish, pink fairy wrasse, Foxface rabbitfish.

Breeding

diamond gobies - sandsifter goby

Native to East Africa, diamond gobies are small nocturnal fish that require particular care when breeding. The correct water conditions can often determine if your tank will be home to happy and healthy baby fish. Males and females should be placed in separate tanks, where they’ll live until they are ready for breeding.

If you’re trying to breed your goby, it is best for you to keep them in pairs so that they may reproduce successfully.

In order to do so, you will need to make sure that their tank has plenty of hiding places (such as rocks or roots) where they can lay their eggs. When breeding your sandsifter goby, try to mimic its natural habitat by adding plenty of plants such as Java moss or Java ferns—these plants are easy for them to hide behind while still getting adequate light.

Once you notice that females have grown plumper, it’s time for them to be introduced into your male’s tank—where he will immediately begin courting her.

In captivity, these fish breed readily with proper environmental conditions. In their natural habitat, they breed during the rainy season. During the breeding period, males chase females around their territory, which consists of several caves and crevices.

The female deposits eggs on a vertical surface at the entrance of the cave and is fertilized by the male. Diamond gobies are egg-scatterers, so to make things easier, you can use a breeder box to protect eggs from predators while they develop.  After hatching, fries are moved to another aquarium or nursery container where they grow up and learn how to swim properly.

Fry become free-swimming after 7 days but usually stay close to each other. After another week they start feeding themselves but do not leave the shelter of protection provided by plants.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Diamond gobies are peaceful fish and they are reef safe. They should never be housed with aggressive or territorial fish, as they will most likely become casualties of these battles. A slow-moving bottom-dweller like a diamond goby is best paired with long-finned or dwarf shrimp, small snails, and live rock that has plenty of crevices for hiding.

Diamond gobies care

diamond gobies - sandsifter goby

If you’re looking for an eye-catching fish but don’t have experience in fishkeeping, it can be tricky knowing what your aquarium will need. The diamond goby is one of these aquarium fish that you may want to watch out for. It needs good care to thrive and live a long life!

Sandsifter gobies are fairly easy fish to take care of.  Their only real requirement is that they be provided with an aquarium with plenty of live rock for them to graze on, as well as caves and crevices in which they can hide.

They do best in tanks that have strong water flow and plenty of hiding places, so choose your tank accordingly. They should also be kept in tanks that have plenty of live rock for them to graze on, as well as caves and crevices in which they can hide.

The water needs to be kept clean and well-filtered at all times, as sandsifter gobies have sensitive respiratory systems and can easily get sick from exposure to poor conditions.

Diamond goby food

The diamond gobies are primarily carnivorous and should be fed a variety of foods, such as flake food, brine shrimp, freeze-dried tubifex worms, freshwater crustaceans, and frozen.

Fresh fish can also make up part of their diet, but it shouldn’t be given more than once or twice per week due to its rich protein content.

Lifespan

diamond gobies - sandsifter goby

Diamond gobies can live for 5-8 years in captivity with good care and proper water parameters.

Parasites and diseases

The diamond gobies are species that tends to be targeted by several types of parasites. In particular, fish lice and flukes are sometimes found on these invertebrates. Parasites often do not affect their host fish severely, but they can cause discomfort or stress and can even negatively impact reproductive capacity in some situations.

If you have noticed one or more parasites on your fish, it is important to treat them promptly before they spread or worsen. Treatments for parasites vary depending on which parasite you are dealing with; if you notice any signs of disease, contact an expert for advice.

Predators

Anytime you add fish to your aquarium, it’s important to give some thought to predators. It doesn’t have to be a big or scary predator—many tiny scavengers can take down one or two small fish.

Although diamond gobies are typically not aggressive fish, they will defend themselves when threatened. This is usually reserved for predators such as blue crabs and red-tailed sharks, but watch out! They may bite you.

Do they make good pets?

If you have plenty of hiding spots in your aquarium and don’t mind paying regular maintenance visits (at least once a week), then diamond gobies make good pets. They like burrowing into rockwork or sandy substrate, and will rarely come out during daytime – though they can be quite active at night when you are not around.

Do not get them if you want an active fish that is visible all day long. Get one if you want an unusual small fish for your community tank.