Dwarf Indian Mudskipper (Periophthalmus novemradiatus)

dwarf Indian mudskipper

Last updated on July 4th, 2022 at 07:43 am

A dwarf Indian mudskipper (Periophthalmus novemradiatus) is a type of saltwater fish that can be found in the Indo-Pacific oceans, particularly in India and Sri Lanka. The species was first described by Reinhardt and Berger in 1859, and it grows to only about 4 inches long on average, making it one of the smallest marine fishes in the world.

The dwarf Indian mudskipper gets its name from the tiny pectoral fins on its head, which resemble the legs of a mudskipper more than the fins of most other fish species.

Indian mudskippers live in tidal pools and salt marshes along the coasts of India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. The most common species of Indian mudskipper is the dwarf Indian mudskipper, Periophthalmus novemradiatus, which can be found in brackish water (water with higher salinity than normal seawater) up to about one-third of a mile from the shoreline.

Origin and descriptions

dwarf Indian mudskipper

Originally native to India and Sri Lanka, the Dwarf Indian Mudskipper has become more widespread due to successful introductions around the world.

There are four species of mudskippers, which live in South and Southeast Asia. Periophthalmus novemradiatus is one of them. It is found on western India’s Malabar Coast and in Southern Thailand. This species has a very small range, so it is vulnerable to habitat destruction and human activity.

For example, it lives in mangroves and estuaries where there is a lot of human activity such as fishing. The Dwarf Indian Mudskipper can grow up to 4 inches long. They have large eyes that help them see underwater when they jump out of the water onto land.

They also have gills like fish but they can breathe air if needed, since their nostrils are above water level, when they stay out of water for long periods of time.

Species profile

The dwarf Indian mudskipper belongs to the family Oxudercidae, which is one of three families within Gobiiformes. This fish has a limited distribution, being found only in southern India. It can be found in brackish water and also in freshwater. Its habitat includes mangroves, tidal areas, and backwaters.

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They live on muddy bottoms where they feed on small invertebrates such as worms and crustaceans. Their breeding habits are not well known but it is believed that they lay eggs in nests built from sand or mud. The life span of these fish is thought to be about 3 years.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the dwarf Indian mudskipper is Periophthalmus novemradiatus


They are endemic to southern India, where they reside in ponds and rivers that have a high level of salinity or brackish water. This type of habitat makes them extremely susceptible to changes in their environment, including deforestation, pollution, over-extraction of groundwater resources, and dam construction.

Dwarf Indian Mudskipper size

dwarf Indian mudskipper

These species of fish can grow up to 4 inches (10 cm) in length.

Tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for dwarf Indian mudskipper is 20 gallons (76 liters).

Tank requirements

The Dwarf Indian mudskipper is an easy fish to keep in a tank, and they don’t grow over 4 inches, making them a good size for nano tanks. They also have a minimum tank size of 20 gallons with sand substrate and plenty of aquatic plants to live in peace.

The aquarium also needs some rocks or driftwood along with a heater as they come from tropical waters which can get cold. They are omnivores that eat meaty foods like brine shrimp, worms, and algae wafers. They will readily eat flake food but need more variety than that.

They are not aggressive towards other fish so you can put them in community tanks with smaller peaceful species such as tetras or rasboras. You should avoid keeping them with larger aggressive species like tiger barbs though because they could be picked on by these types of fish.

Tank mates

The dwarf Indian mudskipper can be housed with other fish that are peaceful and of similar size. However, a few extra precautions must be taken when housing them with other fish.

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They need an aquarium that is large enough to allow for territorial space, so long-finned fish will not work as tank mates. Also, any fishes kept in their tank should have similar water parameters; it’s best to avoid mixing different species together.

Some good tank mates are mollies, gobies, and some Micropoecilia sp.


dwarf Indian mudskipper

Periophthalmus novemradiatus, like many other mussel skippers, has never been bred in captivity, not even in public aquariums. It is thought that the males dig turreted tunnels in the mud, which are used to house their broods, for mating and brood care.

It is near impossible to replicate the natural environment of these fish, so captive reproduction will likely remain a long-term possibility.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

While mudskippers can be aggressive, they will only attack other animals in defense. If you leave your dwarf Indian mudskipper alone, it’s likely that it will do likewise for you. While hand-feeding is a popular way to interact with these fish, if your dwarf Indian mudskipper is in an aggressive mood when you approach its tank, don’t put your hand inside.

Dwarf Indian mudskipper care

dwarf Indian mudskipper

The care for a dwarf Indian mudskipper is easy. This fish is an active jumper so aquarium cover is a must. The water should be kept at approximately 74 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH between 6.2 and 7.4 and a dH range of 5-10 degrees.

They are best kept in groups of four or more, but it isn’t necessary to have them in large groups if they’re not as lively as they would be with more tank mates.

What they eat

Dwarf Indian mudskippers will accept most foods including flakes, pellets, freeze-dried foods, and live foods such as brine shrimp. A varied diet is important to keep these fish healthy.


Mudskippers can live for 5 years or more when taken care of properly.

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Parasites and diseases

The Dwarf Indian mudskipper is found in estuaries and associated mangroves along India’s coast. It is a host to different species of parasites, including nematodes, cestodes, monogeneans, and acanthocephalans. The monogenean Podocotyle sp. afflicts it occasionally but with little or no harmful effects while Eurycercosis pectoralis causes localized necrosis in its intestines.

In addition, one parasitic disease that affects it is Trypanosoma bengalensis, which has been recorded in some populations of these fish. This disease has caused population declines among them on some occasions. In addition to these diseases, they are also affected by bacterial infections like Aeromonas hydrophila.


The Dwarf Indian mudskipper is endangered in its native range of southern Asia. Its survival is threatened by habitat loss and pollution, as well as introduced species such as mosquitofish and snakeheads, which prey on mudskippers and their larvae.

Do they make good pets?

While many aquatic species make great pets, it’s worth noting that there are special considerations and regulations when keeping Dwarf Indian Mudskippers as pets. For example, they require a high-quality diet of live insects; if you aren’t willing to provide them with live food, then you may want to consider another pet instead.

Additionally, these fish need plenty of space in which to thrive—so if you live in an apartment or condo, you might want to reconsider purchasing one of these fish. They also tend to be sensitive creatures who can become easily stressed by poor water quality or changes in their environment.

This means you should take extra care when cleaning your tank, performing water changes, adding new fish, etc. It’s also important to remember that your pet is wild-caught; while some aquarists say they were able to successfully keep wild-caught dwarf mudskippers for years without any issues, others had terrible experiences.


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