The Violet Goby (Gobioides broussonnetii) is also known as the Prehistoric Dragon Goby, dragon fish goby, goby dragon fish, dragonfish, or the Floating Dragon Goby, due to its shape and blue coloration reminiscent of an Asian dragon. Unlike other fish that are named after their shape, the Violet Goby is aptly named; as it doesn’t swim about very much. It spends most of its time clinging to cave rock and other underwater surfaces in caves and stream pools of southeast Asia, particularly Borneo and Sumatra.
To most hobbyists, the term dragon goby conjures up images of large, predatory fish with an appetite to match. The dragon goby pictured above, though, looks more like a tiny violet flower than it does an ocean predator!
In reality, this fish is one of the small species of goby available in the aquarium trade, reaching only about 5 inches (13 cm) in length in adulthood.
They are one of the most unique marine fish in the hobby. They are especially well-known for their size and their personality but they also have some unique care requirements that must be taken into consideration before you decide to add one to your tank.
Origin and descriptions
The Violet Goby is also called Prehistoric Dragon Goby, or just Dragonfish. They are native to South Africa, but there are a few which have been found in other parts of Asia and Australia. These fish are usually kept by advanced aquarists.
In fact, many people say that these fish do best in groups of ten or more because they can be very territorial when they’re small.
However, if you are able to get your hands on some, here is what you need to know about them:
The Violet Goby has a lifespan of around six years. They grow up to 5 inches long and their bodies are covered with scales that make them look like they’re wearing armor. However, it isn’t really armor at all; it’s actually tiny spines that help protect them from predators.
This species of fish is found in both freshwater and marine environments, although it prefers living in shallow waters that are rich in nutrients. It can be found at depths ranging from 0-2 meters underwater, but it usually stays within a range of 10-30 centimeters below sea level.
The scientific name of the Violet Goby is Gobioides broussonnetii
They are sometimes referred to as the dragon fish goby, Prehistoric Dragon Goby, Floating Dragon Goby, dragonfish, or the goby dragon fish.
Violet gobies (Gobioides broussonnetii) inhabit marine and freshwater habitats around the Atlantic coasts of North and South America, as well as in northern Brazil, from South Carolina to northern Scotland. Typically, it prefers estuaries, bays, and river mouths with muddy substrates.
In their natural habitat, they dwell among deep sand areas of mangrove swamps and coral reefs located in Taiwan, China, and Japan. They prefer deep saltwater but do well at lower salinity levels, or brackish water, as well. Due to their rarity, they’re considered an endangered species. It’s thought that a low birth rate is contributing to their slow rise in population.
Violet Goby size
Violet goby ranges in size, in pet stores, common sizes are between 3 and 5 inches (8-13 cm) and it will not grow past 15 inches (38 cm) in captivity, while in their natural habitat, they may grow up to 24 inches (61 cm) in length.
Because they can grow very large in captivity, up to 15 inches, the minimum recommended tank size is 50 gallons (189 liters) or larger tanks.
The violet goby requires an aquarium with rock caves and plenty of live rock. They can be kept in a tank as small as 50 gallons, but tanks larger than 200 gallons are ideal for greater numbers of fish. Properly acclimated gobies can do well in a freshwater aquarium, but they prefer more brackish conditions.
The best way to set up your tank is to simulate natural conditions; hard water and higher temperatures make sense for a species that inhabits tropical reefs. You should also provide lots of places for them to hide since they’re nocturnal.
Violet gobies will accept most types of food offered by aquarists, including flake foods and frozen mysis shrimp. You should feed them twice daily to keep their energy levels high enough during night-time hunting expeditions.
Violet goby fish do well in schools of at least five fish, especially if they’re all about the same size. Larger individuals can be a threat to smaller ones, so keep that in mind when housing multiple violet gobies together. They will coexist well with other livebearers and peaceful tank mates such as pygmy cories and nerite snails.
Other good tank mates are Glassfish, Guppies, Ghost Shrimp, Archers, Bumblebee Goby, Swordtail Fish, Monos, Bichir (only if you have a very large tank).
Be sure to avoid aggressive species like damselfish, angelfish, and clownfish.
Put only one male in a group of 2-3 females. In ideal breeding conditions, the male will most likely breed with all of the females in the tank on the same day.
You should reduce the amount of food you give them for a few days in order to create the best breeding conditions. Start adding more live food to their diet so that they are getting more protein.
Once the animals have eaten the high protein food, reduce the saline content to 1.004, and then increase it to 1.023 a day later. These drastic changes will trigger a breeding process.
Transfer the female dragon gobies to another aquarium once they have laid their eggs. Eggs are guarded by the male until they hatch, which takes a few days.
You can remove the male after the eggs hatch, and the baby Dragon Gobies will slowly start developing into healthy adults.
Are they aggressive or peaceful?
These fish are very peaceful and will do best in groups of at least four or five. They will live happily with other peaceful community fish. Due to their small size, they aren’t an ideal choice for a tank shared with larger species such as Cichlids or large Tetras. They can be housed in smaller quarters than other goby species, such as Red Hinds and Siamese Fighting Fish, so make good choices for nano tanks.
Violet Goby care
In aquaria, violet goby fish are very active, spending a lot of time in front of their caves foraging for food. When not foraging, they remain inside their cave with only their eyes poking out; if startled by movement or light, they will quickly retreat into their cave.
Outside of aquaria, these fish spend most of their time under rocks and in crevices during the day and emerge at night to hunt. They can be kept with other non-aggressive species but should be kept one per tank due to their territorial nature.
They have been known to coexist peacefully with smaller fish such as neon tetras and dwarf cichlids but may pick on slow-moving catfish such as plecostomus. They also prefer tanks without strong currents.
What they eat
Violet goby fish feed mainly on small invertebrates, crustaceans, and fish in their natural habitat. In captivity, these fish should be fed a high-quality diet of meaty foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and a variety of small frozen foods.
In large tanks that have bottom-feeding fish like plecostomus catfish or larger loaches such as clown loaches or red tail sharks, captive violet gobies can also benefit from regular feedings of flakes and pellets.
The dragon fish goby lives for around 10 years with good care and normal water parameters.
Parasites and diseases
Violet goby fish are born with a parasitic flatworm, Pseudocotyle purvisi, in their gut. They also often have flukes and/or monogeneans attached to their gills. These need to be removed before you can keep them. More recent imports from Japan will likely come free of these parasites.
Do not attempt to treat your fish yourself; it is illegal for aquarists to possess some of these medicines without a special permit. Seek treatment by an experienced fishkeeper or veterinarian. If left untreated, the death of your fish is certain.
Violet goby fish are also susceptible to predation from other fish and marine animals, including octopuses, starfish, and large wrasses. To protect themselves from predators and larger creatures that might feed on them, they will hide in rock crevices or corals. When threatened by predators like moray eels, they’ll often flail about quickly to escape instead of swimming away normally; doing so is a common defense mechanism for most goby species.
Do Violet goby make good pets?
If you’re in need of a pet fish, consider going after a violet goby. This prehistoric-looking creature will add more personality to your aquarium than any other single fish species. The dragon goby is perhaps better suited as a community fish because it can be aggressive towards other members of its own species. Having said that, if you have a large enough tank, some people have had success keeping two or three gobies together.