Mandarin Goby Info and Care

Mandarin Goby Care and Info

As aquarium enthusiasts, it’s so much fun to bring new fish into our tanks. One fish that is a really popular go-to choice for many is the mandarin goby. With unique and unusual beauty, this small fish is a real looker.

The two most common kinds are the green and the spotted mandarin gobies. They are also classified as Dragonets.

Natural Habitat

In its natural habitat, the mandarin goby is frequently found in Malaysia, Australia, the Coral Triangle, the Phillippines, the Great Barrier Reef, Indonesia, and the Indo-Pacific Ocean area. They spend most of their time in inshore reefs, close to dead corals and rubble beds that offer privacy and protection.

They also live inside shallow lagoons.

To replicate their natural needs, standard reef aquarium water parameters will need to be met, which we will talk about in a moment. This does assume that you will make your own saltwater with a reputable salt mix brand and that you will purchase the right products to maintain your tank.

Mandarin Goby Physical Description

Mandarin Gobies are classified as dragonets which means that they often can be found partially buried in the seabed. It also means that the male is brightly colored. Mandarin gobies are small with broad and elongated heads. They have no scales. They usually reach roughly three inches (or eight cm) in length. The colors are brilliant, especially in males. They have striking patterns usually of orange and green.

Ideal Tank Setup

This part is especially important. If you are considering bringing the mandarin goby into your tank, you really need to be sure that you have the ideal tank for it.

These fish love space so you should use an appropriately sized reef tank. Ideally, your tank needs to be a minimum of 25 gallons.
They die when they get stressed.

Keep these fish happy by decorating the tank, especially with rocks.

Other things to have are live sand and a refugium.

The mandarin goby, while small, eats a lot. So maintain a consistent and high level of food for these fish.

Check the water filter, water temperature, and other equipment daily.

Check the water quality at least once a week.

At least once a month you should change out 10-25% of the total amount of water. Sometimes this is done every two to four weeks.
When introducing new fish, do this gradually for the best outcome for the mandarin goby. They cannot compete with larger fish for food.

They prefer a slow water flow.

Water Parameters

Mandarin Goby Photo

Maintaining the correct water parameters in your tank is required if you want your fish to live a long and healthy life in your aquarium’s habitat. The temperature of the water needs to be from 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. A pH level of 7.9 and 8.4 is required along with a salinity level between 1.023 to 1.025.


A well-balanced diet for the mandarin goby consists of small crustaceans which are also known as copepods. Mandarins can often be converted to frozen brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and eating pellets. So with that in mind, your tank must have live rocks so that it can feed on tiny life forms and copepods.

The mandarin goby, while small, eats a lot. So you should feed them two to three times daily, keep live rocks in the tank, and also you should thaw any frozen food before giving it to them. No more than the fish will eat in 1 to 2 minutes.

It’s best to keep them in a very mature reef tank since they spend so much time grazing live rock and eating natural fauna in your tank.

Mandarin Goby Behavior And Tank Mates

The mandarin goby is very shy and loves to make use of hiding places. Most of their time is spent grazing live rocks in search of food. Males will show brighter colors and have an elongated first dorsal spine. To deter predators, they will often produce noxious mucus.

Mandarin gobies are very territorial towards their own species, so you should only keep one fish or one male and female pair per tank. Multiple males in one tank will fight each other.

Not every fish is compatible with the mandarin goby. Some will eat all the food or, because of their size, scare the mandarin goby away from eating anything. Here is a small list of the best tankmates for this small fish due to their size and similar eating habits.

  • Green Chromis
  • Royal Grammas
  • Firefish
  • Watchman Goby
  • Clownfish
  • Yellow Tang
  • Coral Beauty
  • Cleaner Shrimp
  • Butterflyfish
  • Pygmy Angelfish


Mandarin Goby Hiding

The mandarin goby is a surprisingly healthy fish, so there isn’t actually a specific known disease that will attack it. However, there are still two issues to look out for when keeping Mandarin Gobies. These are ammonia poisoning and oxygen starvation.

Ammonia poisoning happens inside of a tank when it is rarely cleaned. So if you are on top of tank maintenance, you won’t need to worry about this. Oxygen starvation is due to a temperature increase in the tank. You can tell that this is happening because the fish will be going to the surface of the water and gasping for air.

Other health issues are fin rot or marine ich. Fin rot is characterized as fins frayed or disintegrating. This can be treated by improving water quality.

Marine ich comes with cysts on fins, skin, and gills, labored breathing, pale skin, and excessive skin mucus. The way to prevent and fix this is to treat your entire tank with a safe parasite remedy and improve water quality.

Also, another solution is to give your fish small dips in freshwater to dislodge the parasites.

To Sum It Up

The mandarin goby is an ideal fish for your tank. It’s relatively low maintenance and easygoing. The best part about this fish is its stunning beauty, which is also why it’s so popular. Draw in the eyes of your friends and family by adding the mandarin goby into your tank.

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