Arizona Fishkeeping For Freshwater & Marine Aquarists

Yellow clown goby care

Introduction to the yellow clown goby

Yellow clown goby

The yellow clown goby (Gobiodon okinawae) is a species native to the Pacific and found from Japan down to Australia. They are commonly found among the acropora corals where several live in a group.

A note on other "clown goby" species

There are several other fish that are commonly called "clown goby", such as the black, green and citron clown goby.  However, these other fish are not simply color morphs, but unique species with similar, but different behavior and needs to the yellow clown goby.

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Yellow clown goby in reef tank

This pleasant little fish makes a great addition to a reef aquarium, is affordable, and attractive.  On top of that, it's just really fun to watch.

Clown goby behavior

Each will defend its own little territory from other clown goby, but in general are not aggressive to each other or to other fish. If there are no acropora in the aquarium they will readily find somewhere else to hang out. They are especially active at feeding time, sitting on their perches until food drifts by then darting out at lightning speed to grab what they can then dart back to their perch. They will get to know you, and to know feeding time, often coming over to the glass to take a look at you.  They are about as close to pets, as aquarium fish get.

Clown goby diet

Clown goby eat the polyps from small polyp stony (SPS) corals. I have found that the yellow clown goby tends to dine on prepared foods in our tanks better than others. The other species of clown goby mentioned above are not so easy to convert.

Due to their small size they often dine on plankton but are considered opportunistic feeders.  This trait makes them ideally suited for the aquarium as they will take most foods. Again, this is not true of all clown goby species.

It is common for these fish to arrive at the local fish store in already starving condition. Be very careful in picking. It's a very good idea to ask the local fish store to feed it so you can actually watch it eat prepared foods. If it won't eat in the store, or if they won't show you, I recommend not buying it.

Clown goby hardiness

They should not be placed with aggressive fish but will hold their own with many larger species such as clown fish. When they first arrive in your local pet shop they may not be in the best of condition, sometimes nearly starved.  Make sure they've been properly taken care of by the shop keeper, and take care to introduce them to your tank at lights out.

Once acclimated and established they are hardy little fish that should do well in your aquarium. They have a life span of between 4-6 years but have been known to live a little longer. While this is short when compared to some marine fish it will be several satisfying years to the aquarist lucky enough to have a few of these little guys.

Clown goby stocking guide

You will often hear about "fish inches per gallon" as a guide to stocking aquarium fish, but this isn't a good method, but rather only a rough starting point.  Fish should be stoked not only on size, but on behavior. In the case of the yellow clown goby they are territorial; while small, they need room to establish their own little domain. While by size you could keep a dozen of them in a 5.5 gallon tank, this wouldn't be the right environment for them.

Stock so they have 6 -8 inches between them. In a 48" long tank you could put 4 - 5.  If you have a tank with large pieces of acropora you could put double that number.


This is a great little fish that many beginners can keep in a small marine tank.  They are colorful, fun to watch, and active feeders.  As long as you have enough rock work and coral for them to hang out on, and as long as you don't have other fish that are too aggressive, these fish are likely to be a good addition to your reef tank.

Information contributed by: Chad

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