Write up Wednesday: Catalina Goby

Write up Wednesday: Catalina Goby (Lythrypnus dalli)

The Catalina goby is the most striking goby for saltwater tanks. With it’s bright red body and glowing blue vertical bars, you simply cannot miss a Catalina Goby in a properly sized tank. By properly sized tank, I mean nano or even better – pico tank. Catalina Gobies grow no bigger than 2” and will easily get lost in a large tank.

Another reason Catalina Gobies are best in a nano or pico is due to their preference of cooler temperatures. These fish are indigenous to the Pacific Coast of the United States which means they are used to temperate waters of temperatures of 60-70F (15.5 – 21C). While they can survive in warmer waters, their life span is often reduced in temperatures of normal reef tanks – 75F+ (24C). Therefore, a separate nano or pico tank that is made into a temperate tank is best for the Catalina Goby.

Unlike other small gobies, the Catalina Goby is not shy and will spend time in plain sight. I’ve personally kept one of these fish and they are quite personable and voracious eaters. Just make sure you feed them a very small food like cyclopeeze or rotifers. Mysis shrimp are often too large for this fish’s mouth.

Here’s a fun fact about Catalina Gobies that you can throw out at parties to impress people: the Catalina Gobies has both male and female reproductive tissues. However, they can only be a male or female at one time.

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Comments for this article (7)

  • Micheal says:

    Hi Mark, although I could google it, it would be great to have a picture in your new Write Up Wednesday columns. I enjoy reading about fish I hadn’t heard of!

  • Alex says:

    This is awesome, Mark. Thank you.
    Although pictures would be nice, beggars can’t be choosers, and Google images is a few clicks away!

  • Melody Miller says:

    Thanks! Always fun to learn about fish! And I love Gobies!!

  • Dave watson says:

    Fantastic Mark! Love reading about unusual fish. Unfortunately being from Scotland makes finding unusual species of fish very difficult at my lfs.

  • John Rodgers says:

    Catalina Gobies, very pretty fish, but It could be difficult to maintain for their requirements for temperate conditions and nano size.
    The smaller nano aquaria to display the fish at its best would be more prone to temperature swings, especially during summer months and would certainly require a chiller. This is probably why most pet shops won’t carry them.

  • Steve Dodd says:

    Mark , as this fish takes cooler temperatures, I have thought for a while that it would be nice to set up a tank that dint need the water temp so high.
    Different fish and cheaper to run also

  • John…there are nano-type chillers that run of a computer cooling fan and a heat exchanger piece of metal. I don’t remember the name and they are much cheaper and more energy efficient than a chiller. They won’t work on a big tank, but will on a nano/pico. Add one of these to a small tank and you should be able to keep the temps in the range where the Catalina thrives.

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