Sand Sifting Gobies in Your Aquarium

Yellowheaded Sleeper Goby & Sixspot Sleeper Goby
Darryl Craig

Sand Sifting Gobies plow through the tank substrate, sifting/straining algae, detritus and uneaten food from the sand. This not only removes unwanted nitrate producing substances, it also stirs and aerates the substrate (very important for deep sand beds), releasing toxic gases. This type of fish needs a fairly small grain sand so they can sift it through their gills without damaging the membranes in their gills. When setting up your aquarium it is important to plan ahead when choosing the right substrate. Fine-grained medium (0.5-1.7 mm grain size or sugar-sized sand) is best for sand sifting fish such as Gobies.

  • 01 of 09

    Diamond Watchman Goby (Valencienna puellaris)

    The Diamond Watchman Goby (Valenciennea puellaris) (also commonly referred to as the Pretty Prawn, Maiden, Orange Spotted Diamond, Orange-dashed, or Orangespotted Sleeper Goby) digs shallow burrows in the substrate for refuge, which keeps the substrate well oxygenated. Although a goby that is rarely aggressive towards other fishes, it may fight with other same and similar species gobies. This Goby is best kept singly or in mated pairs.

    The Diamond Watchman Goby (Valencienna puellaris)is very persistent in digging its burrows in just the wrong places and may cause decorations, live rock formations and corals to topple.

  • 02 of 09

    Engineer Goby (Pholidichthys leucotaenia)

    The Engineer Goby (Pholidichthys leucotaenia) (also commonly referred to as the Convict Goby) requires a sand substrate where it can make burrows. It needs a peaceful tank and lots of hiding places. Small groups or pairs tend to do better but may need to be introduced to the tank together.

  • 03 of 09

    Orangemarked Goby (Amblygobius decussatus)

    The Orangemarked Goby (Amblygobius ​decussatus) (also known as the Orange-Lined Goby) sifts sand as it plows its way through the substrate, keeping the substrate oxygenated. It is rarely aggressive towards other fish, however, it is territorial, and will fight with others of the same species unless they are a mated pair.

  • 04 of 09

    Sleeper Banded Goby (Amblygobius phalaena)

    The Sleeper Banded Goby (Amblygobius phalaena) (also known as the Brownbarred Goby and Bullet Goby) uses shallow burrows in the substrate as a refuge, keeping the substrate well oxygenated. It is rarely aggressive towards other fish, however, it is territorial, and will fight with others of the same species unless they are a mated pair. Like most all Gobies, it should be fed live and frozen fares, such as vitamin enriched brine and mysis shrimp, other prepared foods for carnivores, as well as live black worms.

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  • 05 of 09

    Sleeper Blue Dot Goby (Valenciennea sexguttata)

    The Sleeper Blue Dot Goby (Valenciennea sexguttata) (also known as the Ladder Glider, Ladder Goby, or Sixspot Sleeper Goby) should be fed live and frozen fares, such as vitamin enriched brine and mysis shrimp, other prepared foods for carnivores, as well as live black worms.

  • 06 of 09

    Sleeper Railway Glider Goby (Valenciennea helsdingeni)

    Also known as the Twostripe Goby, the Sleeper Railway Glider Goby (Valenciennea helsdingeni) digs shallow tunnels in the substrate as a refuge, keeping the substrate well oxygenated. It is rarely aggressive towards other fish, however, it is territorial, and will fight with others of the same species unless they are a mated pair.

  • 07 of 09

    Sleeper Striped Goby (Valenciennea longipinnis)

    The Sleeper Striped Goby (Valenciennea longipinnis) stirs the sand as it sifts through it, straining out food. This Goby is a carnovore, therefore its diet should include a variety of live and frozen brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, live black worms, and prepared foods for carnivores.

  • 08 of 09

    Tiger Watchman Goby (Valenciennea wardii)

    The Tiger Watchman Goby (Valenciennea wardii) (also known as the Ward's Sleeper, Ward's Tiger, or Tiger Sleeper Goby) is a favorite among reef tank enthusiasts. The Tiger Watchman Goby stirs the sand as it sifts through it, straining out food. Its diet should include a variety of live and frozen brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, live black worms, and prepared foods for carnivores.

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  • 09 of 09

    Two Spot Goby (Signigobius biocellatus)

    The head and body of the Two Spot Goby (Signigobius biocellatus) (also referred to as the Twinspot Goby, Signal Goby, or Crabeye Goby)are white splattered with orange markings. Its erect dorsal fins are distinctly marked by eyespots.