News / Species Spotlight / Highly Underrated Fish - Ptereleotris zebra (05/01/14)

Highly Underrated Fish - Ptereleotris zebra

In The Wild

Ptereleotris zebra is a schooling fish common in tropical waters around the world, except the Atlantic Ocean. They are usually found in less than 20 feet of water, but have been recorded as deep as 90 feet. They are generally associated with reefs and in lots of current / surge. Groups generally share the same burrow, and group sizes can very from a couple individuals to dozens. They feed on plankton and other small suspended foods. The largest P. zebra recorded was almost 5 inches long.

In the Aquarium

Another name for the Chinese Zebra Bar Goby is the Zebra Dartfish, and there is a good reason for this. When startled, they can disappear nearly as fast as you can blink. It is so fast that you will wonder how on earth they stop before smashing into the back of the cave. (At least I wonder that.)

This is an excellent reef fish. They are available from MAC supply lines; they acclimate and eat very easily in house. They have a small max size. I have never seen one more than 4" in captivity, but even fish that are close to this long are still extremely slender so they don't look like they take up that much space. This is a totally reef safe fish, but what makes this fish unique in the trade is that it is a schooling fish with an almost eel like swimming motion.

Keeping any dartfish is a pretty straightfoward scenario. You need to make sure that the rocks in their proposed display are very sturdy, as these will burrow themselves a home underneath the rocks. They love current, and lots of it. Because of this, they expend a lot of energy and need to be fed at least twice a day. I would suggest setting up an autofeeder once they get used to eating pellets. Do not house them with aggressive fish, as they will hide most of the time and thus miss meals. Lastly, the more of these you add, the more you will see them. Like most schooling fish, they get bolder in numbers. I'd add a minimum of three, but a much better schooling behavior is seen with upwards of five.

References:
www.fishbase.org/Ptereleotris-zebra
Scott W. Michael, Marine Fishes, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2001).
Rudie H Kuiter & Helmut Debelius, World Atlas of Marine Fishes, 1st ed. (IKAN-Unterwasserarchiv 2006)
In House Resources: Adam Mangino, Eli Fleishauer