The Zebra Goby (Brachygobius xanthomelas) is a member of the family Gobiidae, better known as the gobies. It only grows up to about three quarters of an inch long and is a beautiful fish with orange and black vertical stripes and blotching, which is the origin of both its common and scientific name.
This is a very unique fish, mostly found in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, and is the only “Zebra Goby” thought to live entirely in freshwater. They are found in small, slow moving bodies of water with a lot of soft sediment and botanicals (leaf litter, seed pods, driftwood etc).
These are social fish that are best kept in groups of at least 6 individuals in an aquarium of at least five gallons. Housing them in a group like this will elicit the best coloration, behavior, and chance for longevity, as these fish are easily bothered and outcompeted by larger, more aggressive fish.
These Zebra Gobies are known to enjoy live foods, especially young, gut loaded brine shrimp. Other small frozen foods can also be used, but be initially prepared to support these fish with some live foods. Very few aquarists report having success feeding Brachygobius xanthomelas flakes or pellets. In house, we feed them a mix of very finely chopped meaty foods and some live, gut loaded brine shrimp a couple times a day.
Spawning of Brachygobius xanthomelas has been documented in the aquarium. Females appeared larger and more rounded when full of eggs and males more colorful. The male guarded eggs in a pvc pipe which he sat on and fanned with his fins to keep them clean and oxygenated. They are cave spawners so you will need to offer them an enclosed space to lay their eggs.
Zebra Gobies make a great unique species aquarium where you will see unique colors and behaviors. Having access to a variety known to exist entirely in freshwater also simplifies husbandry. With their desire for live food and little known spawning habits this is a great fish to provide some challenge to an intermediate aquarist who enjoys culturing live foods or is looking to start doing so. Call your local fish store and ask them to order you a small group of sustainably sourced Zebra Gobies (Brachygobius xanthomelas) from Aquatropic today!