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Saltwater Fish

Yellow Watchman Goby Care Guide

By December 12, 2020No Comments
yellow watchman goby in aquarium

A Yellow Watchman Goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus) is one of the most popular fish for saltwater aquariums. It also goes by the names Yellow Shrimp Goby and Yellow Prawn. These gobies are yellow in color, and they have tiny blue spots on their head and flanks. One of the greatest features is the permanent frown on its face. This fish is a busy body, and it will look grumpy while its doing work. This is one of the best fish to keep in your tank because it has such a great personality.

Whatchman gobies are peaceful fish, and they are great beginner fish for any aquarist. They are easy to care for, and they will do great in pretty much any saltwater aquarium. They are hardy, and about any marine food will do.

This goby comes from the Western Pacific, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, or the Maldives.

These fish are fascinating to watch because of how they interact in your saltwater tank. These are not normal fish that just swim around in your aquarium. They will make a burrow or find a crevice to hide out in most of the day. They seem to busy themselves around their home waiting for food. When they feel threatened, you can see them retreat into their burrow for protection.

These fish will stay on your substrate or sand, and they are not active swimmers. This is what make a goby so unique. It is interesting to watch it plant itself in the sand bed.

One of the greatest things about a Watchman goby is how they form a symbiotic pair with a pistol shrimp.

Pistol Shrimps And Yellow Watchman Gobies

Yellow Watchman Goby and Pistol Shrimp
By User:Haplochromis – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

One of the coolest things about these gobies is their symbiotic relationship with pistol shrimps (Alpheus). It is fun to watch these two interact in your aquarium. The goby will sometimes bring it food, and if no food is available, the shrimp will eat goby poop. The shrimp will burrow out a small hole near some live rock, and this is where the pair will call home. The shrimp has poor eyesight, and it cannot see predators well. This goby will watch out for predators essentially guarding their burrow home.

The role of the shrimp is to dig out and maintain the burrow that they will share as their “home.” The goby will guard their space from predators, hence the name Watchman. While the goby is standing guard, the shrimp will keep one of its antenna on the fish, and when the watchman senses danger, it will flick its body into the antenna to warn the shrimp. The shrimp will then hunker down deep in their burrow for protection. This is an amazing symbiotic relationship that you can watch in your tank. Granted, just because you add a pair in your aquarium does not mean that they will form a relationship. If yours do team up, you will be in for a treat.

How To Care For Your Goby

These gobies are easy to care for, and they are a great fish for beginners. Having said that, there are some steps that you can take that will ensure a healthier fish.

Yellow Watchman Goby Diet

The Watchman Goby is a carnivore and it will eat a variety of food including mysis shimp, frozen fish food, and brine shrimp. They will also eat pellets that fall to the bottom where they scavenge for food. You should feed it twice per day to keep it healthy. In addition to food that you feed it, they will also sift sand in their mouth and out of their gills. They will get some nutrients this way. Sometimes, you may not even see it eat for a while because it may be getting its diet from your sand bed.

Tank Parameters

Yellow Watchman Gobies are great because you can put them in almost any tank size even down to a nano tank. They are reef compatible, and they make great additions for these types of setups. This fish is a great choice for a small tank because when you have such a small space, you need to make sure to get the best fish.

Tank Specifics:

  • Specific Gravity: 1.020-1.025
  • Temperature: 72-78
  • dKH: 8-12
  • pH: 8.1-8.4

You will need a good sandy bottom because the goby likes to burrow. Do not add another goby to your tank unless it is a mated pair. These fish are territorial, and will be aggressive towards others if they encroach on its space. They will sift sand in their mouth to look for food. You will see them take a mouthfull of sand and pass it through their gills. They do this to fine particles of food. They will make little piles of sand around their space.

This behavior is what makes these fish so interesting in your saltwater tank.

Because they usually hang out on the bottom of the tank in the sand bed, they like low water flow in that area. They do swim some, and they have been known to jump out of aquariums, so a lid is a good idea if you have one of these in your tank.

Tips For Keeping A Goby In Your Tank

This type of goby is easy to care for, and hopefully our guide has helped. There are also some key points to keep in mind when it comes to caring for a watchman goby.

  • Keep only one in your aquarium, unless you have a mated pair
  • You will need good substrate
  • Keep a lid on your aquarium
  • Add a pistol shrimp for more excitement

featured image via: Sitron, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


My name is James, and I am the founder of Saltwatercoraltank. I love everything about the ocean, and my main hobby is saltwater aquariums. Currently, I have 3 tanks that I maintain. I have a 130 gallon mixed as my main, and I prefer softies.

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