The family Gobiidae, in which you will find all the Goby species, is a very big family that comprises more than 2000 species. Many Goby species are today kept by aquarists, including the Bumblebee goby from the genus Brachygobius and the fascinating Mudskippers that can breathe oxygen directly from the air and use their strong pelvic fins to walk on land.
A majority of the Gobies are small, and well rarely grow bigger than 4 inches (10 centimetres). Some of the smallest vertebrates known to science are actually Gobies. In the genera Pandaka, Tyson and Trimmaton you can find several Goby species that never exceed 3/8 inch (1 centimetre). You can however find Gobies that exceed 1 foot (30 centimetres) in length as well, e.g. some of the Goby species in the genera Periophthalmodon and Gobioides. Small Goby species are more popular among aquarists, since they do not need very large aquariums.
Gobies can be found in a wide range of different habitats. Most Gobies species inhabit shallow parts of the ocean where they stay near corals reefs or sea grass meadows. In areas where freshwater rivers reach the ocean to form brackish mangrove swamps you can also expect to find plenty of Gobies. Only a few species of Goby are freshwater dwellers, e.g. the Australian desert goby (Chlamydogobius eremius), the Asian river goby(Rhinogobius spp.), and European freshwater goby (Padogobius bonelli) .
Aquarists that keep Gobies will often find these fishes attached to the aquarium equipment or glass. The pelvic fin of the Goby fish has developed into a disc-shaped sucker that the Goby use to attach it self. You will a similar anatomical feature on Lumpfish, but Lumpfish and Goby fish are not closely related. The fact that they both have suckers is instead an example of so called convergent evolution.
As mentioned earlier in the article, the Bumblebee goby (Brachygobius nunus) is one example of a popular aquarium fish from the Goby family. It has a beautiful coloration and does not need a large aquarium since it will stay around 1 ½ inch (4 centimetres). Warm, tropical water temperatures and a pH value above 7.0 are recommended. Most Bumblebee gobies are found in freshwater aquariums, but they can adapt to somewhat brackish environments. The Bumblebee goby is a very peaceful fish, so when you feed your fish you must make sure that the Bumblebee goby actually gets any food. Keeping Bumblebee gobies with aggressive species should be avoided, and since the Bumblebee goby is very small it must naturally be kept in an aquarium where there are no larger predators around.
The interesting Mudskippers are usually placed in their own subfamily Oxudercinae within the family Gobiidae. In the wild, these gobies are typically found in regions affected by significant tidal waves. The Mudskippers can therefore absorb oxygen directly from the air and survive even if they become stranded as the water returns out to sea. The Mudskippers have also developed strong pelvic fins that they use to transport themselves over land. If the mudskipper is stranded for any longer period of time, it will dig a hole in the ground and stay hidden until the water comes back.
Fish species in the family Eleotridae are sometimes referred to as “Sleeper gobies”, but only species within the family Gobiidae are considered true Gobies. The members of the Eleotridae family are quite similar to the real gobies in regard o size, shape and habits, but they lack the fused pelvic fin.