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Catalina Goby

(Lythrypnus dalli)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 2"
• Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons   • Water Conditions: 60-70° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Eastern Pacific, California, Mexico
• Family: Gobiidae   • Species: Gobies   • Aquarium Type: Reef Compatible

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Catalina Goby native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Catalina Goby (Lythrypnus dalli) is without a doubt a very attractive and exotic looking species. Their bright orange-red body and electric blue vertical stripes makes them truly glow under the bright aquarium lighting. However, unlike most brightly colored tropical reef species, the Catalina Goby is a cold water species that requires aquarium temperatures much lower than that of typical coral reef fish species.

While most fish species commonly found in the aquarium hobby require water temperatures in the 76° to 82° range, the Catalina Goby requires much lower temperatures in the 58° to 70° range.

Due to their specific water temperature requirements and small adult size of only 2 inches, the Catalina Goby is most often housed in nano aquariums designed to replicate their natural cold water habitat.

Catalina Goby are found living in shallow rocky coastal waters ranging from California in the north to the Gulf of California off the Mexican coast. They are most often found in rocky coastal areas, where they utilize the fields of boulders for both protection and for hunting grounds. Catalina Goby work their way through the rocky caves and crevices looking for small crustaceans and other similarly sized marine organisms on which to prey.

They also utilize the rocky caves and tight crevices in order to hide from other larger fish species that would see them as a food item. They require an aquarium environment that will provide them with the highly oxygenated and cool water conditions of their native territory, along with plenty of rocky caves and crevices to explore.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Catalina Goby in the home aquarium.

While territorial towards its own kind, Catalina Gobies will co-exist with most other fish species including other small similarly sized and shaped species. They can even be kept in small groups of their own kind in aquarium large enough to provide ample territory for specimen, generally an aquarium 40 gallons or more.

Single specimens can do well in both nano and pico aquariums, ranging from 5 to 30 gallons in size. Tank mates should include other cold water fish species that are not large enough to see the Catalina Goby as food. Catalina Goby coexist well with both temperate water corals and invertebrates, like Anemones, Feather Dusters and shrimp.

While the Catalina Goby can tolerate warmer water temperatures upwards of 74° for short periods of time, they will not thrive in these conditions and will be much more susceptible to disease and an overall shorter lifespan.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Catalina Goby.

The Catalina Goby is a typical Goby in regards to feeding, eating all types of small crustaceans, plankton and small invertebrate species like amphipods and copepods. They are very hardy eaters that will quickly adapt to both aquarium life and commercial fish foods. They do best with meaty preparations like brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, flake and vitamin-enriched frozen foods designed for marine carnivores.

Breeding Information

How to successfully breed Catalina Goby in the aquarium environment.

Their ability to change their sex is one of the more interesting aspects of the Catalina Gobys reproductive behavior. While each Catalina Goby has the reproductive tissues of both genders, they can only display one sexual orientation at any given time. If a Catalina Goby finds itself unsuccessful as one gender, it can switch to the other.

Behavioral males are generally larger and have a longer dorsal fin with black tips on the longest dorsal fin rays. When they are ready to breed, a behavioral male chooses a cave in which to care for his brood. He then lures the female inside, where she will attach her eggs to the walls of the cave. He will care for the eggs there until they hatch.

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