Red Belted Goby (Sicyopus zosterophorus)

Description and Appearance


The Red Belted Goby (Sicyopus zosterophorus) is a distinctive freshwater dwarf fish. It has brilliant colors that make it one of the best ornamental inhabitants of an aquarium. Male Sicyopus zosterophorus is quite dominant comparing with the female.

Average adult size: 1.5 – 2 inches (3.8 – 5 cm)

Males of this dwarf goby species are distinctive because of its bright red/orange coloration on the back half of its body and yellow second dorsal fin. Female, like many other ornament fish, is not that brightly colored. But they are active and lovely to watch when they are at play and swimming. To fully enjoy their best coloration and social behaviors, the colony must consist of a mixed population of both males and females.

This little colorful fish is a micro predator and is an excellent choice for a mature aquarium ecosystem.



Sicyopus zosterophorus is originality found in Indonesia, French Polynesia, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, and many other islands situated in Oceania and Southeast Asia. The natural habitats of Red Belted Gobies are shallow, fast-flowing, and clear water bodies. This makes it native to an extra clean environment where the water quality is high. It is necessary to provide clear and well-cycled water in the aquarium as well to keep this species healthy.

Behavior and Compatibility

Red Belted Goby (Sicyopus zosterophorus) is a peaceful small fish. Possible tankmates are those fish that are also peaceful and small like hillstream loaches, tetras, rasboras. Red Belted Goby is a micro predator that is why it can be kept with other fish and invertebrates big enough to cannot be hunted. But be careful and do not keep another predator in the aquarium. If the other predator is bigger, it will prey on the Red Belted Goby in case they compete for food.

Red Belted Goby is territorial and if you keep small dwarf shrimp with it, Goby may get territorial and bully them. Another threat to other small fish can be that goby preys on them if the food supply was not sufficient.

The interesting social behaviors of Sicyopus zosterophorus best enjoyed if they are kept in a large tank in colonies. It surely amuses the aquarists with its playful behavior and bold personality.

Water Parameters:

Temperature: 22-26°C
pH: 6,0 – 7,5
Hardness: 4 – 8 dKH

Tank Conditions and Maintenance

The minimum tank size is 30 liters for a single specimen or a pair. High dissolved oxygen level is the most crucial at the high end of its range is a must.

Red Belted Goby is small in size but, that doesn’t make them suitable to keep in a small aquarium. They are small in size but quite active, playful and territorial. Many gobies are also capable of climbing the aquarium glass and jump out of the water. Keeping them in a covered aquarium is mandatory to prevent them from dying by jumping outside.

Keeping a tight and frequent tank cleaning schedule is vital because Red Belted Goby originally comes from an ultraclean freshwater environment. Besides that, you can decorate your aquarium with plants especially the Anubias species. As the fish is a micro predator and does not bother any plants, it doesn’t harm any kind of plants in the aquarium.


Sicyopus zosterophorus is a micro predator. The preferred foods are live bloodworm, Artemia, Daphnia, etc. In the aquarium, the fish can be fed with these live foods to keep them healthy and active. It does not accept any dry food but you can feed it live foods but cut them into the proper size while feeding to prevent larger ones keep uneaten in the aquarium. It does not eat the biofilm and other live plants in the aquarium and requires feeding with live foods.


Red Belted Goby is suitable for tank life but breeding in the tank is very difficult but not impossible. There are reports of Goby having offspring in an aquarium. The fry of Goby goes through complex phases. When it is in the larvae stage it is very difficult to grow well in an aquarium. Goby spawns in freshwater while living in its natural habitat and the fry hatch there. But they are swept down into the ocean where they feed and grow bigger. When the fry grows to mature, they swim back to their freshwater living habitat. They often swim to completely different places than the place where they were born.

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