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Looking for some advice from goby (Stiphodon sp.) keepers


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Hi everyone!

So, I have 3 tanks and in the two largest ones, I tried keeping gobies. In my 60L (17 gal) tank, I've had one S. atropurpureus goby since last June.  He hides most of the time, but seems happy...he loves to go inside my canister filter outlet (lily pipe) to chew on algae in the current.  It's his favorite trick...I keep trying to get a good picture of it...  I got him from The Wet Spot (I'm on the East Coast, can't buy fish from Co-op).  He's still pretty small (1.5") and I supplement him algae with Repashy Soilent Green.

In my bigger tank, which is 45G (36"x12"x24"h), I put two S. ornatus in there over a month ago.  I got those from my LFS, and I bought them because they looked really healthy.  They were about 2.5 inches long.  One of them died the next morning.  The other one died 3-4 weeks later.  A few days before he died, he was hanging out towards the top of the tank in my air bubbler.

I love gobies.  I really want to be able to keep a rainbow goby in my biggest tank...but of course I won't if it's not a good environment for them.  So this is what I'm asking about - do goby experts have any suggestions on the suitability of my setup?


Both tanks have been set up for 1.5-2 yrs, and both are heavily planted, with aquasoil, and run CO2.  Ammonia and nitrites are always 0 ppm, nitrates range from 0-25ppm (maybe occasionally up to 50ppm, but normally max 25ppm - I have floating plants), pH is around 6.4-6.8, KH around 40ppm, GH is general on the low end (I honestly can't read GH very well on the Co-Op strips .... I add Seachem Equilibrium when I do water changes, usually 1/2 tsp per 5 gallons.  My tap water is very soft.  The smaller tank is run at 75 degrees usually, the bigger tank 78. Both run air bubblers with a Co-Op nano pump. Both have Eheim canister filters - the 17 gal tank has a 2213 (440L/hr)  and the 45 gal has a 2217 (1,000L/hr).

Water changes I do once every 1-2 months.  I test nitrates and they're never higher than 50 ppm, almost always 25 ppm...that said, I am wondering if maybe this is the problem?  Because even the goby species that don't climb waterfalls still come from streams with high turnover.  Maybe there just isn't enough water turnover for them.


One thing to add: a few days to a week before the second goby died, I had a filter "accident".  I turned off my canister filter to feed baby brine shrimp, as I usually do, but I forgot to set the timer on my Kasa plug to turn it back on.  I only noticed 3 days later.  The inlet pipe is fully submerged with the holes facing the back of the tank to reduce the flow (because I keep chocolate gouramis), so I didn't see that the water wasn't flowing aside from the air bubbler - also I'm hard of hearing so I can't hear my canister filter.  Obviously I did not turn it on.  I thoroughly rinsed everything in the filter and replaced it with dechlorinated water and turned it on.  My gouramis got a case of stress ich.  A few of my corydoras passed in the succeeding weeks.  This may have killed my goby too.  I'm not sure...Cory is always saying how the tank has plenty of nitrifying bacteria so I didn't even think the death of my canister filter bacteria would phase anyone.  Maybe I need to add a second air pump? 


Sorry this is so long...just trying to provide enough info for people to be able to give me advice.


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This YouTube channel is a gem for these.

A seller from NYC posted this blog on them.

My initial thoughts: (1) increase aeration and flow via a spraybar. I recently did this in a US Native tank setup. ACO powerhead with DIY PVC rigging works splendidly. I can show you some videos if you want to see. (2) bring in smooth rocks from creek-bed, river, or lake. Boil them in a large stockpot for 10 min and allow them to cool before adding to aquarium. (3) select lighting conducive to growing algae on rocks

Repashy servings seem just perfect to me. I’d also try peeled, blanched / boiled zucchini slices too. They’ll need some protein too. Maybe a few black worms now and then. 


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I don’t have mine yet but they seem to share similar parameters with the wild lizard loaches in my tank. High oxygen levels, I do large water changes (40% 2x a week) and lower temps. I keep no heater and the temp sits at about 73-78 Fahrenheit. 

The other thing I’ve heard helps and has definitely helped my lizard loaches is mature algae mats and biofilm to chew on as well as the couple times I’ve done live baby brine they’ve gone nuts for those. They are just now starting to eat algae wafers and frozen daphnia.


One of the problems I face is keeping up with nitrates. I cannot get them past 0ppm no matter my dosage routine of fertilizer so I rely heavily on natural light and good lighting for plant and algae growth.


Hope this helps! I can update my experience here soon after the holidays I will have a group of gobies coming in.

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