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Maximum size : 5 cm

Red Belted Goby - Sicyopus zosterophorus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Red Belted Goby (Sicyopterus lagocephalus) is an outstanding addition to any aquarium due to its striking appearance, energetic disposition, and affable temperament. To ensure harmonious cohabitation with other tank mates, it is essential to select species of similar size and disposition while avoiding large, aggressive fish that may prey on or outcompete the Gobies for food. During breeding periods, the Red Belted Goby may exhibit slight territorial behavior, but this should not prevent multiple individuals from coexisting peacefully alongside other stream-dwelling Gobies, provided there is ample space and food resources. It is worth noting that gobies possess a unique ability to climb aquarium glass and may occasionally leap out of the water, which emphasizes the need to keep them in covered aquariums to prevent accidental fatalities. Sporting a lustrous black body with a bright reddish-orange posterior, the Red Belted Goby boasts a dark dorsal fin with white edging and a yellowish-hued second dorsal fin. Its remaining fins are transparent, while females exhibit a relatively colorless appearance. Moreover, these gobies exhibit distinctive color patterns that vary depending on their geographic origin.

Red Belted Goby Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Red Belted Gobies is a relatively straightforward task. Males are characterized by elongated unpaired fins, particularly their first dorsal fin, which is significantly longer than that of the female. Furthermore, males display a more vivid coloration pattern, with the anterior portion of their body exhibiting a darker greyish-brown hue and the lower region displaying vibrant orange to red hues. On the other hand, female Red Belted Gobies lack the extended unpaired fins and first dorsal fin displayed by males and exhibit a relatively colorless appearance. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that some mature females may exhibit faint orange pigmentation in the anal fins and basal dorsal fin.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameSicyopus zosterophorus
Year Described1856
Other NamesFlaming Arrow Goby, Belted Rock-climbing Goby, Ornate Goby
OriginsIndonesia Vanuatu Papua New Guinea Palau Island Fiji Philippines Japan Taiwan China
Max Size5 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
Lifespanup to 5 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH5 - 10
TDS36 - 215
71 - 79
21.7 - 26.1

Natural Habitat

The Red Belted Goby, a native of the northern Balinese region of Boleling, Indonesia, is a globetrotter, having been found in a diverse range of locations. These include the Marquesas Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Fiji, the Philippines, Japan, and Taiwan. More recently, this intrepid species has been spotted in Southeast Asia, specifically the southern mainland of China. These little fish thrive in the clear and well-oxygenated short coastal streams of tropical, often volcanic islands. They favor habitats located upstream of cataracts or waterfalls, where the substrate typically comprises bedrock with a sprinkling of boulders and rocks. While stream-side vegetation and submerged leaf litter are common, aquatic plants are seldom found in their natural habitats.


Despite several reports of mating behavior and sporadic spawning, successful captive breeding of the Red Belted Goby in domestic aquariums remains elusive. This is largely attributed to their intricate amphidromous breeding strategy. The species exhibits a distinct reproductive pattern whereby adults reside and breed in freshwater streams, and the pre-hatched larvae are carried downstream, where the post-larval fry undergo the initial stages of development in a saline environment. Upon reaching a certain level of maturity, the fry commence an upstream migration, which can involve extraordinary feats such as scaling waterfalls or other challenging obstacles. Given the complexities of this natural breeding strategy, captive breeding of the Red Belted Goby has thus far been unachievable.

Diet & feeding

Similar to most fish species, the Red Belted Goby exhibits a willingness to consume small live or frozen food items such as artemia, daphnia, and bloodworm. However, this species generally does not partake in biofilm consumption and exhibits a complete lack of interest in dried foods.

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