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Diamond Goby Care & Info | Sand-Sifting Superstar

Is the bottom part of your aquarium lacking a bit of life? We’ve just got the fish for you! The diamond goby is a filter-feeding bottom dweller, champion burrower and the ideal janitor to help keep your sand bed sparkly and clean.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about diamond goby care and how to keep this fish in your home aquarium!

Name (Common, Scientific)Diamond goby, diamond watchman goby, diamond sleeper goby, orange-spotted goby, maiden goby, pretty prawn goby, Valenciennea puellaris
Mini tank size55 gallons
Minimum group size1
Difficulty levelEasy

Diamond goby description & natural habitat


The diamond goby is a typical bottom dweller. It sports an elongated body that’s flattened at the bottom and a large mouth to help it do what it does best: sifting sand.

This really is quite a nice species to look at, with a glimmering silver base color (hence the common name, we suppose), iridescent bluish spots around the head, and orange dots and dashes along the entire body.

The diamond goby grows to a maximum size of around 8”.

Natural habitat

Diamond gobies have a very wide natural range. They’re found in the Indo-Pacific, popping up all the way from the Red Sea in the west to New Caledonia (located past Australia) in the east.

This is a reef species that occurs in both protected lagoons and exposed reefs, down to around 30m in depth. It usually lives in pairs on the sand bed, where a shallow burrow is dug under rocks or rubble for safety.

The IUCN Red List considers Valenciennea strigata to be a species of Least Concern in the wild.

Diamond goby care & info | Valenciennea puellaris

Diamond goby aquarium

You can keep a diamond goby in a 55-gallon long aquarium or larger. Make sure the tank has plenty of bottom space, as these fish don’t really use the rest of the water column. Rectangular is better than square!

In order to figure out what a diamond goby aquarium should look like, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a highly specialized species. These fish are burrowers and sand sifters that like a thick substrate of fine sand. They also require some live rock to make their hide under. Do make sure the rocks can’t move or shift!

If you didn’t use live sand from the start, be sure to give your sand bed some time to develop before introducing a diamond goby into your tank. This ensures your fish won’t starve as it adjusts to live and formulated foods.

Your goby will be thankful for the opportunity to dig around, spending its day building mounds and burrows. It spits out the sand from its gills after having taken it into its mouth in search of any tasty morsels that might be present. It’s quite interesting to watch!

Keep in mind that the tank will never look tidy with a diamond goby around. If that’s an issue, this species just isn’t for you. They build huge dunes and sand will be blown around the water column regularly. But hey, at least the substrate will be clean and aerated!

Tip: tank should have a tight-fitting lid. Diamond gobies are particularly prone to jumping ship, which can obviously prove fatal if you don’t find them quickly enough.

Diamond goby compatibility

Diamond gobies are considered peaceful and will leave their tankmates (except for the smallest invertebrates) alone. They’re also reef-safe, although it’s true that corals placed too close to the substrate may be covered in sand due to the gobies’ constant sifting.

There are only two situations in which you might find them displaying aggression. The first is whenever a fish comes too close to their burrow, especially if you have a pair that has just spawned.

The other is if there are similar fish present, like the yellow watchman goby and other goby species. They can’t stand their own kind! This includes fellow diamond gobies, unless you’re dealing with an established pair.

Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to avoid keeping this relatively calm species with any fish that might consider it a snack or bother it excessively. They’re pretty timid.

Did you know? Diamond gobies are monogamous, but it’s almost impossible to tell the sexes apart in the aquarium store. It doesn’t help that they can change sex from female to male!

Diamond goby aquarium fish.

Diamond goby diet

In the wild, diamond gobies get the nutrients they need from filtering sand. Plenty of copepods, detritus, and tiny invertebrates to be found in there! Unfortunately, our home aquariums are too small and clean for a diamond goby to be able to sustain itself with its filtering activities alone.

It can be challenging to get a diamond goby to accept regular aquarium fish foods at first, but it’s important to try. (Thawed) frozen or live brine shrimp, mysis, copepods and other meaty foods should work perfectly fine, although you can also try with formulated pellets. It’s best to feed small amounts 2-3 times a day.

Be sure to not step away from the aquarium immediately. Keep an eye on things to make sure your diamond goby is actually feeding: other fish might get to the food before it gets a chance. If this is the case, a feeding tube that transports food directly to the bottom of the tank might prove helpful.

Did you know? It’s pretty normal to not see your diamond goby for a while. These fish do love to stay in their burrow, sometimes even covering the entrance so you can’t see them!

Breeding diamond gobies

Unfortunately, as with many aquarium fish, the majority of diamond gobies are still wild-caught. They can be bred in the aquarium, but they’re not easy to raise due to the extremely small size of the fry. If you’re up for a challenge and would like to add to the tank-bred population, though, why not give it a shot?

As we’ve mentioned, pairing two diamond gobies will be your first task, and it’s not always an easy one. The males and females look exactly alike, and if you get it wrong, you’re sure to run into territorial issues.

Getting a mated pair is a good option, although it may be more expensive. Otherwise, you’ll just have to buy two and hope for the best! If you get two males, one of them will hopefully turn into a female (protandrous hermaphroditism).

If all goes well, the pair will maintain and inhabit a burrow together. You’ll know they have spawned when there’s a sudden flurry of building activity and the male disappears. Once the eggs have been laid and fertilized, the female seals him into the burrow to tend to their brood.

Raising the fry

The male usually emerges before the eggs hatch (which can take up to 5 days depending on water temperature), at which point you can use some airline tubing to suck them out of the nest. If they’ve hatched already, a larval trap may work to catch the larvae.

Move the eggs or larvae to a separate rearing tank with an air stone. You’ll need to have very tiny foods on hand; once the larvae finish their yolk sacs, they will require tiny copepod nauplii such as Parvocalanus. Even newly hatched brine shrimp are too big for them!


A reef aquarium with beautiful fish like the diamond goby is a dream to have in the home or office. FantaSEA Aquariums offers hands-dry packages from design to build to maintenance so all you have to do is enjoy your tank! Just contact us here with your ideas.

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Marijke Puts

Hey! I'm Marijke, FantaSEA's resident blog writer. I'm a full-time pop science author, part-time PADI diver and snorkeler, and have been keeping fish since I was a kid. When I'm not writing fish care guides, you can usually find me underwater or trying to figure out how to fit more tanks into my house.

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