The goby — collectively known as the gobies — is a family of fish that includes more than 2,000 different species across the world. Typically, gobies are small although there are some larger fish included within the family that can reach up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length. Gobies play an important role in the food chain as they are prey for a number of fish such as haddock, cod and flatfish and hence are indirectly essential to human diet. Some goby fish are also commonly kept in aquariums although most are too small to be attractive to tropical fish owners.
Most goby fish inhabit regions of shallow tidal water, although there are some that live in rivers and swamps. There is a small percentage of goby fish which are also able to live in freshwater conditions although the vast majority can only live in saltwater. Goby fish are found across the world in most continents.
Symbiosis is a trait of a number of gobies. A symbiotic relationship is when two separate species interact regularly in a way that benefits both. For example, some goby fish have a symbiotic relationship with shrimp, which create burrows that both the goby and shrimp can inhabit. The benefit for the shrimp is that the goby fish is much better equipped to sense approaching danger. Other gobies have a parasitic symbiotic relationship where they remove parasites from certain species of fish.
An interesting sub-section of the family is the mudskippers. These fish have the unique ability of being able to stay alive while above water for a period of time due to a number of evolutionary differences to other fish. For example, mudskipper fish are able to breathe through their skin and are also able to dig into the ground where there is more moisture. Mudskipper fish are only found in tropical regions.
Despite there being a large number of gobies, only a few are kept in aquariums. These are usually saltwater species and can work well in aquariums that contain only fish as long as the species are compatible. For example, Bumblebee gobies are commonly kept in aquariums along with Watchman. Often, a species becomes popular amongst tropical fish owners because of interesting colorings or behavior and captive gobies are no exception. Due to the fact that a large number of fish prey on gobies it’s important to combine them with species that are peaceful.