Dragonfish Care Basics
Basic Information on Keeping a Dragonfish in Your Aquarium
(The First Tank Guide)
Dragonfish, also called Dragon Gobies, Eel Gobies, Peruvian Gobies, or Violet Gobies (among many common names), are a brackish water to fresh water fish from South and Central America.
Gobioides broussonnetii, the true Dragonfish, can reach lengths over 2 feet (60cm), though other members of this group are usually closer to half that size.
Dragonfish Equipment & Maintenance:
To keep a Dragonfish healthy, remember to provide them with plenty of clean, warm water, and remember that they will do better in brackish conditions than in fresh water.
Your Dragonfish's temperature should be about 80° Fahrenheit (about 26.5° Celsius), and ideally should remain between 77° and 83,° F (25° and 28° C) so you need a heater and a thermometer. Excessive temperature fluctuations, or prolonged time at especially warm or especially cold temperatures and weaken the fish, resulting in loss of appetite and a weakened immune system. An impaired immune system makes your Dragonfish more susceptible to many diseases, from easily treatable Ick to more difficult diseases such as fin and body rot.
Your Dragonfish aquarium should provide at least 25 gallons (95 liters) of space per Dragonfish, plus any space needed for any other fish. A minimum fish tank size of 50 gallons (190 liters) is recommended if you are keeping a Dragonfish. Also, a Dragonfish should be kept in a fish tank with a length of at least 4 feet (1.2 meters).
Dragonfish can be sensitive fish, so maintenance is vital. Perform your weekly 10-15% water changes, so that your Dragonfish always has clean water and any waste or uneaten food that is not processed by the filter is removed.
Your Dragonfish needs good filtration to keep the water from becoming toxic, and you need to keep the filter(s) well maintained. When selecting a filter, remember to make sure that the filter provides sufficient filtration for a tank with the large capacity that your Dragonfish requires. Many people use multiple smaller filters to maintain a large tank like this. Using several aquarium filters allows you to stager your filter maintenance so that you are not changing all of your filter media at once and risking cycling your fish tank again.
Dragonfish Food & Care:
Dragonfish are primarily carnivorous (meat eating) scavengers, so provide him with a high protein diet. Many high quality processed fish foods are available on the market today, and most frozen fish foods are also appropriate.
In the wild, most Dragonfish eat primarily aquatic invertebrates, insects, and insect larvae, and opportunistically scavenge old carcasses, so you are best off to try to duplicate this in the aquarium environment. Provide a wide variety of processed, frozen, and freeze dried foods.
Your fish should be able to consume all the food you offer within two minutes of feeding. If there is food in the tank after this time has elapsed, this contributes to poor water quality and make your Dragonfish more susceptible to disease.
You only need to feed your Dragonfish once a day. If you feed more than once a day you increase the waste your fish are producing and also increase the risk of overfeeding, so it becomes more important that you are performing your weekly 10-15% water changes and all necessary filter maintenance.
Providing a proper diet increases your Dragonfish's life expectancy and bolsters their immune system.
Dragonfish are typically very timid fish, so providing them with plenty of caves and plants to hide in will definitely improve their health and boost their appetite. Also keep in mind that Dragonfish are very fickle about feeding - especially just after transport and shipping.
It is likely that your Dragonfish will not eat the first day or two after being brought home, however, if this persists, try training them onto your feeding schedule with frozen bloodworms or brine shrimp. Once they are eating well, wean them onto your more usual and more varied fare.
Keep in mind that these fish do not have good eyesight, and are easily bullied by other fish. If you have a fish in your tank that is an aggressive eater, it is very likely that they will prevent the Dragonfish from eating. If this happens, you will probably be best off to separate your Dragonfish from the rest of the fish in the tank with a divider or partition until the Dragonfish is used to the food and feeding schedule and is eating well. If the bullying that prevented the Dragonfish from eating to begin with continues after this acclimation period, you should probably consider separating the Dragonfish or the bullies permanently.
Dragonfish can be kept with a variety of other fish, though small fish will sometimes become prey to the Dragonfish. Also, as noted above, Dragonfish do not do well with particularly aggressive fish.
As with all fish, Dragonfish can be kept with fish with similar temperaments and care requirements. Your best bets for companionship with your Dragonfish will be medium sized brackish water fish.
Remember, Dragonfish are beautiful living creatures. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to care for their pet and provide a healthy environment. So give your Dragonfish space, clean, warm, brackish water, plenty of hiding places, and high-quality, highly varied foods and he should be a good companion for a long time.