Powder Blue Tang

Banded Dragon Goby


Amblygobius phalaena

The banded dragon goby (Amblygobius phalaena, Valenciennes, 1837) may not be as striking in color as other sand sifters but has an appealing personality and behavior.  This fish keeps the sand bed clean by sifting through it in search of small microorganisms.  This continuous feeding behavior makes the banded goby a delight to watch as they pick up mouthfuls of sand and expel it out through their gills, leaving the sand clean and stirred.  At the Sustainable Islands facility, we transition these fish onto prepared foods such as our hatchery diet, Spirulina brine, and mysis shrimp. They do best with a deep sand bed as well as rock work on which to forage for supplemental food.  These gobies spend the majority of their time at the bottom of a tank, so soaking our hatchery diet in water first and then squirting it into the tank will allow it to sink to the bottom where they will instantly eat it.  Banded dragon gobies are reef safe; however, they may deposit sand on clams or corals placed low in the aquarium.  An interesting fact about these fish is their propensity to eat nuisance flatworms.

Physical Description: Like most sand sifting gobies, banded dragon gobies have an elongated body with a rounded head.  They are gray in color with vertical bands of black extending down the length of their body.  These black bands are outlined in electric blue, which can also be seen in various flecks and dots on their face as well as dorsal and anal fins.

Temperament: These fish are very peaceful.  They remain at the bottom of an aquarium and will not bother other tank mates or even other sand sifting gobies.  As they grow, they may become territorial, so they should not be kept with others of their kind unless they are a mated pair.  Although they can grow fairly large and be good additions to larger fish-only aquariums for their sand-stirring benefits, small specimens should not be kept with very aggressive tank mates.  It is also important to ensure other inhabitants don’t eat all the available food before it reaches the sand.

Size: Banded dragon gobies can reach a maximum size of over 5.5 inches.  They do not need a lot of swimming space, however because they require ample live sand they should be kept in 30 gallons or larger aquarium.

Distribution:  These gobies have an extensive range throughout the Indo Pacific from Sumatra to Fiji.