Yellow Watchman

  • Species Information

Cryptocentrus cinctus

The yellow watchman goby, Cryptocentrus cinctus (Herre, 1936) is so named for its association with pistol shrimp. It is also called the yellow shrimp goby or yellow prawn goby. Hobbyists commonly partner this species with tiger pistol shrimp (Alpheus bellulus). The fish, which serves as a sentry, shares a burrow dug by its shrimp partner. Ever on the lookout, it keenly surveys its surroundings with its independently moveable eyes. The yellow watchmen goby is quite easy to care for in captivity. Because of its diminutive size, it can be kept in smaller aquaria. Though it need not be kept with a pistol shrimp, pairing the two creatures usually makes for a very interesting display.

Physical Description– There are two color forms—the more recognizable yellow form and a steel gray form. It is not yet clear whether the different forms are sex-related or brought about by environmental conditions. Both forms are dotted with small iridescent blue spots. It typically bears four or five pale bars on its flanks. Overall this species looks quite similar to the closely related C. cyanotaenia and C. pavoninoides. The body shape of the yellow watchman goby is similar to other benthic (bottom-dwelling) gobies. It often sits on the bottom, using its pelvic fins to elevate its high-set eyes for a good view of the surrounding area.

Temperament– Though it is generally very peaceful, it may exhibit aggressive behavior towards its own kind (particularly amongst males).

Size– Grows to about 4”


Distribution– Tropical West Pacific, including Japan, Singapore, the Great Barrier Reef, and Micronesia. It is usually found in relatively calm, sandy areas such as lagoons.