Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Eretmodus cyanostictus

Goby cichlid

Goby cichlid, Eretmodus cyanostictusGoby cichlid, Eretmodus cyanostictus
Photos by Andy Rapson


Eretmodus: Greek, eretmos, -ou = with oars + Greek, odous = teeth

General Notes:

Goby cichlids are fish with real character, they rarely move off the bottom and swim in a series of short hops. A compatible pair could be housed in a 100 litre aquarium or an individual or pair could be part of a Tanganyikan community in a 225litre or larger aquarium. Goby cichlids are territorial especially towards their own kind but they will live reasonably well alongside other Tanganyikan cichlids which aren't in direct competition with them. They really shouldn't be kept with aggressive fish from Lake Malawi. Goby cichlids require pristine water conditions, high pH, hard water and very well oxygenated water if they are to thrive.


In the wild goby cichlids eat algae which they scrape from rocks and sift through detritus looking for edible items. Because of this sand makes an ideal substrate as this allows them to behave naturally. In captivity they will take spirulina based flake food, algae, blanche spinach, processed peas with their skin removed and the occasional live or frozen bloodworms or daphnia but only once per week.


They can't be reliably sexed by looks, when adult the males tend to be larger and have a more bullish appearance.

Breeding goby cichlids is interesting but difficult. They are mouth brooders with both parents looking after the brood. When spawning the female immediately picks up the eggs and stores them in a brood pouch at the bottom of her mouth. She will hold on to the eggs until they hatch at which point they are transferred to the male who will keep the fry until they are free swimming. Once released the fry are fairly independent and larger than most other cichlid fry although fewer in number. The parents can be left with the fry and even in a Tanganyikan community one or two fry will reach adulthood. If you want to raise a full brood then a separate breeding aquarium of at least 100litres will be required. The fry are slow growing compared to a lot of other cichlid fry.

Wild status

The ICUN red list of threatened species lists Goby cichlids as "near threatened". They have a wide range along the shore of Lake Tanganyika but they are very restricted to a few metres from the shoreline and so loss of habitat would have a serious impact on their population.

Information at a glance

pH: 8 - 9
dGH: 9 - 19
Temperature: 23 - 26°C (74 - 78°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 9cm (3.5in)
Min tank size: 100 litres
Difficulty level: Difficult
Aquarium type: Tanganyikan Community
Swimming level: Bottom

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Goby cichlid, Eretmodus cyanostictus

Origin: Endemic to Lake Tanganyika

Habitat: Adults occur in the highly oxygenated water layer close to the shoreline and pounded by the surf


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae
Genus: Eretmodus
Species: E. cyanostictus Boulenger, 1898

Common name:
Goby cichlid

Synonyms: None