Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Pomatoschistus pictus

Painted goby

Painted goby, Pomatoschistus pictusPainted goby, Pomatoschistus pictus
Photos by Andy Rapson


Pomatoschistus: Greek, poma, -atos = cover, operculum + Greek, schistos = divided

General Notes:

Usually found over coarse sand in rock pools at the lower inter tidal range down to 55m deep. A small peaceful goby which is ideal for the rock pool aquaria. The aquarium should have some large open floor spaces with a sandy substrate with tank mates of a similar size. Painted gobies can be kept without a cooler proved that the temperature of the aquarium water doesn't rise much above 22C (72F) for extended periods of time. Most painted gobies will only live for two years with a minority making it to their third birthday. With good care they may live longer than this in captivity.


Pomatoschistus pictus is a small peaceful goby which spends most of its time out in the open on the floor of the aquarium. Keep with other small peaceful species. Larger gobies like G.niger or G.paganellus may prey on it and shouldn't be in the same aquaria.

Food and feeding:

Wild fish feed on crustaceans (copepods and amphipods). In captivity they soon learn to accept dead prey and a range of commercially produced frozen marine foods will be readily accepted. Brine shrimps, mysis shrimps, cyclops, daphnia, glass worms and chopped shellfish.


Adult males are larger and more colourful, they also appear more 'bullish' than do the females.


Pomatoschistus pictus have been bred in captivity but reports of raising the fry are missing. Males use sounds around their nest to attract a mate. After spawning the male alone defends the brood possibly from several females. The fry disperse when they become free swimming.

Wild status:

The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species has not evaluated Pomatoschistus pictus. But it has a large natural range and is abundant across its range. It is of no commercial importance and isn't facing any immediate threats.

Further Information:

Painted gobies are strictly bottom dwellers due to have much reduced swim bladders.

Pomatoschistus pictus and associated courtship behaviour were recorded in captivity and described for the first time. Males emitted thump-like sounds mainly when displaying alone in the nest and produced drumming sounds outside the nest.

Information at a glance

pH: 8.2 - 8.4
dGH: 8 - 12
Salinity: 1.021 - 1.025
Temperature: 10 - 22°C (50 - 72°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 6cm (2.5in)
Min tank size: 60 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Bottom

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Painted goby, Pomatoschistus pictus

Origin: Eastern Atlantic: Norway (Trondheim fjord) to Spain and the Canary Islands. Reported from the Mediterranean Sea

Habitat: Inhabits gravel and sand; young may occur in shore pools


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Gobiidae
Genus: Pomatoschistus
Species: P. pictus

Gobius pictus,
Pomatoschistus pictus pictus,
Gobius rhodopterus,
Gobius affinis,
Pomatoschistus pictus adriaticus,
Gobius reticulatus,
Gobius minutus minor