Engineer Goby

Engineer Goby- A Complete Guide

Also known as the convict goby or convict blenny, the engineer goby fish is predominantly washed in dark black color which is further accentuated by stunning white horizontal stripes that start from the eye and go on till the tail.

Engineer goby forms a separate family from the gobies and the blennies. They belong to another family of fish, called the Pholidichthyidae family. Engineer gobies are the only fish in this family and are often confused with other gobies, blennies and even eels for their long, slender shape.

Engineer gobies are generally resistant to most diseases and they can survive through even sub-optimum water conditions. They have been known to grow successfully in an aquarium setting.


They are into the habit of extensively digging tunnels through rocks hence it is imperative for you to place rocks at the bottom of your fish tank in order to breed the engineer goby inside the aquarium.

Even though they are predominantly black, their color markings change throughout their lifespan. But the colors that remain consistent throughout are dark blue and black on white.

When they are young, engineer gobies have horizontal stripes running across the length of their body. As they grow up, the horizontal stripes turn into vertical stripes.

Engineer Goby- Features and Care

The Ideal Tank

Engineer gobies require a minimum of 55 gallons or a bigger aquarium in order to grow comfortably. Moreover, the tank needs to have plenty of places to hide and peaceful tank mates who don’t create much fuss.

You need to fill the bottom of your tank with sand in which engineer goby fishes can make their own burrows and hide inside. Other than hiding, they also need enough room to swim.


A small and young engineer goby fish resembles a lot like a younger saltwater catfish. But once they mature, their entire look changes.

An adult engineer goby leaves behind one single horizontal stripe in neon color and embraces a black and yellow striped pattern. This pattern resembles a lot like stripes from the houses in jails and that’s where their nickname convict blenny originated from.

In the first few years of their adulthood, the engineer goby fishes sport this black and yellow pattern. Apart from the stunning pattern, adult engineer gobies are long with a slender shape that resembles a lot like an eel.


This Fish is relatively disease resistant and loves burrowing in sand. A tank with high walls (from the water level, is recommended as he is notorious for trying to escape.

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Average Size

An engineer goby fish will be at a tiny 1 to 2.5 inches when you first bring it home. From there, an average engineer goby can grow up to as long as a whopping 13.5 inches in length.


Engineer gobies have a fascinating all-time digging behavior. You will always find them hidden in their tunnels that they dug in the bottom of the tank inside the sand bed. They are pretty shy in nature and are usually self-engrossed in the activity of digging.

They don’t build one tunnel in which they consider their home and stay in that all day and night. Instead, they will keep digging and re-digging different sets of tunnels at different spots of the sand bed.

Most often, you will find them maneuvering in the water or around the ledges in big groups on bait to look like one big fish instead of lots of little ones.

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Aquarium Needs

Since engineer gobies spend most of their time digging, special care has to be taken regarding the bottom of the tank. Fill it up with live sand substrate or a deep sand bed to provide them with maximum comfort.

They also make use of small rubble for their hiding burrows but most of the time they dig in the sand. Even if they stay hidden inside most of the time but once they realize it’s time for their food, they will instantly jump out of their burrows and grab the food.

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Food Requirements

Being carnivorous in nature, the engineer goby fishes are hardcore meat-eaters. Therefore their diet includes meaty food items like shrimp, frozen seafood, black worms, and other related seafood.

There are also certain precautions to be taken when it comes to how you feed them. The engineer gobies are extremely shy in nature and get easily scared by fast movements, so you need to be pretty careful while feeding them.

It’s recommended to feed them twice a day. During their feeding time, they will come out of their hidings and eat food out of water columns while they are floating close to them. Fluvial Bug Bites are a great choice.

Engineer Goby & Reef

As mentioned earlier, engineer goby fishes move around constantly digging under the sand bed. This constant movement can cause the reef and the rock below to sink down. If the rink sinks low, there are high chances of your structure collapsing and falling.

Hence you need to make sure that your reef is placed on the glass bottom. Place its foundation on the lowest structure and not on the top of the sand. In doing so, you will protect your rock tower structure even if the gobies dig under the rocks.

Potential Common Diseases

The engineer goby fishes are prone to a common aquatic illness, known as the saltwater ich. So you need to keep an eye on that.

If you can manage to have a 50-gallon fish tank and a deep sand bed, you should totally buy the engineer goby fish.


Fishkeeping Folks: Engineer Goby – Complete Care Guide, 4 Tank Mates & Lifespan