Yellow Clown Goby

Published 2018


Written by Dan

Yellow Clown Goby are excellent fish for any salt water fish keeper.  They are typically reasonable in prices and are a good hearty fish once past the initial acclimation and quarantining process.  These fish show tons of personality and do not tend to be shy fish once they are comfortable in their tank.  This makes them a great addition to most tanks.


Quick Facts 
Care LevelEasy
Minimum Tank Size10
Reef SafeYes
Water Conditions72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Max Size1.5"
Natural HabitatCoral Reefs of the Indo Pacific
Scientific NameGobiodon okinawae

Common Names

Yellow Clown Goby, Okinawa Goby, Yellow Goby  

Where is the Yellow Clown Goby Found?

The Yellow Clown Goby originates can be found in its natural habitat from southern Japan to the Great Barrier Reef.  It makes its home among the coral reefs of this region and can often be found perched on the branches of Acropora coral.






Are Yellow Clown Goby reef safe?

Yes, these fish are reef safe.  Their natural environment is the reefs of the southern pacific.  Although they are known to nip at the polyps of some SPS (Small Polyp Stony) coral; a well feed well maintained tank with a couple pieces of coral for the goby to nest in should not have any issues.

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What do Yellow Clown Goby eat?

Just like many of their cousin goby’s, the Yellow Clown Goby are carnivores but due to their small size they are really classified as planktivore.  This means they feed a lot on mesoplankton, these are the diverse species of organisms that live in the water but are too small to swim against the current.

They will also feed on copepods, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and a variety of finely chopped meaty foods.  Feeding live foods occasionally is great for them, but they can also live on frozen meaty fish food.  They will not eat on pellets or flake food.

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Acclimating Yellow Clown Goby

It is best to quarantine any new addition to your tank.  The Yellow Clown Goby though is easily stressed by the purchase, transportation, and quarantining process.  Make sure when purchased from a local fish store that you ask to see them feed and ensure it has a good appetite.  Drip acclimate them to your tank and keep an eye on them in your quarantine tank making sure they keep their appetite.  It is best to give them plenty of hiding spots during this time and a good supply of live meaty foods will help with this process.

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What type of behavior can you expect from a Yellow Clown Goby?

These fish do not act like many of their goby cousins.  Rather than hanging out in the sand at the bottom of the tank these guys will tend to stay out and visible.  Give them plenty of places to hide and they will feel comfortable enough to stay out in the open.  They like to perch in the branches of your coral, especially in those of an Acropora coral.

After a while in the tank they will begin to recognize their owner and will have plenty of personality and are even known to interact and do what some would call begging for food.

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How do Yellow Clown Goby reproduce?

The yellow Goby can and will change its gender to ensure reproduction is possible.  This puts them in the classification of protogynous hermaphrodites.  At birth they are all born female.  As they grow and pair off the smaller of the two will change, becoming a male.

If their mate passes and a new mate is found they can change again.  In the case of two males, the large will become female.  When this happens with two females again the smaller will become male.

This trait allows them to reproduce at a high rate.  It has been recorded in some areas for a small clutch of these fish to double their population in an area in a year’s time.  This fact coupled with the fact that they will breed in captivity has led to them being a good choice for the cost conceive fish keeper.


If you have had any luck breeding these, please share your experience in the comments section below.

What are some good Tank Mates for the Yellow Clown Goby?

Yellow Clown Goby are peaceful fish and do well with a large number of tank mates.  Following the rule of not keeping a fish with anything large enough to fit it in its mouth is always a good rule.  That said, this fish secretes a mucus over its skin that is poisonous and has what is described as a bitter unpalatable taste. Just because a large lion fish might spit it back out doesn’t mean damage can’t be done in the few seconds it takes to slurp it up and spit it back out.  Better to just avoid this situation. Keeping it with other peaceful reef safe fish is a good bet.  Things like clown fish, tangs, anthias, and other types of gobys are good choices.  Never attempt to keep more than one if they are not a mated pair w/out ample room for them to claim as territory.  10 gallons are recommended to keep one, when keeping more than one try to give 20+ gallons of territory for each to claim. Save Save Save Save

What is the Lifespan of a Yellow Clown Goby?

If they are good and healthy when you get them they will live several years in good tank conditions.  Many hobbyists report having these for 2-3 years with some reporting having some for 4-6.  Since these fish are highly territorial and small to boot, they do not do well with the process of being bagged with several others of their kind, shipped, and then placed in tanks with larger more aggressive feeders.  Making sure you get one who is healthy and has a good appetite from the begging is key to having one that will have a long healthy life. Save Save Save Save Save

How long have yours lived? Let me know in the comments .

What Tank size is recommended for the Yellow Clown Goby?

Since they only get 1.5” in length these are great candidates for nano tanks.  I would recommend at least 10 gallons for one of these and a few inverts.  Add more fish and you need more room just like most other species.  When keeping more than one I recommend giving them at least 20+ gallons each with rock work and hiding spots to limit territory disputes. Save Save Save Save Save

Color Variation

There are several fish in this family that have similar body shape with different coloring patterns like the Green Clown Goby, or the Panda Goby; but their behavior is different and are thus classified as their own type of goby and not truly a color variation the Yellow Clown Goby.






Whether you are looking for something new for your established tank or are a new fish keeper starting your first nano tank.  The personality and size of the Yellow Clown Goby makes it a great choice.

What is your experience with this fish?  Let me know in the comments below.

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