Species profile: Flaming Prawn Goby



Doug Hoese © Australian Museum

The flaming prawn goby (Discordipinna griessingeri) may well just be the most beautifully frustrating fish I’ve ever kept. Without doubt, it is one of the most stunning fish you can get for a pico aquarium, but from my experience, you will very rarely get to appreciate its magnificence.

This tiny fish is becoming more popular in the aquarium trade and it’s easy to see why. They generally command a higher price than other nano fish, I paid £45 for mine, but I’ve seen them going for as much as £90, which is a lot of money for not a lot of fish. They are carnivorous and inhabit the coastal oceans of the Indo-Pacific.

Although termed a prawn goby, there is no evidence that this particular species actively interacts or lives with pistol shrimp. Unlike those prawn gobies that like to share burrows with shrimp, the flaming prawn goby is more likely to be found on the substrate or hiding within the live rock itself.

Video credit: TheQualityMarine

This brings me to the biggest issue/ non-issue with this species, you’re never likely to see the damn thing! From my own experience and reading other owners accounts, it seems that this is one of the most shy fish the reef hobby has ever seen. It’s hard to blame them really, if I was barely an inch long as an adult I’d probably stay hidden most of the time as well.

I thought that over time my particular one may settle down, but this is yet to happen. I often come into the room where my aquarium is situated, just to catch a glimpse of the little guy darting back to his favourite hiding spot, which is at the back of the tank amongst the live rock, completely invisible to the casual observer.

In my experience the best time to spot this fish is during feeding, mine is particularly fond of freshly hatched baby brine shrimp, and will temporarily lower its inhibitions in the pursuit of its tiny floating prey. It is a joy to watch and something that I look forward to. But the truth is I think that this fish would probably be fine in my tank with no specific feeding, as I’m sure their must be ample naturally occurring amphipods and copepods within the live rock to support it.

Video credit: EcoReefCorals

When you can see them, you will probably notice that the fish will be continuously flashing its elongated dorsal fin and enlarged pectoral fins (as seen in the first video). This is great to watch, and is presumably used as some some sort of visual signal. The exact purpose of this signalling is unknown, mine will do it, yet the only other fish in my tank is a green clown goby. I have read reports that these fish will set-up a small territory, so perhaps it is just signally to any would be trespassers and telling them to move on!

All in all I would still recommend this fish, but be prepared to see it sporadically. However, when you do get the rare chance to observe it, it just makes it all the more special. In my opinion those moments alone make it worth considering if you own a peaceful nano aquarium and are looking for an addition that is just a little outside the box.