Pretty Peacocks! - Tateurndina ocellicauda Nichols, 1955

Common Names: Peacock gudgeon, Peacock goby, Rainbow Gudgeon, One-eyed sleeper goby, Eye-spot Sleeper

Synonyms: None

Family: Eleotridae (Sleepers), subfamily: Eleotrinae.
Since the peacock goby is part of the Sleeper Gobies, it has separate pelvic fins. This sets the sleeper gobies apart from true gobies (Gobiidae) where they have fused pelvic fins that can be used like suction cups. T. ocellicauda is one of the smallest sleeper gobies.

Distribution: eastern Papua New Guinea (near Safia and Popondetta) in small freshwater rainforest streams.

pH: 7

Temperature: 22-26°C (71-78°F)

Size: 7.5 cm (3”) max, though 6.3cm (2½”) is more common.

Sex differences: Minimal. Colours are almost identical between male and female. They have mainly a blue body colour with interrupted red vertical stripes along the sides of their body. They have a dark spot at the base of their caudal. The fins are mainly yellow but close to the body they are red, except for the caudal which is blue with red highlights fading into yellow.  Bellies are pale. Females can be told by the dark stripe along their anal fin. (note: not all females may get this stripe) Males do not get this stripe.
Spawning: cave spawner.  Males will guard the 30+ eggs. These will hatch in 5 to 6 days.  The fry should be freeswimming in approximately 10 days, depending on temperature. If multiple females are available, the male will guard at least 2 batches at once.

Basic Care: They tend to be not too picky about food, but do show an extreme appreciation of live foods. Some seem to not take flake at all.  They are not aggressive, although they do a lot of fin flaring and mild attacks that seem to result in little to no damage.  Being gobies, Tateurndina ocellicauda tend to hang around the bottom of the tank.

We bought 2 pairs of these fish from our local petstore. We were extremely surprised to see them there. They were a bit on the expensive side, but we weren’t sure if we’d even see them again, so we got them.  All of the gobies went into a 10 gallon tank. It was the only tank I had free at the time. They pretty much all got along except the 2 males. The dominant male would go after the subdominant male, but only managed to damage the tail a bit. There was no further injury to the subdominant male.

The 10 gallon is filtered by a small sponge filter and has a large (for a 10) piece of driftwood in the tank. There are a lot of Java Fern plants in this tank as well. This led to their being lots of hiding places.  I suspect that’s why the T. ocellicauda got along so well.  I fed these fish a little bit of flake or frozen, but their main diet is baby brine shrimp.  On this diet both females got extremely fat.  One day I noticed that one female was skinnier than normal and decided to search the tank.  I found the dominant male guarding a patch of eggs that had been laid inside a “clay fish cave”.  He was at the far back of the clay decoration. Shortly after this I noticed the other female was also skinny. It turns out the male was guarding two clutches of eggs.  Those fry hatched while I was gone for the weekend and were eaten.

I was a bit disappointed but figured that they would spawn again. It didn’t take long either. Within a few more days, he’d spawned with the original female.  The subdominant male didn’t want to be left out and he spawned with the other female a few days later using part of the driftwood in the tank as his cave.  Several days later I noticed a few fry swimming in the top part of the tank. Since I’d heard conflicting reports of whether or not they’d eat their fry, I’d decided to keep them separate. So, I grabbed a Tupperware container and moved the cave into it, male and all. I waited until I saw lots of fry in the tank and then moved the cave and the male back into the main tank.

The Tupperware container is not filtered but does have air going into it. I also moved a bunch of the Java Fern into the tank to help feed the newborn peacock gobies. The fry were fed on microworms for several days and then went onto baby brine shrimp. They do not grow all that quickly. I only changed enough water to replace water sucked out when doing minor bottom cleaning for the fish. I also added in a small Spixi snail to help deal with the leftover food on the bottom.

Shortly after moving the fry to their own container I kept noticing only 3 fish in the tank. I realized I was seeing the two females and the subdominant male only. The damage to the male was healing up. I decided to check the tank more thoroughly and could not find the dominant male.  I had a bad feeling and found him underneath the tank stand all dried up.

The three fish continue to spawn in the tank, with the subdominant male taking over the “fish cave”.  Not all the fry survive but there are quite a few fry swimming in the tank with the parents of many different spawns.  

After a couple of months the fry were not even ½” but did have the tail spot that the species is known for.  Tinges of yellow and black on the fins are also visible to the naked eye.  I suspect that these fish can be tough to raise if you don’t have enough small food for the newly hatched fry.  I really enjoy these fish and would recommend them to anyone with a small tank available for a species tank.  They don’t need a species tank, but to get fry I think it’s better for the fish to be kept separate from other fish.

 © Copyright 1999-2009 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Reading:

Baensch Aquarium Atlas by Dr. Rüdiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch

Rainbowfishes In Nature and in the Aquarium by Dr. Gerald R. Allen

Australian freshwater fishes : biology and management by John R. Merrick
 Aqualog Special: Breathtaking Rainbows by Harro Hieronimus                                               

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