Stiphodon atropurpureus

25. August 2023

The neon gobies of the genus Stiphodon are all beautiful fish. None of the 37 currently known species grows longer than 5-7 cm, usually they remain much smaller. Although adult Stiphodon live exclusively in pure freshwater, the larvae can only develop in the sea. Therefore, neon gobies live in streams near the coast. They spawn under stones, the male guards the eggs. The hatching, tiny larvae are washed with the current into the sea, where they develop.

Stiphodon atropurpureus is – if one follows the literature data – widely distributed, because the larvae are drifted with ocean currents. The species is known from Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South China. However, it is scientifically described from the Philippines. Extremely similar is S. semoni from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. By pure observation the two species cannot be distinguished. S. atropurpureus has more scales in the longitudinal row (30-37, mostly 33-35, S. semoni has 27-30), in the vertical row (12-18, mostly 15-17, S. semoni has 10-11) and in front of the first dorsal fin, so altogether smaller (and therefore more) scales on the body. 

However, this is not recognizable on the living animal; it is more than likely that S. atropurpureus and S. semoni are constantly confused with each other. Also we have no other choice than to trust the information of the exporter. Since the two species do not differ in aquaristic requirements and in coloration, the question of which species they are is rather academic.

The fish, like all Stiphodon, live in schools consisting of males and females. Females are inconspicuously colored. Only when they want to spawn, the males develop the full color splendor, occupy a territory and court with their bright colors in front of the females. When the young have hatched, the males become paler again (but they are then still beautiful) and return to the shoal.

In the aquarium the care succeeds easily. Being omnivorous, Stiphodon prefer small food particles (food tablets, frozen cyclops, etc.) and also gnaw on algae. 

For our customers: the animals have code 456083 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesale.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer