Captive-bred Yasha gobies have arrived!

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Yasha goby: small but perfectly formed - and now another in a growing list of marine fish to be successfully bred in captivity. Image by Practical Fishkeeping.

The first aquacultured Yasha gobies, Stonogoniops yasha, have been delivered to U.S. wholesaler Quality Marine, based in Los Angeles.


Also known as the White ray shrimpgoby, this tiny 5cm/2in fish is definitely not small in beauty or personality, with its vibrant red and white patterning and its greatly elongated dorsal fin. Like others in its genus, the Yasha gby associates with pistol shrimps in the wild (most frequently observed with the colorful and commonly available Alpheus randalli) forming a symbiotic relationship wherein the shrimp works to create a burrow, while the goby stands as lookout, alerting its partner when danger is afoot. 

While their charms are not lost on the aquarist, their increasing popularity creates a demand for the charismatic species which is still only known from a handful of locations in the wild. Scattered throughout the West Pacific, from Japan to Vanuatu, it is said to be found in moderately deep habitats, from 15-40m.

Last spring, a group of undergraduate students at Roger Williams University embarked on a series of research projects in hopes of successfully culturing and rearing S. yasha as part of the school’s Marine Ornamental Programme. In collaboration with The Rising Tide Initiative, the group, led by Joe Szczebak, Brad Bourque, and Dr. Andy Rhyne, experimented with a series of environmental conditions to best induce spawning, as well as observed the role that their symbiotic relationship with A. randalli played in reproduction.

Now all those efforts have been rewarded with a monumental breakthrough, with six of their nine conditioned pairs not only regularly spawning and laying nests within their synthetic caves, but the larvae successfully settling and metamorphosing around 30-50 days post hatch. Their first attempt yielding 38 thriving juveniles, the team continued to make advancements in their techniques and now has a continuous stock of the very first aquacultured Yasha gobies.

This achievement comes hot on the heels of the Hawaii Oceanic Institute/Rising Tide’s massive triumph with the first aquacultured Yellow tangs (Zebrasoma flavescens), and, most recently, their tremendous breakthrough with the UF Aquaculture Lab in successfully rearing the Regal tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)

In addition to the Rising Tide initiative, there are a number of other projects Quality Marine supports, including the Banggai cardinal (Pteroptogon kauderni). For over three years, Quality Marine has only distributed captive bred P. kauderni.

The company says: "Stonogobiops yasha is a species we feel is a valuable addition to the growing list of aquacultured organisms available. While not listed as threatened or endangered, this is a relative newcomer to the trade, and as demand and desirability continues to grow, supplying a captive bred alternative relieves pressure off of the wild population.

"As they join the ranks among our seemingly endless list of cultured fishes and invertebrates, we’re very much looking forward to supplying the very first captive-bred Yasha gobies available to the trade. The robust juveniles have been under the diligent care of our talented husbandry team since their arrival late last week, the first of which are destined for Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) approved aquariums."