The Neon Goby, Elacatinus oceanops, is wonderful nano fish, and is readily recognized as excellent cleaner fishes that remove parasites and pests from other fishes.
Unfortunately, they’re often sold, very inexpensively, collected from Florida. I say unfortunately, because my history with Florida collected Neon Gobies is that most of them come in carrying Ich, aka. Cryptocaryon; how ironic that the cleaner fishes often come in loaded with parasites! There are only a couple collectors I would trust for clean fish.
Being small, brightly-colored cleaner fishes, they aren’t exactly prone to hiding in the wild. While I’m not aware of any evidence at this time, my concern is that because of this behavior, they are also the type of fish that possibly could be suffering at the hands of the invasive Lionfish throughout the Eastern Atlantic. Perhaps it’s better to leave them in the wild?
Thankfully, Neon Gobies are one of the easiest marine fishes to breed in captivity. They are naturally short-lived, so they pair up quickly and spawn fast. When I get the chance to offer captive-bred Neon Gobies at reasonable prices, I’m eager to do so. I can attempt to pick sexed pairs if requested; females are generally heavy set, with males being slim. We’re able to keep several in larger tanks, but in a nano aquarium (10 gallons or less) I might suggest sticking with either a single, or a bonded pair, as non-paired fish can quarrel.
Generally speaking, even young captive-bred neon gobies are already “adults”, ranging between 1 and 2″ in size.
Ultimately, a captive-bred Neon Goby is going to cost more than a wild-caught one at this point in time, but as you can see, this is one of those fishes where, in my opinion, being captive-bred makes as big difference. It’s worth voting with your wallet to support breeding fish like this.