Yellow Watchman Goby Care

Yellow Watchman Goby Care

The bright yellow watchman goby, also known as yellow prawn goby, is a fascinating saltwater aquarium fish. It’s suitable for beginning marine aquarists, does well in smaller aquariums and its bright coloration makes it a cheerful addition to your tank.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about yellow watchman goby care and keeping these gobies in your home aquarium!

MINI QUIZ: Which nearly blind invertebrate species does the yellow watchman goby maintain a symbiotic relationship with?

Name (Common, Scientific) Yellow watchman goby, Cryptocentrus cinctus
Minimum tank size 20 gallons
Minimum group size 1
Temperature 72-82 °F
Salinity 1.020-1.025
pH 8.0-8.4
Difficulty level Easy

Yellow watchman goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus) description

The yellow watchman goby, as its name suggests, is a bright yellow, bottom-dwelling goby species.

The species can grow to up to around 4” in length and features frog-like eyes, a broad mouth and neon blue flecks across the front of its body.

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Yellow watchman goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus) aquarium

Because yellow watchman gobies are so small, they don’t need a large tank to thrive. A 20 gallon set-up should probably be enough for a single watchman; if you’d like to keep a mated pair, you could consider a 30 gallon.

This species is a bottom dweller and inhabits burrows, which means an aquarium with a sandy substrate is preferable. Make sure there’s a mix of hiding places as well as open spots available, as your watchman will appreciate being able to wait out in the open for food but dart away at the slightest sign of danger.

Note: your aquarium should have a tight-fitting lit. Yellow watchman gobies and other goby species are known to jump out of their tanks.

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Yellow watchman goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus) compatibility

Did you know the answer to the quiz question at the start of this article? Part of what makes the yellow watchman goby such a fascinating aquarium fish is the symbiotic relationship it forms with alpheid shrimp species. In the aquarium world, these are better known as pistol shrimp.

Although pistol shrimp (also known as snapping shrimp) carry a pretty formidable punch, their eyesight is extremely limited. That’s where the yellow watchman goby comes in, and where it gets its common name from! This highly vigilant fish keeps an eye out for the both of them, thereby ensuring the pistol shrimp’s safety. The shrimp will also get to scoop up any small scraps of food the goby drops.

So what does the yellow watchman goby get in return? A house! The pistol shrimp will dig out a burrow for the dream team to inhabit, making sure it’s in tip top shape at all times.

In the aquarium, your yellow watchman goby doesn’t need to be accompanied by a pistol shrimp. However, it’s quite interesting to see the two of them in action, so we definitely recommend considering keeping them together.

Note: pistol shrimp can’t break aquarium glass like some sources suggest, although larger specimens can pose a threat to ornamental shrimp. Other than that they’re considered reef safe.

The yellow watchman goby is also considered reef safe, making it a great option if you want to grow corals as well. Just keep in mind that although the species is generally peaceful, it becomes fiercely territorial when other gobies are involved. It’s best to stick to a single watchman or a mated pair to prevent brawls!

Yellow watchman goby (Cryptocentrus cinctus) diet

This species is not picky when it comes to food, which is one of the reasons it’s such a great option for beginning aquarists. Marine fish flakes or sinking pellets should happily be accepted.

Aside from commercial aquarium fish foods, you can also offer (thawed) frozen foods like mysis and brine shrimp. Just make sure your yellow watchman goby actually gets its fair share: because it’s a bottom feeder and a bit timid, it might be outcompeted by more boisterous tankmates.


Whether small or large, a marine aquarium featuring a yellow watchman goby and its trusted pistol shrimp sidekick is a fascinating addition to your home or office. If you’re dreaming of your own reef, contact us here so we can design, build and maintain it for you.