Zebra Dartfish

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Ptereleotris zebra - (Fowler, 1938)
Zebra Dartfish

A great reef aquarium fish, best kept in groups. Scott W. Michael


An amiable, lovely schooling fish that is not only beautiful and ­disease-resistant, but also engages in fascinating social behaviors when kept in groups.

While shy when first added to the tank, this becomes a showy species, swimming about the water column, displaying at each other, and exhibiting typical zooplanktivore ­feeding behaviors.

Introduce three or more individuals at the same time for best results.

In the wild, they are often found over hard bottoms in shallow water with strong currents. A brightly lit stony coral reef aquarium with powerful water motion will make them at home.

Family: Ptereleotridae

Other common name(s):

  • Bar Goby
  • Chinese Zebra Goby
  • Zebra Barred Dartfish
  • Zebra Hover Goby
  • Zebra Dart Goby
  • Shotsilk Goby
  • Chinese Zebra Goby

Native range:

Habitat: Reef-sand interface. Flat rocks with depressions dug underneath them provide excellent shelter sites.

Maximum length: 11 cm (4 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 76 L (20 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: All levels.


Carnivore. Feed meaty plankton-like foods, such as mysid and enriched brine shrimp, at least twice a day.

Aquarium Compatibility

True to its name, it will dive into a hiding place when threatened. This is a happy-go-lucky species that gets along well with all of its tankmates, as long as they are not too large or belligerent. If kept with large, predatory, or overly aggressive tankmates, Zebra Dartfish will spend most of their time hiding and may eventually starve.

It also gets along well with its own kind and should be kept in pairs or small groups—they tend to acclimate more quickly and are more brazen when housed together. It is an ideal species for a reef aquarium and not a threat to any ornamental invertebrates.

Special Care

This species is a proficient jumper—always keep the tank covered.


Zebra Dartfish are demersal spawners that provide parental care to their broods. Captive spawning in caves has been reported, but little is known about rearing the larvae.

Reference: 101 Best Saltwater Fishes
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM