Wormfish / Firefish (Microdesmidae)

Wormfish or Firefish Family Characteristics:

Wormfish or Firefish were originally included in the family Blenniidae (bleennies), subsequently placed in with the family Gobiidae (gobies) and have now found a home with the Microdesmids. This family consists of approximately 36 species of ell like fishes, hence the common name of wormfish (a not very flattering but, nonetheless, very apt description).

In the wild, firefish may be seen hovering in groups close to the reef, head into the current, feeding on small planktonic animals that drift their way. All possess a favorite 'bolthole' in the reef into which they rapidly retreat at the first sign of danger.

Aquarium spawning are extreamely rare and, to date, no larvae have been raised in captivity.

Diet And Feeding:

Small planktonic animals are taken in the wild. In the aquarium, firefish will accept nearly all live, frozen and flake foods of a suitable size.

Aquarium Behavior:

Wormfish are fairly nervous fish, requiring plenty of rockwork crevices into which to retreat when disturbed and as a night time shelter. In the absence of suitable rockwork; or in the company of boisterous companions, firefish have a tendency to jump out of the water; therefore a tight fitting cover glass is recommended.

Firefish may be kept in small groups, but each fish will need a small territory of 10-20 square centimeteres vertically. a heirarchy is usually established, the most dominant fish taking the most desirable position.

List Of Popular Aquarium Wormfish:

  • Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris decora)
  • Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica)
  • Helfrichi Firefish (Nemateleotris helfrichi)
  • Blue Gudgeon Dartfish (Ptereleotris heteroptera)
  • Scissortail Dartfish (Ptereleotris evides)
  • Zebra Barred Dartfish (Ptereleotris zebra)


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