Tateurndina ocellicauda is a small and colorful fish native to lowland rivers and ponds in New Guinea. It is known under several different common names in English, including Peacock Goby, Rainbow Gudgeon or Eye-Spot Sleeper. It does not belong to the true Goby family Gobiidae; it is instead a member of the Sleeper Goby family Eleotridae and a close relative of the Flat Head Sleeper, the Empire Gudgeon and the Snakehead Gudgeon. You can distinguish true gobies from sleeper gobies by looking at the pelvic fins. If the fins are separate, you are looking at sleeper gobies. If the fins are more or less fused you are looking at true gobies from the family Gobiidae.
Sleeper gobies are much less common in the hobby than true gobies and the main reason is probably that fact that most freshwater dwelling sleeper gobies look rather drab. Tateurndina ocellicauda is however a striking exception to this rule and sports sky blue, bright red and vivid yellow colors. It is decorated with bars, spots and a checkered pattern, and it is also a peaceful fish that can be kept in community aquariums. In addition to this, it has been successfully bred in captivity and has an interesting fry rearing behavior.
Sexing adult Tateurndina ocellicauda is not difficult, because the males are noticeably bigger than the females and have much bigger heads. The head has a strong jaw line and a type of cephalic hump. The female is smaller – she stays around 4-5 cm while the male can exceed 7 cm in length – and her head is more streamlined without any hump. During the breeding period, the eggs inside the female will make her very plump.
Both sexes have a sky blue overall coloration and are decorated with bright red vertical bars which can be broken or checkered. They will also display a dark spot at the base of the caudal peduncle and have a yellow streak on the unpaired fins. The unpaired fins of the male have more red rays over a blue background, while the female shows a more defined yellow streak in her fins. In females, the belly will be of a pale yellow shade.
Tateurndina ocellicauda is a peaceful fish that can be housed together with other peaceful species. They will inhabit the bottom of the aquarium and rarely venture any higher. During the breeding period, the male can start to harass the female and it is therefore important to have a lot of hiding spots in the aquarium. Some males will even dare to bully tank mates of other species.
If you want to obtain a pair, you can purchase half a dozen juvenile Tateurndina ocellicauda and let them grow up together. Decorate the aquarium with plants that form plenty of hiding spots, such as Java fern and Java moss, and include several small up-side-down flower pots that can be used as spawning sites. A coconut shell with a narrow entrance will also be appreciated.
When it comes to water parameters, it is best to mimic the natural habitat of Tateurndina ocellicauda, i.e. the waters of eastern Papua New Guinea. The pH-value should be neutral (pH 7) and the water hardness below 7dH. The normal water temperature in this region is 22 – 26°C (72-79° F). Carry out a 50% water change once a week.
Tateurndina ocellicauda is not particularly fuzzy when it comes to food, but wild caught specimens can refuse to eat dry food. Brine shrimp, daphnia and mosquito larvae are all examples of suitable foods for Tateurndina ocellicauda. When the fish grows really big, it will develop a taste for big foods. A varied and protein rich diet is always recommended, but will be even more important if you want your fish to breed.
Breeding Tateurndina ocellicauda
As the breeding period commences, the male will pick a suitable spawning site (usually one of the flower pots) and began to circle around it. When a female swims by, he will flutter his fins in front of her and nudge her towards the opening of the pot. If the female wants to spawn, she will swim into the flower pot and attach her eggs to the roof. The male will fertilize them and then promptly chase the female away. The eggs are big and transparent and needs to be cared for by the male. You should therefore let him stay with them. The male will work hard to provide the eggs with fresh water rich in oxygen and fend off any intruders. Without a fanning male, the risk of fungi attacks will increase dramatically.
The eggs will normally hatch 24-48 hours after spawning. When the eggs hatch, the male will no longer care for them and the newly emerged larvae can therefore fall prey to any adult fish in the aquarium. Sometimes the male will even eat his own fry. If you want a high fry survival rate, it is therefore necessary to either remove all the adult fish from the aquarium, or move the fry to their own separate fry rearing tank.
The fry rearing tank doesn’t have to be big; 2 ½ – 5 gallon of water is enough, provided of course that you know how to keep the water quality up in such a small container. Use water from the aquarium to fill the fry rearing tank and increase the temperature to 78 degrees F. A mature foam filter will help you with the water quality. The fry rearing tank should ideally contain live plants, e.g. Java fern and Java moss, since this will produce a steady supply of infusoria, which is a great source of nutrition for newly hatched Tateurndina ocellicauda.
Newly emerged fry will still be in the flowerpot and are therefore comparatively easy to move. Use a finger to block the hole in the flowerpot while you carefully invert the pot so that the big opening of the flowerpot (where a flower would grow) faces the surface of the water. Gently lift the pot up from the aquarium and do not remove your finger from the hole until the pot is resting safely in the fry rearing tank.
As mentioned above, newly hatched fry will feed on infusoria that will grow automatically if you have live plants in the aquarium. When they become a little bigger, you can start serving them newly hatched brine shrimp. Once they have grown accustomed to brine shrimp, you can simply feed them bigger and bigger brine shrimp until they have reached adulthood.
Young fry will spend their time swimming in the upper part of the aquarium, but Tateurndina ocellicauda fish will always go down and settle on the bottom sooner or later and then live out their life down there. Young fry are really shy, but as they become bolder (and more used to you feeding them) they will start swimming to the front of the aquarium as you approach.
Young Tateurndina ocellicauda fry are translucent and will not develop any coloration until they are at least 1-2 months of age, at which point you may be able to see the characteristic dark spot on the base of the caudal fin. When they are around three months of age they will be fully developed, but still really small and without adult coloration. When they are around four months of age they will be roughly 1 ½ to 2 cm long and begin to show a hint of yellow. At this age, they are still too young to be sexed.