Elacatinus oceanops Jordan, 1904, Garden Key, Tortugas, Florida.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Blue neon goby.
Small, slender goby with an pointed, bulbous snout. Maximum length about 2.4 in (6 cm). Has two dorsal fins and a squareshaped caudal fin about the same height as the body. The pelvic fins are joined to form a cuplike sucking disk. Dorsally the fish is dark, with an iridescent pale blue stripe running laterally along the lower edge of the dorsum, extending from the snout to the caudal fin. This lateral streak in fishes from Belize is blue in the middle bordered by white. The underside of the head and the abdomen are pale.
Southern Florida, the Flower Garden coral reefs 100 mi (161 km) off the Texas-Louisiana border, Alacran Reef of northern Yucatбn, Quintana Roo state (Yucatбn peninsula of Mexico), and Belize.
Inhabits coral reefs and tropical rocky substrates at depths from 3.3 to 131 ft (1–40 m). Has also been observed associated with large sponges.
Rests on coral and withdraws into crevices when threatened. A cleaner goby that picks parasites off other fishes, the male cleans the undersides of rocks, corals, or shells to prepare the surface for eggs.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
This is a cleaner goby that picks parasites off other fishes. As with other cleaner gobies, this species waits for other fishes at stations on top of coral heads. It will then swim along the fish and remove ectoparasites from its skin. Its diet includes parasites, fish scales (perhaps accidentally removed), and benthic invertebrates. Larvae feed on small plankton.
Males clean the undersides of rocks, corals, or shells to prepare the surface for eggs. The male swims in front of the female and entices her into the shell or crevice. Spawning occurs with the male and female quivering side-by-side, depositing the eggs on the ceiling of the nest. Individuals can spawn multiple clutches, several times within a month. The eggs are about 0.08 in (2 mm) long, and 0.04 in (1 mm) wide. About 300–450 eggs are deposited in a nest about 0.5 sq in (3 sq cm). The pair remains together while caring for the eggs. The male guards the nest and presumably circulates oxygen-rich water over the eggs, using his pectoral and caudal fins. Eggs hatch in 7–10 days. Larvae are 0.16 in (4 mm) at hatching, and the parents do not care for the fry.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
This colorful fish is a popular, nonaggressive aquarium species that does not require much space. It is commercially important in the saltwater aquarium trade.
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