The Callionymidae family consists of 139 species, spread across 19 genera. These mainly Indo-West Pacific fishes are generally all small, benthic species that inhabit a range of depths, from shallow to fairly deep (depending on species). They are often found often over sandy or muddy bottoms in weedy areas of tidepools and the surf zone. They are often confused with gobies or even blennies, and often have one of these terms in the common name assigned (for example, “scooter blenny”). They feed on tiny copepods, amphipods and other small bethic organisms. Dominance hierarchies exist within groups and males fight viciously (so they should not be housed together). Some species produce a foul tasting/smelling body slime to dissaude predators. Although they have been captive-bred and are sometimes offered as such, they are not easy to keep unless the display aquarium is large and has a healthy, self-sustaining population of tiny crustaceans. The best chance comes if they are kept in species tanks and in this scenario, without competition for food, they may even learn to take small meaty foods added by the aquarist.

Dactylopus genus – this genus has 2 species that are rarely encountered in the ornamental trade. They grow to a moderate size and inhabit mud flats or sandy bottoms, including estuaries, in nature. Overall they do not make good community fish instead requiring a specialised system to prodvide for their requirements. Click or touch a thumbnail image for species level information.

Synchiropus genus – with 44 species, this genus containing several subjects of interests for the aquarist indeed a handful have attained iconic status for their flambouyant attire and peaceful demeanor. Growing to just several cm in most cases, these dragonets are best kept singly or in known pairs unless the tank is very large as males, often identifiable by their extended dorals spine, will fight to the death. Species of interest are all shallow water fishes that favour sandy, rubble environments with coral and/or algal cover. Click or touch a thumbnail image for species level information.

Neosynchiropus genus

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