The Javan Red Lipstick Goby (Sicyopus rubicundus): Keeping and Breeding Conditions

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The Javan Red Lipstick Goby, scientifically known as Sicyopus rubicundus, is a captivating and unique freshwater fish species originating from Java, Indonesia. Unlike its close relatives, Sicyopus rubicundus is not a grazer of biofilm but a specialized predator, feeding on small live or frozen foods such as Bloodworms, Artemia, Daphnia, and Tubifex.

Natural Habitat and Morphology:

Sicyopus rubicundus is a near-exclusive inhabitant of short coastal streams on tropical, often volcanic, islands. They are typically found above waterfalls or cataracts, making their habitat inaccessible to most other fish species. The favorable habitats of these gobies contain clear, well-oxygenated water, which allows the development of a rich biofilm on submerged surfaces.

These gobies have adapted morphological features that enable them to thrive in their niche environments. Their slender body shape and size of 5-6 cm contribute to their successful colonization. Additionally, they possess the remarkable ability to climb waterfalls, which plays a vital role in their breeding strategy.

Tank Requirements:

To keep Sicyopus rubicundus successfully, it is crucial to recreate their natural habitat as closely as possible. A tank with base dimensions of 60 x 30 cm or equivalent is sufficient for a pair or a small group, but if you plan to keep multiple species together, opt for a larger aquarium to reduce territorial aggression among males.

1. Water Parameters:
- Temperature: Maintain a temperature range of 22 - 28 °C. Increased surface agitation is essential to maintain dissolved oxygen levels, especially towards the higher end of the temperature range.
- pH: Keep the pH levels between 6.5 - 7.7.
- Hardness: The water hardness should be in the range of 35 - 205 ppm.

2. Filtration and Oxygenation:
- Ensure clean and well-oxygenated water at all times. Consider using an over-sized filter, additional powerheads, flow pumps, or airstones to achieve proper water circulation. A turnover rate of 10-15 times the tank volume per hour is recommended, but 5-10 times per hour is feasible with good oxygenation.

3. Substrate and Decorations:
- Use gravel, sand, or a mixture of both as the base substrate.
- Add water-worn rocks and pebbles of varying sizes to create a natural habitat.
- Aged driftwood can be used but avoid new pieces that may leach tannins.

4. Tank Mates:
- Select peaceful, pelagic species that inhabit well-oxygenated streams as tankmates. Suitable options include Tanichthys, Microdevario, Rasbora, or smaller Danio species.
- Bottom-dwelling species like small loaches (e.g., Gastromyzon, Pseudogastromyzon, Barbucca, or Acanthopsoides) are also compatible.
- Avoid aggressive or territorial fish, especially larger cichlids and territorial species.

Breeding Conditions:

Breeding Sicyopus rubicundus in captivity is a challenging task, primarily due to their complex amphidromous breeding strategy. In the wild, adults live and spawn in freshwater streams, and their post-hatch larvae are washed downstream to develop in marine conditions. When they reach a certain stage of development, they start migrating upstream, including spectacular climbs over waterfalls.

Despite observations of courtship behavior and spawning, raising fry in aquariums remains elusive. This is likely because their complex breeding strategy requires specific marine and freshwater conditions that are challenging to replicate in captivity.


Sicyopus rubicundus, the Javan Red Lipstick Goby, is a fascinating and captivating species with unique ecological adaptations. While challenging to breed in captivity due to their complex amphidromous breeding strategy, keeping them in a well-maintained aquarium can be rewarding for experienced aquarists. By creating a suitable environment and choosing compatible tankmates, enthusiasts can appreciate the beauty and behavior of these slender and predatory gobies.

Additionally, if you are interested in acquiring these captivating Sicyopus rubicundus for your aquarium, I have more than 10 of them available. Whether you are an experienced aquarist or a passionate fish enthusiast, these unique gobies can be a valuable addition to your aquatic collection.

For those interested in obtaining these beautiful gobies, I can arrange shipping within the UK, ensuring that the fish reach you safely and in excellent condition. Rest assured that these fish have been well cared for and are ready to thrive in their new home.

To inquire about acquiring Sicyopus rubicundus or to learn more about their care and compatibility, please feel free to contact me. I am happy to provide any additional information you may need to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience with these remarkable fish.

Don't miss the opportunity to own these mesmerizing Javan Red Lipstick Gobies for your aquarium. Contact me today to reserve your Sicyopus rubicundus and embark on a journey of fascination with these unique and alluring creatures. :swim: :swim: :swim:
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