Pair up your Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby with the Tiger Snapping Shrimp, and watch behavior that is just as interesting as a clown in it’s anemone!

This goby has a tan to a pale greenish brown overall color with 6 to 7 vertical bands of various widths along the body.  The bands are reddish brown to brown, and the face, head and back head have pink, red or reddish brown spotting and pale blue to white speckling around the spotting. On the first dorsal fin the same color spots are edged in blue, with some individuals having this spotting in the second dorsal fin as well.  The rest of the fins are whitish with red stripes that follow the rays of the fins.  The Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby grows to 4.7” or 12 cm, and they probably live 2 to 3 years like other gobies.  This fish is for beginner/intermediate aquarists since they tend to be a little more picky about foods in the beginning.  

The Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby pairs up with various shrimp from the Alpheus genus, which are called “Pistol Shrimp” or “Snapping Shrimp.”  These nearly blind shrimp excavate a rather large cave for both the fish and shrimp to dwell in, and in return, when there is danger, the goby will alert the shrimp by flicking his tail.  This reaction is sensed by the shrimp’s antennae, telling the shrimp there is danger and to shoot quickly into the burrow.  Every night the burrow is closed up and in the morning the shrimp starts his renovation of the opening all over again.  It is thought that they pair up with their symbiotic shrimp for life; however, adding several Tiger Snapping Shrimp (Alpheus bellulus) to the tank may result in a pair.  On a side, yet interesting note, there are some pairs of shrimp gobies and their shrimp that will dig burrows that are so large even other fish, like certain tangs have been known to take refuge! 

The Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby is moderately easy to care for, since they tend to be a little more picky than other common shrimp gobies when it comes to feeding time.  This is usually only a problem when they are first introduced.  Start out with an established tank that has plenty of natural benthic crustaceans like copepods and amphipods.  This will help them get nourishment from these sources while adapting to prepared foods like frozen/thawed mysis and brine shrimp.  Some will accept shrimp based pellets over time.  To make sure they are getting enough calories, feed them at least twice a day.     

The Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby is semi-aggressive.  While triggers and other aggressive fish are too aggressive for this goby, peaceful fish like peaceful small gobies, passive fish, small fairy or small flasher wrasses or peaceful bottom dwellers will be harassed.  Peaceful fish that are fast swimmers like the larger fairy wrasses that are 5” to 6” should be fine in larger tanks over 60 gallons.  Very small decorative shrimp like sexy shrimp may be in danger of being eaten by a hungry Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby.  If keeping 2 different species of the Cryptocentrus genus in the same tank, add at the same time if they are the same size.   If one is smaller, add that one first and allow it to acclimate before adding the second species. 

Provide a minimum tank size is 20 gallons for one fish; however, if you are adding 2 different species of this genus, the tank should be at least 4 feet long to allow them to have their own territories.  Whether there are one or two shrimp gobies in the tank, give the Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby multiple hiding places to hide, or they can become stressed.   Bury parts of PVS pipes to provide extra places for refuge and form lower caves out of live rock as well.  If housing with a symbiotic shrimp, do not house them with fish that are known to eat shrimp.  Have some water movement along the bottom of the tank to mimic their natural environment.  They are fine with any lighting, so they work great in a fish only or reef setting and will inhabit the bottom areas of the tank. 

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Gobiidae
  • Genus: Cryptocentrus
  • Species: leptocephalus
Pink-Spotted Shrimp Goby – Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Size of fish – inches: 4.7 inches (11.94 cm)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Range ph: 8.1-8.4
  • Diet Type: Carnivore
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Pink Speckled Shrimpgoby, Cryptocentrus leptocephalus, was first described by Bleeker in 1876.  While this is the most commonly used name, they are also known as Pink Spotted Shrimp Goby, Singapore Prawn-Goby, Singapore Shrimp-Goby.  These common names are descriptive of the pink speckles and spots, as well as their tendency to engage in a symbiotic relationship with Alpheus shrimp.

They have been known by various species names, such as C. melanomas, C. obliquus, and C. singapurensis.

Distribution – Habitat:

The Pink Speckled Shrimpgoby are found in the Western Pacific from Indonesia to New Caledonia, then northward to the Yaeyama Islands and south to the northwest areas of Australia, and Tonga.  They like silty bottoms of inner reef flats and coastal reefs, sand and rubble substrates of inner reef lagoons and large tidal pools, and mangrove areas.  The depths they are found in are from very shallow to 33 feet (0 to 10 m); and are typically found on mud bottoms and sheltered sand bottoms at the deeper depths of 33 feet (10 m).   The foods they enjoy are probably similar to other Cryptocentrus genus as found at fishbase, include zoobenthos or bottom dwelling creatures such as very tiny bivalves and various other benthic crustaceans, as well as detritus, plants, worms, ostracods (“seed shrimp” which are only 1mm), possibly planktonic crustaceans and polychaete worms. They are often seen alone with their little shrimp friend and may spawn then return to their own hideouts afterwards.

The Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby has not been evaluated by the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species.

Species Variations and Similar Species:

Gorgeous Prawn-goby:  This goby also has pink speckling and spotting on the face, however there are 7 wide bands that start as a partial band at the head and end with a small one at the tail fin.  The bands are pink to brownish pink with each having the same width and are all evenly spaced.


  • Scientific Name: Cryptocentrus leptocephalus
  • Social Grouping: Solitary – They are typically seen alone with a shrimp from the Alpheus genus.
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed


This thin tubular shaped goby has 6 to 7 pinkish brown vertical bars which can be subdued or can become intense in color depending on the mood of the fish.  The band color appears to be “under” an overall pale greenish brown to tan color with the main color of the fish being more prominent when the bands are not “emboldened” by the fish.  The Pink Speckled Shrimpgoby’s lower face and chest area are pale to white.  Their head, back and dorsal fins have pink to red spots and pale blue to white speckling around them.  The first dorsal fin and part of the second dorsal fins have larger blue-edged pink to red spots.  Some specimens have no spotting on the second dorsal fin, while others have spotting mostly at the top section and back part of the dorsal fin.  Those who do not have the spotting on the second dorsal fin have pinkish rays, and these pinkish vertical “stripes” are also found on the tail fin and anal fin.  The pectoral and pelvic fins are clearish white with some hint of the corresponding pink coloring.  The spotting can also be orange to brown, depending on the fish and location.  Not much is known about sexing these animals, however the length of the first dorsal fins first rays, as well as the presence of a lot more spotting on some fish may be a distinct characteristic of one of the sexes; however, nothing is down in writing because this may just be indicative to the size or maturity of the fish.  These guys grow to 4.7” or 12 cm, and like many gobies, they probably live only a few years. 

  • Size of fish – inches: 4.7 inches (11.94 cm) – 4.7” (12 cm)
  • Lifespan: 2 years – Like other gobies, they probably do not live more than 2 to 3 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby is moderately easy to care for and should be housed in a tank that is at least 20 gallons if it is alone.  If there are to be other fish in the tank, then the tank should be larger because they are territorial gobies.  They are moderately easy to keep, although the aquarist will need to do a few things to keep this fish successfully.   For whatever reason, these guys are a little more picky when it comes to eating in captivity; yet, with a little preparation and determination, success is possible.  Add the Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby to a mature tank that is at least a year old so it has plenty of copepods and other benthic creatures who have established themselves.  This will help the goby to find nutritious foods as they become more comfortable and become accustomed to prepared foods.  Use shrimp based frozen/thawed foods and once they will eat that (make sure they don’t spit it out), then you may try shrimp based pellets.  These fish are territorial, and while you can have another species from this genus in the same tank a few suggestions are helpful.  Both species should be the same size and added at the same time in a tank that is at least 4 feet long.  Add smaller specimens first and allow them to acclimate before adding the second goby.  

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy – They tend to be harder to feed in the beginning.
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – This fish is between beginner and intermediate.

Foods and Feeding

Although the foods they are eat are currently shown as unknown, others in this genus seem to lean towards being carnivorous.  Although some plant matter is ingested, it may be incidental to them grabbing critters off of the plants.  Sort of like our cat eating grass; it doesn’t make him an omnivore.  Making sure there are amphipods and copepods in the tank for them to feed on when first added will help them transition to prepared foods.  Feed them shrimp based foods like mysis shrimp, brine shrimp and finely chopped raw table shrimp that is fresh or frozen/thawed.  Some have accepted pellets over time; yet flake is not very satisfying to these big eaters.  Feed them at least twice a day to make sure they get enough to eat.  

  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Flake Food: No – Not enough “bulk” to keep them well fed.
  • Tablet / Pellet: Occasionally – If they accept it, although it shouldn’t be their main diet. Pellets should be shrimp based.
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet – Make sure there are some copepods and/or amphipods for them to munch on as they get used to captive life and foods.
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day – Minimum of twice a day.

Aquarium Care

Reef tanks:
-Nano/Small tanks up to 40 gallons, perform 5% water changes weekly.
-Medium sized up to 90 gallons, perform 15% bi-weekly. 
-Large Tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable can be changed 10% bi-weekly to 20% monthly, depending on bioload.

Fish only tanks:*
Small tanks up to 40 gallons, perform 15% water changes bi-weekly.
-Medium sized up to 90 gallons, perform 20% to 30% monthly depending on bioload. 
-Large Tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable can be changed 20% to 30% every 6 weeks depending on bioload.

For more information on maintaining a saltwater aquarium see: Saltwater Aquarium Basics: Maintenance. A reef tank will require specialized filtration and lighting equipment. Regular water changes done  bi-weekly will help replace the trace elements that the fish and corals use up.  Learn more about reef keeping see: Mini Reef Aquarium Basics.

*Note:  If this is the ONLY fish in the tank, with no corals or other fish you can get away 20% monthly.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly – Weekly if an Alpheus shrimp is present.

Aquarium Setup

The Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby, when housed alone, can be kept in a tank that is only 20 gallons.  If there are going to be other fish, 40 gallons or higher would be needed.   Upon adding 2 of this genus (different species) into the same tank, make sure the tank is at least 4 feet long.  A nano tank that is 20 gallons with no other fish is also acceptable.  You may add a shrimp to this nano tank, although the water quality would need to be watched carefully for the shrimp’s sake.  Provide live rock with lots of extra places to hide near the bottom, or they become stressed which develops in them a greater desire to jump.  Sand is the preferred substrate since they like to burrow.  Add a handful of crushed coral for them to build with, and don’t worry about the lighting, as any will do.  Provide them with a steady temperature of 72˚F to 82 ˚F (22 to 28˚C), a pH of 8.1 to 8.4, decent water movement across the bottom  and a lid on the tank, since, as mentioned, they have been known to jump!

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L) – 20 gallons (76 liters) Larger tank when housing with other fish and a tank that is 4′ or longer for 2 different species of the same genus.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes – Only if the Pink Speckled Shrimpgoby is the only fish besides an Alpheus shrimp
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Plus Hiding Places – Extra hiding places at the bottom of the tank and PVC partially buried if desired.
  • Substrate Type: Sand
  • Lighting Needs: Any
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8&deg C) – 72˚ F (22˚ C)
 82 ˚ F (28˚ C)
  • Breeding Temperature: – Unknown
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Range ph: 8.1-8.4
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate – Have some water moving across the bottom
  • Water Region: Bottom – Provide a lid because they are jumpers.

Social Behaviors

The Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby is semi-aggressive and housing them with other Pink-Speckled Shrimpgobies may not be a good idea, since they are not seen in pairs in the wild, but only with their little shrimp buddies.  They may spawn and then separate again, so how they would react to each other in a closed system is unknown.  Share your experiences in the comments!  You can add 2 different species from this genus if done at the same time and if they are the same size and in a tank that is at least 4 feet long.  Provide them both with several hiding places, even adding partially buried PVC.  

They will get along with other semi-aggressive fish and peaceful, fast moving upper to mid-range fish that do not need to interact with them at the bottom of the tank.  Flasher wrasses, small fairy wrasses and assessors will be harassed.  Fairy wrasses that are of the larger species (around 5 to 6” long) should be fine if the tank is 24” deep at over 60 gallons, allowing them plenty of room to stay away from the bottom of the tank. Still, keep a watchful eye on your Fairy Wrasses. This is why, if adding other fish, 40 gallons is suggested.  They will go after pretty much ANY peaceful bottom dwellers like other gobies (smaller and less aggressive) and blennies.  Golden Headed Sleeper Gobies will also attack your Pink-Speckled Shrimpgoby in tanks that are not very large.  Do not house with aggressive fish like triggers and large aggressive wrasses from the Thalassoma genus.

They are safe with all corals.

This shrimp goby, while it will not eat larger shrimp, will go after small shrimp like Sexy Shrimp and the like.  They will also eat small crabs and any crustacean that can fit into their large mouth.  The Pink-Specked Shrimpgoby does not sift sand, so your amphipods, copepods, and other substrate dwellers will not be decimated to the level that Sleeper Gobies do.  

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Sometimes – They are not seen in pairs in the wild, so opt out; however 2 different species from this genus should be fine in a 4 foot tank.

    • Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Threat – If the tank is over 60 gallons and 24” deep, the larger fairy wrasses may be okay.
    • Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Safe
    • Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Safe
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Monitor – As long as they are not small enough to fit into their mouths.
    • Threat
    • Anemones: Safe
    • Mushroom Anemones – Corallimorphs: Safe
    • LPS corals: Safe
    • SPS corals: Safe
    • Gorgonians, Sea Fans: Safe
    • Leather Corals: Safe
    • Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals): Safe
    • Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Safe
    • Zoanthids – Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Safe
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Monitor – May eat smaller shrimp like Sexy Shrimp and small hermit crabs.
    • Starfish: Safe
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Safe
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Safe
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Monitor – Will eat benthic crustaceans, however they shouldn’t decimate the population.

Sex: Sexual differences


Breeding / Reproduction


  • Ease of Breeding: Unknown

Fish Diseases

These fish are pretty resilient, however they are susceptible to typical illnesses in poor water conditions.  

For more information see Fish diseases.


These fish are usually available online and in stores.  Make sure they are eating prepared foods before buying in the store.


Animal-World References: Marine and Reef

By Scott W. Michael
T.F.H. Publications
Copyright © 2005 by T.F.H. Publications, Inc.

by Bob Goemans
Cryptocentrus leptocephalus

Pinkspotted Shrimp Goby
Cryptocentrus leptocephalus
© 2004-8

Gobius melanopus (Image Credit: H. Zell, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)