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171. Decorated Goby (Istigobius decoratus)


A Decorated Goby (Istigobius decoratus) takes a bite from the sand and sifts it in search of little worms, shrimps and copepods….. The Decorated Goby is a small, colourful fish that can be found in the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific region. Measuring only up to 5 cm/2 inch in length, this species is highly sought after by underwater videographers and photographers who are looking to capture stunning footage of the diverse marine life that inhabits these underwater ecosystems.

One of the key characteristics of the Decorated Goby is its highly territorial nature. These fish are known to defend their space aggressively, often engaging in fierce battles with other gobies that venture too close. This territorial behaviour can be captured on film by an experienced underwater videographer, providing a captivating display of natural aggression and competition.

Another interesting feature of the Decorated Goby is its unique breeding behaviour. These fish are monogamous, meaning they pair up with a single partner for life. The male will construct a nest out of sand and small rocks, where the female will lay her eggs. Once the eggs have hatched, the male will fiercely guard the nest against any potential threats, even chasing off other gobies that may try to approach.

Capturing footage of the Decorated Goby during its breeding season can be a challenging but rewarding experience for an underwater videographer. The intricate courtship rituals and parental care that these fish display make for a fascinating subject, and the underwater videographer must be patient and observant to capture these behaviours on film.

The Decorated Goby is also known for its sandlike camouflage. Its intricate patterns and colours allow it to blend seamlessly into the sand patches of the coral reefs where it lives, making it difficult to spot for both predators and prey. This camouflage can make capturing footage of the Decorated Goby a challenge, as an underwater videographer must have a sharp eye and a keen sense of observation to spot these fish in their natural habitat.

These fish are omnivores, feeding on a variety of small organisms, including plankton, crustaceans, and small fish. In turn, they are also preyed upon by larger fish, such as groupers and snappers.

The Decorated Goby is a fascinating subject for underwater videographers and photographers, offering a unique combination of visual appeal and behavioural complexity. Aspiring underwater videographers can learn a great deal by observing the behaviours and habitat of these fish.

Capturing footage of macro-like fish like the the Decorated Goby can be ideal to practice the skills you have learned in our online underwater videography course.

Whether you are an experienced underwater videographer or a novice just starting out, the Decorated Goby offers an exciting and rewarding subject for exploration. With its beautiful skin patterns, unique behaviours, and important ecological role, this small but mighty fish is a testament to the richness and diversity of the marine life that inhabits our oceans. By observing and capturing footage of the Decorated Goby, underwater videographers can help to raise awareness about the importance of preserving coral reef ecosystems and the many species that call them home.

The Goby family is the biggest family within the marine fishes, and comprises many species still undescribed by science. These small bottom dwellers are often confused with Blennies due to their comparable size and similar look. The most recognisable difference is that Gobies have a two-part dorsal fin while most Blennies have a single, long, continuous one (except for Triplefins, a Blenny genera distinguished by three dorsal fins). Another identification aid is that Gobies lie in a straight line on the bottom whereas Blennies often curve their bodies.

As technology continues to advance, underwater videography is becoming increasingly accessible to a wider audience, allowing more people to explore and document the fascinating world beneath the waves. Whether you are a professional underwater videographer or simply a passionate enthusiast, the Decorated Goby is a captivating subject that is sure to inspire and delight. So next time you find yourself exploring the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific, keep an eye out for this beautiful fish, and take the time to appreciate all of the incredible marine life that surrounds us.


The original footage is three times longer; I’ve cut out the boring parts where the goby lies immobile and turned the footage into a clip composed of parts where the fish actually ‘does something’. I order to get smooth transitions the cuts were made a frame before the action took place.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Mauritius 🇲🇺

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