Animal Species:Red Firegoby, Nemateleotris magnifica Fowler, 1938

The Red Firegoby is an small attractive fish that often hovers above the seabed waving its elongate white first dorsal fin back and forth.

Red Firegoby at Mantis Reef, Wreck Bay

Red Firegoby at Mantis Reef, Wreck Bay
Photographer: Erik Schlögl © Erik Schlögl

Standard Common Name

Red Firegoby

Alternative Name/s

Fire Dartfish, Fire Goby


The Red Firegoby can be recognised by the elongate white first dorsal fin, yellow snout and white head. The body gradually shades from white to bright orange-red posteriorly.

Size range

The species grows to 8 cm in length.


The species occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-Pacific and Central Pacific, from East Africa, north to the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, south to New Caledonia and east to the Pitcairn Islands. In Australia the Red Firegoby is known from the offshore reefs of north-western Western Australia and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Nemateleotris magnifica

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Red Firegoby specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


The Red Firegoby inhabits outer reef slopes in depths from 6 m to 61 m. It is common in the upper reef slopes where it uses holes in the substrate as burrows. Typically several juveniles may use the same hole, however adults usually occupy burrows in pairs or as a solitary fish. It retreats into burrows when disturbed.

Feeding and Diet

This fish is commonly seen hovering within 0.5 m of the bottom. It faces into the current to feed on a range of zooplankton, especially copepods and other crustacean larvae.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Red Firegoby is often observed raising the elongate first dorsal fin and moving it back and forth.



What does this mean?


  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 220.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 362.
  3. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 222.
  4. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 415.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Red Firegoby, Nemateleotris magnifica, Microdesmidae, white, orange, yellow, blue, 'normal fish', odd-shaped, < 10 cm, stripes or bands, soft substrate, marine, adult, juvenile, tall/thin fin,