Are dragonfish blind?

Answered by Cody Janus

Dragon Gobies, also known as dragonfish, are fascinating creatures that inhabit freshwater environments. One notable characteristic of these fish is their poor vision. In fact, they can be considered practically blind compared to other fish species. This is due to the structure and functionality of their eyes.

A dragon goby’s eyes are relatively small and positioned on the sides of their head. They lack a reflective layer called the tapetum lucidum, which enhances vision in low-light conditions for many other fish. As a result, their ability to see in dimly lit or dark environments is severely compromised.

Their limited vision is further hindered by the murky and often muddy habitats they inhabit, such as rivers, swamps, and estuaries. The water in these environments is typically filled with suspended particles and debris, reducing visibility even more. Dragon gobies have adapted to these conditions by relying on other sensory organs and behaviors to navigate their surroundings.

To make their way around the tank or their natural habitat, dragon gobies utilize their ventral fins and mouths. They use their pectoral and pelvic fins to feel and sense objects in their environment, essentially acting as tactile sensors. By touching and exploring surfaces, they can determine the layout of their surroundings and locate potential food sources or hiding spots.

Their mouths also play a crucial role in their navigation. Dragon gobies have a long and slender body with a distinct snout-like mouth. They use their mouths to probe and explore the substrate, searching for food or any obstacles in their path. By constantly moving their mouth and feeling their way around, they can avoid collisions and find their way through the tank.

Observing dragon gobies in a tank can be quite intriguing. You may notice them constantly moving their fins and mouth, feeling the surfaces and objects around them. They may also exhibit a behavior known as “gulping,” where they take in mouthfuls of substrate and spit it out to search for food particles.

It’s important to note that while dragon gobies have poor vision, they compensate for this limitation with their remarkable ability to sense and navigate their environment using their fins and mouths. Providing them with a suitable tank setup, with plenty of hiding spots and soft substrates, can help ensure their well-being and allow them to thrive despite their visual impairment.

Dragon gobies are indeed practically blind. Their small eyes, lack of a tapetum lucidum, and the murky habitats they inhabit contribute to their limited vision. However, they have adapted by relying on their ventral fins and mouths to explore and navigate their surroundings. Understanding these unique characteristics can help fishkeepers provide the best care for their dragon gobies and appreciate their fascinating behavior.