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The Alien Like Pearly Jawfish

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pearly jawfish in burrow

The pearly jawfish sometimes known as a Yellowhead Jawfish is a very unique marine fish. The white coloring on the body, yellow head, and enormous black/blue eyes make this fish a wonder in a saltwater aquarium. It acts a little different from a goby but is quite a wonderful sand-sifting animal.

Jawfish Requirements

Like many burrowing fish, the pearly jawfish tends to miraculously jump out of the saltwater aquarium. Having a well-sealed aquarium is recommended for this fish due to its acrobatic skills.

When first introduced into the aquarium this fish is quite shy and may get out-competed for food. To guarantee it was eating, I used a long pipette to spot-feed the Yellowhead Jawfish in my home aquarium. At first was timid with the instrument but realized that food came out of it. A Jawfish that is eating is a good sign!

A minimum of 30 gallons is recommended for this fish as well as having a deep sand bed because they love to burrow deep into the sand. The sand should be very fine so they can put it into their mouth to move around. It is also very recommended to have your live rock touching the bottom glass/acrylic of your display tank. This is important because depending on how the jawfish burrows it can cause the rock to shift which can lead it to fall or crushing the jawfish underneath.

These fish are fairly hardy and should take to eating and will happily eat any food provided. A mixture of pellet food, flake food, and meaty food should be given. They will sometimes bolt out of their burrow, grab food, and swim back into their den. They have quite a unique personality.

It will grow to be about a max size of 4″ which is why they require to have a deep sand bed of no less than 4″. This jawfish is a very passive fish and will not bother any other fish. It may get bullied by other burrowing fish so be aware.

Pearly jawfish are perfectly reef safe and will not any coral. Be aware of any coral that may be in your sand bed because there is a chance this fish will completely cover it with sand. There have been many occasions where I had to dig out coral from a 1/2″ of sand because my jawfish decided sand belonged there.

Jawfish Hi-jinx

One funny thing this fish does is it will sometimes build a “fortress” around its burrow. It will collect small pebbles and snail shells and build a small wall. It will try to fight off hermit crabs and snails that may try to get into its home. It will take mouthfuls of sand, swim a few inches away from its burrow, and spit it all back out. They’re a very enjoyable fish to observe and a great addition to a reef aquarium.

Final Thoughts

This fish in my opinion is an incredible addition to anyone’s saltwater aquarium. They have a very unique appearance, they are pretty hardy, and they have incredible personalities. They will eat anything and do a pretty good job of keeping your sand clean because of their sand-tossing abilities. Besides keeping it from jumping and making sure it eats, you can’t go wrong with a pearly jawfish!