A highly-territorial goby fish has set up home in an empty hermit crab’s shell at Bristol Aquarium.

Although measuring only six centimetres in length, the native sea fish is so house proud that he is quite prepared to defend his new accommodation with his life.

The shell became temporarily available when its previous occupant, a hermit crab, outgrew the shell and vacated it in favour of a larger one.

Almost immediately the male goby saw his opportunity and moved straight in – defending it against crustaceans and fellow gobies alike.

Bristol Aquarium Curator, Dan de Castro, said: “Now he has managed to secure such a desirable property he will become extremely attractive to other female gobies.

“This setting up of a territory is the first stage in the breeding process and – for a goby at least – an empty shell is pretty much like a mansion!” he added.

Once a suitable female is found she will move and share the shell with him. If all goes according to plan she will then lay her eggs and then leave. It will be the male’s job to look after them and protect them until they hatch.

Gobies are one of the most diverse families of fish with several hundred different species having been identified.

There are no fewer than 17 different types of gobies living in UK waters and, as its name suggests, the common goby is one of the most abundant.

It is often found in tide-pools, estuaries, salt marshes and brackish land-locked lagoons.

In the wild they breed from March to June, laying their eggs under a shell or other object, which the male then guards until they hatch 11–14 days later. Common gobies typically live for 12–15 months.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange picture/ filming opportunities please contact Tina Patel, David Waines or Dan de Castro on 0117 929 8929.