5 Unique Saltwater Fish Species that Burrow in Sand (With Images)

Saltwater fish that burrows in the sand

Burrowing is common with many types of animals.

In aquatic environments, fish that live in the sand or mud often burrow themselves.

Fish burrow to hide from predators or protect themselves from extreme temperatures.

The temperature inside the burrow can be much cooler than outside because it’s protected from direct sunlight.

Given below are the most popular saltwater fish that burrow in the sand.

1. Weevers

Weeverfish

Weevers are marine fish belonging to the Trachinidae family. They are widely distributed all over Europe.

These fish are also found in the East Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.

They are found all around Ireland’s coastline, but only on sandy beaches where the waters are warm and shallow, just below the low tide mark.

Weevers are long and can reach up to 37 cm (14.5 inches) in length.

They are mainly brown in color, with venomous spines on their gills and first dorsal fins.

Weevers spend most of their time buried in the sand during the day.

They camouflage in the sand to safeguard themselves from predation.

These fish nestle and burrow in the sand, where only their eyes, mouth, and dorsal fin are visible.

Burrowing gives them an advantage as they aren’t visible and can quickly snatch any prey that crosses their path.

Their upward-slanted mouth allows them to catch small crustaceans while they are buried in the sand.

Small fish and shrimp mainly constitute their diet in the natural environment.

2. Blennies

Blenny

Blennies are another fish species that are popular for burrowing in the sand.

Blenny is a common name for many types of fish sharing similar behavior and morphology.

They are found worldwide in many tropical and temperate waters.

They primarily inhabit the poos or tide around coral reefs, rocky shores, rubble and sand flats, and grass beds.

Blennies have elongated bodies with large eyes and mouths.

They are distinguished by their single dorsal fin that runs throughout their body.

The fin has a distinctive notch in the center, making it appear as two separate fins.

Many blenny species burrow in the sand to protect themselves from predators.

This also allows them to wait and grab any prey that comes along.

Their bulging eyes and upturned mouth for catching prey make them an ideal candidate for burrowing.

One species that is popular for burrowing in the sand is the Sand Stargazer Blenny.

It spends most of the time burrowed in the sand, with only its face protruding above the surface of the sand to feed.

Aquarists often keep this eye-catching fish in their aquarium.

They are easy to care for and feed, have a great personality, and are captivating to watch.

These fish prefer sandy substrate and suitable hiding places while in captivity.

Interesting Further Reading: 25 Unique Fish that Live in Coral Reefs

3. Gobies

Goby

Goby is a common name for numerous small-to-medium-sized ray-finned marine fish belonging to the Gobiidae family.

They are found worldwide and are most prevalent in tropical and temperate regions.

They inhabit reefs and shores and are native to rivers and estuaries of the Black and Caspian sea basins.

Gobies have distinct fused pelvic fins that distinguish them from other marine fish.

Many species of these fish differ in size, shape, color, and habitat.

Their unique appearance and lively personalities are also a great addition to a marine aquarium.

Some goby species are known to burrow in the sand.

Given below are the two most popular goby species that are known to burrow in the sand.

A) Diamond Gobies

Diamond goby, also known as Diamond watchman goby, Orange-dashed goby, Orange-spotted sleeper-goby, or Maiden goby, is a widespread species native to the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Ocean.

Diamond gobies are favorites among aquarists due to their beautiful coloration and easy maintenance.

They are a delight to watch as they dig and sift through the sand like a gold prospector searching for treasure.

In the wild, these fish often burrow themselves in the sand bed and rest.

You can find the same behavior in aquariums as they burrow themselves in the substrate or under live rocks.

Hence, fine sand is recommended as a substrate while setting up their tank.

A proper sand bed can make these fish feel comfortable and secure.

B) Engineer Gobies

Engineer gobies are one of the most sought-after marine fish species in the world.

These fish are native to the west-central Pacific Ocean.

They mainly live near the sandbars or reef barriers and stay in groups around the coral reefs.

Adult engineer gobies rarely interact and mostly burrow themselves in the sand or stay hidden among the corals.

On the other hand, young ones travel long distances during the day to forage for food and return to their burrow at night.

These fish are kept as pets around the world as they are an absolute joy to watch while they burrow themselves.

One of the essential elements while housing engineer gobies in a home aquarium is the thick substrate.

They mainly prefer a deep sand bed or live sand substrate as they are habitual diggers and spend most of their time digging burrows to feel secure.

These fish are carnivores and need a protein-rich diet for optimal growth.

In captivity, you can feed them a well-balanced and nutritious diet consisting of fresh or frozen seafood, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, live black worms, and other meaty food.

4. Yellowhead Jawfish

Yellowhead Jawfish

Yellowhead jawfish is a species of jawfish belonging to the Opistognathidae family.

They are native to coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea and are predominantly found in Florida.

As the name suggests, their head and upper body are light yellow in color that fades slowly to a lovely pearlescent blue hue.

Yellowhead jawfish spend most of their time burrowed in the sand with their heads poking out to look for prey.

They are also sometimes seen hovering in the water.

However, these fish quickly return to their burrow whenever they feel threatened.

The burrow serves as a retreat when they sense danger.

Aquarists often keep these fish in pairs or small groups.

They are relatively small, peaceful, and docile fish that don’t swim actively, unlike other marine fish.

Yellowhead jawfish feed on zooplankton that drifts close to their burrow in the natural habitat.

In captivity, you can feed them a wide range of food.

Being carnivores, yellowhead jawfish prefer a protein-rich diet to meet their dietary requirements.

Food items such as plankton, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, chopped shrimp or clams, and other meaty food are ideal for their healthy development.

Interesting Further Reading: 104 Popular Saltwater Fish That Start With S

5. Sandfish

Sand Eels

Sandfish is the common name for animals and fish that live or burrow in the sand.

Among fish, the most popular are the sand eels, also called beaked salmons, ratfish, or mousefish.

These fish are found in the sandy, shallow tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region.

They have slender and long bodies with pointed snouts, giving them an eel-like shape.

These fish are often seen in large shoals in their natural habitat.

They primarily feed on plankton and copepods that are found in abundance near their burrows.

Sand eels often hide beneath the sand burrows during the day to escape predation.

They quickly burrow themselves to be inaccessible and invisible to predators.

Sand eels also bury themselves to around 50 cm in the sand during winter hibernation.