Jawfish Care Guide: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

Jawfish are fascinating and unique aquatic creatures that make a wonderful addition to any saltwater aquarium. As a jawfish enthusiast, I’d like to share some insight on how to provide the best possible care for these delightful fish.

Jawfish care involves providing a suitable aquarium environment, proper diet, and regular maintenance. These small, colorful fish require a well-oxygenated tank with plenty of hiding places and open swimming space. They need a varied diet of meaty foods, including crustaceans and mollusks. Regular water changes and maintenance are also important for their health and well-being.

These burrow-dwelling fish require specific tank conditions, water quality, and tank mates to thrive in an aquarium setting. It’s essential for potential jawfish owners to be well-informed and prepared to meet their specific needs.


Key Takeaways

  • Proper care for jawfish involves specific tank setup and maintenance
  • Optimal water quality and appropriate tank mates are crucial for jawfish health
  • A well-rounded diet and monitoring for common diseases ensure longevity in captivity

Species Summary

The Jawfish is a fascinating species originally found in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic. They are known for their unique behavior and captivating appearance.

These fish have a lifespan of around 5 to 6 years, which is quite impressive considering their size. Speaking of size, Jawfish grow to an average of 3 to 4 inches in length.

Their growth rate is relatively fast during their early life. When it comes to appearance, they have a vibrant coloration that can vary across species. Some have bright yellow or blue markings, while others showcase more subtle hues.

In terms of behavior and temperament, Jawfish are intriguing creatures. They’re known for burrowing into the substrate of their environment. As an example, I once observed a Jawfish use its mouth to dig out a cozy home beneath the sand.

Males and females have some slight differences in appearance. Males tend to have more vibrant colors and longer, more defined fins compared to females.

They have been observed to be quite territorial at times, which is understandable as they spend a lot of time constructing their burrows. Despite this, they’re not overly aggressive and, with proper care, make an interesting addition to aquariums.

Tank Setup

Tank Size

Jawfish, being small and moderately active, require a tank of at least 20 to 30 gallons. Keep in mind, their burrowing habits necessitate ample space.


Jawfish prefer moderate lighting, as bright light may stress them. I once made the mistake of using intense lighting, which caused my jawfish to hide constantly.

Filtration & Aeration

A quality filtration system is crucial for maintaining clean and clear water, essential for jawfish health. Additionally, ensure proper aeration for sufficient oxygenation.


Jawfish thrive in water temperatures around 72-78°F, so a heater is a must. Maintaining stable temperature is vital for their well-being.


Sand is the ideal substrate for jawfish, as they love to burrow and create tunnels. Personally, I’ve found a mix of coarse and fine sand works wonders!


Jawfish adore live rock formations for shelter as they create a more natural environment. Remember to leave enough open sand areas for burrowing.


Finally, incorporating live plants benefits water quality and mimics their natural habitat. However, avoid overcrowding to leave open sand spaces.

Water Quality

When it comes to Jawfish care, water quality plays a crucial role. In my experience, maintaining a stable and suitable environment is key to keeping your Jawfish happy and healthy.

  • Water Temperature: Jawfish thrive in a temperature range of 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 25°C). I have found success in using a reliable aquarium heater and thermometer to ensure the temperature remains within this range.
  • Water pH: Jawfish prefer a pH level between 8.1 and 8.4. To maintain this, I suggest using a pH buffer and regularly testing your aquarium water.
  • Water Hardness: Maintaining stable hardness levels is essential. Aim for a dKH of 8-12 and a calcium level of 350-450 ppm to provide optimal conditions for your Jawfish.

Regular water changes are crucial in preventing buildup of harmful chemicals and maintaining a clean environment. Based on my personal experience, I recommend replacing 10-20% of the water every week or two, depending on the size of your tank.

In conclusion, a keen eye on water quality parameters and consistency in maintaining favorable conditions are vital components of successful Jawfish care.

Tank Maintenance

In my experience, maintaining a clean and stable environment for your Jawfish is crucial for their overall health. Regular water changes should be conducted, with 25% of the water replaced every week. This will help to keep the water parameters stable.

It’s essential to test your water frequently, ensuring a 0 ppm level of ammonia, nitrites, and less than 10 ppm of nitrates. A handy tool you can use for getting accurate readings is an aquarium test kit.

Maintaining the right water temperature is also vital. A stable temperature between 72°F and 78°F, with a pH between 8.1 and 8.4, promotes healthier fish. Don’t forget to maintain proper salinity levels too, between 1.020 to 1.025.

Now, let’s talk about some signs to ensure your Jawfish’s well-being.

Signs of a healthy fish include active behavior, good appetite, clear eyes, and vibrant color. They should also exhibit their usual burrowing tendency, which is quite fascinating to watch.

On the other hand, signs your fish is sick can include flaky skin, difficulty in breathing, listlessness, or a sudden loss of appetite. I’ve found that prompt action is necessary if you notice any of these signs; consult a fish expert or veterinarian to address the issue and keep your Jawfish healthy.

By being vigilant and consistent with your tank maintenance, your Jawfish is more likely to remain healthy and happy. Enjoy watching them thrive in their fascinating, burrowed homes!

Tank Mates

When it comes to choosing tank mates for your Jawfish, it’s important to select compatible fish species. In my experience, I’ve found that peaceful, small to medium-sized fish work best with Jawfish. Some compatible fish species include:

  • Clownfish: They are non-aggressive and can coexist with Jawfish in the same environment.
  • Firefish: Their peaceful demeanor will complement the Jawfish’s temperament.

In contrast, there are some incompatible fish species that you should avoid adding to your Jawfish’s tank:

  • Damsel Fish: They can become territorial and aggressive towards other tank mates, creating stress for your Jawfish.
  • Larger Predator Fish: Fish like lionfish or eels may view your Jawfish as a potential snack.

It is crucial to consider compatibility when selecting tank mates to ensure a harmonious environment. I recall a time when I had a Jawfish share a tank with a damsel fish, and I quickly realized this was not an ideal pairing as the damsel fish’s aggressive behavior caused noticeable stress to my Jawfish. After that experience, I learned to research and choose tank mates more carefully.

Remember to monitor your tank and watch for any signs of aggression or stress between tank mates. Also, providing plenty of hiding spots for your Jawfish will help minimize territorial disputes and contribute to a peaceful aquatic environment.


In my experience with Jawfish, I’ve found that they enjoy a varied diet. Feeding them the right balance ensures their health and longevity.

What to Feed: The primary food for Jawfish should be small live or frozen invertebrates. These can include:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Copepods
  • Daphnia

You can also provide them with a mix of high-quality pellets and flakes. Occasionally, Jawfish will appreciate finely chopped marine fish or crustacean meat.

Frequency: It’s essential to maintain a consistent feeding schedule. I usually feed my Jawfish twice a day. Feeding small portions ensures that they eat everything you provide, preventing leftover food from decomposing in the tank.

Tips: Jawfish have a timid nature, so be mindful when adding food. Slowly release the food near their burrow to encourage them to eat. Maintain water quality and pay attention to their eating habits, as a change can indicate stress or illness.

Common Diseases

One time, I had a Jawfish that showed signs of stress and unease. After doing some research, I found that there are a few common diseases that could affect these fascinating creatures.

Ich or White Spot Disease is common among Jawfish.

  • Symptoms: Tiny white spots on the body, frequent scratching on rocks or substrate, lethargy.
  • Treatment: Use copper-based medications, separate infected fish into a quarantine tank.
  • Prevention: Maintain optimal water quality and temperature, introduce new fish gradually to avoid stress.

Another prevalent issue is Fin Rot.

  • Symptoms: Tattered or frayed fins, white or red edges on fins.
  • Treatment: Antibacterial or antifungal medications, depending on the cause.
  • Prevention: Regular water changes, ensuring high water quality, reducing stress.

Jawfish may also suffer from External Parasites.

  • Symptoms: Sluggish behavior, rubbing against objects in the tank, visible parasites on the body.
  • Treatment: Anti-parasite medications, freshwater dips.
  • Prevention: Quarantine new fish before adding them to the tank, monitor water quality.

Finally, Bacterial Infections can occur.

  • Symptoms: Dark or reddish spots on the body, ulcers, swollen eyes, loss of appetite.
  • Treatment: Broad-spectrum antibiotics, isolate infected fish.
  • Prevention: Keep water clean, maintain a stress-free environment, examine new fish for signs of infection.

Remember, prevention is always better than treatment, so ensure you maintain a healthy tank environment for your Jawfish to thrive in.


Breeding Jawfish might seem intimidating, but with the right preparation and care, it can be a rewarding experience. Setting up a proper environment is crucial for successful breeding.

Create a suitable breeding setup by providing a large, well-established tank with plenty of hiding spots and a sandy substrate. Mated pairs or small groups will appreciate the space and areas to establish their burrows.

Jawfish 2

Introducing the male and female Jawfish may take some time, but patience is key. I remember observing the male performing an enticing dance, trying to impress the female. Once the pair bonds, they will spawn, and the male will take on an interesting role—holding the fertilized eggs in his mouth!

Mouthbrooding in Jawfish is a unique trait, and as a responsible hobbyist, you should monitor their progress carefully. The male may not eat during the brooding period, so keep a close eye on his health.

A major aspect of the breeding process is caring for the offspring. When the eggs hatch, and the fry are released, they will need proper nutrition. A mix of freshly hatched brine shrimp and rotifers should be fed alongside a varied diet to aid their growth and development.

Remember, consistent water conditions are essential for both the adult Jawfish and their fry. Regular water testing, water changes, and maintaining the appropriate temperature and pH levels will ensure a thriving breeding environment.

Breeding Jawfish can be a fantastic addition to your aquatic journey, all while learning about their fascinating behaviors and contributing to their conservation in the hobby. Good luck!

Product recommendations for Jawfish:

  1. Hikari Marine S Pellets: This fish food is specially formulated for marine fish, including Jawfish, and provides a balanced diet for optimal health.
  2. Seachem Stability: This product helps to establish a healthy biological filter in your aquarium, which is important for maintaining good water quality for Jawfish.
  3. Fluval Sea Protein Skimmer: This protein skimmer helps to remove organic waste from your aquarium water, which can be harmful to Jawfish.
  4. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump: This circulation pump helps to create a natural water flow in your aquarium, which is important for the well-being of Jawfish.
  5. Instant Ocean Sea Salt: This sea salt mix is perfect for creating a healthy marine environment for Jawfish and other saltwater fish.
  6. API Aquarium Salt: This product helps to promote healthy gill function and reduce stress in fish, including Jawfish.
  7. Seachem Prime: This water conditioner helps to detoxify ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in aquarium water, which can be harmful to Jawfish.
  8. Coralife BioCube 16 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit: This aquarium kit is perfect for keeping Jawfish in a small space, and comes with a powerful filtration system.
  9. Marina Floating Thermometer: This thermometer helps you to monitor the temperature of your aquarium water, which is important for keeping Jawfish healthy.


Jawfish care requires dedication, but the experience is rewarding. With proper tank setup, appropriate feeding, and diligent maintenance, these fascinating fish thrive.

I once had a jawfish that loved to rearrange its burrow daily, showing its creativity and personality.

Remember to provide plenty of hiding spaces, a sand substrate, and stable tank conditions. Monitor water parameters frequently, and address any issues promptly.

Feeding jawfish a balanced diet is essential, so offer a mix of meaty foods like shrimp, brine, and mysis.

In summary, by understanding jawfish needs and catering to their unique behavior, you can successfully create a captivating underwater environment.


How can I summarize Jawfish?
Jawfish are small, brightly colored fish, known for their burrowing behavior. They’re generally peaceful but can be territorial.

What’s the ideal tank setup?
Jawfish require a tank of at least 30 gallons, with a sandy substrate for burrowing and plenty of hiding spaces using rocks or PVC pipes.

Which water quality is best for Jawfish?
Maintain a stable water temperature of 72-78°F, pH between 8.1-8.4, and a specific gravity of 1.020-1.025.

How should I maintain their tank?
Perform regular water changes every 1-2 weeks, removing about 20% of the water to maintain a clean environment.

Are there any suitable tank mates?
Jawfish can coexist with peaceful, similarly-sized fish. Avoid aggressive or fast-moving tank mates.

What should I feed my Jawfish?
Offer a varied diet of mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, and chopped seafood like clams or squid. Feed them once or twice daily.

What common diseases affect Jawfish?
Look out for Marine Ich, Velvet, and Brooklynellosis. Promptly quarantine and treat any affected fish.

Can I breed Jawfish?
Breeding Jawfish is challenging, but possible. Males build nests, and eggs are cared for by both parents in the burrow.

When I first started keeping Jawfish, it took some trial and error, but I soon fell in love with their unique behaviors and captivating personalities.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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