Curious Wormfish

Gunnellichthys Curiosus
Curious Wormfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Gunnellichthys Curiosus
Other names Neon Worm Goby, Yellow Striped Worm Eel
Size Up to 12 cm (4.72 in)
Weight Under 15 grams


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters, sandy, silty & rubble slopes near reefs
Depth Range 1 - 10 m (33 ft)
Curious Wormfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Curious Wormfish is a small species of fish found in the coastal waters of Australia. They have been found in Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia and northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.
  • They have an elongated body with a cylindrical shape and small head along with a single dorsal fin that extends along its entire back. Their coloration varies, but it typically ranges from shades of yellow, brown to olive green, blending in with the surrounding habitats where it resides.
  • They are a carnivores with their diet consisting of small invertebrates, such as crustaceans, molluscs, and worms. They use their small, protrusible mouths to feed on prey items hiding within crevices and algae-covered surfaces.
  • They exhibits both diurnal (active during the day) and nocturnal (active during the night) behaviour, adjusting its activity patterns based on environmental conditions and predator avoidance.
  • They have a unique way of moving, using an undulating motion of their body combined with their pectoral fins to propel themselves through the water. This movement style is often described as “snake-like” or “wriggling.”
  • They are known for their ability to change colour and camouflage itself to match its surroundings, allowing it to blend seamlessly into its rocky, reef, and seagrass habitats.
  • Breeding typically occurs during the summer months, from December to February, coinciding with warmer water temperatures.
  • Their estimated average lifespan is between 3 – 4 years.
Species Interaction

Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

The Curious Wormfish is a popular aquarium fish know for being peaceful and getting along with other fish. Their striking colours and swimming behaviour also make them a sought after species. Finding them in the wild can be an exciting experience for snorkelers and divers. While they can be relatively shy and tend to hide among rocks and rubble, patient observers can spot them in their natural habitats.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Pholidae

Genus: Gunnellichthys

Species: Gunnellichthys Curiosus

Conservation Status

The Curious Wormfish is not listed as a threatened species and does not have any specific conservation status in Australia. However, ongoing monitoring of population trends is essential for ensuring its long-term sustainability.

Curious Wormfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Intermediate

Temperament: Curious

Location: Inner Reef, Lagoon

Danger: None

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