Variable Jawfish

Opistognathus variabilis

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Variable Jawfish
The Variable Jawfish, with its intriguing burrowing behavior and striking color patterns, captivates hobbyists. Easy to care for, it burrows and peeks out of it's home, adding charm to any tank.

Variable Jawfish

Opistognathus variabilis

(0 Reviews)

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Variable Jawfish Care Facts

Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Diet: Carnivore
Origin: Indo-Pacific Ocean
Acclimation Time: 2+ hours
Reef Safe: Yes
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Max Size: 4 inches

The Variable Jawfish (Opistognathus variabilis) can be found among reefs and rocky outcroppings in the Indo-Pacific. They hide in tunnels and among rubble, where they search for crustaceans and other benthic invertebrates to feed on, while also hiding from predators. Their body is an orange-brown with a green dorsal fin and blue spots. They do well in pairs, but males will fight, so they should not be housed together. They should be housed in an aquarium with at least 30 gallons and a tight lid, as many gobies can jump through small openings. They require a carnivorous diet, typically consisting of mysis shrimp or krill. They should not be housed with small prized invertebrates, such as pom pom crabs (Lybia sp) or venus shrimp (Ancylomenes venustus).

Explore the Unique World of the Variable Jawfish (Opistognathus variabilis)

Introducing the Variable Jawfish (Opistognathus variabilis), a captivating addition to saltwater marine aquariums that enthusiasts and hobbyists are increasingly drawn to. Renowned for its unique behavior and striking appearance, the Variable Jawfish has become a sought-after species among those looking to create a vibrant and diverse marine environment within their tanks.

Habitat of the Variable Jawfish

Native to the Caribbean, the Variable Jawfish, scientifically known as Opistognathus variabilis, is a captivating addition to saltwater marine aquariums. Found in sandy areas with rubble or rocky substrates, these jawfish create burrows, expressing their fascinating burrow-dwelling behavior. Replicating this habitat is crucial for their well-being and happiness in captivity.

Reef Safety

Considered reef safe, the Variable Jawfish poses minimal risk to coral and other invertebrates within a properly maintained saltwater aquarium. Its burrowing behavior primarily involves sandy substrates, minimizing any disruption to coral formations or delicate reef structures.

Size and Lifespan

The Variable Jawfish typically reaches around 4 to 6 inches, making it a suitable choice for various tank sizes. When provided with appropriate care in captivity, this species can have a lifespan of up to 5 years or more.

Diet in Captivity

Feeding the Variable Jawfish is relatively straightforward. They readily accept a diet of tiny marine invertebrates, frozen or live brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and other suitable aquarium fare. Offering a varied diet ensures these captivating creatures' overall health and vitality.

Aquaculture and Availability

Aquacultured Variable Jawfish are not widely available, making them a unique and somewhat exclusive addition to your aquarium. However, the increasing interest in sustainable aquaculture practices may see an uptick in availability in the future.

Compatibility with Other Fish and Invertebrates

Variable Jawfish behave peacefully toward tankmates. However, avoiding housing them with aggressive or territorial species is advisable, as their burrowing tendencies may lead to conflicts. Compatible tankmates include docile species like Clownfish, Gobies, and Dartfish.

Sexual Dimorphism

Determining the sex of Variable Jawfish can be challenging, as they do not exhibit significant sexual dimorphism. Breeding behavior, which involves burrow construction and maintenance, is the primary indicator of sexual maturity and potential pairing.

Juvenile to Adult Coloration Changes

While juveniles may display a more muted coloration, adult Variable Jawfish boast vibrant hues of blue, yellow, and white. The transition from juvenile to adult coloration is fascinating for aquarium enthusiasts to observe.


Known for their calm and non-aggressive nature, Variable Jawfish make excellent additions to community aquariums. Their quirky burrowing behavior adds an exciting dynamic to the tank without causing disturbances.

Tank Requirements

  • Minimum Aquarium Size: A tank of at least 30 gallons is recommended to provide an optimal environment for Variable Jawfish. Sandy substrates with rock formations for potential burrow sites should be included. Adequate hiding spaces and proper filtration are essential for maintaining water quality.

Water Conditions

  • pH: Maintain a stable pH level between 8.1 to 8.4.
  • Salinity: Keep the salinity within the range of 1.022 to 1.025.
  • Temperature: Maintain a temperature between 72°F to 78°F.
  • Water Flow: Moderate water flow to mimic its natural habitat.

Other Common Names

The Variable Jawfish may also be called the Blue Dot Jawfish or the Yellowhead Jawfish, reflecting its distinctive coloration.

Five Compatible Tank Mates

Why Choose the Variable Jawfish from

When selecting the Variable Jawfish for your aquarium, sourcing from reputable suppliers like ensures the health and quality of your new marine addition. With a commitment to ethical and sustainable practices, provides a reliable source for enthusiasts seeking vibrant and diverse marine life. Trust in the expertise and dedication of to enhance your aquarium with the captivating Variable Jawfish.

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