Yeah, I think that’s a fair statement, sir. A Watchman Goby will certainly snatch up a juicy amphipod or two when it has the opportunity, but it generally will not devastate the pod population to the point that the pipefish are left with slim pickings.
That’s because the feeding preferences for the Watchmen Goby and the pipe fish are not as similar as you might suspect, Don. For one thing, the mouth of the Watchman Goby is much larger proportionally than the narrow tube mouth of the pipefish, which means that the watchman and the pipe fish prefer prey items of different sizes. The Watchman Goby will not have much interest in the copepods because of their small size, but rather will be more attracted to the larger, adult Gammarus amphipods. By comparison, the red banded pipefish will prefer the copepods and younger or juvenile Gammarus amphipods, which are easier for it to swallow whole and intact.
Secondly, the Watchman Goby will orient to the substrate and its burrow in the bed of the aquarium, and usually takes pods primarily from the substrate, whereas the pipefish prefer to swim in open water and like to snatch pods and other prey items that are suspended in the water column.
Finally, the Watchman Goby will accept prepared aquarium foods of all kinds much more readily than the pipefish, which prefers only the smallest of the frozen Mysis. As long as you provide the Watchman Goby with its fill of frozen Mysis when you are target feeding the seahorses (or filling their feeding trough with the frozen Mysis you have carefully prepared in advance), they Watchman Goby will get the bulk of its diet from these prepared foods rather than the natural flora and fauna in the aquarium.
When it comes to prepared foods, the pipefish will be interested in relatively small prey items such as newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii), copepods, Nutramar Ova, and the tiny Marine Mini Mysis by H2O Life that are presented to them properly so that they drift down from above right in front of their snouts, allowing them to dart around snatching them up from the water column, whereas the Watchman Goby will be primarily interested in the larger morsels of food that drift down all the way to the substrate.
At least that’s been my experience in the past, Don. But you never know for sure how any particular specimen is going to act in any given aquarium due to the differing conditions and circumstances…
All I can say is that I have never hesitated to keep a Watchman Goby with my pipefish your seahorses, and I have had no negative experiences when doing so.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Don! (By the way, I e-mailed the files to you I mentioned in my previous post regarding feeding the pipefish at feeding seahorses.)
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support