Goby Family Photos and Information – Gobiidae

The Goby Family – Gobiidae

There are currently five members of the Goby or Gobiidae Family, three from the Atlantic and two from the Pacific, currently presented in this website:

Crested Goby, Lophogobius cyprinoides.

Frillfin Goby, Bathygobius soporator.

Notchtongue Goby, Bathygobius curacao.

Panamic Frillfin, Bathygobius ramosus.

River Goby, Awaous banana.

The Gobies belong to the Gobiidae Family, which is the largest fish family comprising more than two thousand species divided into more than two hundred and fifty genera. They are known in Mexico as gobios. The Gobiidae are poorly studied due to their cryptic and secretive behavioral patterns; at present ten to twenty new species are added to the family annually. Gobies and Blennies combined make up the dominant fish of the small fish populations of global tropical reefs being very inconspicuous due to their size and abilities to hide within reefs and rocky structures. Gobies are an important component of the reef environment comprising 35% of the total number of fish and 20% of the species diversity. Gobies are also the most abundant freshwater fish on oceanic islands. They are found from tidal pools to depths of up to 275 meters (900 feet). There are a total of one hundred and two gobies found in Mexican waters, forty-nine in the Atlantic and fifty-three in the Pacific. Most Gobies are relatively small, typically measuring less than 10.0 cm (3.9 inches) in length; some are the smallest vertebrates in the world and measure less than 1 cm. The largest Gobie is 60 cm (24 inches) in length. Gobies range in color from brightly patterned to drab and are normally well camouflaged. They are generally benthic or bottom dwellers found primarily in shallow marine habitats including tidal pools, coral reefs, and seagrass beds. Some inhabit brackish water and estuarine habitats including mangrove swamps and salt marshes. Many live inside the bodies or burrows of invertebrates. Gobies have elongated stout bodies with a short and broad head and a rounded snout; some have barbels. Their head has sensory pores and papillae. Their mouth has small short conical teeth set in rows on both jaws. They have two separate dorsal fins and long pelvic fins that are fused to form a disc-shaped sucker that they use to adhere to rocks and corals. Their head and body are either scaleless or partly scaled with smooth to rough scales. They do not have lateral lines on their body. They feed on small invertebrates including amphipods, copepods, crabs, foraminifers, mollusks, ostracods, polychaetes, shrimps, sponges, small fish, planktonic algae, and eggs of various invertebrates and fish. Some are utilized for human consumption on a small level; others are important components of the food chain being preyed upon by cod, haddock, sea bass, and various flatfish; still others are utilized commercially by the aquarium trade. Gobies have been studied extensively due to their diverse evolutionary and ecological patterns. Some have symbiotic relationships with invertebrates, i.e. sharing burrows with shrimps and acting as cleaners removing ectoparasites from other fish. Due to their large numbers it is difficult to make generalizations about their morphology and biology.

Gobies usually live in male-female pairs that construct and share burrows used for shelter and spawning. The burrows are generally maintained by the males. Gobies lay their eggs demersal and these adhere to bottom structures including vegetation, coral, or rock surfaces. The clutch size varies by species from five to a few thousand. After spawning, the roles of male and female change, whereby females primarily maintain the burrow and males mainly care for the eggs. The larvae hatch within a few days and begin an extended planktonic larval period. Gobies are notable for their long larval lives, both in elapsed time and as a percentage of total lifespan. Some species can change gender with the majority involving a change from female to male, which typically occurs when a male is needed to maintain the population. Some Gobies have a lifespan as short as fifty-nine days but most live between one and ten years.