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Cryptocentrus cinctus.JPG
Yellow prawn-goby,
Cryptocentrus cinctus
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
(unranked): Acanthomorpha
Superorder: Acanthopterygii
Clade: Percomorpha
Order: Gobiiformes
Günther, 1880
Type species
Gobius niger

The Gobiiformes /ˈɡbi.ɪfɔːrmz/ are an order of fish that includes the gobies and their relatives. [1] [2] The order, which was previously considered a suborder of Perciformes, is made up of about 2,211 species that are divided between seven families. Phylogenetic relationships of the Gobiiformes have been elucidated using molecular data. [3] [4] Gobiiforms are primarily small species that live in marine water, but roughly 10% of these species inhabit fresh water. This order is composed chiefly of benthic or burrowing species; like many other benthic fishes, most gobiiforms do not have a gas bladder or any other means of controlling their buoyancy in water, so they must spend most of their time on or near the bottom. [5] [6] Gobiiformes means "Goby-like".



The 5th Edition of the Fishes of the World reclassified the former superfamily Goboidei as the order Gobiiformes and also rearranged the families within the order compared to the previous edition. The largest change is that the Oxudercidae and the Gobiidae are split into two families, with the Oxudercidae containing the species formerly classified as the Gobiidae subfamilies Amblyopinae, Gobionellinae, Oxudercinae and Sicydiinae while merging the families Kraemeriidae, Microdesmidae, Ptereleotridae and Schindleriidae into the family Gobiidae, though no subfamilies within the Gobiidae were proposed. [1]

Phylogeny of Gobiiformes [7] [2]

Trichonotidae [7]




Milyeringidae [8]



Thalasseleotrididae [9]

Oxudercidae (Gobionellidae)


Under this classification system the Gobiiformes is divided into the following families:


The loach-gobies are a small family, with only three species split between two genera, which inhabits marine and fresh water in Oceania and the western Pacific. These are thought to be among the more primitive species of the Gobiiformes. [1]


The Odontobutidae, or freshwater sleepers, contains 22 species between 6 genera from eastern Asia. This family is the sister to all the other Gobiiformes in a clade with the Rhyacichthyidae. [1]


The Milyeringidae contains two genera of cave fish, one in Western Australia and one at the other side of the Indian Ocean in Madagascar; both genera contain three recognized species. This family forms a second clade of the Gobiiformes. [1]


The sleeper gobies are a family of twenty six genera and 126 species found in freshwater and mangrove habitats throughout the tropical and temperate parts of the world as far north as the eastern United States and as far south as Stewart Island, New Zealand, except for the eastern Atlantic. Fossils of Eleotrid gobies are known from the Late Oligocene. The families Milyeringidae and Butidae were formerly classified as subfamilies of the Eleotridae but are not found to be close to the Eleotridae senus stricto in this system. [1]


The Butidae are one of the two families which are given the common name "sleeper gobies", and indeed were formerly classified as subfamily of the traditional sleeper goby family Eleotridae, although some phylogenies have placed them closer to the Oxucerdidae and the Gobiidae than to the Eleotridae. They are found in the Indo-Pacific and in West Africa, and contains 10 genera with 46 species split between them. [1]


The family Thalasseleotrididae is considered to be a sister group to the family Gobiidae and is separated as a family by the authors of this classification based on recent molecular studies. It comprises two genera of marine gobies from the temperate waters of Australia and New Zealand, with a total of three species between them. [1]


Oxudercidae is a family of gobies comprising species previously split between four subfamilies of the family Gobiidae. The family is sometimes referred to as the Gobionellidae, but Oxucerdidae has priority. The species in this family have a cosmopolitan distribution in temperate and tropical areas and are found in marine and freshwater environments, typically in inshore, euryhaline areas with silt and sand substrates. The family contains 86 genera and about 600 species. Many species in this family can be found in fresh water and a number of species are found on wet beaches; some are able to survive for extended periods out of water, most famously the mudskippers. [1]


The Gobiidae as recognized in this classification now includes the former members of several families which other classifications have regarded as valid families. As classified in this work the family remains one of the most speciose families of marine fish, as well as being one of the most numerous groups of fishes in freshwater habitats on oceanic islands. Many species have fused pelvic fins that can be used as a suction device; some island species, such as the red-tailed stream goby ( Lentipes concolor ), are able to use these pelvic fins to ascend rock faces alongside waterfalls, allowing them to inhabit waters far from the ocean. [10] Some of the species that are found in fresh water as adults spawn in the ocean and are catadromous, not unlike the eels of the family Anguillidae. With the blennies, the Gobiidae constitute a dominant part of the benthic, small fish fauna in tropical reef habitats. They are most diverse in the tropical Indo-West Pacific but the family is well represented in temperate waters in both the northern and southern hemispheres. They are mostly free living fishes found alone or in small schools, but some form associations with invertebrates, especially in coral reefs. About 120 species are known to form such symbiotic relationships; members of the genera Amblyeleotris and Cryptocentrus , for example, cohabit in burrows with alpheid shrimps, while other species live as cleaner fish, e.g Elacatinus . They can be sequential hermaphrodites and numerous species are known to exhibit parental care. [1]

Species status

The tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) was listed as an endangered species in 1994; it is the only species of goby in the genus Eucyclogobius. E. newberryi is native to the coastal region of California, in marshes and lagoons with brackish water, predominately in waters where the salinity is less than 12 parts per thousand (ppt), but has been documented in waters with a salinity of 42 ppt. E. newberryi prefers water with mild temperatures (8 to 25 °C) and waters with a depth from 25 to 200 cm. These gobies often use thick patches of aquatic vegetation to hide in if threatened or disturbed. The average lifespan of E. newberryi is only one year. Spawning and reproduction is at its peak during spring and into late summer. However, in the southern region of its range where waters remain at a warmer temperature, E. newberryi will reproduce year round. The females lay between 300 and 500 eggs into a burrow dug out vertically by the male, which is 10 to 20 cm deep. Spawning locations are usually located out in the open away from any vegetation. The male then guards the eggs until they hatch, which is 9 to 11 days.

Habitat loss and modification are the main threats to E. newberryi. The brackish areas where saltwater and freshwater meet are where they live usually, such as along the coast of California; this area has been altered by development. Barriers such as dikes and levees have been built to protect residents from potential flooding, but the creation of these barriers has reduced habitat for E. newberryi. Other reasons for population declines are attributed to exotic fish and amphibians which have been introduced to the region. Many of these fish prey on E. newberryi, and others outcompete them for food and habitat. The altering of streams flow with diversions has affected the salinity of the water and changed the habitat at creek mouths where E. newberryi has historically lived. Restoration projects have been started to bring populations back to a more stable number by making more habitat available, as well as providing protective areas. Some levees have been removed and exotic species reduction programs are being initiated. [11]

Related Research Articles

Gobiidae Family of fishes

Gobiidae is a family of bony fish in the order Gobiiformes, one of the largest fish families comprising more than 2,000 species in more than 200 genera, sometimes referred to as the "true gobies". Most of them are relatively small, typically less than 10 cm (3.9 in) in length. The Gobiidae includes some of the smallest vertebrates in the world, such as Trimmatom nanus and Pandaka pygmaea, Trimmatom nanus are under 1 cm long when fully grown, then Pandaka pygmaea standard length are 9mm (0.35 in),maximum known standard length are 11 mm (0.43 in). Some large gobies can reach over 30 cm (0.98 ft) in length, but that is exceptional. Generally, they are benthic, or bottom-dwellers. Although few are important as food for humans, they are of great significance as prey species for commercially important fish such as cod, haddock, sea bass, and flatfish. Several gobiids are also of interest as aquarium fish, such as the dartfish of the genus Ptereleotris. Phylogenetic relationships of gobiids have been studied using molecular data.

Eleotridae Family of fishes

Eleotridae is a family of fish commonly known as sleeper gobies, with about 34 genera and 180 species. Most species are found in the tropical Indo-Pacific region, but there are also species in subtropical and temperate regions, warmer parts of the Americas and near the Atlantic coast in Africa. While many eleotrids pass through a planktonic stage in the sea and some spend their entire lives in the sea; as adults, the majority live in freshwater streams and brackish water. One of its genera, Caecieleotris, is troglobitic. They are especially important as predators in the freshwater stream ecosystems on oceanic islands such as New Zealand and Hawaii that otherwise lack the predatory fish families typical of nearby continents, such as catfish. Anatomically, they are similar to the gobies (Gobiidae), though unlike the majority of gobies, they do not have a pelvic sucker.

Mudskipper Subfamily of fishes

Mudskippers are amphibious fish. They are of the family Oxudercidae and the subfamily Oxudercinae. There are 32 living species of mudskipper.

Gudgeon (fish) Common name for several species of fish

Gudgeon is the common name for a number of small freshwater fish of the families Butidae, Cyprinidae, Eleotridae or Ptereleotridae. Most gudgeons are elongate, bottom-dwelling fish, many of which live in rapids and other fast moving water.

Northern tidewater goby Species of fish

Eucyclogobius newberryi, the Northern tidewater goby, is a species of goby native to lagoons of streams, marshes, and creeks along the coast of California, United States. The Northern tidewater goby is one of six native goby species to California.

Crazy fish Species of fish

Butis butis, the crazy fish, duckbill sleeper, or upside-down sleeper, is a species of sleeper goby that are native to brackish and freshwater coastal habitats of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean from the African coast to the islands of Fiji. They prefer well-vegetated waters and can frequently be found in mangrove swamps. They are small, drably-colored fish, reaching a maximum length of only 15 cm (5.9 in). They are predatory and are known for their behavior of swimming vertically – or even upside down – while hunting.

Milyeringa is a genus of blind cavefish from the Cape Range and Barrow Island, northwestern Australia. Although traditionally considered to belong to the family Eleotridae, studies show that they represent a distinct and far-separated lineage together with the Typhleotris cavefish from Madagascar, leading some to move them to their own family, Milyeringidae. The generic name is taken from Milyering which is 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Vlamingh Head in the North West Cape of Western Australia, the type locality for Milyeringa veritas.

<i>Mugilogobius</i> Genus of fishes

Mugilogobius is a genus of fish in the family Gobiidae. They are found in fresh, brackish and marine water of the Indo-Pacific region. Several of the freshwater species have highly restricted distributions.

Gobiinae Subfamily of fishes

True gobies were a subfamily, the Gobiinae, of the goby family Gobiidae, although the 5th edition of the Fishes of the World does not subdivide the Gobiidae into subfamilies. They are found in all oceans and a few rivers and lakes, but most live in warm waters. Altogether, the Gobiinae unite about 1149 described species in 160 genera, and new ones are still being discovered in numbers.

Gobionellinae Subfamily of fishes

The Gobionellinae are a subfamily of fish which was formerly classified in the family Gobiidae, the gobies, but the 5th Edition of Fishes of the World classifies the subfamily as part of the family Oxudercidae. Members of Gobionellinae mostly inhabit estuarine and freshwater habitats; the main exception is the genus Gnatholepis, which live with corals in marine environments. The subfamily is distributed in tropical and temperate regions around the world with the exception of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Ponto-Caspian region. It includes around 370 species and 55 genera: Wikipedia articles about genera list about 389 species.

Leptophilypnion is a genus of tiny fishes in the family Eleotridae endemic to the Amazon Basin in South America. At less than 1 cm (0.4 in) in standard length they are the smallest sleeper gobies and among the smallest fish. The larger Microphilypnus sleeper gobies are also found in the Amazon, and sometimes occur together with Leptophilypnion. The bottom-dwelling Leptophilypnion are typically found in shallow, stagnant or slow-flowing water among soft debris, leaf-litter or water plants.

Microphilypnus is a genus of small fishes in the family Eleotridae native to the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America. At up to 2.4 cm (0.94 in) in standard length, they are among the smallest sleeper gobies, but however larger than the Leptophilypnion sleeper gobies from the same region. The bottom-dwelling Microphilypnus are typically found in shallow water among leaf-litter or partially buried in sand, and they can be very abundant in their habitat. Their small size combined with a speckled and semi-transparent appearance makes them highly cryptic. They somewhat resemble certain freshwater shrimp, as well as Priocharax characins, and they sometimes group together. Microphilypnus feed on tiny invertebrates.

Butidae Family of fishes

Butidae is a family of sleeper gobies in the order Gobiiformes. The family was formerly classified as a subfamily of the Eleotridae but the 5th Edition of Fishes of the World classifies it as a family in its own right. Molecular phylogenetic analyses have demonstrated that the Butidae are a sister clade to the clade containing the families Gobiidae and Gobionellidae and that the Eleotridae is a sister to both of these clades. This means that the Eloetridae as formerly classified was paraphyletic and that its subfamilies should be raised to the status of families.

Milyeringidae Family of fishes

Milyeringidae, the blind cave gobies, is a small family of gobies, in the order Gobiiformes. There are two genera and six species within the family, which is considered to be a subfamily of the Eleotridae by some authorities. Milyeringidae includes one genus (Milyeringa) restricted to caves in the North West Cape region of Australia and the other (Typhleotris) to underground water systems in Madagascar. They are all troglobitic species and have lost their eyes.

Belobranchus segura is a species of eleotrid sleeper goby which has been found in Indonesia on Halmahera, in Papua Barat and also on the Solomon Islands. It is an anadromous species in which the eggs are laid over rocky and gravel bottoms in freshwater streams. The free-swimming larvae then drift downstream to the sea where they undergo a planktonic stage before migrating up streams to mature and breed. It feeds on small crustaceans and fish. The specific name honours the French hydrobiologist Gilles Segura for his contribution to the study of fish faunas.

Thalasseleotrididae Family of fishes

Thalasseleotrididae is a family of two genera of the order Gobiiformes which are found in the temperate seas of Australia and New Zealand. They were formerly classified as part of the family Eleotridae but workers had noted that these genera were atypical members of the Eleotridae. The Thalasseleotrididae was erected as a family based on both genera having similar osteological characteristics in the bones of pectoral girdle and the gill arches and having the first gill slit restricted or closed by a broad membrane which connects the hyoid arch to the first ceratobranchial bone. This family is considered to be a sister group to the family Gobiidae.

<i>Chaenogobius annularis</i> Species of fish

Chaenogobius annularis, the fork-tongued goby, is a species of goby from the subfamily Gobionellinae which is found in the brackish waters of temperate eastern Asia. It is the type species of the genus Chaenogobius.

Pseudogobiopsis lumbantobing is a species of goby from the subfamily Gobionellinae which is found in Java and Sumatra where it occurs in freshwater rivers and streams at altitudes of 5–22 metres (16–72 ft), with substrates made up of sand, gravel, rock and boulders and where there may be growths of algae and aquatic macrophytes. This species had been traded in the European aquarium trade since 2001. The specific name honours the ichthyologist Daniel Lumbantobing of the Florida Museum of Natural History who showed the first specimens which he had collected to Helen K. Larson in 2012, this resolved the identity of the orange-spotted gobies which had been recorded in the European aquarium trade and which aquarists had sent pictures to Larson for identification.

Goby Common name for many species of fish

Goby is a common name for many species of small to medium sized ray-finned fish, normally with large heads and tapered bodies, which are found in marine, brackish and freshwater environments. Traditionally most of the species called gobies have been classified in the order Perciformes as the suborder Gobioidei but in the 5th Edition of Fishes of the World this suborder is elevated to an order Gobiiformes within the clade Percomorpha. Not all the species in the Gobiiformes are referred to as gobies and the "true gobies" are placed in the family Gobiidae, while other species referred to as gobies have been placed in the Oxudercidae. Goby is also used to describe some species which are not classified within the order Gobiiformes, such as the engineer goby or convict blenny Pholidichthys leucotaenia. The word goby derives from the Latin gobius meaning "gudgeon", and some species of goby, especially the sleeper gobies in the family Eleotridae and some of the dartfishes are called "gudgeons", especially in Australia.

Helen K. Larson is an ichthyologist who specialises in the fishes of the Indo-Pacific.


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