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Chlamydogobius micropterus (Family Gobiidae)

Elizabeth Springs Goby


The Elizabeth Springs Goby is found in Elizabeth Springs, a small group of springs south-east of Boulia in western Queensland (QLD).


The Elizabeth Springs Goby is a small stocky fish that grows to 62 mm. Both sexes look similar, although adult males have slightly more colourful fins than the females. They have a greyish coloured body. The fins are darker in males with a white outer edge, although the first dorsal fin has a brightish blue spot at its base. This species is not brightly coloured like some Chlamydogobius species. They have a surprisingly large mouth for their size. Gobies can be distinguished from most other fishes by their fused pelvic fins. The various Chlamydogobius species are never found together, but are otherwise difficult to distinguish. This species does have a distinctively smaller first dorsal fin relative to other Chlamydogobius species.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Many of the springs inhabited by the Elizabeth Springs Goby are shallow (less than 10 cm) with discrete outflow streams and/or swampy outflows that are typically populated by short dense sedges and grasses. Almost nothing is known of their ecology, however, it is probably similar to the ecology of Desert Goby and the following comments are based on that species. They will eat just about anything, including algae, small invertebrates, insects and even each other! They typically breed during the warmer months from November through March. Males guard a small territory, usually under a rock or a small hole/cave. Females lay up to 200 eggs on the roof of the cave. Males will also breed with additional females while they already have existing eggs in their cave. Males vigorously guard their eggs, which take 10 days to hatch. Offspring mature in 3–6 months . Unlike other Chlamydogobius. species, they probably do not have the potential to migrate over longer distances during major flooding as they have not been found in any nearby suitable habitats.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species is not commonly kept in aquariums mostly due to the difficulty in obtaining them, lack of colour and their recent discovery. Their habitat was incorporated into a conservation park in 2000. Previously it was part of a cattle station. They are formally listed as endangered as their habitat is threatened due to lowering of groundwater pressure. This has resulted in a major decrease in spring outflow, from probably over 100 litres per second in the 1870's to only a few litres per second since the 1960's. The second major ongoing threat is the gradual spread of the introduced Gambusia holbrooki (Damnbusia), which could prey upon Elizabeth Springs Goby as well as compete for resources. Prior to fencing of the springs in 1997/98 cattle grazing was a problem. Livestock were trampling the springs and animals periodically became trapped and died in the springs. A program to cap nearby flowing bores should help to prevent groundwater pressure lowering.

Other Comments:

Chlamydogobius micropterus was named by Larson in 1995. It is based on Greek, chlamydo meaning cloaked, gobius meaning goby and micropterus meaning small fin.

Further Reading:

Allen, G. R., Midgley, S. H. & Allen, M. (2002). Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Western Australian Museum. Perth. 394pp.

Unmack, P. J. (2003). Australian Desert Fishes.

Wager, R. & Unmack, P. J. (2000). Fishes of the Lake Eyre Catchment of Central Australia. Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane. 90pp.


Text: Peter J. Unmack & Rob Wager. Distribution map & Photographer: Peter J. Unmack.

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