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Chlamydogobius japalpa (Family Gobiidae)

Finke Goby


The Finke Goby is found in the upper parts of the Finke River west of Alice Springs in the MacDonnell Ranges (NT).


The Finke Goby is a small stocky fish that grows to 60 mm. Adult males can be brightly coloured with a brownish to yellow body and blue, yellow, white and black fins. Males are more intensively coloured during the breeding season. Females and juveniles are typically brownish with clear fins. 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.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Finke Goby is found in various pools and waterholes associated with the Finke River, where it usually inhabits shallow margins with thick plant cover or dense detritus covering the bottom. Nothing is know of the biology of Finke Goby, however it is probably very similar to the biology of the 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. They attract females to their territory with bright flashy displays. 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. Finke Goby are likely to have broad physiological tolerances.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species is not commonly kept in aquariums mostly due to the difficulty in obtaining them. They are formally listed as restricted due to their limited range. Most of their habitat is contained within national parks and conservation reserves. The main potential threat could come from the introduction of exotic fishes such as Gambusia holbrooki (Damnbusia) that may prey upon and compete with the Finke Goby.

Other Comments:

Chlamydogobius japalpa was described by Larson in 1995. The genus name is based on Greek: chlamydo = cloaked; gobius = goby. The species name is based on an Aboriginal word: japalpa = the Western Aranda name for part of the Finke River.

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: Peter J. Unmack. Photographer: Neil Armstrong.

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