Sitemap
Return to Introduction
Return to Goby Introduction
Group 1: six-spined shortfin gobies 1
.
Group 2: six-spined shortfin gobies 2
.
Group 4: longfin gobies
.
Group 5: divided pelvic-fin gobies
.
allied family Ptereleotridae
allied family Eleotridae
allied family Microdesmidae

Group 3: The seven-spined shortfin gobies (fused)

Barbulifer, Risor, Ginsburgellus, Gobiosoma, Elacatinus, and Tigrigobius

 

This group includes many of the small gobies on and around Caribbean reefs that live well-hidden around coral structure or inside sponges. Most are inconspicuous and rarely noticed on the reef. The main exception is the group of cleaner gobies that live on prominent coral heads and sponges and remove parasites from passing fishes. They need to advertise and typically have bright blue or yellow stripes on a black background. Interestingly, a set of related sponge gobies share the colored stripe, but do not apparently clean other fishes; the reason for their colors could either be to receive some protection from the relative immunity of cleaners from predation (mimicry) or advertise the fact that they produce noxious chemicals. The striped sponge gobies usually stay in their sponges and do not perch in conspicuous locations as do the cleaners.

A group of small non-descript inshore, sometimes even freshwater, gobies are also in this group. The phylogenetic relationships are not resolved and some species have been shuttled around into various genera over the years. The most recent change has been the returning of the non-cleaner/sponge gobies of Elacatinus back to Tigrigobius, where they form a cohesive grouping.

 
The larvae of Group 3 gobies are typically very small and lightly marked, usually with only a few ventral midline melanophores or often just a single post-anal-fin spot. The basic shortfin meristics (usually 8-11 second-dorsal and anal-fin elements) and general appearance are shared by some larvae of the six-spined standard gobies of Group 2 and the two groups can be a challenge to separate when the dorsal-fin spines are not easily apparent. Similarly, some of the divided pelvic-fin gobies, Group 5, have larvae that are similar in size, shape, and markings to the Group 3 gobies and they also can be difficult to distinguish when the state of the pelvic fins is not obvious. The few Group 3 gobies with 13 second dorsal-fin elements overlap the lower range of fin counts of the longfin gobies of Group 4, but have a quite different body shape and larval appearance. Only the occasional Gobiosoma from US waters have counts that high, but they notably have no more than 11 anal-fin elements.
Barbulifer ceuthoecus
 
Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,10 A-9 and Pect-16-17 indicate Barbulifer species. Other seven-spined gobies with this modal fin-ray count have divided pelvic fins and include Pycnomma roosevelti, Psilotris, and Chriolepis. Gobiosoma grosvenori shares the fin-ray counts and should have a mostly-divided pelvic fin but, since the rest of the Gobiosoma have typical fused pelvic fins, the pelvic fin in larval G. grosvenori may not be divided (it also occurs only in Florida and Venezuela). This larval type, however, has the shape characteristic of Barbulifer, i.e. a large broad and flattened head, a wide mouth, a short pelvic fin with a frenum, and a wide caudal peduncle. There are two Caribbean species with the same fin-ray counts: B. ceuthoecus and B. antennatus. The latter is not reported from Panama. The remaining seven-spined gobies all have a mode of more than 10 second-dorsal-fin elements. (PE) G18
Analogues:
Description: Body thick, long, and somewhat narrow with a small eye and a terminal large wide mouth. Head broad and slightly flattened. Pectoral fins relatively long, reaching much of the way to the vent. Pelvic fins short, extending less than halfway to the vent and fused with a small frenum (some larvae show split pevic fins that are artifacts). Dorsal and anal-fin bases short, caudal peduncle relatively wide and long and procurrent caudal-fin rays 8-10 (8-9 spindly). Melanophores on the head are limited to at the angle of the jaw and sometimes on the inner (mouth) side of the lower jaw. Characteristically, there is a large melanophore or two overlying the cleithrum just behind the operculum and just forward of the pectoral-fin base. This melanophore can be absent on very lightly-marked individuals. Lightly marked, mostly along the ventral midline: at the isthmus, just forward of the pelvic-fin insertion, then sometimes on the abdomen just behind the pelvic-fin insertion, then three or four melanophores spaced along the anal-fin base (often paired, one per side) and then a row (or streak) of three or four extending along the caudal peduncle ending near the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. The abdominal melanophores are quite variable, missing in some individuals and a clear Y-shape diverging from the pelvic-fin insertion in others (post-pelvic Y). Melanophores are present on the base of most of the lower caudal-fin segmented rays extending up to halfway along the rays. There are internal melanophores around the sacculus, on the dorsal surface of the swim bladder, and around the gut near the vent. Series of transitional larvae show that the eye develops from a slightly narrowed vertical oval, sometimes tilted forward, to larger and round. Transitional larvae always have the melanophore overlying the cleithrum just forward of the base of the pectoral fin, and often more around the base of the pectoral fin. Melanophores then develop as a scattering in a vague stripe on the body underlying the pectoral fin rearwards. In addition, there can be melanophores on the inside of the mouth at the tip of the lower jaw and a few tiny ones around the maxilla.
Barbulifer ceuthoecus larva
9.0 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB83-169
barbulifer larvae
Barbulifer ceuthoecus larva
9.3 mm SL
slightly narrowed eye
San Blas, Panama, SB87-218
larval barbulifer
  larval barbulifer ceuthoecus
 
Barbulifer ceuthoecus larva
9.9 mm SL
lightly marked
San Blas, Panama, SB80-105
Barbulifer ceuthoecus larva
9.5 mm SL
broad head and inner mouth melanophores
San Blas, Panama, SB87-228
  larval barbulifer ceuthoecus
Barbulifer ceuthoecus transitional larva
9.4 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-331
larval barbulifer ceuthoecus
  larval barbulifer ceuthoecus
  larval barbulifer ceuthoecus
  larval barbulifer ceuthoecus
Goby 1125 vs.
Barbulifer ceuthoecus (early)
 
Diagnosis: A larval type with D-?,10 A-9. Unfortunately, the 10/9 fin-ray count is the most common formula for Caribbean gobies and there are many candidates for this larval type. The basic melanophore pattern, i.e. a melanophore at the angle of the jaw, a row along the anal-fin base continuing to the start of the lower procurrent caudal-fin rays and melanophores at the base of most of the lower segmented caudal-fin rays, is shared with larval Barbulifer ceuthoecus and the six-spined Coryphopterus. The body shape of this larval type, however, does not match the Coryphopterus. In most features, this larval type fits with what would be expected for immature B. ceuthoecus larvae, i.e. the pattern of melanophores (especially the post-pelvic Y), the small round eye, the flattened head shape with a very broad mouth, and the relatively wide caudal peduncle. However, the melanophore just forward of the vent on the abdominal promontory is not found on other B. ceuthoecus larvae, and this larval type is therefore described separately (pending intermediate individuals or DNA sequencing). Barbulifer antennatus is not reported from Panama, but cannot be excluded.
Analogues: (light markings with anal fin plus caudal peduncle row) Within the diverse anal fin plus caudal peduncle row group, there are many very similar larval types. Two of the most common gobiid larval genera share this basic marking pattern, including the melanophore at the angle of the jaw: Lythrypnus (without the caudal-fin melanophores) and Coryphopterus (both six-spined). A few Elacatinus are the only seven-spined gobies to share the anal-fin-caudal peduncle row of melanophores, but, as a rule, they do not have the melanophore at the angle of the jaw. All three of the aforementioned groups are typically wider-bodied and do not share the flattened head appearance and broad mouth of this larval type. Furthermore, their eyes are either narrowed vertical ovals or large and round, without the smaller slightly flattened eye exhibited by this larval type. They do not share the post-pelvic Y marking and only a rare Coryphopterus specimen exhibits an abdominal promontory melanophore. Typical Barbulifer ceuthoecus larvae are larger, usually more than 9 mm SL, and thicker (but may represent the mature version of this larval type).
The larval eleotrid Dormitator maculatus has a similar general appearance and shares most of the markings, including the abdominal promontory and jaw angle melanophores, but the abdominal midline streak extends to the level of the swimbladder (shared with the other eleotrid species) and there is no internal melanophore around the gut near the vent. Some immature larvae of the long gobies, such as Microgobius superficially resemble this type, but have many more median-fin rays and very short caudal peduncles and are usually longer than 8 mm SL. Immature Bollmannia boqueronensis larvae may resemble this type, but have more median-fin rays and a much larger irregular eye, along with additional melanophores.
Description: Body relatively thick, long, and narrow with a medium round eye and a terminal large wide mouth. Head broad and slightly flattened. Dorsal and anal-fin bases short, caudal peduncle relatively wide and long and procurrent caudal-fin rays 8-9 (8 spindly). Lightly marked, mostly along the ventral midline: at the isthmus, along the pelvic-fin insertion and extending onto the abdominal midline, often with a clear Y-shape diverging from the pelvic-fin insertion (post-pelvic Y), then often a melanophore on the abdominal promontory just forward of the vent, followed by paired melanophores along the anal-fin base and then a row (or streak) extending along the caudal peduncle ending near the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. Melanophores are present on the base of most of the lower caudal-fin segmented rays. Melanophores on the head are limited to the angle of the jaw. There are internal melanophores along the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and around the gut near the vent.
Goby 1125 larva
7.4 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1125
 
Goby 1125 larvae
7.1, 7.4, and 8.0 mm SL
larva at bottom shown ventral aspect up
with a post-pelvic Y and an abdominal
promontory melanophore
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1125
Dormitator maculatus larva above
vs. Goby 1125 larva below
note abdominal midline melanophores,
long streak vs. Y
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1123
Notes on
Elacatinus, Tigrigobius, and Gobiosoma
This large group of small seven-spined gobies separates out into three basic groups: the conspicuously-striped Elacatinus cleaner and sponge gobies (also commonly called neon gobies), the non-cleaner Tigrigobius, and Gobiosoma. Identification of larvae to species in this large and homogenous group is obviously difficult and DNA sequencing is necessary to be sure of the identification for some individuals. The larvae of these seven-spined goby larvae are similar in general appearance to those of some six-spined species, especially Lythrypnus and Coryphopterus, but with the characters presented here they should be easily separated.
Larval identifications can be problematic since the fin-ray counts of many species overlap (although modal counts can be helpful). The cleaner/sponge gobies separate out with their high median-fin ray counts, usually D-VII,12 A-11. Unfortunately, many of the Tigrigobius share fin-ray counts with the Gobiosoma, making this large group of gobies particularly hard to identify. Pectoral-fin ray counts can vary between species and is sometimes useful. The most helpful feature, however, is that many Gobiosoma have restricted ranges within the region, thus knowledge of the location of a collection can sharply reduce the number of possible candidates and be instrumental in identifications.
Taxonomy: These gobies have a complex taxonomic history and have been shuffled around a number of genera: the present Tigrigobius have, until very recently, been placed in Elacatinus. The present Gobiosoma group includes the former Garmannia and Austrogobius. The cleaner/sponge gobies, presently considered Elacatinus, have been included in Gobiosoma in the past and are often listed as such in older literature.
Elacatinus vs. Tigrigobius
Cleaner/sponge group (neon gobies): The Elacatinus cleaner/sponge gobies typically have higher modal fin-ray counts than Tigrigobius, i.e. D-VII,12 A-11. Geographic location is very important to identification of these gobies.
 
Tigrigobius group: Although there is some variation, modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,11 A-10 are typical of the Tigrigobius. These species are typically reef-associated, although often inconspicuous. Some have broad geographic ranges, in contrast to most cleaner/sponge gobies and the Gobiosoma species. The fin ray counts are shared by many of the present Gobiosoma (discussed separately below).
  • The Tigrigobius separate out somewhat by modal pectoral-fin ray counts: T. gemmatus, T. saucrus and T. pallens with 16, T. dilepis and T. macrodon with 17 (the latter Florida to Haiti), T. zebrellus with 18 (Venezuela and Trinidad only), and T. multifasciatus complex of species with 20-21 pectoral-fin rays.
  • Tigrigobius exceptions to the standard D-VII,11 A-10 fin-ray count are T. pallens with a modal fin-ray count of D-11 A-9, many T. multifasciatus with D-12 A-10, and some populations of T. gemmatus with D-12 A-11.

    The 11-12/10 median-fin ray count is shared by two other species that are closely-related to the Tigrigobius: Ginsburgellus novemlineatus (Pect-17 and a tiny pelvic-fin cup), and Risor ruber (D-11-12, A-9-10, Pect-15-17). Both fall within the Tigrigobius clade in phylogenetic studies.

    Gobiosoma
    The present genus Gobiosoma includes a number of tiny non-descript species, several limited to US waters (G. bosc, G. ginsburgi, G. longipala, and G. robustum). Most Caribbean species have a modal fin-ray count of D-VII,11 or 12 A-10. They are found in shallow inshore non-reef environments, including brackish and fresh-water, and fortunately can have very restricted geographic ranges which makes identifications much easier. At most Caribbean locations, only one or two species are to be expected, but, for some interesting biogeographic reason, three species coexist around Colon in Panama.
  • Those Caribbean species with a mode of 11/10 include G. hildebrandi (from Panama) with modal 17 pectoral-fin rays and G. schultzi (from Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela) with 17-18 pectoral-fin rays. Note: these fin-ray counts can be shared with several Tigrigobius species discussed above.
  • Those with a mode of 12/10 include G. spes (Pect-16, widespread), G. spilotum (Pect-18-19, Panama), and G. hemigymnum (Pect-20-21, West Indies).
  • Caribbean Gobiosoma exceptions to the standard D-VII,11 or 12 A-10 fin-ray counts are G. grosvenori (S. Florida, Bahamas, and Venezuela only) with modally D-10 A-9 (shared among the seven-spined, fused-pelvic-fin gobies by the two Barbulifer species; all three with modal 17 pectoral-fin rays) and G. yucatanum (Yucatan to Honduras) with D-11 A-9 Pect-15-16 (shared with E. pallens).
  • The USA and Gulf of Mexico Gobiosoma species can have higher median-fin ray counts of D-VII,12 or 13 A-11 Pect-17-19 in G. bosc and G. ginsburgi (shared by many cleaner gobies) or the same as Caribbean species (D-VII,11 or 12 A-10 Pect-15-17) in G. longipala and G. robustum.
    Elacatinus/Gobiosoma vs. the six-spined gobies
    Many Elacatinus/Gobiosoma larvae superficially resemble those of Lythrypnus and Coryphopterus (both six-spined). Since the latter are very common larvae and the number of dorsal-fin spines is not always easily apparent, the groups can be easily confused. There are, however, several basic features that should quickly serve to separate the groups (other than counting dorsal-fin spines):
  • the row of melanophores along the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle extends close to, or up to, the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays in Coryphopterus and, with uncommon exceptions, in Lythrypnus. In Elacatinus/Gobiosoma larvae, the row, if present, stops well before the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays.
  • The melanophore at the angle of the jaw is present in all Lythrypnus larvae and many Coryphopterus larvae (i.e. the vast majority of C. glaucofraenum and C. dicrus, but not in C. personatus/hyalinus), but is absent in all Elacatinus/Gobiosoma larvae identified thus far.
  • Coryphopterus larvae have more procurrent caudal-fin rays, usually 8 or 9, than do Elacatinus/Gobiosoma larvae (or Lythrypnus), who usually have only 5 or 6.
     
    Of course, this discussion is limited to the larval taxa so far identified. Photographs below of the tails of larval C. glaucofraenum above and Tigrigobius gemmatus below.
    procurrent caudal fin rays
    procurrent caudal fin rays
    Note: three genera combined, presented in order of increasing anal-fin elements
    Tigrigobius pallens
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,11 A-8-9 and Pect-16 indicate Tigrigobius pallens and Gobiosoma yucatanum. This low fin-ray count matches only a few species in the large Gobiosoma/Tigrigobius/Elacatinus group. The modal count overlaps the lower range for T. saucrus and T. dilepis. However, individuals of this larval type range as low as D-VII,10 A-8 Pect-15. G. yucatanum (Pect-16 with range 15-18) occurs only from Yucatan to Honduras. Gobiosoma grosvenori can overlap these lower counts, but is found only in Florida, Bahamas, and Venezuela. (PE) G7ab
    Analogues: (anal-fin base row and post-anal-fin spot only)
    Description: Body relatively thin, long and narrow with a large eye and a medium-sized low terminal mouth. Pectoral fins long, reaching past the vent. Pelvic fins long, reaching about two-thirds of the way to the vent without an obvious frenum or cup. Dorsal and anal-fin bases medium length, caudal peduncle long and narrow and only 4-6 procurrent caudal-fin rays (4-5 spindly). Very lightly marked along the ventral midline: melanophores absent from thoracic and pelvic region and present as a short row of two to four along anal-fin base between the third and seventh element (variably paired and variably one per side) and then one large melanophore just after the last anal-fin ray. Some individuals have a surface melanophore just forward of the anal-fin origin. Internal melanophores at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder. Series of transitional larvae show the eye remains round. Transitional larvae first develop two arcs of melanophores across the top of the head between the eyes, subsequently two more arcs develop behind the eyes and then two bars of melanophores develop below the eye (corresponding iris melanophores at about 12, 2, 5, and 7 o'clock). A scattering of tiny melanophores develops along the upper jaw and around the nasal bones.
    Tigrigobius pallens larva
    6.1 mm SL
    early transitional body shape?
    San Blas, Panama, SB84-624a
    elacatinus pallens larva
     
    Tigrigobius pallens early transitional larva
    6.7 mm SL
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-426
    tigrigobius pallens larva
      elacatinus pallens larvae
      semiscaled goby larva
    Tigrigobius pallens transitional larva
    7.0 mm SL
    D-VII,10 A-8 Pect-16
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-228
    larval elacatinus pallens
      tigrigobius pallens larvae
     
      larval semiscaled goby
      tigrigobius pallens larvae
    Tigrigobius pallens transitional larva
    6.0 mm SL
    D-VII,10 A-8 Pect-15
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-625
    gobiosoma pallens larvae
     
      gobiosoma pallens larvae
    Tigrigobius pallens recruit
    8.0 mm SL
    Utila, Honduras U870
    tigrigobius pallens
      semiscaled goby
    Tigrigobius saucrus
     
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,11 A-10 and Pect-16 overlaps many species of the numerous Gobiosoma/Tigrigobius/Elacatinus group, but matches the mode only for Tigrigobius saucrus, T. macrodon (Florida to Haiti), and Gobiosoma hildebrandi (Panama). Tigrigobius dilepis shares most features with T. saucrus, but has a mode of 17 or 18 pectoral-fin rays; individuals may be included in the larval type where the species overlap in geographical distribution (but this larval type in Panama has 15-17 pectoral-fin rays with a strong mode at 16). Transitional recruits with a prominent row of black spots along the side of the body confirms T. saucrus. G7

    Analogues: (ventral midline series x3: thorax, anal-fin, caudal peduncle streak) Larval T. saucrus share this melanophore pattern with several congeners: T. dilepis larvae are likely identical, but with one or two more pectoral-fin rays (modal 17-18); T. multifasciatus have a much shorter cup-shaped pelvic fin, less than half-way to the vent, and 20-21 pectoral-fin rays; and the cleaner gobies have a larger eye and D-12, A-11 fin-ray counts. Larval T. saucrus and congeners can be separated from the very common six-spined gobies with the same VMSx3 melanophore pattern primarily by the length of the caudal peduncle streak. Most larval Coryphopterus and Lythrypnus (all six-spined) have their caudal peduncle streak extending to the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays vs. about half-way for the seven-spined gobies. Many of those six-spined species also have a prominent melanophore at the corner of the jaw, absent on the seven-spined larvae. Also distinctive is the large cup-shaped pelvic fin on larval T. saucrus; the seven-spined gobies tend to have flat pelvic fins.

    Description: Body relatively thin, long, and narrow with a medium eye and a terminal, medium-sized mouth and often thick lips. Pectoral fins long, reaching to vent, pelvic fins long and form a large obvious cup extending about two-thirds of the way to the vent. Dorsal and anal fins relatively short, caudal peduncle long and narrow, procurrent caudal-fin rays 6-8 (6-7 spindly). Lightly marked along the lower body: melanophores along the ventral midline at the isthmus (sometimes missing) and the pelvic-fin insertion, along the anal-fin base (paired, one per side) and extending along the ventral peduncle ending well before the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. Internal melanophores at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and sometimes around the gut near the vent. Melanophores sometimes present on the base of several of the lower caudal-fin segmented rays and extending out a short distance along the rays. Series of transitional larvae show the eye remains round. Transitional larvae develop a blunt snout profile and develop bars radiating from the eye and bands across the top of the head, connected by a large X pattern over the brain. Patches of melanophores develop on the preopercle, on the base of the pectoral fin, and in a prominent row along the dorsal midline of the body as well as along the lateral midline and around the base of the caudal-fin rays.
    Tigrigobius saucrus larva
    7.8 mm SL
    San Blas, Panama, SB83-161
    gobiosoma saucrus larvae
      tigrigobius saucrus larvae
    Tigrigobius saucrus + larva
    7.7 mm SL
    17 pectoral-fin rays
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-414
    tigrigobius saucrus larvae
      larval tigrigobius saucrus
    Tigrigobius saucrus + transitional larva
    7.6 mm SL
    Pect-17
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-502
    Tigrigobius saucrus larvae
      larval Tigrigobius saucrus
    Tigrigobius saucrus transitional larva
    7.9 mm SL
    Pect-15
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-809
    Tigrigobius saucrus larva
    Tigrigobius saucrus transitional larva
    7.9 mm SL
    Pect-16
    San Blas, Panama, SB87-121
    larval leopard goby
    Tigrigobius saucrus late transitional larva
    7.7 mm SL
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-1224
    leopard goby larva
      leopard goby
      larval leopard goby
    Gobiosoma hildebrandi
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,11 A-10 and Pect-17 overlaps many species of the numerous Gobiosoma/Elacatinus group, but matches the mode only for the allopatric set of Gobiosoma hildebrandi (Panama), G. schultzi (Venezuela), G. yucatanum (Yucatan to Honduras), and then the pair of Tigrigobius saucrus and T. dilepis. G710 G7S1110
    Analogues: (solitary post-anal-fin spot) Pre-transitional Gobiosoma hildebrandi larvae can only be distinguished from their co-ocurring congeners by fin-ray counts (but there is overlap); the combination of 11/10 p-17 vs. 12/10 p-16 in G. spes and 12/11 p-16 in the T. gemmatus type. This group is distinguished by having flat pelvic frenums vs. obvious cup-shaped pelvic fins in T. saucrus and T. dilepis. At transition, G. hildebrandi develop outlined scales along the posterior body (vs. naked in newly-settled G. spes).
    Description: Body relatively thin, long, and narrow with a medium eye and a terminal, medium mouth. Pectoral fins long, reaching to or past vent. Pelvic fins medium, extending about two-thirds the way to the vent, with a flat frenum not forming an obvious cup. Dorsal and anal-fin bases medium length and caudal peduncle medium length and width, procurrent caudal-fin rays usually 6 (5-6 spindly). A single melanophore on the caudal peduncle ventral midline just after the last anal fin and internal melanophores only at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and sometimes around the gut near the vent.
    Gobiosoma/Elacatinus sp. larva
    5.8 mm SL
    D-VII,11 A-10
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-419
    gobiosoma larva
      gobiosoma larval identification
      gobiosoma larval otoliths
      gobiosoma pelvic fin
    Gobiosoma hildebrandi recruit
    8.4 mm SL
    Colon, Panama, N762a
    gobiosoma hildebrandi
    Gobiosoma spes
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,12 A-10 and Pect-15-17 overlaps many species of the numerous Gobiosoma/Elacatinus group, but matches the mode only for Gobiosoma spes, Tigrigobius gemmatus, Ginsburgellus novemlineatus, and Risor ruber. The pre-transitional larvae of these species may be similar, but can be distinguished at transition: T. gemmatus should have basicaudal scales (G. spes do not, only the sides of the body have some scales), Ginsburgellus novemlineatus should have a very small pelvic-fin cup, and Risor ruber has a long pelvic fin and a row of distinctive spiny scales on the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle. G419 G7S1210
    Analogues: (solitary post-anal-fin spot) Pre-transitional Gobiosoma spes larvae can only be distinguished from their co-ocurring congeners by fin-ray counts; the combination of 12/10 p-16 vs. 11/10 p-17 in G. hildebrandi and 12/11 p-16 in the T. gemmatus type. This group is distinguished by having flat pelvic frenums vs. obvious cup-shaped pelvic fins in T. saucrus and T. dilepis. At transition, this type does not develop ctenoid basicaudal scales as in T. gemmatus (and maybe G. hildebrandi).
    Description: Body relatively thin, long, and narrow with a medium eye and a terminal medium mouth. Pectoral fins long, reaching to or past vent. Pelvic fins medium, extending about two-thirds the way to the vent, with a flat frenum not forming an obvious cup. Dorsal and anal-fin bases medium length and caudal peduncle medium length and width, procurrent caudal-fin rays usually 6 (5-6 spindly). A single melanophore on the caudal peduncle ventral midline just after the last anal fin and internal melanophores only at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and sometimes around the gut near the vent.
    Gobiosoma/Elacatinus sp. larva
    6.6 mm SL
    D-VII,12 A-10 Pect-17
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-808
    gobiosoma larva
    Gobiosoma spes transitional recruits
    6.6 mm SL top, 6.1 mm SL
    D-VII,12 A-10 Pect-16, DNA confirmed ID
    Colon, Panama, N762a
    gobiosoma spes
    Gobiosoma spes transitional recruits
    6.6 mm SL top, 6.1 mm SL, 5.9 mm SL
    D-VII,12 A-10 Pect-16, DNA confirmed ID
    Colon, Panama, N762a
    panama gobies
    Gobiosoma spes transitional recruits
    6.6 mm SL
    Note flattened pelvic-fin frenum
    Colon, Panama, N762a
    goby pelvic fins
      gobiosoma spes larva
    Tigrigobius gemmatus

    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,12 A-11 and Pect-16 and fused pelvic fins match the Elacatinus cleaner gobies as well as overlapping the reported upper range of T. gemmatus (and T. macrodon from Florida to Haiti) and Gobiosoma spes. In US waters, several Gobiosoma species also fit this fin-ray count. Many larvae of this type in Panama have a pair of spiny basicaudal scales (ruling out the cleaner gobies and G. spes), leaving only T. gemmatus. In Panama, 2 out of 3 larvae of this type have 12/11 p-16 (remainder mostly 12/10). G7S1211

    Analogues: (solitary post-anal-fin spot) Pre-transitional larvae before they develop basicaudal scales can only be distinguished by modal fin-ray counts (12/11 p-16) from many other species: Gobiosoma spes has mostly 12/10, Risor ruber and G. hildebrandi (Panama) have mostly 11/10. The eyes on this larval type are smaller than those of many related species. Many individuals have basicaudal scales; these are absent from other larvae (uncertain for G. hildebrandi (Panama)). Risor ruber larvae do not have the basicaudal scales at transition, but do have distinctive spiny scales along the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle. Evermannichthys larvae also have ventral midline scales along the caudal peduncle, along with a very pointed snout and and low pectoral-fin ray counts. Psilotris batrachodes larvae have divided pelvic fins and only 7-8 anal-fin elements. Psilotris alepis larvae have divided pelvic fins, a wider caudal peduncle, and a pelvic-fin base spot.
    Description: Body relatively thin, long, and narrow with a medium eye and a terminal medium mouth. Pectoral fins long, reaching to or past vent. Pelvic fins medium, extending about two-thirds the way to the vent, with a flat frenum not forming an obvious cup. Dorsal and anal-fin bases medium length and caudal peduncle medium length and width, procurrent caudal-fin rays usually 6 (5-6 spindly). A single melanophore on the caudal peduncle ventral midline just after the last anal fin and internal melanophores only at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and sometimes around the gut near the vent. The eye is slightly vertically-narrowed and has a coarsely-speckled membrane overlying the upper iris. Many larvae have a pair of large spiny scales on the tail over the base of the uppermost and lowermost segmented caudal-fin rays. Transitional larvae first develop a sparse scattering of small discrete melanophores on the upper head, then a pair of melanophores behind the tip of the upper jaw, a few on the anterior upper jaw and an incipient stripe from the eye to the mid upper-jaw.
     
    Tigrigobius gemmatus larva
    6.3 mm SL
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-502
    Tigrigobius gemmatus larvae
     
    Tigrigobius gemmatus larva
    6.5 mm SL
    no surface melanophores
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-425
    larval Tigrigobius gemmatus
     
    Tigrigobius gemmatus larva
    7.2 mm SL
    D-VII,12 A-11 Pect-18
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-502
    Tigrigobius gemmatus transitional larva
    6.4 mm SL
    D-VII,12 A-11 Pect-15
    San Blas, Panama, SB87-228
    larval frecklefin goby
     
     
      larval tigrigobius gemmatum
     
    Tigrigobius gemmatus transitional larva
    6.2 mm SL
    D-VII,12 A-11 Pect-16
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-709
    Tigrigobius gemmatus transitional larva
    6.5 mm SL
    D-VII,11 A-10 Pect-17, basicaudal scales
    head melanophores, bar from eye to jaw
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-710
    larval frecklefin goby
      larval fish goby
      basicaudal scales
    Tigrigobius gemmatus transitional larvae
    6.2 mm SL top, D-VII,12 A-11 Pect-16
    6.5 mm SL lower, D-VII,11 A-10 Pect-17
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-710
    larval frecklefin goby
    Risor ruber
     
     

    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,11-12 A-10 and Pect-15-16 overlaps many species of the numerous Gobiosoma/Elacatinus group and matches quite a few: Risor ruber, Ginsburgellus novemlineatus, Tigrigobius gemmatus and T. saucrus, as well as Gobiosoma spes, G. hildebrandi (Panama), G. schultzi (Venezuela), and G. yucatanum (Yucatan to Honduras). Fin ray counts are variable in Risor ruber; my Honduran specimens have D-VII,11 A-10 Pect-14-15. The pre-transitional larvae of all of these gobies are likely similar, but some species can be distinguished at transition: both G. hildebrandi and T. gemmatus should have distinct spiny basicaudal scales; Ginsburgellus novemlineatus have no scales and a very small pelvic-fin cup; and Risor ruber have a row of distinctive spiny scales on the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle and long pelvic fins. The enlarged scales are an apparent adaptation to sponge-dwelling and also can be seen on the transitional larvae of the other sponge gobies, Evermannichthys. The latter genus can overlap the median-fin ray count for R. ruber, however they have notably fewer pectoral-fin rays, usually only 12 or 13. At transition, R. ruber becomes very distinct morphologically, with a sharply-blunted snout and uniquely curved and protruding fangs. (U)

    Analogues: (anterior anal-fin base and caudal peduncle spot only) This larval type has only one melanophore at the anterior portion of the anal-fin base (thus far the only specimen), while larval Elacatinus pallens have two or more. Larval Evermannichthys can also have the enlarged spiny scales on the ventral caudal peduncle, but the spines are pigmented, there are no anal-fin base melanophores, and the head is pointed and the body more elongate.
    Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and a terminal small mouth. Pectoral fins long, reaching to or past vent. Pelvic fins long, extending almost to the vent, with a flat frenum not forming an obvious cup. dorsal-fin base long, anal-fin base medium and caudal peduncle medium, 5-6 procurrent caudal-fin rays (4-5 spindly). There is a single melanophore on the body below the base of the third and fourth anal-fin elements and one or two melanophores on the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle just after the last anal-fin ray. Internal melanophores occur only along the dorsal surface of the swim bladder. There are three to four prominent spiny scales along the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle extending up to the start of the lower procurrent caudal-fin rays. At settlement, transitional R. ruber develop a markedky blunted snout with a subterminal mouth containing a set of peculiar outwardly-curved teeth.
    Risor ruber larva
    4.7 mm SL
    note ventral caudal peduncle spiny scales
    D-VII,12 A-10 Pect-16
    San Blas, Panama, SB87-201
    larval risor ruber
      larval risor ruber
      risor ruber larvae
     
    Risor ruber transitional recruit
    6.9 mm SL
    spiny scales along the caudal peduncle
    Utila, Honduras U870
    risor ruber
       
      larval risor ruber
    Ginsburgellus novemlineatus
     
     
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,11-12 A-10 and Pect-15-17 overlaps many species of the numerous Gobiosoma/Elacatinus group and matches quite a few: Ginsburgellus novemlineatus, Risor ruber , Tigrigobius gemmatus and Tigrigobius saucrus, as well as Gobiosoma spes, G. hildebrandi (Panama), G. schultzi (Venezuela), and G. yucatanum (Yucatan to Honduras). The pre-transitional larvae of all of these gobies are likely similar, but some species can be distinguished at transition: both G. hildebrandi and T. gemmatus should have distinct spiny basicaudal scales; Risor ruber have a row of distinctive spiny scales on the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle and long pelvic fins. Larval Ginsburgellus novemlineatus should have no basicaudal scales and may have a small pelvic fin cup.
    Analogues: (solitary post-anal-fin spot)
    Description:
    Ginsburgellus novemlineatus? larva
    6.8 mm SL
    D-VII,12 A-10 Pect-16, esp. short pelvics?
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-810
    larval ginsburgellus novemlineatus
    Tigrigobius multifasciatus, panamensis, rubrigenis
     
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,11-12 A-10 and the high pectoral-fin ray count of 20-21 indicates the Tigrigobius multifasciatus species complex, comprising T. multifasciatus in the Bahamas and Antilles, T. panamensis in Panama and T. rubrigenis in the Bay of Honduras. Gobiosoma hemigymnum shares the high pectoral-fin ray count, but has 12-13 second-dorsal-fin elements. Gobiosoma spilotum (Panama Canal) can also overlap, but has a mode of 19 pectoral-fin rays. Gobiosoma nudum, a Pacific species reported in the Caribbean only near the mouth of the Panama Canal, has 20 pectoral-fin rays (18-20), but should have 12-13 second-dorsal-fin elements, not often 11 as in this larval type. (PE) G405
    Analogues: (ventral midline series x3: thorax, anal fin, caudal peduncle streak) Larval T. multifasciatus share this melanophore pattern with several congeners, but have many more pectoral-fin rays and a short cup-shaped pelvic fin extending less than half-way to the vent. The congeners, T. saucrus, T. dilepis, and the cleaner gobies have distinctly longer and prominent cup-shaped pelvic fins. Larval E. multifasciatus and the congeners can be separated from the very common six-spined gobies with the same VMSx3 melanophore pattern primarily by the length of the caudal peduncle streak. Most larval Coryphopterus and Lythrypnus (all six-spined) have their caudal peduncle streak extending to the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays vs. about half-way for the seven-spined gobies. Many of those six-spined species also have a prominent melanophore at the corner of the jaw, absent on the seven-spined larvae. Also distinctive is the cup-shaped pelvic fin on larval E. multifasciatus; the seven-spined gobies tend to have flat pelvic fins.
    Description: Body thin, long and somewhat narrow with a large eye and a terminal mouth. Pectoral fins fins long, pelvic fins form an obvious short cup (a protruding frenum) extending less than halfway to the vent. Dorsal and anal-fin bases relatively short, caudal peduncle relatively long and narrow. Lightly marked along the lower body: melanophores along the ventral midline at the pelvic-fin insertion (rarely also at the isthmus), along the anal-fin base (paired, one per side) and extending along the ventral peduncle ending well before the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. Internal melanophores at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder.
    Tigrigobius panamensis larva
    6.9 mm SL
    Pect-20
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-625
    larval Tigrigobius multifasciatus
     
    Tigrigobius panamensis larva
    7.6 mm SL
    Pect-21
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-516
    tigrigobius multifasciatum larvae
    Tigrigobius panamensis larva
    6.0 mm SL
    Pect-21
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-405
    greenbanded goby larvae
     
      tigrigobius multifasciatum larva
      tigrigobius panamensis larvae
    Notes on
    the Elacatinus cleaner/sponge gobies (neon gobies)
    The cleaner and the related striped sponge goby species have a high modal median-fin ray count of D-VII,12 A-11, shared with few other related species. The cleaner gobies are presently considered to be Elacatinus, but have been considered Gobiosoma in the past and are often listed as such in the literature. Amongst the cleaners, there are few exceptions to this modal median-fin ray count: E. oceanops can have D-VII,13 and/or A-12, E. phthirophagus has D-VII,11 and E. chancei has A-10. Pectoral-fin ray counts vary but mostly overlap. Some Tigrigobius gemmatus and the occasional specimens of several other Elacatinus/Gobiosoma would share the combination of 12 second-dorsal-fin elements and 11 anal-fin elements.
    It is likely that larval cleaner/sponge gobies have a similar or identical appearance and identification would depend on location and DNA sequencing. Unlike most other Caribbean reef fishes, the cleaner/sponge gobies have restricted ranges to varying degrees and thus location is critical for species identifications. In addition, habitat is an important distinction, with one set of species skating around on live coral heads and usually abundant in shallow water and another set living in and around sponges and often in deeper water. The coral-associated cleaners are typically more common and conspicuous on reefs and include E. evelynae, E. genie, E. illecebrosus (not E. illecebrosum), E. oceanops, E. prochilos, E. lobeli, and E. randalli. The deeper sponge cleaner gobies are typically less conspicuous and include E. chancei, E. horsti, E. xanthiprora, E. colini, E. lori, E. louisae, and E. tenox. Two very curious micro-endemic species hover in groups over corals, quite unlike the rest of the group: E. atronasus from the Exuma Sound area of Bahamas and E. jarocho from the Veracruz area of the Gulf of Mexico.
    Adult cleaner gobies are separated mostly by color patterns and the shape of the snout. Some have a distinctly underslung upper jaw, the true "sharknose" appearance (E. evelynae, E. genie, E. illecebrosus, and E. oceanops), but this character can be indistinct on larvae and recruits. Color patterns on adults, yellow vs. white vs. blue, are important characters but also may be inconsistent on recruits. In general, the most useful patterns for distinguishing new recruits are the various markings on the snout.
    Elacatinus illecebrosus
     
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,12 A-11 and Pect-16-17 indicate some of the cleaner gobies of the genus Elacatinus (formerly considered Gobiosoma). The common cleaner goby in Panama is E. illecebrosus, a bar-nosed species from the south-western Caribbean.

    Analogues: (ventral midline series x3: thorax, anal fin, caudal peduncle streak) Larval cleaner gobies share this melanophore pattern with several congeners: T. saucrus and T. dilepis larvae have D-11 A-10 and a smaller eye; T. multifasciatus have D-11 A-10, a shorter cup-shaped pelvic fin, usually less than half-way to the vent, and 20-21 pectoral-fin rays. Larval cleaner gobies and congeners can be separated from the very common six-spined gobies with the same VMSx3 melanophore pattern primarily by the length of the caudal peduncle streak. Most larval Coryphopterus and Lythrypnus (all six-spined) have their caudal peduncle streak extending to the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays vs. about half-way for the seven-spined gobies. Many of those six-spined species also have a prominent melanophore at the corner of the jaw, absent on the seven-spined larvae. Also distinctive is the large cup-shaped pelvic fin on larval cleaner gobies; the six-spined gobies tend to have flat pelvic fins.

    Larvae of the cleaner gobies are likely identical, but recruits and juveniles of E. illecebrosus are separated from the other bar-nosed species by having a wide-oval or wedge-shaped pale area on top of the snout (not uniformly linear as in E. randalli, E. colini, E. xanthiprora, and E. lori) and a mostly dark area from the eye forward to the upper jaw (vs. pale in E. randalli and E. colini).

    Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and a terminal, medium-sized mouth. Pectoral fins long, reaching to vent, pelvic fins long and form a large obvious cup extending about two-thirds of the way to the vent. Dorsal and anal fins relatively short, caudal peduncle long and narrow, tapering rapidly and at the narrowest point, typically only about the eye-diameter in width, procurrent caudal-fin rays 6-8 (6-7 spindly). Lightly marked along the lower body: melanophores along the ventral midline at the isthmus (sometimes missing) and the pelvic-fin insertion, then along the anal-fin base (variable number, often only two or three) and as a streak along the ventral caudal peduncle, stopping well before the procurrent caudal-fin rays. Internal melanophores at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and sometimes around the gut near the vent.

    Transitional recruits develop two wide dark stripes along the top of the head separated by a thin clear line. The stripes meet behind the head and extend along the base of the dorsal fin fading out before the caudal peduncle. The head stripes extend forward onto the snout encircling a median white bar that is distinctly oval, diamond- or wedge-shaped. The dark area surrounding the bar is uniform, not simply outlining the bar, and covers most of the area between the eye and the upper jaw, extending broadly onto the upper lip. Below the dorsal midline stripe is a prominent lateral clear band outlining a white iridescent stripe, blue (or yellow) in life, running from the dorsal aspect of the eyeball back to the upper tail. Below the light band there is a wide dark stripe running from the eye along the body just below the lateral midline to the caudal fin, widening at the caudal-fin base and then extending out along the lower central caudal-fin rays. Deep to this surface stripe is a broad streak of internal melanophores extending above and below the lateral midline.

    Elacatinus illecebrosus?
    8.3 mm SL
    D-VII,12 A-11 Pect-17
    San Blas, Panama, SB86-808
    cleaner goby larvae
      elacatinus illecebrosus larva
    Elacatinus illecebrosus transitional recruit
    8.7 mm SL
    Colon, Panama, N7530a
    elacatinus illecebrosus
      elacatinus illecebrosus
      gobiosoma illecebrosum
    Elacatinus illecebrosus transitional recruit
    8.7 mm SL
    San Blas, Panama, SB81-021
    elacatinus illecebrosus
    Elacatinus illecebrosus juvenile
    17.5 mm SL
    sharknose appearance
    San Blas, Panama, SB80-090
    sharknose goby
    Elacatinus lobeli
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,12 A-11 and Pect-16-17 indicate some of the cleaner gobies of the genus Elacatinus (formerly considered Gobiosoma). The common shallow-water cleaner goby in the Bay of Honduras is E. lobeli, the recently-described neon goby of the MAB, closely-related to the Florida neon goby E. oceanops. This species, without a bar or spot on the snout, is common along the Meso-American Barrier Reef from Xcalak in Yucatan across Belize to the Bay Islands of Honduras.
    Analogues: Larvae of the cleaner gobies are likely identical (analogues discussed above under E. illecebrosus), but recruits and juveniles of E. lobeli are separated from the species with V, bar, and spot markings on the nose tip by having a uniformly dark dorsal snout area.

    Description: Larvae of the cleaner gobies are likely identical (described above under E. illecebrosus). Transitional recruits develop two wide dark stripes along the top of the head separated by a thin clear line. The stripes meet behind the head and extend along the base of the dorsal fin fading out before the caudal peduncle. Anterior to the head stripes, the dorsal snout area is uniformly dark, covering most of the area between the eye and the upper jaw. Below the dorsal midline stripe is a prominent lateral clear band outlining a white iridescent stripe (blue in life), running from the dorsal aspect of the eyeball back to the upper half of the tail. The snout has a short extension of the blue stripe forward of the eyes, but there is no meeting of the color across the snout or midline bars or spots of color. Below the light band there is a wide dark stripe running from the eye along the body just below the lateral midline to the caudal fin, widening at the caudal-fin base and then extending out along the lower central caudal-fin rays. Deep to this surface stripe is a broad streak of internal melanophores extending above and below the lateral midline. New recruits develop a "sharknose" appearance, where the tip of the snout extends forward over the upper jaw.

    Elacatinus lobeli transitional recruit
    8.5 mm SL
    Utila, Honduras
    elacatinus lobeli
      gobiosoma lobeli
      elacatinus oceanops belize
      neon goby
    Elacatinus evelynae
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,12 A-11 and Pect-16-17 indicate some of the cleaner gobies of the genus Elacatinus (formerly considered Gobiosoma). The common shallow-water cleaner goby in Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles is E. evelynae, a V-nosed species.
    Analogues: Larvae of the cleaner gobies are likely identical (analogues discussed above under E. illecebrosus), but recruits and juveniles of E. evelynae are separated from the other V-nosed species (E. genie and E. prochilos, both also "sharknosed") by a broad frenum connecting the snout to the upper lip. E. genie, a very similar species from the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands that shares the sharknose appearance is distinguished by having the upper lip separated from the snout by a deep groove. E. prochilos has the upper-lip groove, a more Y-shaped mark on the snout, and is not supposed to have the thin pale dorsal midline stripe from the dorsal fin forward (but whether this applies to new recruits is uncertain). The morphological differences of the mouth and snout may not be useful in the earliest recruit stages.
    Description: Larvae of the cleaner gobies are likely identical (described above under E. illecebrosus). Transitional recruits develop two wide dark stripes along the top of the head (separated by only a thin clear line) that merge to become a stripe along the base of the dorsal fin fading out between the two dorsal fins. Below the dark stripe is a prominent white stripe (yellow/blue in life) that meets the stripe from the other side in a distinct V-shape on the snout. A wide lateral dark stripe starts at the tip of the upper jaw and continues through the eye along the side of the body just below the lateral midline to the caudal fin, widening at the caudal-fin base and then extending out along the central and lower fin rays. Beneath this surface stripe is a broad dark stripe of internal melanophores that extends above and below the lateral midline.
    Elacatinus evelynae transitional recruits
    9.1 and 8.6 mm SL
    St. Thomas, USVI, ST506
    elacatinus evelynae
    Elacatinus evelynae transitional recruits
    9.0, 8.7 and 8.6 mm SL
    St. Thomas, USVI, ST506
    gobiosoma evelynae
    Elacatinus phthirophagus
    Diagnosis: Fused pelvic fins and modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,12 A-11 and Pect-16-17 indicate some of the cleaner gobies of the genus Elacatinus (formerly considered Gobiosoma). The endemic Elacatinus phthirophagus is the only cleaner goby present in Noronha in Brazil.
    Analogues: Larvae of the cleaner gobies are likely identical (analogues discussed above under E. illecebrosus), but recruits and juveniles of E. phthirophagus are separated from other bar-nosed species by having a mostly light area between the eye and the mid-upper jaw, but with a dark outline around the light bar. E. randalli has the snout all light (the bar isn't outlined by dark). E. cf xanthiprora usually also has an all light snout; it can be dusky, but the bar is not distinctly outlined as in E. phthirophagus. The other bar-nosed species have a dark snout (E. illecebrosus and E. xanthiprora). Adults are also separated by color and head shape: E. phthirophagus has a wide yellow lateral stripe (the others have narrow yellow stripes), while E. illecebrosus has an underslung upper lip (not shared by the other bar-nosed species) and E. cf xanthiprora has a white lateral stripe becoming yellow near the head.
    Description: Larvae of the cleaner gobies are likely identical (described above under E. illecebrosus). Transitional recruits develop two well-separated thin dark stripes along the top of the head that merge to become a stripe along the base of the dorsal fin fading out before the caudal peduncle. The snout is mostly unpigmented, but has two thin extensions of the dark stripes from the top of the head and a short tenuous bar along the midline. A lateral dark stripe develops from the middle of the eye to the caudal fin widening at the caudal-fin base and then extending out along the central and lower fin rays. Beneath this surface stripe is a broad dark stripe of internal melanophores. A thin white (yellow in life) stripe then develops within the pale band along the upper body.
    Elacatinus phthirophagus
    transitional recruit
    8.8 mm SL
    Noronha, Brazil FN01
    elacatinus phthirophagus
      gobiosoma phthirophagus
    Elacatinus phthirophagus
    27.0 mm SL
    Noronha, Brazil FN01
    noronha cleaner goby

    All contents copyright 2006-2014
    All rights reserved

    www.coralreeffish.com by Benjamin Victor