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Group 1: six-spined shortfin gobies 1
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Group 2: six-spined shortfin gobies 2
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Group 3: seven-spined shortfin gobies
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Group 5: divided pelvic fin gobies
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allied family Ptereleotridae
allied family Eleotridae
allied family Microdesmidae
Group 4: The long-fin gobies
 

Evermannichthys, Evorthodus, Ctenogobius, Gnatholepis, Nes, Bollmannia, Gobionellus, Gobioides, Microgobius, and Palatogobius

Gobies with 12 or more dorsal and anal-fin rays have a generally different look from the short-fin gobies; they are more likely to have a long tapering body and a relatively short caudal peduncle. Although uncommonly encountered by divers, these gobies are abundant on sand and silt bottoms near reefs and in brackish waters along the coast. One species, the Goldspot Goby Gnatholepis thompsoni, is commonly seen on the reef. The long-fin gobies mostly comprise those species that live on soft substrates, often in holes, and sometimes with symbiotic shrimp partners. The high number of fin rays and long narrow bodies are likely adaptations to hole-dwelling. Their larvae are typically lightly marked and relatively small, thin, and long. Those species with characteristically blunt heads and subterminal mouths have larvae with pointed snouts and terminal mouths which undergo marked head-shape changes at transition.
 
Evermannichthys metzelaari
Diagnosis: This genus of long eel-like sponge gobies have normally-proportioned larvae. The genus has notably reduced fin ray numbers: fewer and variable first-dorsal-fin spine numbers (four to seven), many fewer pectoral-fin rays (11-13), and only 3-4 procurrent caudal-fin rays. In addition, they have large spiny scales along the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle. Fortunately the characteristic caudal peduncle scales are prominent on larvae (of E. metzelaari) and confirms the identification. Risor ruber, another sponge goby, also has large spiny scales alogn the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle, but has many more pectoral-fin rays. There are five Caribbean species and the number of fin rays in this genus varies more than usual, often plus or minus two rays around the mode: Evermannichthys metzelaari has a modal fin-ray count of D-IV,15 A-12 Pect-12; E. silus has D-VI-VII,12-13 A-10-11 Pect-13; E. convictor has D-V,11-13 A-9-11 Pect-13; E. spongicola (Gulf of Mexico only?) has D-VI-VII,13 A-10-11 Pect-12; and E. bicolor has a mode of D-VI,11 A-9.
Description: Body relatively thin, long, and narrow with a medium eye, pointed snout, and a large terminal mouth. Pectoral fins short, pelvic fins long, reaching almost to the vent. Dorsal and anal-fin bases medium, caudal peduncle short and narrow with only 3-4 (three spindly) procurrent caudal-fin rays. Very lightly marked: internal melanophores at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and one melanophore on the caudal peduncle just after the last anal-fin ray, often deep and indistinct. There are three or four large ctenoid scales along the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle extending from the last anal-fin ray to the start of the caudal-fin procurrent rays. Each spiny scale has two large rear-pointing tines and are outlined in black pigment. Eye shapes range from a slightly narrowed vertical oval to round.
Evermannichthys metzelaari larva
6.4 mm SL
D-V,15 A-14
San Blas, Panama, SB86-608
 
 
Evermannichthys metzelaari larva
6.3 mm SL
D-V,15 A-14
San Blas, Panama, SB86-808
 
  Evorthodus lyricus
 
 
   
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VI,11 A-12 and Pect-16-17 indicate Evorthodus lyricus as well as Ctenogobius boleosoma and C. smaragdus. These genera typically have one more anal-fin ray than second-dorsal-fin rays. This larval type has a short pelvic fin, extending less than half the way to the vent, separating it from C. boleosoma. A larval type that is very similar to this type occurs in the eastern Pacific region with fin-ray counts matching only to the sibling species Evorthodus minutus (also D-VI,11 A-12; there are no eastern Pacific Ctenogobius with this fin-ray count). G12 (DNA)
Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a small pointed head, a small to medium-sized eye and a terminal medium-sized mouth. The widest part of the body is clearly at the level of the origin of the anal fin. Pelvic and pectoral fins medium length, reaching less than half-way to the vent. Dorsal and anal-fin bases relatively long, caudal peduncle short and narrowing rapidly, procurrent caudal-fin rays ( spindly). Lightly marked mostly along the lower body: melanophores along the ventral midline sometimes at the isthmus, rarely at the pelvic-fin insertion, and then, most frequent, another just behind the pelvic-fin insertion. There is sometimes a row of melanophores along the anal-fin base, variably present and variably paired (usually only 4 to 7 per side, can occur on either side unpaired), and sometimes one or a few extending along the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle ending before the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. Many individuals, however, show only indistinct melanophores or no surface melanophores at all. Melanophores on the head occur along the upper edge of the anterior premaxilla (often paired), sometimes also just below the tip of the dentary and along the sides of the lower jaw as well. Internal melanophores are present around the saccule, the dorsal surface of the swim bladder, and sometimes around the gut near the vent. Some individuals have a deep melanophore above the pelvic girdle between the thoracic and abdominal cavities. Some individuals have paired linear patches of tiny surface melanophores along the side of the abdomen just forward of the vent. The eyeball in this larval type shows an unusual variety of shapes, with the small eyeball often not round, but irregular with tilts in all directions, the iris sometimes off-center, and indentations of the iris in a number of orientations. Series of transitional larvae show the eye usually developing from a small slightly narrowed vertical oval to round and the head shape changing from a pointed snout to a somewhat blunted profile. Transitional larvae develop melanophores in front of the eye and over the upper iris, becoming a stripe from the eye to the tip of the upper jaw. In addition, they develop a straight-line bar across the top of the head behind the eyes, a large melanophore behind the eye and a row of discrete, often dendritic, melanophores on the sides of the abdomen just behind the pelvic-fin insertion.
Evorthodus lyricus larva
8.8 mm SL
lightly marked
San Blas, Panama, SB84-522
 
 
Evorthodus lyricus larva
8.1 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB84-917
Evorthodus lyricus larva (above) vs.
Ctenogobius boleosoma larva (below)
8.3 and 8.2 mm SL
note smaller eye and shorter pelvic fin
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1103
Evorthodus lyricus larva
8.3 mm SL
small irregular eye
San Blas, Panama, SB87-123
Evorthodus lyricus larva
7.9 mm SL
patches of tiny melanophores near vent
San Blas, Panama, SB84-522
Evorthodus lyricus larva
8.3 mm SL
patches of tiny melanophores near vent
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1001
 
Evorthodus lyricus
early transitional larva
8.4 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-412
 
 
Evorthodus lyricus transitional larva
8.5 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1029
 
 
Evorthodus lyricus transitional recruit
10.9 mm SL
Colon, Panama, N7529a
Ctenogobius boleosoma
 
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VI,11 A-12 and Pect-16-17 indicate Ctenogobius boleosoma, C. smaragdus, and Evorthodus lyricus. These genera typically have one more anal-fin ray than second-dorsal-fin rays. C. smaragdus occurs in Florida and Cuba, as well as Venezuela to Brazil and thus is not included in this larval type. (DNA)
Analogues: (post-anal-fin solitary melanophore, large: >9 mm SL) Metamorphic melanophores comprising an oblique bar forward of the eye to the mid-upper jaw and pelvic fins almost reaching the vent confirms C. boleosoma. A bar from the iris to the corner of the mouth indicates C. saepepallens. Evorthodus lyricus has a markedly shorter pelvic fin than C. boleosoma (or C. saepepallens) and a more appropriate larval type is identified for that species. Pre-transitional larvae of this C. boleosoma type are distinct in having a solitary melanophore at the tip of the lower jaw, but those without the spot would be indistinguishable from pre-transitional C. saepepallens (since there is some overlap in fin-ray counts). This conclusion is based on the fact that larvae in which that is the sole head marking usually have 12 anal-fin elements and thus likely represent C. boleosoma (C. saepepallens has a mode of 13 anal-fin elements)
Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and a terminal medium-sized mouth. Pectoral fins medium length, reaching about two-thirds of the way to the vent (longer at transition). Pelvic fins long and fused with a clear frenum, reaching much of the way to the vent. Dorsal and anal-fin bases long, caudal peduncle relatively short and narrow. The s-shaped gut is usually clearly visible through the ventral abdominal wall. Lightly marked mostly along the lower body: melanophores along the ventral midline at the isthmus (often missing), at the pelvic-fin insertion, and then sometimes another just behind the pelvic-fin insertion, after which some individuals develop a row on each side of the gut strip along the abdomen. There are several discrete large melanophores along the anal-fin base, often variably present and variably paired (usually only 3-4 per side, but can be up to 7; can occur on either side unpaired), and a prominent and characteristic melanophore (rarely two) at the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle after the last anal-fin ray which has an internal extension reaching up towards the lateral midline. In many individuals, especially earlier-stage larvae, some melanophores are missing or indistinct and even the characteristic deep peduncle melanophore is often not visible. Head markings typically develop as a melanophore between the mid-upper jaw and eye (any melanophores extending from the eye to the corner of the mouth or a solitary melanophore on the iris surface at that quadrant indicate C. saepepallens; transitional C. boleosoma do have melanophores on the lower iris, but always in combination with other transitional melanophores). Most pre-transitional larvae have a solitary melanophore at the tip of the lower jaw, but whether this is a rule is unclear since some variant transitional larvae recognizable as C. boleosoma are missing this melanophore. Internal melanophores are present around the saccule, the dorsal surface of the swim bladder, and around the gut near the vent: Some individuals have a deep melanophore above the pelvic girdle between the thoracic and abdominal cavities. Series of transitional larvae show development of the eye from a slightly narrowed vertical oval to distinctly larger and round, often with a dorsal dent in the iris that sometimes persists into the transitional phase. The head profile develops from a thin pointed head to a blunt snout with a particularly bulbous head compared to the midsection. Transitional larvae develop a pattern of discrete melanophores on the jaw and the head (primarily in a stripe forward of the eye and in pairs on top of the head) and patches of characteristic tiny leukophores (clearly smaller and more numerous than on C. saepepallens) on the upper iris, on top of the head, and in a stripe forward across the nasal region and along the upper jaw. Patches of melanophores then develop along the dorsal midline and on the lateral midline of the caudal peduncle. Transitional recruits develop additional specklings of melanophores, leukophores, and iridophores and a prominent row of lateral midline blotches. A conspicuous black spot develops at the base of the upper pectoral-fin rays.
Ctenogobius boleosoma larva
8.0 mm SL
note internal thoracic melanophore
San Blas, Panama, SB86-701
 
Ctenogobius? larva
6.4 mm SL
internal melanophore bars, D-VI,11 A-12
Yucatan, Mexico, 240306
coll. by Lourdes Vasquez et al.
 
Ctenogobius boleosoma larva
8.2 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB83-156
Ctenogobius boleosoma
early transitional larva
8.9 mm SL
melanophore pattern
San Blas, Panama, SB83-137
 
Ctenogobius boleosoma (above) vs.
C. saepepallens (below) transitional larvae
8.8 and 8.9 mm SL
note leukophore size differences
San Blas, Panama, SB86-809
Ctenogobius boleosoma transitional larva
8.3 mm SL
tiny leukophores
San Blas, Panama, SB87-218
Ctenogobius boleosoma transitional larvae
8.6 and 8.4 mm SL
variant below without tip-of-lower-jaw spot
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1103
Ctenogobius boleosoma
late transitional larva
9.9 mm SL
indistinct leukophores
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1002
Ctenogobius boleosoma
late transitional larva
9.0 mm SL
persistent dorsal iris indentation
San Blas, Panama, SB86-929
 
Ctenogobius boleosoma
late transitional larva
8.8 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB83-123
Ctenogobius boleosoma recruit
9.6 mm SL, pale sand morph
St. Thomas, USVI, ST506
 
Ctenogobius boleosoma recruit
11.1 mm SL, dark inshore morph
Colon, Panama, N7528b
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens
 
 
 
 
 
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VI,12 A-13 and Pect-16-17 indicate Ctenogobius species. These species typically have one more anal-fin ray than second-dorsal-fin rays. There are a number of species that are widespread and occupy different habitats and some freshwater and brackish species with more restricted ranges. Eight of the ten species share the median-fin ray count. Ctenogobius saepepallens occurs abundantly around reefs and in mangroves and is the most common fish larva collected over reefs in Panama. Turbid-water species include C. boleosoma (with modal 11/12), C. stigmaticus (Pect. 18), and C. stigmaturus (Pect. 16). Fresh-water and brackish species include C. fasciatus (Pect. 17-18), C. pseudofasciatus, C. claytonii (Pect. 15-17) in the S. Gulf of Mexico, C. phenacus, found from Venezuela south, and C. shufeldti (Pect. 17-18) in Florida/Gulf of Mexico and Venezuela to Brazil. The related Oxyurichthys stigmalophius has more fin rays: D-VI,13 A-14 and many more (21-22) pectoral-fin rays. Vomerogobius flavus is a deep-water goby from the Bahamas with similar fin-ray counts (D-VI,12-13 A-13 pect-15-16), but it has a distinctly large eye and no pelvic frenum. (DNA)
Transitional larvae and juveniles with a bar from the iris to the corner of the mouth indicates C. saepepallens (but the others may not be excluded). Transitional larvae and juveniles with an oblique bar forward of the eye to the mid-upper jaw and not at the corner of the mouth indicate C. boleosoma.
Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and a terminal medium to small mouth. Pectoral fins medium length, reaching about two-thirds of the way to the vent (longer at transition). Pelvic fins long and fused with a clear frenum, reaching much of the way to the vent. Dorsal and anal-fin bases long, caudal peduncle relatively short and narrow. The s-shaped gut is usually clearly visible through the ventral abdominal wall. Lightly marked mostly along the lower body: melanophores along the ventral midline at the isthmus (often missing), at the pelvic-fin insertion, and then sometimes another just behind the pelvic-fin insertion, after which some individuals develop a row on each side of the gut strip along the abdomen. There are several discrete large melanophores along the anal-fin base, often variably present and variably paired (usually only 3-4 per side, but can be up to 7; can occur on either side unpaired), and a prominent and characteristic melanophore at the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle after the last anal-fin ray (rarely two) which has an internal extension reaching up towards the lateral midline. In many individuals, especially earlier-stage larvae, some melanophores are missing or indistinct and even the characteristic peduncle melanophore is often not visible. The head is unmarked prior to transition, but many individuals show a characteristic melanophore on the iris at about 7 o'clock, often with an additional melanophore extending to the corner of the mouth. Larvae that have a melanophore just before the tip of the lower jaw, especially when that is the sole head marking, usually also have 12 anal-fin elements and are thus likely C. boleosoma. However, some transitional larvae of this C. saepepallens type have that melanophore, but typically along with many other head markings. Internal melanophores are present around the saccule, the dorsal surface of the swim bladder, and around the gut near the vent: some individuals have a deep melanophore above the pelvic girdle between the thoracic and abdominal cavities. Series of transitional larvae show development of the eye from a slightly narrowed vertical oval to distinctly larger and round, often with a dorsal dent in the iris that sometimes persists into the transitional phase. The head profile develops from a thin pointed head to a blunt snout with a particularly bulbous head compared to the midsection. Transitional larvae develop a scattering of iridophores and leukophores on the head along with a pattern of a few discrete large melanophores on the head behind the eye and at the base of the pectoral fins. The leukophores on the top of the head are few, large, and scattered compared to those on the head of transitional C. boleosoma larvae. The characteristic bar below the eye further develops with more melanophores extending to the corner of the mouth. Melanophores develop in patches spaced out along the base of the dorsal fin, at the end of the caudal peduncle and at the base of the central caudal-fin rays. Transitional recruits develop additional specklings of melanophores and leukophores and a lateral midline row of melanophore patches. A black spot develops at the base of the upper pectoral-fin rays.
Ctenogobius saepepallens larva
10.1 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-921
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens larva
10.0 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-627
Ctenogobius saepepallens larva
9.2 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-815
Ctenogobius saepepallens larvae
8.1 to 9.5 mm SL
head shape and eye development,
melanophore variation
San Blas, Panama, SB83-151
Ctenogobius saepepallens larva
9.9 mm SL
pelvic frenum, abdominal melanophores
San Blas, Panama, SB86-623
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens larvae
9.2 and 9.3 mm SL
S-shaped gut, melanophore variation
San Blas, Panama, SB86-623
Ctenogobius saepepallens + larva
6.7 mm SL
small but not early stage, eye is round
San Blas, Panama, SB86-502
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens + larva
7.8 mm SL
small with indistinct melanophores
San Blas, Panama, SB84-529a
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens larva
9.1 mm SL
melanophores indistinct or absent
San Blas, Panama, SB84-520
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens
early transitional larva
9.9 mm SL
deep caudal peduncle melanophore
San Blas, Panama, SB86-409
Ctenogobius saepepallens
early transitional larva
9.6 mm SL
leukophores and iridophores only
San Blas, Panama, SB84-624a
Ctenogobius saepepallens
transitional larva
9.0 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB84-405
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens
transitional larva
9.5 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB87-218
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens
transitional larvae
9.3, 9.3, and 9.0 mm SL
head melanophore variation
San Blas, Panama, SB86-405
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens
early transitional larvae
8.7 and 9.7 mm SL
eye changes
San Blas, Panama, SB87-218
Ctenogobius saepepallens
transitional recruit
9.4 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB82-097
 
Ctenogobius saepepallens juvenile
15.7 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB83-111
Gnatholepis thompsoni
 
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VI,12 A-12 Pect-17 indicate Gnatholepis thompsoni. (DNA)
Analogues: (long, and narrow, no anal-fin base row of melanophores) Similar median-fin ray counts occur in Bollmannia litura, but that genus has seven first-dorsal-fin spines and many more pectoral-fin rays (20 or more). Rare individuals of Ctenogobius saepepallens , and probably others of that genus, can have equal numbers of anal and second-dorsal-fin ray elements and thus match the counts of this larval type. Most long, and narrow larval gobies have a row of melanophores along the anal-fin base, but among some groups there are often individuals without markings (primarily Ctenogobius spp. and Evorthodus lyricus). Those individuals can resemble larval Gnatholepis thompsoni, but usually have one more anal-fin element than second-dorsal-fin elements vs. equal numbers in Gnatholepis thompsoni larvae. In addition, larval Gnatholepis thompsoni have a distinctly larger eye, a smaller downturned mouth, and melanophores along the dorsal fins. The transitional melanophore patterns are also completely different. Larval Evermannichthys spp. have a larger mouth, a sharply-pointed snout, and spiny caudal peduncle scales.
Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and relatively small somewhat downturned mouth. Pectoral fins medium length, pelvic fins medium length and fused with a clear frenum, dorsal and anal-fin bases long, caudal peduncle relatively long and somewhat narrow. Pretransitional larvae have melanophores only on the dorsal fins, along the membranes between the dorsal-fin spines and the first three or four second-dorsal-fin elements (these can be missing on larvae with frayed fins). Series of transitional larvae show the eye remaining large and round, often with a prominent dorsal, occasionally a ventral, indentation in the iris. Transitional larvae develop a melanophore on the proximal middle pectoral-fin rays and rows of large melanophores on the body near the base of the dorsal fins. The characteristic comma-shaped bar below the eye then develops from the iris down and a corresponding bar develops on the upper iris onto the dorsal surface of the head. Leukophore patches form over the top of the head and over the iris, on the cheek, and on the base of the pectoral fin.
Gnatholepis thompsoni transitional larva
9.9 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB84-624a
 
Gnatholepis thompsoni transitional recruit
10.3 mm SL
Colon, Panama, N7529b
 
 
Nes longus
 
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,13 (or 14) A-11 (to 13) Pect. 17 indicate Nes longus. This species typically has one or two fewer anal-fin rays than second-dorsal-fin rays. (DNA)
Analogues: (post-anal-fin solitary melanophore, large: >9 mm SL) Within the diverse solitary post-anal-fin melanophore group, there are few species with large larvae: the only other large larva comparable to Nes longus is that of Psilotris amblyrhynchus. The similarity is especially notable when larval Nes longus are missing their anterior anal-fin base melanophores as well as their caudal-fin base melanophores, which is not uncommon. In that case, P. amblyrhynchus larvae can be separated by pelvic fin morphology (mostly divided pelvic fins with no frenum vs. fused and an obvious frenum in Nes longus) and fewer median-fin rays (usually 12/11 vs. 13-14/11-13). Other similar goby larvae are much smaller: some with divided pelvic fins and typically other distinctive melanophores (Psilotris, Gobulus myersi, and Pycnomma roosevelti) and, with fused pelvic fins (and usually only the solitary post-anal-fin melanophore), some Gobiosoma and Elacatinus, as well as Evermannichthys (the latter also with a sharply-pointed snout and spiny caudal peduncle scales).
Description: Body somewhat thick, long, and narrow with a large head and medium-sized eye and terminal large mouth. Pectoral fins medium length, not reaching to the level of the vent, pelvic fins medium length as well and fused with a clear frenum. Dorsal and anal-fin bases medium length, caudal peduncle relatively long, and narrowing rapidly. Lightly marked along the lower body: melanophores limited to a streak in front of the pelvic-fin insertion (often obscure, sometimes absent), a melanophore or two per side (variably paired) at the base of the anterior anal-fin rays (sometimes absent, occasionally one more at the mid-anal fin as well), and a large prominent dendritic melanophore at the ventral midline after the last anal-fin ray (often spreading over the base of the last anal-fin rays). Internal melanophores are present above the the rear brain case at the midline, single and often obscured, along the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and around the gut near the vent (often dendritic and extending down to the surface around the vent). Many individuals also have one or two melanophores at the base of one or two of the lower segmented caudal-fin rays. Series of transitional larvae show development of the eye from a slightly narrowed vertical oval to round and then, particularly unusual for gobies, becoming relatively much smaller as the head shape changes. The head widens and broadens markedly as the body stays relatively narrow and the pelvic fins become shorter. Transitional larvae develop melanophores in an arc behind the upper eye, between the eye and the mid-upper jaw, at the angle of the jaw and below the mid-dentary of the lower jaw. Transitional larvae have a bubblewrap-like skin.
Nes longus larva
10.7 mm SL
Carrie Bow Cay, Belize 1986
 
Nes longus larvae
both 9.2 mm SL
note internal head melanophore
San Blas, Panama, SB87-225
Nes longus early transitional larva
9.9 mm SL
shorter pelvic fins
San Blas, Panama, SB86-929
 
 
 
Nes longus early transitional larva
9.7 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB81-047
Nes longus early transitional larva
9.8 mm SL
head melanophores, bubblewrap-like skin
San Blas, Panama, SB87-225
 
 
Nes longus transitional larva
9.1 mm SL
transitional morphology only
head broadens, eye much smaller
San Blas, Panama, SB83-163
 
Nes longus transitional larva
9.0 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1120
Bollmannia boqueronensis
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,13 A-13 and Pect-20-22 indicate Bollmannia boqueronensis or Parrella macropteryx. second-dorsal-fin elements 12-15 and anal-fin elements 12-14 with equal numbers of elements and high pectoral-fin-ray counts are only found in these two genera (Gobionellus spp., Gobioides, and Microgobius all have more than 15 anal-fin elements). Median-fin ray counts are variable in the two genera with some species having more anal-fin rays than second-dorsal-fin rays. B. boqueronensis has a mode of 13 second dorsal and anal-fin elements and 20-21 pectoral-fin rays. Other regional species comprise B. litura with 12 second dorsal and anal-fin elements and 20 pectoral-fin rays, B. eigenmanni with 12 second dorsal and 13 anal-fin elements and 23-25 pectoral-fin rays, and B. communis (USA to Campeche) with a mode of 15 second dorsal and 14 anal-fin elements and 22 pectoral-fin rays. Parrella macropteryx, the only species of its genus in the Atlantic, cannot be excluded from the larval type (D-VII,11-14 A-13, pect. count?). Some other gobies overlap the median-fin soft ray counts, but all have six first-dorsal-fin spines: Oxyurichthys stigmalophius with one more anal than dorsal-fin rays (D-13 A-14, Pect-21-22), a few Ctenogobius species (but they have many fewer pectoral-fin rays), and Vomerogobius flavus (D-VI,12-13 A-13, but Pect-15-16). (U)
Note: Earlier-stage larvae are somewhat different in appearance and it is not certain that these types all represent the same species. The fin-ray count is somewhat distinctive and all specimens share the count. A 7.1 mm SL larva with stubs of pelvic fins and melanophores in a row along the ventral midline of the abdomen and on the dorsal midline of the caudal peduncle resembles a larvae identified as Bollmannia communis by Ruple 2004 (Richards' goby chapter), but my larva has melanophores at the base of the lower caudal-fin rays not illustrated by Ruple and one fewer dorsal and anal-fin rays. Larger and transitional specimens, over 9.0 mm SL, are missing the midline abdominal melanophores, but share with the 7.1 mm SL specimen the fin-ray count, the melanophore at the angle of the jaw, the speckled membrane above the upper eyeball, the caudal peduncle melanophore (sometimes) and the large slightly underslung mouth, making it likely that they represent a single series of Bollmannia sp. The early-stage 5.9 mm SL larva shares the fin-ray count and the unusual irregular eye shape with the 7.1 mm SL specimen.
Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and mouth. Pectoral fins long, pelvic fins long (in larvae above 9 mm SL, stubs in 7.1 mm SL and less), dorsal and anal-fin bases medium length, caudal peduncle long, and narrowing rapidly, 8-9 procurrent caudal-fin rays (8 spindly). Lightly marked mostly along the ventral midline: melanophores in streaks at the posterior isthmus and along the pelvic-fin insertion, then four midline melanophores along the abdomen (only in the 7.1 mm SL larva), the last just forward of the vent, then a row along the anal-fin base behind the second anal-fin element (variably paired, one per side) and then a long streak extending along the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle ending near the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. There are melanophores at the base of some of the lower segmented caudal-fin rays. The only dorsal marking is a melanophore on the dorsal midline of the caudal peduncle some distance after the last dorsal-fin ray (missing in some individuals). There are melanophores at the angle of the jaw in the larvae over 7.0 mm SL. There are internal melanophores along the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and around the gut near the vent. The eye is unusual, ranging from a large irregular oblong tilted forward with a ventral anterior indentation in the iris and a posterior-inferior iris extension in earlier-stage larvae becoming a moderately-narrowed vertical oval in the largest larvae. Larvae over 7 mm SL also have a speckled "eyebrow" membrane over the upper third of the eyeball that appears detached from the pigmented iris below.
Bollmannia boqueronensis ? larva
5.9 mm SL
earlier stage larva
San Blas, Panama, SB84-522
 
Bollmannia boqueronensis larva
7.1 mm SL
second dorsal with 12, A-13 elements
pectoral fin incomplete but >20
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1006
 
 
 
Bollmannia boqueronensis larva
9.3 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB82-044
 
Bollmannia boqueronensis larvae
9.3 and 9.1 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB82-044
Bollmannia boqueronensis larva
9.1 mm SL
note speckled eyebrow membrane
San Blas, Panama, SB82-044
Bollmannia boqueronensis larva
9.4 mm SL
note dorsal caudal peduncle spot
San Blas, Panama, SB81-001
Gobionellus oceanicus
 
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VI,14 and A-15 indicate Gobionellus oceanicus. This genus typically has one more anal-fin ray than second-dorsal-fin rays (sometimes equal). A number of other species have spent some time in this genus, but Pezold 2004 recognizes only one Caribbean species. (U) G9
Description: Body thin, very long, and narrow with a small eye and a pointed snout with a terminal large mouth. Pectoral and pelvic fins long relative to the head (but short compared to the long body), extending more than halfway to the vent. Dorsal and anal-fin bases very long, caudal peduncle short, . Lightly marked along the lower body: melanophores usually in streaks at the isthmus (often missing) and at the pelvic-fin insertion, internally at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and around the gut near the vent, and in a row along the anal-fin base, often variably present and variably paired (can occur on either side unpaired). In many individuals the surface melanophores are indistinct or some are missing. Series of transitional larvae show development of the eye from a markedly narrowed vertical oval with a flattened base, the pupil off-center dorsally, and a pronounced slant backwards to large and round. The head profile develops from a thin pointed head to a blunt snout with an almost sub-terminal mouth. Transitional larvae first develop patches of tiny iridophores on the top of the head and in a stripe behind the eye and then a scattering of large discrete melanophores on the head. Body markings include a lateral row of melanophores on each side of the gut strip along the abdomen. Melanophores develop in patches spaced out along the base of the dorsal fin, on the caudal peduncle, and at the base of the central caudal-fin rays.
Gobionellus oceanicus larva
12.5 mm SL
note eye tilted sharply backward
San Blas, Panama, SB81-002
Gobionellus oceanicus larva above
vs. Microgobius signatus below
13.4 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-528
Gobionellus oceanicus
early transitional larva
13.3 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-728
 
Gobionellus oceanicus transitional larva
13.4 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-405
 
Gobionellus oceanicus transitional larva
12.9 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1103
 
 
Gobionellus oceanicus transitional larva
12.7 (above) and 12.9 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1103
Gobionellus oceanicus transitional larva
12.8 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-929
 
 
Gobioides broussonnetii
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VI (last two longest),15-16 A-16-17 and Pect-18-19 and continuous dorsal fins, small eye and short pectoral and pelvic fins indicate Gobioides broussonnetii. G. grahamae occurs in Guyana south to Brazil. Akko dionaea, an obscure mud-bottom brackish-water goby found at the mouth of large rivers in Colombia and Brazil, has D-VII,15 A-15 Pect-16-18.
Microgobius carri
 
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,16-17 (15-18) A-16-17 (16-19) and Pect-20-24 are shared by several Microgobius species: M. carri and M. meeki (widespread in the Caribbean) and M. gulosus (D-VII,15-17 A-16-18 and Pect-20-23) and M. thalassinus (D-VII,15-17 A-16-17 and Pect-20-22) found in temperate US waters and the Gulf of Mexico only. This genus typically has one more anal-fin ray than dorsal-fin rays (but often equal numbers). (ML)
Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and a terminal mouth. Pectoral fins short, pelvic fins stubs until transition, dorsal and anal-fin bases very long, caudal peduncle very short and narrow, 7-9 procurrent caudal-fin rays (7-8 spindly). Lightly marked along the lower body: melanophores usually in long streaks at the posterior isthmus, at the pelvic-fin insertion and then continuing as an abdominal midline streak ending about half way between the pelvic-fin insertion and the swim bladder (vs. eleotrids where it extends to the swim bladder). There is a row of melanophores along the anal-fin base (variably paired, one per side, a few larger ones starting at the second or third element that are fewer than one per ray, then becoming small and usually one per ray), and then a streak along the ventral midline of the very short caudal peduncle ending at the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. Melanophores are present on some of the anal-fin ray membranes, usually between the first six elements near the base of the ray (the frequency of occurrence of the anal-fin ray membrane melanophores is uncertain since many larvae have frayed fin rays). Melanophores are present at the base of most of the lower segmented caudal-fin rays extending a short way out along the rays; in larger individuals there are melanophores at the base of the central and some of the upper segmented caudal-fin rays as well. Some larger larvae have melanophores at the angle of the jaw and around the sacculus, but on many larvae these are absent. Internal melanophores are present at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and often around the gut near the vent. Size series of larvae show variable eye shapes: at around 6 mm SL the eye is round with dorsal and ventral indentations in the iris and a posterior-inferior exension of the iris, then between 7 and 11 mm SL the eye is a somewhat-narrowed vertical oval, often tilting slightly forward, with a prominent posterior-inferior extension of the iris. At transitional sizes (11-15 mm SL), larvae develop large round eyes. Many larvae have a speckled "eyebrow" membrane over the upper third of the eyeball that appears detached from the pigmented iris below. Transitional larvae develop internal melanophores within the caudal peduncle and the pelvic fins extend in length rapidly. A melanophore appears behind the upper edge of the operculum above a streak of iridophores. Transitional recruits develop a stripe from the eye to the caudal peduncle and speckling along the bases of the median-fin rays and a row of melanophores along the lateral wall of the abdomen below the pectoral fin.
Microgobius transitional larva
12.3 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB81-019
Microgobius carri transitional larva
13.2 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-1120
 
Microgobius carri transitional recruit
14.9 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB82-033
 
Microgobius meeki
 
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,16-17 (15-18) A-16-17 (16-19) and Pect-20-24 are shared by several Microgobius species: M. carri and M. meeki (widespread in the Caribbean) and M. gulosus (D-VII,15-17 A-16-18 and Pect-20-23) and M. thalassinus (D-VII,15-17 A-16-17 and Pect-20-22) found in temperate US waters and the Gulf of Mexico only. This genus typically has one more anal-fin ray than dorsal-fin rays (but often equal numbers). (ML)
Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and a terminal mouth. Pectoral fins short, pelvic fins stubs until transition, dorsal and anal-fin bases very long, caudal peduncle very short and narrow, 7-9 procurrent caudal-fin rays (7-8 spindly). Lightly marked along the lower body: melanophores usually in long streaks at the posterior isthmus, at the pelvic-fin insertion and then continuing as an abdominal midline streak ending about half way between the pelvic-fin insertion and the swim bladder (vs. eleotrids where it extends to the swim bladder). There is a row of melanophores along the anal-fin base (variably paired, one per side, a few larger ones starting at the second or third element that are fewer than one per ray, then becoming small and usually one per ray), and then a streak along the ventral midline of the very short caudal peduncle ending at the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. Melanophores are present on some of the anal-fin ray membranes, usually between the first six elements near the base of the ray (the frequency of occurrence of the anal-fin ray membrane melanophores is uncertain since many larvae have frayed fin rays). Melanophores are present at the base of most of the lower segmented caudal-fin rays extending a short way out along the rays; in larger individuals there are melanophores at the base of the central and some of the upper segmented caudal-fin rays as well. Some larger larvae have melanophores at the angle of the jaw and around the sacculus, but on many larvae these are absent. Internal melanophores are present at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and often around the gut near the vent. Size series of larvae show variable eye shapes: at around 6 mm SL the eye is round with dorsal and ventral indentations in the iris and a posterior-inferior exension of the iris, then between 7 and 11 mm SL the eye is a somewhat-narrowed vertical oval, often tilting slightly forward, with a prominent posterior-inferior extension of the iris. At transitional sizes (11-15 mm SL), larvae develop large round eyes. Many larvae have a speckled "eyebrow" membrane over the upper third of the eyeball that appears detached from the pigmented iris below. Transitional larvae develop internal melanophores within the caudal peduncle and the pelvic fins extend in length rapidly. A melanophore appears behind the upper edge of the operculum above a streak of iridophores. Transitional recruits develop a stripe from the eye to the caudal peduncle and speckling along the bases of the median-fin rays and a row of melanophores along the lateral wall of the abdomen below the pectoral fin.
Microgobius meeki larva
12.3 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB1-019
 
Microgobius microlepis
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,18-19 (16-20) A-19 (18-20) Pect-21-22 indicate Microgobius microlepis. This genus typically has one more anal-fin ray than dorsal-fin rays (but often equal numbers). (PE) G318/19
Microgobius microlepis
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,18-19 (16-20) A-19 (18-20) Pect-21-22 indicate Microgobius microlepis. This genus typically has one more anal-fin ray than dorsal-fin rays (but often equal numbers). (PE) G318/19
Microgobius signatus
 
Diagnosis: Modal fin-ray counts of D-VII,20 (19-22) A-21 (20-22) Pect-19-22 indicates Microgobius signatus and Palatogobius paradoxus. This genus typically has one more anal-fin ray than dorsal-fin rays (but often equal numbers, rarely one more dorsal ray). Ptereleotris helenae (previously Ioglossus helenae) has 22 or more second-dorsal-fin elements (along with only six first-dorsal-fin spines and separate pelvic fins). (U)
Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a large eye and a large terminal mouth. Pectoral fins short, pelvic fins stubs, dorsal and anal-fin bases very long, caudal peduncle very short and narrow, procurrent caudal-fin rays 7-9 (7-8 spindly). Lightly marked along the lower body: melanophores usually in long streaks at the posterior isthmus, at the pelvic-fin insertion and then continuing as an abdominal midline streak ending about half way between the pelvic-fin insertion and the swim bladder (vs. eleotrids where it extends to the swim bladder). There is a row of melanophores along the anal-fin base (variably paired, one per side, a few larger ones starting at the second or third element that are fewer than one per ray, then becoming small and usually one per ray), and then a streak along the ventral midline of the very short caudal peduncle ending at the start of the procurrent caudal-fin rays. Melanophores are present on some of the anal-fin ray membranes, usually between the second and sixth elements, and along the base of some of the lower segmented caudal-fin rays extending a short way out along the rays. The frequency of occurrence of the anal-fin ray membrane melanophores is uncertain, since many larvae have frayed fin rays. Some larger larvae have melanophores at the angle of the jaw and around the sacculus, but on many larvae, especially smaller specimens, these are absent. Internal melanophores are present at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and often around the gut near the vent. Size series of larvae show variable eye shapes at early stages: at around 6 mm SL the eye is round with dorsal and ventral indentations in the iris and a posterior-inferior exension of the iris, then between 7 and 11 mm SL the eye is a somewhat-narrowed vertical oval, often tilting slightly forward, with a prominent posterior-inferior extension of the iris. Some larvae at this stage have unusual outgrowths, extensions, and distortions of the eyeball. At transitional sizes (11-13 mm SL), larvae develop large round eyes. Many larvae have a speckled "eyebrow" membrane over the upper edge of the eyeball that appears detached from the pigmented iris below. The iris in this genus has a subtle, yet distinctive, "flat" appearance with a more uniform shine than is present on the eyes of other goby larvae.
Microgobius sp.larva
6.4 mm SL
earlier stage larva: compare to Bollmannia boqueronensis
San Blas, Panama, SB86-502
Microgobius sp.larva
6.6 mm SL
earlier stage larva
San Blas, Panama, SB86-502
 
Microgobius sp. ? larva
6.6 mm SL
thin variant, with round eye
San Blas, Panama, SB84-522
 
Microgobius signatus larva
6.3 mm SL
note pigmented membrane above eyeball
San Blas, Panama SB87-201
Microgobius signatus larva
8.5 mm SL
note pigmented membrane above eyeball
San Blas, Panama SB87-228
Microgobius signatus larva
8.9 mm SL
note melanophore streak onto pelvic fins
San Blas, Panama SB86-503
Microgobius signatus larva
9.4 mm SL
note pigmented membrane above eyeball
San Blas, Panama SB86-1224
Microgobius signatus larva
10.0 mm SL
San Blas, Panama SB86-422
Microgobius signatus larva
11.9 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB86-502
Microgobius signatus larva below
vs. Gobionellus oceanicus above
12.2 mm SL
San Blas, Panama SB86-516
Microgobius signatus larva
8.0 mm SL
bilateral eye abnormality: intracranial
and extraorbital extension of the eye
San Blas, Panama, SB84-624a
 
Microgobius sp.larva
5.4 mm SL
earlier stage larva eye abnormality
San Blas, Panama, SB84-526
 
Palatogobius paradoxus
 
Diagnosis: An individual larva with fin-ray counts of D-VII,21 A-21 Pect-18 indicates Palatogobius paradoxus and overlaps the range for Microgobius signatus. The soft dorsal-fin-ray count for P. paradoxus varies in the literature, but the upper range often includes 21 elements. This larval type furthermore shares the particularly large round eye and long pelvic fins reaching to the vent with P. paradoxus (indicative of a deeper-water species), as well as the fused pelvic fins without a frenum. The bathydemersal sibling species P. grandoculus cannot be excluded. Ptereleotris helenae (previously Ioglossus helenae) modally has 22 or more second-dorsal-fin elements (and only six first-dorsal-fin spines and separate pelvic fins). (U)
Analogues: (long goby with long dorsal and anal fins) This larval type has unique markings for the group, especially a melanophore below the base of the mid-dorsal fin (in a pre-transitional larva). Body form similar to Microgobius, but no anal-fin row of melanophores and a distinctly longer pelvic fin.
Description: Body thin, long, and narrow with a very large eye and a large terminal mouth. Pectoral fins medium length, pelvic fins long, reaching most of the way to the vent without an obvious frenum. Dorsal and anal-fin bases long, caudal peduncle short and narrow, 8-9 procurrent caudal-fin rays (8 spindly). Lightly marked; a row of streak melanophores on the ventral midline from the isthmus to the pelvic-fin insertion and one just behind the pelvic-fin insertion. There are only two other melanophores on the body: one at the base of the anal fin around the thirteenth fin element and one at the dorsal midline below the base of the sixth fin element. There are no markings on the fins. Internal melanophores are present at the dorsal surface of the swim bladder and around the gut near the vent. The eye is large and round with a prominent speckled "eyebrow" membrane over the upper half of the eyeball that appears detached from the pigmented iris below.
Palatogobius paradoxus larva
9.5 mm SL
San Blas, Panama, SB81-019
 
 
 
 
 

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