Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps

External Links


Compiler and date details

23 October 2018 - Douglass F. Hoese

11 April 2015 - Douglass F. Hoese


The Gobioidei is one of the largest groups of fish with over 2000 species and with about 1900 currently recognised as valid. The higher classification is still under study and it is likely to change in the future. Previous studies of relationships within the group include those of Miller (1973), Springer (1983), Hoese (1984), Akihito (1986), Birdsong et al. (1988), Harrison (1989), Hoese & Gill (1993), Johnson & Brothers (1993), Akihito et al. (2000), Wang et al. (2001), Thacker (2003), Thacker & Hardman (2005), Thacker (2009), and Thacker & Roji (2011). Agoretta et al. (2013) and Tornabene et al (2013). Hoese & Gill (1993) recognised the families Rhyacichthyidae, Odontobutidae, Gobiidae, Kraemeriidae, Xenisthmidae and Microdesmidae. The Gobiidae were split into three subfamilies Butinae, Eleotridinae and Gobiinae. Hoese & Gill (1993) were not able to show monophyly for the Butinae and they suggested that some of the other families may prove not to be distinct. Johnson & Brothers (1993) assigned Schlinderliidae to the suborder. Wang et al. (2001) provided some evidence for monophyly of the Butinae based on molecular work. Thacker & Hardman (2005) also provided evidence, based on molecular work, for monophyly of the Butinae, but as a sister group to the Gobiinae and distinct from the Eleotridinae. They also indicated that the blind cave genus from Australia, Milyeringa, might be an odontobutid and that the Xenisthmidae belong with the Gobiinae. Subsequent works have placed the Milyeringidae as a distinct family. Thacker (2009) also discussed relationships of the group and relationships within the group. Recent classifications have placed the Microdesmidae and Kraemeriidae as recognised here within the Gobiidae. All classifications produced slightly different grouping, but none of the studies have examined all genera. Recent work including nuclear genes generally have produced groups more consistent with morphological studies. Nelson (1994) followed Hoese & Gill (1993), but recognised the Eleotridae (subfamilies Butinae and Eleotridinae) separate from the family Gobiidae, and subsequently Nelson (2006) recognised the Ptereleotrinae as a separate family from the Microdesmidae. Recent work (Hoese & Motomura 2009 and Agorreta et al 2013) found evidence of a close relationship, with the microdesmines more closely related to some ptereleotrines. Gill & Mooi described the family Thalasseleotrididae as a proposed sister group to Gobiidae. Tornabene et al. (2013) discussed relationships with the Gobiidae. Wiley & Johnson (2010) separated the groups as a separate order the Gobiiformes. We largely retain the classification of Nelson (1994) here, pending publication of morphological studies of R. Mooi and A. Gill and additional molecular studies that are currently underway. There is often convenience in retaining highly specialised groups for identification purposes and these are often preferred by authors of books on fishes. It is likely that some of these very specialised groups will be retained only as informal groups in the future. Relationships and biology of the group is discussed in Patzner et al. (2011).

Species are common in fresh waters and marine environments throughout the world, absent only from the Arctic and Antarctic. In the sea, species are known from a variety of habitats, including mangroves, coral and rock reefs, and the continental shelf and slope to depths of over 800.


General References

Agorreta, A., San Mauro, D., Schliewen, U., Van Tassell, J.L., Kovačić, M., Zardoya, R. & Rüber, L. 2013. Molecular phylogenetics of Gobioidei and phylogenetic placement of European gobies. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69(3): 619–633

Akihito, P. 1986. Some morphological characters considered to be important in gobiid phylogeny. pp. 629-639 in Uyeno, T., Arai, R., Taniuchi, T. & Matsuura, K. (eds). Indo-Pacific Fish Biology. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Indo-Pacific Fishes. Tokyo : Ichthyological Society of Japan 985 pp.

Akihito, P., Iwata, A., Kobayashi, T., Ikeo, K., Imanishi, T., Ono, H., Umehara, Y., Hamamatsu, C., Sugiyama, K., Ikeda, Y., Sakamoto, K., Fumihito, A., Ohno, S. & Gojobori, T. 2000. Evolutionary aspects of gobioid fishes based upon a phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial cytochrome b genes. Gene 259: 5-15

Birdsong, R., Murdy, E.O. & Pezold, F.L. 1988. A study of the vertebral column and median fin osteology in gobioid fishes with comments on gobioid relationships. Bulletin of Marine Science 42(2): 174-214 figs 1-5

Gill, A.C. & Mooi, R.D. 2012. Thalasseleotrididae, new family of marine gobioid fishes from New Zealand and temperate Australia, with a revised definition of its sister taxon, the Gobiidae (Teleostei: Acanthomorpha). Zootaxa 3266: 41–52

Harrison, I.J. 1989. Specialization of the gobioid palatopterygoquadrate complex and its relevance to gobioid systematics. Journal of Natural History 23: 325-353

Hoese, D.F. 1984. Gobioidei: Relationships. pp. 588-591 in Moser, H.G. et al. (eds). Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Special Publication 1: 1-760

Hoese, D.F. & Gill, A. 1993. Phylogenetic relationships of eleotridid fishes (Perciformes: Gobioidei). Bulletin of Marine Science 52(1): 415-440

Hoese, D.F. & Motomura, H. 2009. Descriptions of two new genera and species of ptereleotrine fishes from Australia and Japan (Teleostei: Gobioidei) with discussion of possible relationships. Zootaxa 2312: 49-59

Johnson, G.D. & Brothers, E.B. 1993. Schindleria: a paedomorphic goby (Teleostei : Gobioidei). Bulletin of Marine Science 52(1): 441-471 figs 1-12

Miller, P.J. 1973. The osteology and adaptive features of Rhyacichthys aspro (Teleostei: Gobioidei) and the classification of gobioid fishes. Journal of Zoology, London 171: 397-434

Nelson, J.S. 1994. Fishes of the World. New York : John Wiley & Sons 600 pp.

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Patzner, R.A., Van Tassell, J.L., Kovačić, M. & Kapoor, B.G. (eds) 2011. The Biology of Gobies. Enfield, New Hampshire : Science Publishers 685 pp.

Springer, V.G. 1983. Tyson belos, new genus and species of western Pacific fish (Gobiidae, Xenisthminae), with discussions of gobioid osteology and classification. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 390: 1-40

Thacker, C.E. 2003. Molecular phylogeny of the gobioid fishes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 26(3): 354-368

Thacker, C.E. 2009. Phylogeny of Gobioidei and placement within Acanthomorpha, with a new classification and investigation of diversification and character evolution. Copeia 2009(1): 93–104

Thacker, C.E. & Hardman, M.A. 2005. Molecular phylogeny of basal gobioid fishes: Rhyacichthyidae, Odontobutidae, Xenisthmidae, Eleotridae (Teleostei: Perciformes: Gobioidei). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37: 851-871

Thacker, C.E. & Roje, D.M. 2011. Phylogeny of Gobiidae and identification of gobiid lineages. Systematics and Biodiversity 9: 329–347

Tornabene, L., Chen, Y. & Pezold, F. 2013. Gobies are deeply divided: phylogenetic evidence from nuclear DNA (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Gobiidae). Systematics and Biodiversity 11(3): 345-361

Wang, H.Y., Tsai, M.P., Dean, J. & Lee, S.C. 2001. Molecular phylogeny of gobioid fishes (Perciformes : Gobioidei) based on mitochondrial 12S rRNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 20(3): 390-408


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
14-May-2015 GOBIOIDEI 13-Apr-2015 MODIFIED Dr Doug Hoese
12-Feb-2010 (import)