Monday, July 23, 2012

An idiot's guide to U.K. goby identification.

I've caught a fair amount of gobies now and have a few more goby species in my sights! I thought I would share what I've discovered about the various species that are found around the U.K. This is very much a work in progress so if you feel you can contribute or if something is not right please don't hesitate to get in touch and let me know and I'll amend it. I may also add new species too in the future.

Gobies themselves are relatively easy to identify as being gobies having two dorsal fins and their pelvic fins are fused into a weak suction cup. Apart from a few rarer species (some covered at the end) which are very distinct and easily identifiable, pinning down exactly what type of goby you've caught can be difficult. Colouration can vary greatly and it's easy to misidentify them. I've included photos of fish I've caught as well as a few photos of those types I've yet to catch based on information taken from the following sources...

...and have tried to pick out the key distinguishing feature for each type to aid in quick easy identification.

I'll start with the Common Goby and the Sand Goby as these are very similar and are very easily confused...

Common Goby

Key distinguishing feature: Black spots with white halo on flank are more pronounced than those on a sand goby. No scales on the back in front of the first dorsal fin. The lateral scale count is 39 to 52.

Sand Goby

Key distinguishing feature: Scales on the back in front of the first dorsal fin. The eyes are placed high and close together. The distance from the second dorsal fins last ray to the tail fin is proportionately greater than the same measurement on a common goby. The lateral scale count is 55 to 75.

Rock Goby

Key distinguishing feature: A bright creamy cream/yellow/orange band along top of both dorsal fins but more pronounced on the first dorsal fin..

Black Goby

Key distinguishing features: Black markings at the top of the front edge of both dorsal fins although sometimes difficult to see due to colouration. Third and forth dorsal ray fins on the front dorsal fin are elongated giving the fin a shark fin shape. These however are less pronounced or not present at all outwith breeding periods.

Leopard Spotted Goby

Key distinguishing features: Light pink in colouration with brown/orange spots and electric blue tinges on edge of fins.

Giant Goby

Only really found on the South West coast of England and South coast of Ireland.
Key distinguishing features: Large bulky head and relatively small eyes in comparison with rest of body. They can also change colour rapidly.

Rarely caught but easily recognised gobies...

Painted Goby

Key distinguishing features: Light underside and a dark back with four distinct lighter coloured "saddles" along the dorsal area.

Two Spotted Goby

Key distinguishing features: Two spots, one directly below the first dorsal fin and one on the root of the tail. A line of small light blue spots along its lateral line, although these become faint out of water.

I hope you have found this short look at gobies interesting and perhaps this guide may even be of practical use to you!

Happy goby hunting, Scott.

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