Black  Goby

Fact File:

Common Name(s):
Black  Goby

Scientific Name:
Gobius niger

Usual Size:
17 cm

UK Record Weights from rod/line:


MAFF Minimum Size: Shore: Boat:

Medium-sized goby (a family of small fishes with a notorious reputation of being difficult to differentiate, characterised by a pair of dorsal fins, and a pelvic fin fused into a weak suction cup). The first dorsal fins are elongate, especially the third and/or fourth spine, in this species (but not in Gobius paganellus) during the breeding season. Cream, fawn or sandy with black blotches, sometimes it will appear black. In breeding coloration the elongate first dorsal fin is distinctive. 

It appears that the elongate first dorsal fin is not always present.  This has suggested four possibilities, i.e. misidentification, hybrids, a third species, or that the fish loses (or fails to develop) the elongated spine.
Further research in progress. Comments welcome. 
A new species Gobius couchi has been described. 

The big black smudges on the side of the body obscure the smaller spots and are diagnostic. The absence of large blotches indicate the similar Rock Goby.
These smudges are obscured in breeding coloration of both G.niger and G. paganellus and sometimes at other times.

Similar Species:
Rock Goby, Gobius paganellus.  Colour scheme, size and habitats are the same as the Dragonet, Callionymus lyra.

Spring around the British coasts. Male fish turns a blacker tinge when guarding the nest.  The third spine of the first dorsal fin is longer than the others and this is never the case with the similar Rock Goby. 

32-45 scales on the lateral line, less than the Rock Goby.

In sandy areas, usually with rock as well, below low water mark and sometimes found intertidally in large pools. The adults are found at low water mark in late summer and autumn.

Small crustaceans, worms, small fish.

Off all the coasts of Britain and further afield, Baltic, in the shallow seas off the coast of southern Norway, France, Spain, Portugal, temperate Africa, Mediteranean., Black Sea.

Additional Notes:
Information wanted: Please send any records of this fish, with location, date, who discovered it, how it was identified, prevalence, common name and any other details to Shorewatch Project EMail


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