Tamar Goby, Afurcagobius tamarensis (Johnston 1883)

Other Names: Tamar River Goby, Tasman Goby

Tamar Goby, Afurcagobius tamarensis. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


A small pale brown to greyish goby found in estuaries, coastal lakes and the lower parts of rivers. The Tamar Goby is brownish to grey above, paler below, often with a row of eye-sized dark blotches along the midsides, 3-5 dark brown saddles across back and a diffuse bars across nape.

Males grow to a larger size than females and have larger mouths, very bulbous cheeks, more elongate posterior dorsal- and anal-fin rays, and darker pelvic and anal fins. Females have a prominent black spot at the rear of the first dorsal fin that is faint or absent in males.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson, Afurcagobius tamarensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 Jul 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/64

Tamar Goby, Afurcagobius tamarensis (Johnston 1883)

More Info


Endemic to temperate waters of southern and southeastern Australia, from about Fraser Island (Queensland) to about Kangaroo Island and Gulf St Vincent (South Australia) and throughout coastal Tasmania.

Tamar gobies live in quiet areas of estuaries, lakes and the lower parts of rivers in 1-30 m. They make burrows in silty or muddy bottoms and in seagrass beds.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin VI + I, 8; Anal fin I, 8; Pectoral fin 16-18; Pelvic fin I, 5; Gill rakers 9-11; Tr Sc 9-10; Vertebrae 10 + 17 = 27.

Body moderately elongate, laterally compressed towards tail, caudal peduncle not deepened in adults, head profile shallow behind eyes. Snout long, shallow, longer than eye diameter in large adults, shorter in juveniles and smaller adults. Juveniles and small adults with small bump on the end of the snout. Mouth horizontal, jaws subequal, reaching beyond pupil, with several rows of erect canine teeth, those in outer row enlarged in both jaws; tongue truncate. Eyes near top of head. Anterior nostril tubular, without tentacles; posterior nostril pore-like, midway between anterior nostril and orbit. Branchiostegal membrane attached to lateral margin of isthmus to level of pectoral base.

Body scales ctenoid, cycloid on belly, absent from head, nape, and prepelvic area. Predorsal scales 0-1, embedded and very small. Lateral line absent, lateral scale rows 30-34.

Two dorsal fins, first ray of first dorsal fin never extended or free at tip. Caudal fin rounded, usually shorter than head. Pectoral fins without free rays, reaching to second dorsal fin. Pelvic fins united into a complete disc, posterior edge rarely reaching anal fin, anterior membrane complete and well developed.


To 11 cm TL.


Colour variable. Brown to grey above, paler below, often with a row of eye-sized dark blotches along midsides, 3-5 dark brown saddles across back and a diffuse bars across nape.

Head usually heavily mottled with a diffuse bar from corner of jaw to below eye and a line over cheek and preopercle.

Dorsal and caudal fins with spots forming reticulating lines, often darkening posteriorly to form a black spot on the rear of the first dorsal fin of females. Pectoral fin transparent. Pelvic and anal fins pale, darker during breeding season.


Carnivores, feeding mostly on small crustaceans, insects, worms, molluscs and small fishes.


The sexes are separate, fertilisation is external and Tamar gobies spawn in spring. Females deposit adhesive demersal eggs onto hard surfaces such as rocks or logs. Parents guard the eggs until they hatch.


  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Not listed
  • Remarks

    Preyed upon by wading birds.

    Similar Species

    One of two species in the genus Afurcagobius, the other being the Southwestern Goby, A. suppositus, which occurs in the southwestern corner of Western Australia. The two species do not overlap in distribution, and can be distinguished by their anal-fin ray and pectoral-fin ray counts: Tamar Goby - A I, 7; P 14-16. Southwestern Goby - A I,8; P 17-19.

    Juvenile Tamar gobies may be confused with the Swan River Goby, Pseudogobius olorum and the Largemouth Goby, Redigobius olorum.


    The species name tamarensis refers to the Tamar River, the type locality.

    Species Citation

    Gobius tamarensis Johnston 1883, Proc. R. Soc. Tasm. 1882: 120. Type locality: Tamar River, Tasmania.


    Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson

    Tamar Goby, Afurcagobius tamarensis (Johnston 1883)


    Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia.  Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

    Gill, H.S. 1993. Description of a new genus of goby from southern Australia, including osteological comparisons with related genera. Rec. West. Aust. Mus. 16(2): 175–210 figs 1–16.

    Hoese, D.F. & Larson, H.K. 1980. Family Gobiidae: gobies. pp. 186-192 6 figs in McDowall, R.M. (ed.). Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Sydney : A.H. & A.W. Reed 208 pp., figs, 32 pls.

    Hoese, D.F. & Larson, H.K. 1994. Family Gobiidae.  pp. 781–810, figs 690–714 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, J.C.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

    Hoese, D.F. & Larson, H.K. 2008. Family Gobiidae (pp. 749-773) in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

    Hortle, M.E. & R.W.G. White. 1980. Diet of Pseudaphritis urvillii (Cuvier & Valenciennes) (Pisces: Bovichthyidae) from South-eastern Tasmania. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 31: 533-539.

    Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

    Johnston, R.M. 1883. General and critical observations on fishes of Tasmania with a classified catalogue of all known species. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 1882: 53-144.

    Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia.  Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. figs (p. 348, as Favonigobius tamarensis).

    Larson, H.K. & Hoese, D.F. 1996. Family Gobiidae, pp. 220-228. In: McDowall, R.M. Freshwater fishes of south-eastern Australia. 2nd Ed. Reed Books, Chatswood, Australia. 247 p.

    Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania.  Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs (p. 447 as Favonigobius tamarensis).

    Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management.  Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs (p. 311 as Favonigobius tamarensis).

    Pollard, J. (ed.) 1980. G.P. Whitley's Handbook of Australian Fishes. North Sydney : Jack Pollard Publishing Pty Ltd 629 pp.

    Whitley, G.P. 1929. R.M. Johnston's memoranda relating to the fishes of Tasmania. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 1928: 44-68 figs 2-4

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37428004


    Depth:0-20 m

    Habitat:Estuaries, coastal lakes

    Max Size:11 cm TL


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