Dwarf Shore Eel, Alabes hoesei Springer & Fraser 1976

Other Names: Dwarf Shore-eel, Hoese's Shore Eel

A Dwarf Shore Eel, Alabes hoesei, from Flinders, Western Port, Victoria - March 2016. Source: Kevin Conway / Texas A&M University. License: All rights reserved

A semitransparent shore eel with the internal organs usually clearly visible, a row of brownish or greenish blotches along the dorsal fin, and the head spotted or unspotted. Males usually have a tiger-like pattern of reddish to brownish bars along the side of the head which continue onto the anterior body in larger individuals.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2024, Alabes hoesei in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/1141

Dwarf Shore Eel, Alabes hoesei Springer & Fraser 1976

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia, from just north of Sydney, New South Wales, to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia, and northern and eastern Tasmania. Inhabits dense shallow seagrass beds and adjacent reefs covered in dense brownish macroalgae, at depths to 5 m.


Caudal fin 7-8; Vertebrae (total) 67-71.
Body very elongate, moderately compressed. Head very short; eyes small; mouth small, reaching to below front part of eye; teeth small, single row in each jaw; no spines laterally; gill opening a small slit on underside of head, its width less than eye diameter. Scales and lateral line absent; pair of sensory pores dorsoposterior to each eye. Dorsal, anal and caudal fins continuous, dorsal and anal elongate, without fin rays. Pectoral and pelvic fins absent.


Completely transparent with internal organs usually clearly visible; a row of brownish or greenish blotches on dorsal fin; head spotted or unspotted, male usually with tiger-like pattern of reddish to brownish bars on side, continued on body in larger individuals.

Similar Species

Extremely similar to the Pygmy Shore Eel, Alabes parvula, differing most noticeably in having two post-ocular sensory pores (= cephalic lateral line canal pores behind the eye), vs. a single pore A. parvula, near the dorso-posterior edge of the eye. Also, the Dwarf Shore Eel is generally found in slightly deeper water and tends to be brownish rather than greenish in colour.


The species is named in honour of Douglass F. Hoese, of the Australian Museum, Sydney, who provided much of the material for the study.

Species Citation

Alabes hoesei Springer & Fraser, 1976, Smithson. Contrib. Zool. 243: 21. Type locality: Robe, South Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2024


Atlas of Living Australia

Dwarf Shore Eel, Alabes hoesei Springer & Fraser 1976


Hutchins, J.B. 1994. Family Gobiesocidae. pp. 305-324, figs 269-289 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Hutchins, J.B. 2008. Family Gobiesocidae. pp. 722-741 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Hutchins, B. & Morrison, S. 2004. Five new fish species of the genus Alabes (Gobiesocidae: Cheilobranchinae). Records of the Australian Museum 56: 147-158 https://doi.org/10.3853/j.0067-1975.56.2004.1426

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Kuiter, S.L. 2018. Fish watchers guide to coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.

Springer, V.G. & Fraser, T.H. 1976. Synonymy of the fish families Cheilobranchidae (=Alabetidae) and Gobiesocidae, with descriptions of two new species of Alabes. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 234: 1-23 figs 1-14 https://doi.org/10.5479/si.00810282.234

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37206009

Depth:0-5 m

Habitat:Reef associated, seagrass, algae

Max Size:4.5 cm TL


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