Scaly-nape Tentacle Goby, Oxyurichthys auchenolepis Bleeker 1876

A pale yellowish to yellowish-brown goby becoming whitish below, with a series of yellowish to brownish midlateral blotches usually connected by a narrow yellow midlateral stripe, indistinct dull yellowish blotches or saddles along the back, pale iridescent bluish oblique bars on the head and anterior part of the body, and a small brown blotch on the ventral margin of the eye.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Oxyurichthys auchenolepis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 11 Dec 2023,

Scaly-nape Tentacle Goby, Oxyurichthys auchenolepis Bleeker 1876

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Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, to the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical Indo-west Pacific: Pakistan to China, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and northern Australia.
The species is often taken in bottom trawls on mud and shelly substrates in depths to 50 m (and possibly to 70 m). 


Dorsal fin VI + I, 11-13; Anal fin I, 11-13; Pectoral fin 21-25; Caudal fin segmented rays 8/9+8/8, branched rays 7/7-8/8, procurrent rays 6/5; Lateral scale count 52-72; Transverse scales 17-27; Predorsal scales 14-29. 
Upper jaw teeth in single row; fleshy tongue rounded; upper lip constricted; callus-like cornification usually present on dorsoposterior surface of orbit; anterior nares not darkly pigmented; no spots on gular membrane beneath preopercle or anterior process of quadrate; membranous crest present on nape, may be covered with scales; scales ctenoid laterally on trunk posterior to middle of first dorsal fin, cycloid anteriorly; prepelvic region fully scaled; lateral scales 52–72; first dorsal fin low, spines of appressed fin not reaching posterior to 5th second dorsal-fin element; 21–25 pectoral-fin rays; pelvic fins dusky, not barred or mottled.


Head and body light yellowish brown dorsally, yellowish to whitish ventrally; scales along dorsum with edges darker than centres. Midlateral blotches yellow to brownish yellow (light brown in Indonesian specimen), usually joined together by midlateral yellow stripe. Indistinct dull yellowish dorsal blotches or saddles. On anterior half of body, areas immediately lateral and dorsal to mid-lateral blotches with whitish blue iridescent pigment, forming jagged oblique bars and indistinct blotches below first dorsal fin, anteriormost oblique bar reaching from first dorsal-fin origin to behind pectoral-fin base. Pectoral base whitish on ventral half, dorsal half yellowish with whitish blue blotch or stripe dorsally. Side of head brighter yellow than dorsal surface, and with five variably developed mostly oblique iridescent whitish blue stripes, two crossing opercle, one crossing nape and ending at dorsoposterior corner of preopercle, and two (mostly vertical) crossing cheek below eye (Indonesian specimen with head dull yellowish brown, not yellow). Small diffuse brown blotch on ventral margin of eye, blending with whitish blue cheek stripe. Interorbital, top of snout and tip of upper lip dusky brownish yellow. Flesh surrounding eyeball golden brown, iris reddish gold; callus on eye orange. First and second dorsal fins translucent whitish to faintly dusky, with about three rows of oblique oval dusky orange spots, which may coalesce forming indistinct streaks; dull orange margin present on both fins. Caudal fin yellowish white to dusky, with narrow reddish to black margin to dorsal and ventral edges; indistinct brownish streaks and diffuse bars crossing ventral half of fin. Pectoral fin translucent, with dusky fin rays. Pelvic fins whitish ventrally, fins blackish posteriorly

Similar Species

Oxyurichthys auchenolepis is most similar to the Ribbon Goby, Oxyurichthys heiseiO. auchenolepis differs in having prepelvic scales, a constriction of the upper lip at the premaxillary symphysis and in the first gill arch structure. The lobe-like raker on the upper arch of O. auchenolepis is tripartite vs the single hook-like structure observed in O. heisei; there are also three fused rakers at the angle, one being very reduced, vs two elongate, but the lower arch is similar in having three or four triangulate rakers. In O. auchenolepis the first dorsal fin tends to have darkest pigment between the fifth and sixth spines, vs. between the first and second spines in O. heisei. 

Species Citation

Oxyurichthys auchenolepis Bleeker 1876, Verslagen en Mededeelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen (Afdeeling Natuurjunde). Amsterdam 2 9: 138. Type locality: Singapore.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Scaly-nape Tentacle Goby, Oxyurichthys auchenolepis Bleeker 1876


Bleeker, P. 1876. Description de quelques espèces insulindiennes inédites des genre Oxyurichthys, Paroxyurichthys et Cryptocentrus. Verslagen en Mededeelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen (Afdeeling Natuurjunde). Amsterdam 2 9: 138-148 

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293 

McCulloch, A.R. & Ogilby, J.D. 1919. Some Australian fishes of the family Gobiidae. Records of the Australian Museum 12(10): 193-291 figs 31-37 DOI: 10.3853/j.0067-1975.12.1919.886 (misidentified as Oxyurichthys papuensis

Pezold, F.L. & Larson, H.K. 2015. A revision of the fish genus Oxyurichthys (Gobioidei: Gobiidae) with descriptions of four new species. Zootaxa 3988(1): 1-95

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37428208

Depth:to 50 m

Habitat:Muddy/shelly areas

Max Size:13 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map