Sailfin Goby, Nesogobius pulchellus (Castelnau 1872)

Other Names: Castelnau's Goby

A male Sailfin Goby, Nesogobius pulchellus, at St Leonards, Port Phillip, Victoria. Source: Julian K. Finn / Museum Victoria. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A small sand-dwelling goby with the anterior part of the first dorsal fin dark and high, especially in males. Males also have a dark head and anal fin (unpigmented in females), and signal to others with their high dorsal fin. The second dorsal and anal fins begin with a spine.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Nesogobius pulchellus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 13 Jul 2024,

Sailfin Goby, Nesogobius pulchellus (Castelnau 1872)

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Endemic to temperate waters of southern Australia, from Sydney, New South Wales, to Rockingham, Western Australia, including Tasmania.

Inhabits sandy areas near seagrass beds and rocky reefs in bays and estuaries, at depths to 20 m.


Dorsal fin spines/rays VII + I, 9-11; Anal fin spines/rays I, 9-11; Caudal fin rays 13 (segmented), 9-10 branched); Pectoral fin rays 16-20; Pelvic fin spines/rays I, 5;
Gill rakers 0-1 + 5-9 = 6-9.

Body relatively deep; first dorsal fin often higher than second dorsal fin, especially in males; second dorsal and anal fins beginning with a spine.


 To 6 cm.


Body relatively dark, greyish brown and mottled with reddish spots forming stripes on dorsal fin; a thin brown bar from eye to middle of jaw; midsides with 5-8 dark brown blotches; a thin broken silver stripe just below midsides; a wide v-shaped brown bar before tail; head and anal fin dark in males, fin clear in females; first dorsal fin black anteriorly.

Species Citation

Gobius pulchellus Castelnau, 1872, Proc. Zool. Acclim. Soc. Vict 1: 125. Type locality: Western Port, Victoria.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Sailfin Goby, Nesogobius pulchellus (Castelnau 1872)


Castelnau, F.L. de 1872. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 1. The Melbourne fish market. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 1: 29-242 1 pl.

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp.

Hoese, D.F. & Larson, H.K. 1994. Family Gobiidae. pp. 781-810, figs 690-714 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.

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.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

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

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

Whitley, G.P. 1952. Figures of some Australian fish types. Proceedings of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales 1951-52: 23-31 figs 1-8

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37428007

Depth:0-20 m

Habitat:Sandy, seagrass areas

Max Size:6 cm


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