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 with 3-5 dark brown saddles along the back, small dark blotches on the head, and often with a row of eye-sized dark blotches along the midside.

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:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2021, Afurcagobius tamarensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/64

Tamar Goby, Afurcagobius tamarensis (Johnston 1883)

More Info


Endemic to southern and southeastern Australia, from the Maroochy River, Nambour, Queensland, south and westwards to Baird Bay, Great Australian Bight, South Australia, and throughout coastal Tasmania.

Inhabits quiet areas in estuaries, coastal lakes and the lower parts of rivers in depths to 30 m. Tamar gobies construct burrows in silty and muddy substrates, and in seagrass beds.


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.


Feeds 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

    Can be distinguished from the Southwestern Goby, Afurcagobius suppositus, which occurs in the southwestern corner of Western Australia, by 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 olorumand the Largemouth Goby, Redigobius macrostoma.


    The species is named tamarensis in reference to the Tamar River, the type locality.

    Species Citation

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


    Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2021


    Atlas of Living Australia

    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. Records of the Western Australian Museum 16(2): 175–210 figs 1–16. See ref online

    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.

    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.See ref online

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

    Kuiter, R.H.  2018. Pictorial guide to Victoria's freshwater fishes. Part 1. E-version. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics 1-110.

    Kuiter, R. & Kuiter, S. 2018. Coastal sea-fishes of south-eastern Australia. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 371 pp.

    Larson, H.K. 2011. The marine temperate gobioids of southern Australia and the New Zealand region. Chapter 2.4, pp. 235-241 in  Patzner, R.A., Van Tassell, J.L., Kovačić, M. & Kapoor, B.G. (eds) The Biology of Gobies. Enfield, New Hampshire : Science Publishers 685 pp.

    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 pp.

    Larson, H.K. & Murdy, E.O. 2001. Eleotridae, Gobiidae. pp. 3574-3604 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

    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).

    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 (described as Gobius tasmanicus) See ref online

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37428004

    Depth:0-20 m

    Habitat:Estuaries, coastal lakes

    Max Size:11 cm TL


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