Black Spine-cheek Gudgeon, Eleotris melanosoma Bleeker 1852

Other Names: Black Gudgeon, Ebony Gudgeon

Black Spine-cheek Gudgeon, Eleotris melanosoma. Source: Dinh D. Tran, FiMSeA / License: CC by Attribution

A dark brown to blackish gudgeon with black fins and fine dark longitudinal lines along sides. Juveniles have spotted fins.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon, Eleotris melanosoma in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Apr 2024,

Black Spine-cheek Gudgeon, Eleotris melanosoma Bleeker 1852

More Info


Known in northern Australia from Lizard Island to Innisfail, QLD. The species occurs elsewhere in the tropical Indo-west Pacific, and has been introduced to the Panama Canal Zone. Inhabits estuarine and freshwaters, usually on muddy, sandy or gravel substrates. Adults inhabit brackish estuaries and medium to large size rivers, and shelter among leaf litter, woody debris and the submerged bank vegetation of freshwater streams.


Dorsal fin VI + I, 8; Anal fin I, 8; Pectoral fin 17-20; Pelvic fin I, 5; Tr Sc 11-18; Longitudinal scale series 46-58; Predorsal scales 37-53; Scales  crossing mid caudal peduncle 11-12; Gill rakers 12-13. 
Body elongate, cylindrical anteriorly, compressed posteriorly, depth 18.1-22.2% SL; length of caudal peduncle less than twice its depth.  Head pointed, depressed, 28.5- 36.4% SL; frontal profile straight to a little concave. Snout pointed, as long as eye, tip at level of upper part of eye. Anterior nostril tubular, near margin of snout. Eye 18.1-22.2% head length, inter-orbital 1.0-1.7 in eye diameter. Lower jaw prominent, upper reaching to or just past middle of eye; jaw teeth in many rows, small, outer and inner rows slightly enlarged, subequal. Preopercular spine conical, curved. Interorbital space with 2 longitudinal mucous canals, and short transverse canals laterally towards eye; 2 longitudinal mucous canals on cheek, crossed by canals radiating under eye. Supraopercular groove distinct. No pores on head. 2 longitudinal rows of papillae on opercle meeting posteriorly.

Scales of body ctenoid posteriorly, cycloid anteriorly; lateral line absent,  snout naked, head scaled above between and behind eye, on cheek and opercle.

Two dorsal fins, first dorsal obtuse, about half depth of body, second, third and fourth rays longest; second dorsal and anal fin higher than first dorsal, about as high as body depth. Pectoral fin obtuse, about as long as head. Pelvic fins separate, slightly shorter than head. Caudal fin obtuse, slightly shorter than head.


To around 18cm.


Dusky red or dusky green above, paler below; usually dusky blotch dorsally on pectoral fin base. Fin membranes dusky to violet, rays orange to dusky; dark spots on rays of dorsal, caudal and pectoral fins; dorsal and anal fins with dark longitudinal stripes.


Feeds mainly on insects, crustaceans and small fishes.


Oviparous, benthic spawners. Eggs are small and numerous. Likely to have a marine larval phase.

Similar Species

Distinguished from other species in the genus Eleotris in having 46–58 lateral row scales, usually 18–19 pectoral rays, 12–13 gill rakers on the first gill arch and two longitudinal rows of papillae on the opercle meeting posteriorly. This species has been confused with Eleotris fusca.

Species Citation

Eleotris melanosoma Bleeker, P. (1852). Nieuwe bijdrage tot de kennis der ichthyologische fauna van Ceram. Nat. Tijdschr. Ned. Ind. 3: 689–714 [705]. Wahai, Ceram and Sumatra occidentalis, Indonesia.


Martin F. Gomon

Black Spine-cheek Gudgeon, Eleotris melanosoma Bleeker 1852


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Maeda, K. & Tachihara, K. 2004. Instream distributions and feeding habits of two species of sleeper, Eleotris acanthopoma and Eleotris fusca, in the Teima River, Okinawa Island. Ichthyological Research 51: 233-240.

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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429018

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Habitat:estuarine and freshwater

Max Size:26 cm SL

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