Finke Goby, Chlamydogobius japalpa Larson 1995

Male and female Finke Gobies, Chlamydogobius japalpa. Source: Dave Wilson / Aquagreen. License: All rights reserved

A small pale yellowish-brown desert goby with darker 'saddles' and irregular lines and blotches across back, and first dorsal fin with a blue blotch and a yellow submarginal band. Dorsal saddles partly connected to each other by irregular lines and small blotches.
The Finke Goby is very similar in appearance to the Desert goby, Chlamydogobius eremius - differing in having a pattern of  wavy lines, 7-8 predorsal scales and a partially-scaled breast (vs marbled blotches on head, predorsal scales absent or inconspicuous and scattered, and scales absent from breast in C. eremius).

Cite this page as:
Chlamydogobius japalpa in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Dec 2022,

Finke Goby, Chlamydogobius japalpa Larson 1995

More Info


Known only from upper Finke River system, Northern Territory: from Ormiston Gorge to the junction of Maloney Creek and the Finke River. Inhabits relatively permanent pools, usually with rock, sand or fine gravel substrate, often sheltering among vegetation or detritus on sand.


Dorsal fin spines/rays V-VI + I, 7-8; Anal fin spines/rays I, 5-8; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 16 (branched rays) 15-16; Pectoral fin rays 12-14; Pelvic fin rays I, 5; TRB 14-19; GR 2-3 +5-6 = 7-9; Vertebrae 10-11 + 18-19 = 28-29.

Body rounded to slightly compressed anteriorly, compressed posteriorly. Head short, somewhat rounded, length 3.2-3.7 in SL. Snout rounded to somewhat inflated and partly overhanging upperlip. Anterior nostril in very short tube, on edge of preorbital, tube oriented down and forward, preorbital curved forward slightly to accommodate nostril. Posterior nostril oval, halfway between front edge of eye and edge of preorbital. Eyes lateral, high on head, top usually part of dorsal profile, 3.0-5.1 in HL. Interorbital broad, flat; top of head, from rear of interorbital space up to snout tip, with scattering of very fine pigmented villi. Lips usually smooth, lower lip free at sides, fused across front. Mouth terminal to subterminal, slightly oblique; upper jaw slightly overhanging lower jaw, generally reaching to below mid-eye in males and to below front half of eye in females; teeth of upper jaw in 3-4 rows, outermost usually larger than others, stout and curved or almost upright, others slightly smaller; teeth of lower jaw in 4-5 rows; teeth of males slightly larger than females; tongue large, round to bluntly rounded. Gill opening restricted to pectoral base; inner edge of shoulder girdle smooth.
Ctenoid scales on side of body in narrow wedge forward to behind pectoral fin, usually broken into patch of ctenoid scales behind pectoral fin and weakly ctenoid area on caudal peduncle only; predorsal scales small, cycloid, usually reaching forward to above preopercular margin, often anteriormost rows of scales placed irregularly, somewhat scattered, 7-18 in front of dorsal; operculum naked or with patch of small cycloid scales on upper third to half; cheek with scales; pectoral fin base with few cycloid scales, occasionally naked; prepelvic area with small cycloid scales posteriorly, anterior half of breast usually naked; belly with isolated patch of weakly ctenoid scales under pelvics, remainder cycloid.  Lateral line absent; lateral scale series 36-47. Head pores absent.
Two dorsal fins, first low, rounded, spines not reaching second dorsal when depressed in all but large males; second dorsal and anal fins low, with short bases, last rays falling far short of caudal fin when depressed. Pectoral fin broad, rounded. Pelvic fins united into complete disc, small, rounded to oval, occasionally reaching half distance to anus. Caudal fin oval to rectangular, rounded posteriorly.


To around 5.5 cm SL


Pale yellowish brown, anterior half of body generally darker than posterior half, with 6 brown to greyish brown square saddles across back and one across nape and opercles, saddles mostly composed of blotches and dark vermiculations partly connected to each other laterally by irregular lines and small blotches; saddle across nape mostly broken up into darker brown vermiculations; anterior part of head with vermiculate greyish brown marbling and small spots, relatively unmarked, most distinct pattern being dark brown vermiculations on snout and anteriorly on interorbital; dark brown bar from front of eye to upper lip; dark irregular line dorsally on snout to tip. Fins pale brownish to fawn; axil of pectoral base pale with dark brown vermiculations.


Omnivore - feeds on insect larvae, crustaceans, filamentous algae, fish eggs and detritus.


Oviparous, benthic spawner. Females lay adhesive demersal eggs in crevices from November to March. Males guard the eggs, fanning them almost constantly until the larvae hatch.


Listed as Vulnerable in the Northern Territory.


The species name is from the indigenous Western Aranda name Japalpa, given to part of the Finke River near the Ormiston Creek type locality - a significant site in Aranda traditions.

Species Citation

Chlamydogobius japalpa Larson, 1995, The Beagle: 32, figs 3-4, 7-8. Type locality: Ormiston Creek, Finke River, NT.


Atlas of Living Australia

Finke Goby, Chlamydogobius japalpa Larson 1995


Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia.  Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

Hammer, M. 2019. Chlamydogobius japalpa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T122914080A123382416. Downloaded on 01 October 2020.

Larson, H.K. 1995. A review of the Australian endemic gobiid fish genus Chlamydogobius with descriptions of five new species. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 12: 19-51 figs 1-14 pls 1-2  

Larson, H.K. 2001. A revision of the gobiid fish genus Mugilogobius (Teleostei: Gobioidei), and its systematic placement. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 62: 1-233  

Larson, H.K. & Martin, K.C. 1990. Freshwater Fishes of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences Handbook Series Number 1. Darwin : Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences 102 pp. 73 figs. (p. 62, as Chlamydogobius eremius in part, as only one species was recognised in the genus at the time)

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.

Unmack, P.J. 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogeography 28: 1053-1089 

Wager, R. & Unmack, P.J. 2000. Fishes of the Lake Eyre Catchment of Central Australia. Brisbane : Department of Primary Industries and Queensland Fisheries Service 88 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37428303

Conservation:IUCN & NT Vulnerable

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Freshwater pools

Max Size:5.5 cm SL


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