Threadfin Reefgoby, Priolepis nuchifasciata (Günther 1873)

Other Names: Orange Reef-goby

A Threadfin Reefgoby, Priolepis nuchifasciata, at Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, April 2020. Source: John Sear / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A small cryptic yellowish to reddish or mauve reefgoby with darker scale margins forming a network pattern on the body, a dark-edged pale stripes on the head and forebody, transparent fins with rows of reddish-orange spots, and long filaments on the second and third dorsal-fin spines. The two bars in front of the pectoral fin form an inverted "Y" shape.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Priolepis nuchifasciata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 13 Jun 2024,

Threadfin Reefgoby, Priolepis nuchifasciata (Günther 1873)

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Widespread in Australian waters, from Fremantle, Western Australia, around the tropical north to at least Port Hacking, Sydney, New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in the west Pacific.
Shelters in caves and crevices on rocky, rubble and coral-covered reefs. 


Dorsal fin VI-VII + 7-11; Anal fin I, 6-8; Longitudinal scale series 23-26. 
Body depth 3.0-3.7 in SL; pelvic fraenum and branched dorsal-fin rays present; ctenoid body scales to level of base of pectoral fin; predorsal, cheek, opercle, prepelvic area and base of pectoral fin without scales; no vertical rows of papillae on cheek.


Maximum total length, about 4 cm.


Reddish to mauve with dark scale margins forming network on side of body; head and upper back below dorsal fin with series of dark-edged pale grey to whitish bars; pair of bars found anterior to pectoral fin forming inverted "Y"; sometimes with yellow head.



Species of the genus Priolepis form monogamous pairs, and are capable of bidirectional sex change. In laboratory experiments with female-female pairs, the larger individual changed sex to male, and in male-male pairs, the smaller changed to female. The gonads of these species simultaneously formed ovarian and testicular portions with an accessory gonadal structure (Manabe et al. 2013). 



Similar Species

Although very similar to the Halfbarred Reefgoby, Priolepis semidoliata, the Threadfin Reefgoby differs from all other species in the genus Priolepis in having both a pelvic fraenum (a flap of skin connecting the pelvic-fin bases) and branched dorsal-fin rays.


The specific name nuchifasciata is from the Latin nucha (= nape, neck) and fasciatus (= banded), presumably in reference to the vertical bands on the head and nape.

Species Citation

Gobius nuchifasciatus Günther 1873, Journal des Museum Godeffroy, Hamburg 1(4): 90. Type locality: Bowen, Queensland.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Threadfin Reefgoby, Priolepis nuchifasciata (Günther 1873)


Allen, G.R. 2009. Field Guide to Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-East Asia. Welshpool : Western Australian Museum Edn. 4, 287 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp. 
Günther, A. 1873. Zweiter ichthyologischer Beitrag nach Exemplaren aus dem Museum Godeffroy. Journal des Museum Godeffroy, Hamburg 1(4): 89-92, 265-268 

Hoese, D.F., Bogorodsky, S.V. & Mal, A.O.  2015. Description of a new species of Trimma (Perciformes: Gobiidae) from the Red Sea, with a discussion of the generic separation of Trimma and Priolepis, with discussion of sensory papillae terminology. Zootaxa 4027(4): 538-550.

Hutchins, B. 2004. Fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 66: 343–398 

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6 

Hutchins, J.B. 1997. Checklist of fishes of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. pp. 239-253 in Wells, F. (ed.) The Marine Fauna and Flora of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum. 

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762. See ref at BHL

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

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

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

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

Manabe H, Toyoda K., Nagamoto K., Dewa S.I., Sakurai M., Hagiwara K., Shinomiya A. & Sunobe T. 2013. Bidirectional sex change in seven species of Priolepis (Actinopterygii: Gobiidae). Bulletin of Marine Science 89(2): 635-642.

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 (as Zonogobius nuchifasciatus)

Moore, G.I., Morrison, S.M., Hutchins, B.J., Allen, G.R. & Sampey, A. 2014. Kimberley marine biota. Historical data: fishes. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 84: 161-206 R

Whitley, G.P. 1962. A new goby from Sydney. Australian Naturalist 12(2): 9-10, fig. 1 (described as Cremornea francoisi)

Winterbottom, R. & Burridge, M. 1993. Revision of the species of Priolepis possessing a reduced transverse pattern of cheek papillae and no predorsal scales (Teleostei; Gobiidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology 71: 494-514 figs 1-24

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37428018


Depth:1-80 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:4 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map