Many-host Ghostgoby, Pleurosicya mossambica Smith 1959

Other Names: Common Ghost Goby, Many Host Goby, Many-host Cling-goby, Many-host Ghost Goby, Mozambique Ghostgoby, Toothy Goby

A Many-host Ghostgoby, Pleurosicya mossambica, at Bare Island, La Perouse, Sydney, New South Wales. Source: Klaus Stiefel / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A variably-coloured goby ranging from greenish or uniform brown to a semi-transparent reddish to reddish-brown colour with white saddles/blotches along the back and a whitish internal stripe or dashes along the top of the vertebral column.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Pleurosicya mossambica in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Apr 2024,

Many-host Ghostgoby, Pleurosicya mossambica Smith 1959

More Info


Recorded in Australia from the Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia, Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, to Bare Island, Sydney, New South Wales, including reefs in the Coral Sea; also Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species is widespread throughout the Indo-west-central Pacific.
Inhabits coral reefs, coastal bays and reef slopes, living on a variety of invertebrate hosts including algae, soft corals, sponges, tunicates, holothurians, gorgonians and sea pens.


Dorsal fin VI + I, 7-8; Anal fin I, 7-8; Pectoral fin 16-20; Transverse scales 7; Longitudinal scale series 20-27. 

Body depth at anus 5.3-6.8 in SL; mouth large, maxillary extending to vertical from midline to eye; gill opening broad, reaching to below half of eye. Midline of predorsal and nape naked but scaled on either side. Median fins low; first dorsal-fin roughly triangular and shorter than anterior rays of second dorsal, which is quite low posteriorly. Pectoral-fin large, extending to below gap between dorsal fins. Pelvic fins large, frenum fimbriate.


The specific name refers to Mozambique, the type locality.

Species Citation

Pleurosicya mossambica Smith, 1959, Ichthyol. Bull. Rhodes Univ. Grahamstown 13: 218, fig. 37. Type locality: Baixo Pinda, Mozambique. 


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Many-host Ghostgoby, Pleurosicya mossambica Smith 1959


Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Greenfield, D., Larson, H. & Munroe, T.A. 2016. Pleurosicya mossambica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T193189A2206439. Accessed on 09 November 2023.

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S.J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202

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)

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

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Larson, H.K. 1990. A revision of the commensal gobiid fish genera Pleusosicya and Luposicya (Gobiidae), with descriptions of eight new species of Pleusosicya and discussion of related genera. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 7(1): 1-53 figs 1-29 pls 1-3 See ref at BHL

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 

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

Oyama, T., Abe, K., Sunobe, T. et al. 2023. Protogynous sexuality and gonad structures in the coral-dwelling goby Pleurosicya mossambica. Ichthyological Research.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Smith, J.L.B. 1959. Gobioid fishes of the families Gobiidae, Periophthalmidae, Trypauchenidae, Taenioididae and Kraemeriidae of the western Indian Ocean. Ichthyological Bulletin, Department of Ichthyology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 13: 185-225 figs 1-42 pls 9-13

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37428231

Behaviour:Lives on invertebrates and algae

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:2-30 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:3 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map