Flathead Goby, Callogobius depressus (Ramsay & Ogilby 1886)

The Flathead Goby, Callogobius depressus. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


A brown goby with narrow brown lines on the body forming a reticulated pattern, and the upper half of the pectoral fin black. Females have white spots on the dorsal and caudal fins.

The Flathead Goby has a depressed head with several distinctive raised papillae flaps in horizontal and vertical rows on the head. The transverse flap behind each eye is short, its length about equal to the distance between the flaps.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Callogobius depressus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2922

Flathead Goby, Callogobius depressus (Ramsay & Ogilby 1886)

More Info


Endemic to the southern half of Australia, from Mudjimba Island, Queensland, to Jurien Bay, Western Australia, and throughout coastal Tasmania. Inhabits shallow coastal reefs, often sheltering beneath rocks during the day, at depths to 30 m.


Dorsal fin  VI I, 10-12; Anal fin I, 9-10; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 17; Pectoral fin 16-18; Pelvic fin I, 5.
Body very slender (depth at anal fin origin 11-14.5% SL). Head of moderate size (25-30% SL), very depressed (depth at posterior preopercular margin 11.5-14.5% SL); interorbital narrow, about half length of eyes; mouth very oblique, small (7.5-8.5% SL), rear end of jaws well in front of eyes; open pore in front of each eye, one or two median interorbital pores and one pore immediately behind each eye; one to three pores above each preopercle and two or three pores along each posterior preopercular margin; head with several vertical, horizontal, transverse, and oblique raised flaps; gill openings restricted to pectoral fin bases; tongue tip truncate to slightly rounded. 
Top of head scaled forward to behind eyes, rest of head without scales; body scales mostly cycloid, though ctenoid on posterior part of body, scales in 33-44 vertical rows; ctenoid scales extending from below middle of second dorsal fin in young from New South Wales, but otherwise confined to caudal peduncle, rarely without ctenoid scales; pectoral fin bases without scales; area before ventral fins with few or no scales. 
Two dorsal fins, first dorsal with rounded margin, lower than second dorsal, originating behind ventral fin insertion; second dorsal origin just behind first dorsal fin; anal fin origin behind second dorsal origin; caudal fin margin pointed to sharply rounded (32.5-46.0% SL in males from New South Wales, 31.5-40.0% SL in males from southern Australia, 32.5-35.4% SL in females from New South Wales, 26-32% SL in females from southern Australia). Pectoral fins large, with pointed margin. Pelvic fins fused to form cup-shaped disc, originating just below pectoral fin insertions.  


To 14 cm


Dark brown in adults, pale brown to tan in young; young with V-shaped black saddle below first dorsal fin, broader saddle below rear end of second dorsal fin, and often short bar or spot just below second dorsal fin origin, dark brown bar at base of caudal fin, two transverse black bands before first dorsal fin, oblique brown bar behind eye; body with thin brown lines forming reticulated pattern; pelvic fins white to grey; upper half of each pectoral fin black; other fins black in large males, paler in females; ventral tip of anal fin white; females with white spots on dorsal fins and caudal fin; each pectoral with four to six oblique bands formed by small black spots. Banding of body and fins obscured by dark brown coloration in adults, but sometimes faint bands distinguishable in individuals up to 8 cm in length.


Feeds on small benthic invertebrates.


This species is difficult to distinguish from the related Callogobius mucosus.

Similar Species

The similar Sculptured Goby, Callogobius mucosus, differs in having a few embedded scales on the dorsal part of the operculum (vs. operculurn without scales), the area before the pelvic fins heavily scaled (vs. the area before the pelvic fins with few or no scales), and the transverse flap behind each eye long, its length about twice the distance between the flaps (vs. the transverse flap behind each eye short, its length about equal to the distance between the flaps in C. depressus).


The specific name is from the Latin depressus (= flattened) in reference to the "very much depressed head" of this species.

Species Citation

  • Gobius depressus Ramsay & Ogilby 1886, Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 2 1(1): 4. Type locality: Port Jackson, Sydney, New South Wales.
  • Author

    Bray, D.J. 2020


    Atlas of Living Australia

    Flathead Goby, Callogobius depressus (Ramsay & Ogilby 1886)


    • Hoese, D.F. & Larson, H.K. 1994. Family Gobiidae. pp. 781-810, figs 690-714 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.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. 
    • 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. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 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)
    • 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.
    • Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.
    • 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 Callogobius hasseltii mucosus)
    • McKinney, J.F. & Lachner, E.A. 1978. Two new species of Callogobius from Indo-Pacific waters (Teleostei : Gobiidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 91(1): 203-215 figs 1-5 
    • Ramsay, E.P. & Ogilby, J.D. 1886. Descriptions of some new Australian fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 2 1(1): 4-7 9 (dated 1887) (as Crossogobius depressus)
    • Whitley, G.P. 1928. Studies in Ichthyology. No. 2. Records of the Australian Museum 16(4): 211-239 figs 1-2 pls 16-18

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37428087

    Depth:0-30 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:14 cm TL


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