Pygmy Shore Eel, Alabes parvula (McCulloch 1909)

Other Names: Eel Clingfish, Pygmy Shore-eel

A female Pygmy Shore Eel, Alabes parvula. Source: Rudie Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A transparent shore eel with the internal organs usually clearly visible, a row of brownish or greenish blotches along the dorsal fin and the head spotted or unspotted. Males also have a pattern of regular reddish to brownish tiger-like bars on the side, and a series of 3-4 blackish to dark blue blotches on the abdomen, extending about halfway between gill slit and urogenital opening.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Alabes parvula in Fishes of Australia, accessed 05 Dec 2020,

Pygmy Shore Eel, Alabes parvula (McCulloch 1909)

More Info


Endemic to southeastern Australia, from Point Cartwright, southern Queensland, to Flinders Island, South Australia, including Tasmania. Inhabits seagrass beds and sometimes adjacent reef areas (including rockpools) in depths to 10 metres.


Caudal fin 4-6; Vertebrae (total) 63-74.
Body very elongate, moderately compressed; head very short; eyes small; mouth small; teeth small; gill opening a small slit on underside of head, its width less than eye diameter; single sensory pore dorso-posterior to each eye. Dorsal, anal and caudal fins continuous, dorsal and anal elongate, without fin rays; pectoral and pelvic fins absent. Head of females more pointed anteriorly than that of the male.


Body completely transparent with internal organs usually clearly visible; a row of brownish or greenish blotches on dorsal fin; head spotted or unspotted, male usually with a tiger-like pattern of reddish to brownish bars on side, continued on body in larger individuals.


Springer & Fraser (1976) considered the Pygmy Shore Eel to occur in Western Australia and Norfolk Island. However, these forms represent the Western Shore Eel, Alabes occidentalis in Western Australia, and Springer's Pygmy Shore Eel, Alabes springeri in Norfolk Island.

Similar Species

The Pygmy Shore Eel is so similar to the Dwarf Shore Eel, Alabes hoesei, that the two may only be separated by microscopic examination.

Species Citation

Cheilobranchus parvulus McCulloch, 1909, Rec. Aust. Mus. 8(4):  316. Type locality: near Sydney, New South Wales.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Pygmy Shore Eel, Alabes parvula (McCulloch 1909)


Allen, G.R. 1985. Fishes of Western Australia. Book 9. 2207-2534 526 pls in Burgess, W.E. & Axelrod, H.R. (eds). Pacific Marine Fishes. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications.

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. Family Gobiesocidae. pp. 305-324, figs 269-289 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.

Hutchins, J.B. 2008. Family Gobiesocidae. pp. 722-741 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Hutchins, B. & Morrison, S. 2004. Five new fish species of the genus Alabes (Gobiesocidae: Cheilobranchinae). Records of the Australian Museum 56: 147-158 DOI 10.3853/j.0067-1975.56.2004.1426 Open access

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 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. 1909. Studies in Australian fishes, No. 2. Records of the Australian Museum 7(4): 315-321 fig. 18 pls 90-91 See ref at BHL

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. & Carpenter, K.E. 2016. Alabes parvula (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T67903537A115447324. Downloaded on 19 February 2019.

Springer, V.G. & Fraser, T.H. 1976. Synonymy of the fish families Cheilobranchidae (=Alabetidae) and Gobiesocidae, with descriptions of two new species of Alabes. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 234: 1-23 figs 1-14 access (in part - Alabes occidentalis and A. springeri included)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37206010

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Reef associated, weedy/seagrass areas

Max Size:4.7 cm TL


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