Golden-red Stiphodon, Stiphodon rutilaureus Watson 1996

Other Names: Rutilaureus Cling Goby

A male Golden-red stiphodon, Stiphodon rutilaureus, from Goodenough Island, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. Source: Gerald R. Allen. License: All rights reserved


A rare freshwater goby found in clear fast-flowing streams in the wet tropics region of north Queensland.

Video of male and female Stiphodon rutilaureus in a stream in Fiji.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Stiphodon rutilaureus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2022,

Golden-red Stiphodon, Stiphodon rutilaureus Watson 1996

More Info


Recorded from fast-flowing coastal streams in northern Queensland - from north of Daintree River to south of Cairns. The species occurs elsewhere in the West-Pacific - Indonesia (Irian Jaya), Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Inhabits the lower reaches of fast-flowing clear oxygen-rich streams over rocky bottoms - at the salt-water limit..


Distinguished from other species of Stiphodon in having 10 segmented rays in the second dorsal-fin, and males have filamentous spines in the first dorsal-fin, usually 14 pectoral-fin rays, and the distinctive colour pattern of the male.


Males and females are sexually dimorphic. Mature males have 9-11 bright orange/red bars along the body, 6-7 dark saddles on the upper surface, a pale belly, and a bright blue upper lip, cheek and opercle. The first dorsal fin is reddish with dark bars along the spines. The second dorsal and anal fins are blackish with a narrow pale bluish to whitish submarginal band. The caudal-fin is reddish with yellow outer rays and often a pale bluish to whitish submarginal band. The pectoral and anal fins are reddish.
Females are pale with a single, dark, midlateral stripe.


Omnivore - feeds on algae and small invertebrates and is amphidromous.


Little is known of the biology and ecology of this species. The species is amphidromous - spawning occurs in freshwater and the larvae are washed downstream to the sea, and migrate back to freshwater. Like other species in the genus, females presumably lay adhesive eggs onto the underside of rocks in freshwater streams. The larvae are presumably carried downstream to the sea, before migrating back to freshwater as very small juveniles (Maeda & Tan 2013). 


Sold in the aquarium industry.


IUCN Red List: least Concern


The specific name rutilaureus is from the Latin rutilus (red), and aureus (golden) reference to the colour pattern of adult males.

Species Citation

Type locality: Letak Creek, about 25 kilometers southeast of Wewak, New Guinea, Papua New Guinea, elevation 350 m.


Dianne J. Bray

Golden-red Stiphodon, Stiphodon rutilaureus Watson 1996


Allen, G.R. 1991. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of New Guinea. Madang : Publication No. 9, Christensen Research Institute 268 pp. (as Stiphodon sp.)

Boseto, D. 2006. Diversity, Distribution and Abundance of Fijian Freshwater Fishes. Masters thesis at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji: 273.

Boseto, D. 2012. Stiphodon rutilaureus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <>. Downloaded on 05 September 2013.

Ebner, B.C. & Thuesen, P.A. 2010. Discovery of stream-cling-goby assemblages (Stiphodon species) in the Australian Wet Tropics. Australian Journal of Zoology 58: 331–340.

Ebner, B.C., P.A. Thuesen, H.K. Larson & P. Keith, 2012. A review of distribution, field observations and precautionary conservation requirements for sicydiine gobies in Australia. Cybium 35: 397–414.

Keith, P., Marquet, G., Lord, C., Kalfatak, D. & Vigneux, E. 2010. Poissons et crustacés d'eau douce du Vanuatu. Paris : Société Française d'Ichtyologie 253 pp.

Keith, P., G. Marquet & M. Pouilly, 2009. Stiphodon mele n. sp., a new species of freshwater goby from Vanuatu and New Caledonia (Teleostei, Gobiidae, Sicydiinae), and comments about amphidromy and regional dispersion. Zoosystema 31:471-483.

Maeda, K. & H-H. Tan. 2013. Review of Stiphodon (Gobiidae: Sicydiinae) from Western Sumatra, with description of a new species. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 61(2): 749–761. PDF

Marquet, G., Keith, P. & Vigneux, E. 2003. Atlas des poissons et des crustacés d’eau douce de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Patrimoines Naturels Volume 55. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.

McDowall, R.M. 2007. On amphidromy, a distinct form of diadromy in aquatic organisms. Fish and Fisheries 8(1): 1-13.

McDowall, R.M. 2009. Early hatch: a strategy for safe downstream larval transport in amphidromous gobies. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 19(1): 1-8.

Parenti, L.R. & Thomas, K.R. 1998. Pharyngeal jaw morphology and homology in sicydiine gobies (Teleostei: Gobiidae) and allies. Journal of Morphology 237(3): 257-274.

Thuesen, P.A., Ebner, B.C., Larson, H.K., Keith, P., Silcock, R.M., Prince, J. & Russell, D.J. 2011. Amphidromy links a newly documented fish community of continental Australian streams, to oceanic islands of the west Pacific. PLoS ONE 6(10): e26685 (11 pages) PDF

Watson, R.E. 1995. Gobies of the genus Stiphodon from French Polynesia, with descriptions of two new species (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Sicydiinae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 6(1): 33-48.

Watson, R.E. 1996. A review of Stiphodon from New Guinea and adjacent regions, with descriptions of five new species (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Sicydiinae). Revue française d'Aquariologie Herpétologie 23(3-4): 113-132.

Watson, R.E. 2008. A new species of Stiphodon from southern Sumatra (Pisces: Gobioidei: Sicydiinae). Zootaxa 1715: 43-56.

Watson, R.E. & Chen, I-S. 1998. Freshwater gobies of the genus Stiphodon from Japan and Taiwan (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Sicydiini). aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 3(2): 55-68.

Watson, R.E. & Kottelat, M. 1995. Gobies of the genus Stiphodon from Leyte, Philippines, with descriptions of two new species (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Sicydiinae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 6(1): 1-16.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37428406


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern; QLD Vulnerable

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Freshwater streams, marine larvae

Max Size:4.5 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map