Opal Cling Goby, Stiphodon semoni Weber 1895

Other Names: Allen's Cling Goby, Allen's Cling-goby, Allen's Stiphodon, Barber Goby, Cobalt Blue Goby, Neon Blue Goby, Neon Goby, Opal Cling Goby

Male and female Opal Cling Gobies, Stiphodon semoni, from Goodenough Island, Papua New Guinea. Source: Gerald R. Allen. License: All rights reserved

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

Males have a vivid blue, green or pinkish stripe along the sides, blue flecks and a bright blue margin on the anal fin. The creamy-white females have two horizontal dark zigzagy stripes along the sides and a large black spot on the caudal peduncle. The first and second dorsal fins are of a similar height and lack elongate rays.

Allen's Stiphodon in an aquarium
Video of female Allen's Stiphodon

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon, Stiphodon semoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Feb 2021,

Opal Cling Goby, Stiphodon semoni Weber 1895

More Info


Recorded from north of the Daintree River to south of Cairns, Queensland. Found elsewhere in the tropical west Pacific - Indonesia (Irian Jaya, Moluccas), the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Inhabits small fast-flowing coastal streams with boulders and cobbles, in high terrain country.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin VI-I, 9; Anal fin I, 10; Pectoral fin 15; Caudal fin 13 (branched rays), 17 segmented rays; Pelvic fin I, 5; Longitudinal scales 27-30; 
First dorsal fin not pointed in males;; premaxillary teeth 42–54 in 23.5–35.0 mm SL; dentary with canine-like symphyseal teeth in both sexes; male having a white patch behind pectoral-fi n base; male usually without scale on occipital region and anterior part of nape; female usually without scale on anterior two thirds of occipital region.
Pelvic fins joined to form a strong cup-like disk with a fleshy frenum.


Allen's Stiphodon clings to rocks and boulders in fast-flowing streams and feed on benthic algae, microinvertebrates and small macroinvertebrates.


Little is known of the biology and ecology of this species in Australia. In other areas, females spawn in rainforest streams, laying their eggs in small spaces between boulders. After fertilisation, the eggs are guarded by the males until the larvae hatch.

The small larvae (1-2mm) hatch within a day or two and are carried downstream to the sea where they remain for some weeks. After metamorphosis, the small juveniles migrate back to rainforest streams where they remain as adults.


Stiphodon gobies are often traded in the aquarium industry.


EPBC Act 1999: Critically Endangered (listed February 2011)
IUCN Red List: Data Deficient


Other names: Stiphodon allen, described from Australia in 1996, is a junior synonym. The species is also sometimes mistakenly referred to as Stiphodon elegans, which occurs in Polynesia.


Named semoni, for Dr. Richard Semon.

Species Citation

Stiphodon semoni Weber, 1895, Zool. Forschungs. Aust. Malayischen Archipel. 5(2): 270. Type locality: Ambon Island, Molucca Islands, Indonesia. 


Dianne J. Bray & Martin F. Gomon

Opal Cling Goby, Stiphodon semoni Weber 1895


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

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp. (275, as Stiphodon allen)

Bell, K. 1999. An overview of goby-fry fisheries. Naga, The ICLARM Quarterly 22(4): 30-36.

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

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

Keith, P. 2003. Biology and ecology of amphidromous Gobiidae of the Indo-Pacific and the Caribbean regions. Journal of Fish Biology 63:831-847.

Keith P. & Lord C. 2011. Tropical freshwater gobies: Amphidromy as a life cycle. In R.A. Patzner, J.L. Van Tassell, M. Kovacic & B.G. Kapoor (eds). The Biology of Gobies. Science Publishers Inc, 685 pp.

Keith P, Lord C, Lorion J, Watanabe S, Tsukamoto K, Couloux A, Dettai A 2011. Phylogeny and biogeography of Sicydiinae (Teleostei: Gobiidae) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Mar Biol 158: 311–326.

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. (as Stiphodon allen & S. semoni)

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

McDowall, R.M. 2007. Hawaiian stream fishes: the role of amphidromy in history, ecology and conservation biology. Biology of Hawaiian Streams and Estuaries 3: 3-9.

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

Ryan, P.A. 1991. The success of the Gobiidae in tropical Pacific insular streams. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 18: 25-30.

Taillebois, L., M. Castelin, C. Lord, R. Chabarria, A. Dettaï & P. Keith. 2014. New Sicydiinae phylogeny (Teleostei: Gobioidei) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear genes: Insights on systematics and ancestral areas. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 70: 260-271.

Taillebois L., Maeda K., Vigne S. & Keith P. 2012. Pelagic larval duration of three amphidromous Sicydiinae gobies (Teleostei: Gobioidei) including widespread and endemic species. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 21: 552–559.

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 Open access

Unmack, P.J. 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogeography 28: 1053-1089.

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. (as Stiphodon allen & S. semoni)

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

Watson, R.E. & Allen, G.R. 1999. New species of freshwater gobies from Irian Jaya, Indonesia (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Sicydiinae). aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 3(3): 113-118.

Watson, R.E., G.R. Allen & M. Kottelat. 1998. A review of Stiphodon from Halmahera and Irian Jaya, Indonesia, with descriptions of two new species (Teleostei: Gobiidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwater 9(3): 293-304.

Weber, M. 1895. Fische von Ambon, Java, Thursday Island dem Burnett-Fluss und von der Süd-Küste von Neu-Guinea. in Zoologische Forschungsreisen in Australien und dem malayischen Archipel; mit Unterstützung des Herrn Dr. Paul von Ritter ausgeführt in den Jarhen 1891-1893 vol Dr. Richard Semon. 5(2). 257-276 1 fig. pp.

Yamisaka, N. & Tachihara, K. 2006. Reproductive biology and morphology of eggs and larvae of Stiphodon percnopterygionus (Gobiidae: Sicydiinae) collected from Okinawa Island. Ichthyological Research 53: 13-18. 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37428407


Conservation:EPBC Act Critically Endangered; IUCN Data Deficient

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Freshwater streams, marine larvae

Max Size:4.6 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map