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Author: (Pallas, 1811)

Neogobius melanostomus (Pallas, 1811)

Diagnosis: nape scaled completely, scales cycloid on middle and anterior nape. Head depth 0.9-1.2 width. Inter-orbit four-fifths to almost equalling eye diameter. Angle of jaws below anterior quarter of eye. Snout 1.1-1.4 orbit. Upper lip narrowing slightly to rear, with about half lateral preorbital area. Pelvic disc 0.6-0.8 abdomen length, anterior membrane width very shallow, rounded, lateral lobes, if evident at all. Caudal peduncle depth about two-thirds own length. Dl Vl (V-VII); D2 1 + 14-16 (13-16); A I + 11-13 (11-14); P 18-19 (17-20). Scales in lateral series 49-55 (45-57). Vertebrae 32-33 (31-34). Colour: yellowish-grey, with lateral blotches; first dorsal fin with large black spot in posterior part; breeding males black, with median fins white-edged. Size. to 22 cm.

Habitat: inshore, on coarse gravel, shelly and sandy grounds, to 20 m (50-60 m in winter, off Varna, Bulgaria); also lower and middle reaches of rivers, in only slightly brackish to freshwater. Food: chiefly bivalves, crustaceans (corophiid amphipods, decapods) and polychaetes; also small fish and chironomid larvae. Reproduction: April to end of September (Varna), May-June (Romania), early April to August (Strait of Kerch) but ending by July in Sea of Azov; repeat spawning, up to six times, every 18-20 days, in captivity. Eggs ovoid, with sharp apex, about 3.9 x 2.2 mm, deposited under or between stones. Fecundity 328-5,221 at 7-13 cm. Sexually mature at 3-4 years (males), 2-3 years (females). Lifespan: to 4 years, but males die after spawning season. Commercial importance: this species has formed most of gobiid catches from Sea of Azov, Romanian and Bulgarian waters.

Distribution: Black Sea, Sea of Azov and Caspian Sea, and tributaries; introduced to Aral Sea.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Moskalkova, 1967: 48, fig. 1-6.
Otoliths (sagitta). Kostyuchenko, 1961: 45, fig. 1-3.

Round goby (Neogobius melanostomus)