Due to their small size, gobies must be wary of many different predators, such as sea snakes, shore birds and larger fishes. It’s no surprise that they have developed a wide range of behaviors to defend themselves. Perhaps the most characteristic feature of gobies is their secretive nature. They rarely leave their burrows and display a wide range of coloration for camouflage. Some gobies are translucent and have only a few colored spots to match their surroundings while others have formed symbiotic relationships with shrimp. In the latter case Crytocentrus steinitzni sits outside the burrow watching guard while the shrimp clears out the burrow they share. Cleaner fishes of the genus Gobiosoma enjoy relative freedom from predation due to their color pattern and cleaning behavior. Others live within sponges, sea urchins, the branches of corals, or the roofs of caves for protection. Some gobies even rely on chemical protection, producing a poison called tetrodotoxin, which also occurs in pufferfishes and species of salamander. Some morphological adaptations can be found in mudskippers (Boleophthalmus, Periophthalmus, Periophthalmadon, and Scartelaos). The eyes of mudskippers are located on the tops of their heads to detect and avoid shore birds as well as to locate prey, and their powerful tail allows them to move quickly along the mud.
Anti-predator Adaptations: aposematic ; cryptic
- Helfman, G., B. Collete, D. Facey. 1997. The Diversity of Fishes. Malden, MA: Blackwell.