The Redhead Goby, Paragobiodon echinocephalus, is a small fish with a black body and fins and a large red-orange head that is covered in soft, short bristles. It is found in coral reefs from the Red Sea and Madagascar in the West to Japan, Polynesia and Australia in the East (Herre 1936, Masuda et al. 1984, Randall et al. 1990, Allen & Adrim 2003). This goby inhabits live heads of scleractinian corals, in particular, the hood coral, Stylophora pistillata (Kuwamura et al. 1994a, Herler & Hilgers 2005, Belmaker et al. 2007, Herler 2007). It has also been found in association with the cauliflower coral, Pocillopora damicornis (Lassig 1977) and the small staghorn coral Acropora nasuta (Dixson & Hay 2012). The fishes rely on their coral host for food, shelter from predation, and breeding sites.
Redhead gobies may live in a coral singly, in pairs, or in groups, with larger coral generally hosting larger groups of fishes. Within an individual coral, only the largest two fish will breed (Kuwamura et al. 1993). After the female spawns on the coral, the father will guard the eggs until they hatch (Kuwamura et al. 1993).
Like many reef fishes, redhead gobies are capabable of changing sex (sequential hermaphroditism). But unlike most sequential hermaphrodites who change sex only once during their lifetime, P. echinocephalus may change sex repeatedly in either direction (Nakashima et al. 1995). In fact, the phenomenon of multiple changes from female to male or male to female (serial hermaphroditism) was first described in this species (Kuwamura et al. 1994b).
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- Belmaker, J., O. Polak, N. Shashar, Y. Ziv. 2007. Geographic divergence in the relationship between Paragobiodon echinocephalus and its obligate coral host. Journal of Fish Biology 71(5):1555–1561.
- Dixson, D. L., Hay, M. E. 2012. Corals Chemically Cue Mutualistic Fishes to Remove Competing Seaweeds. Science 338(6108):804-807. DOI: 10.1126/science.1225748
- Herler J. & Hilgers H. 2005. A synopsis of coral and coral-rock associated gobies (Pisces: Gobiidae) from the Gulf of Aqaba, northern Red Sea. aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 10(3):103-132.
- Herler, J. 2007. Microhabitats and ecomorphology of coral- and coral rock-associated gobiid fish (Teleostei : Gobiidae) in the northern Red Sea. Marine Ecology 28 Suppl. 1: 82-94.
- Herre, A. W. 1936. Fishes of the Crane Pacific Expedition. Field Museum of Natural History Zoological series, v. 21, Chicago. http://dx.doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.2729
- Kuwamura, T. Yogo, Y., Nakashima, Y. 1993. Size-assortative monogamy and paternal egg care in a coral goby Paragobiodon echinocephalus. Ethology. 95:65–75.
- Kuwamura, T. Yogo, Y., Nakashima, Y. 1994a. Population dynamics of goby Paragobiodon echinocephalus and host coral Stylophora pistillata. Marine Ecology Progress Series 103:17-23.
- Kuwamura, T. Yogo, Y., Nakashima, Y. 1994b. Sex change in either direction by growth rate advantage in a monogamous coral goby Paragobiodon echinocephalus . Behav. Ecol. 5: 434–438.
- Lassig, B. R. 1997. Communication and coexistence in a coral community. Marine Biology 42:85-92.
- Masuda, H., Amaoka, K. Araga, C., Uyeno,T. , Yoshino, T. 1984. The fishes of the Japanese Archipelago. Vol. 1. Tokai University Press.
- Nakashima, Y., Kuwamura, T., Yogo, Y. 1995. Why be a both-ways sex changer. Ethology 101: 301-307.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. , Steene, R.C. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii.
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