The Broad-barred Goby (Gobiodon histrio) is found in the Indo-West Pacific from the Red Sea to Samoa, north to southern Japan and south to the Great Barrier Reef off eastern Australia (Lieske and Myers 2001).
Gobiodon gobies are among the most habitat-specialized fishes on coral reefs, living among the branches of scleratinian corals and having specific associations with one or more species of coral, mostly from the genus Acropora. in a study in Papua New Guinea, the Broad-barred Goby was observed in corals belonging to a number of different Acropora species, but only A. nasuta was actively favored, i.e., used more frequently than expected based simply on its availability. (Munday 2000) Different Acropora species were favored in the Gulf of Aqaba in the northern Red Sea (Dirnwöber and Herler 2007). On the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, where there are two color morphs of A. nasuta, Broad-barred Gobies usually inhabit colonies of the "blue-tip" morph and only rarely the "brown-tip" morph, although these color forms seem truly to be members of the same species (Mackenzie et al. 2004).
In their investigations in the Gulf of Aqaba, Wall and Herler (2008) found that each coral colony is typically occupied by a single breeding pair. Only very rarely do juveniles share colonies
with adult fishes. Gobies may switch corals in their search for optimal breeding habitat or mates. Breeding pairs exhibit higher home=coral fidelity. (Wall and Herler 2008 and references therein)
Broad-barred Gobies rarely leave the shelter of their host coral colony. However, oxygen levels in this environment can drop very low and at very low tide the entire coral can be exposed to the air. The high tolerance of Broad-barred Gobies for hypoxia and their limited ability to breathe even when exposed to the air may be essential adaptations for their lifestyle. (Nilsson et al. 2004)
Broad-barred Gobies are among the substantial fraction of coral reef fishes that can change sex in the course of their lives. Although most fish species in which individuals change their sex in the course of their lifetime change in just one direction, i.e., either from female to male (protogyny) or male to female (protandry), in some species, including the Broad-barred Goby, sex can change in either direction (Kroon et al. 2003).
- Dirnwöber, M. and J. Herler. 2007. Microhabitat specialisation and ecological consequences for coral gobies of the genus Gobiodon in the Gulf of Aqaba, northern Red Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series 342: 265-275.
- Lieske, E. and R. Myers, 1994. Coral Reef Fishes: Indo-Pacific & Caribbean, revised edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
- Mackenzie, J.B., P.L. Munday, B.L. Willis, D.J. Miller, and M.J.H. van Oppen. 2004. Unexpected patterns of genetic structuring among locations but not colour morphs in Acropora nasuta (Cnidaria; Scleractinia). Molecular Ecology 13: 9-20.
- Munday, P.L. 2000. Interactions between habitat use and patterns of abundance in coral-dwelling fishes of the genus Gobiodon. Environmental Biology of Fishes 58: 355-369.
- Nilsson, G.E., J.-P. Hobbs, P.L. Munday, and S. Östlund-Nilsson. 2004. Coward or braveheart: extreme habitat fidelity through hypoxia tolerance in a coral-dwelling goby. The Journal of Experimental Biology 207: 33-39.
- Wall, M. and J. Herler. 2009. Postsettlement movement patterns and homing in a coral-associated fish. Behavioral Ecology 20(1): 87-95.