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Gobies

Naked gobies are dark greenish-brown with 8-10 light bars running along the sides. They are the most abundant goby species in the Chesapeake Bay. (Chad Thomas/Texas State University)
Naked gobies are dark greenish-brown with 8-10 light bars running along the sides. They are the most abundant goby species in the Chesapeake Bay. (Chad Thomas/Texas State University)

Gobies are small, secretive fish that live in the Chesapeake Bay year-round, mostly among oyster reefs.

Three species of gobies can be found in the Chesapeake Bay:

  • Naked goby, Gobiosoma bosc
  • Seaboard goby, Gobiosoma ginsburgi
  • Green goby, Microgobius thalassinus

Appearance:

  • Elongated body
  • Large mouth with large, closely set eyes on top of the head
  • Two separate dorsal fins
  • Fused pelvic fins that act as suction discs
  • Naked gobies are dark greenish-brown with 8-10 light bars running along the sides
  • Seaboard gobies are brownish with whitish crossbars. Dark, irregular spots form a line along either side of the body.
  • Green gobies are the most colorful of the three species. Males are greenish-blue with a reddish dorsal fin, orange-yellow pelvic fins, and a white-edged anal fin with dark spots on the border. Females have a gold head, gold-blue bands underneath the eyes, bluish-green sides, and a large black spot on the back of the dorsal fin.
  • Naked gobies are scaleless. Seaboard gobies have only two scales on each side of the base of the tail. Green gobies have scales on the back part of the body.
  • Grow to 2 inches long

Habitat:

  • Usually live among oyster reefs, but may also be found within eelgrass beds and around rocks and pilings
  • Seaboard gobies live in deeper waters than naked and green gobies
  • Green gobies are often found over muddy bottoms and within redbeard sponge colonies
  • In winter, gobies move to the Bay’s deeper channels
  • Naked gobies may bury themselves in bottom sediments in winter

Range:

  • Year-round residents of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers
  • Naked gobies extend into tidal fresh waters near Havre de Grace, Maryland
  • Seaboard gobies are common in the lower Bay and range to the upper Bay
  • Green gobies are found in the lower tidal portions of most Bay rivers

Feeding:

  • Mainly eat worms and small crustaceans

Predators:

  • Larger fish such as striped bass, bluefish and weakfish
  • Hide from predators within small crevices of oyster reefs

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Spawn in May-November
  • Females lay bundles of small, amber-colored eggs inside of empty oyster shells
  • Males aggressively guard the eggs until they hatch
  • Free-swimming naked goby larvae may migrate upstream and school over oyster reefs before settling

  • Naked gobies may live for four years

Other Facts:

  • Naked gobies are the most abundant and wide-ranging of the three Chesapeake Bay goby species
  • Although they are abundant, gobies are quite secretive and not easily found

Sources and Additional Information:

  • Fishes of Chesapeake Bay by Edward O. Murdy, Ray S. Birdsong and John A. Musick
  • Life in the Chesapeake Bay by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson
  • Naked Goby – Texas State University
  • Naked Goby – University of Rhode Island



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