Gobies are the largest group of fishes known in the world

Blue Banded Goby – Lythrypnus gilberti Gobies

The Gobies are the largest group of fishes known in the world. With more than 1,600 species documented, these creatures have presented a taxonomical nightmare to fish-finders since the great age of Imperialism took natural history to all corners of the globe. They are also represented in their greatest diversity in the Indo-Pacific, and like Blennies, are found in all warm seas. Some species may also find their way into freshwater or estuarine habitats.

To the casual observer, the similarities between these two giant families of tiny fishes probably present themselves far more readily than the differences. After all, how many of us who aren’t actively involved in the scientific process are busying ourselves noting the numbers and shapes of dorsal rays in every fish we see – especially when the animals in question may be smaller than our little finger, or indeed in some cases, smaller even than our smallest fingernail. The tiniest Blennies and Gobies may be less than 1cm in length at adult size, and all species in both families rarely exceed a modest 15cm.

Blennies and Gobies unarguably share common ground, being mostly found in the same ocean zones. In the fish world, form follows both function and habitat, so creatures in the same location will develop similar means of dealing with their environment. However, when it comes to setting up house, the Blenny certainly emerges as the more freewheeling, mischievous one. If confronted by a tiny cheeky face, peering out from a hole in a rocky reef, it’s very likely the little guy is a Blenny. Likewise on the coral reef, the Blenny may take up residence in the tubular tunnels or the hollow spaces generously provided by corals and sponges.

References and Photographic source:
1. Essential Guide to Coral Reef Life (2010) – Michael Aw
2. Ocean Geographic 14:4/2010

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