Glossogobius laticeps ( De Vis, 1884 ),

Hoese, Douglass F. & Hammer, Michael P., 2021, A review of the Glossogobius giuris complex in Australia, with wider discussion on nomenclature and possible synonymies, Zootaxa 4974 (1), pp. 79-115: 83-91

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Glossogobius laticeps ( De Vis, 1884 )


Glossogobius laticeps ( De Vis, 1884) 

Figures 3–12View FIGURE 3View FIGURE 4View FIGURE 5View FIGURE 6View FIGURE 7View FIGURE 8View FIGURE 9View FIGURE 10View FIGURE 11View FIGURE 12, 31–33View FIGURE 31View FIGURE 32View FIGURE 33, Plates 1A–DView PLATE 1, 2View PLATE 2

Eleotris laticeps De Vis, 1884 b: 692  (Queensland coast).

Glossogobius giuris  — Akihito & Meguro, 1975 (in part); Allen et al., 2002 (in part). Pusey et al., 2004: 440 (north-eastern Australia); Pusey et al., 2017: 73 (in part).

Material Examined: Holotype QM I. 220, 136 mm SL, half skin, Queensland coast. Northern Territory. AMS I.21340-002, 2(42–57) and NTM S.13016-001, 1(52), Daly River , upstream from crossing, 13°48’S, 130°43’E;GoogleMaps  NTM S.14105-014, 1(118), Fish River , tributary of Daly River , 14°14’S, 130°55’E;GoogleMaps  NTM S.18186-003, 6(99–105) and NTM S.18201-002, 6(79–98), lower Daly River , 13°52’S, 131°04’E;GoogleMaps  NTM S.18187-001, 1(113), lower Daly River , 14°04’S, 131°15’E;GoogleMaps  NTM S.556, 1(100), Berry Springs weir, Finniss Basin , 12°43’S, 131°00’E.GoogleMaps  Queensland East Coast (listed north to south). WAM P.26946-020, 1(47), Starke River , 14°49’S, 144°58’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.23832-002 1(78), Ollera Creek , near Cooktown , 15°29’S, 145°15’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.23829-001, 1(87), Saltwater Creek near Cooktown 15°31’S 145°15’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.23828-002, 2(32–63), Annan Falls , S of Cooktown, 15°40’S, 145°12’E;GoogleMaps  NTM S.14194-001, 1(108) and NTM S.14195-001, 2(95–110), Bloomfield , 15°56’S, 145°20’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.22045-001, 1(112), Daintree River , 16°15’S 145°20’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.22702-003, 1(103) and WAM P.26957-004, 2(85–86), Daintree River , 16°15’S 145°20’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.18358-001 1(63), near Daintree 16°17’S, 145°14’E;GoogleMaps  NTM S.17697-002, 1(110), drain, Trinity Beach , 16°47’S, 145°42’E);GoogleMaps  NTM S.14197-001, 2(65–68), Barron River , Cairns , 16°53’S, 145°41’E;GoogleMaps  QM I.14601, 1(49), Freshwater Creek , Cairns , 16°55’S, 145°46’E;GoogleMaps  QM I.14607, 3(77–98), Edge Hill , Cairns , 16°54’S, 145°44’E;GoogleMaps  QM I.14634, 3(74–83), Wright Creek , Cairns , 17°03’S, 145°46’E;GoogleMaps  QM I.28762, 1(83), Polly Creek mouth, North Johnstone River , 17°29’S, 146°01’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.23260-013 2(73–98), Toomula , 19°05’S 146°28’E;GoogleMaps  NMV A.10960 1(72); Bohle Creek , Townsville , 19°20’S, 146°40’E;GoogleMaps  QM I.17847, 2(90–135), Anderson Park , Townsville , 19°16’S, 146°49’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.18477-001, 9(46–138), Saltwater Creek , 19°59’S, 148°00’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.17952-001, 2(80–81), Burdekin River , ca. 20°30’S, 147°17’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.34358-005, 3(95–110), Georges Creek , 22°38’04”S, 150°33’18”E;GoogleMaps  QM I.28069, 1(88), Fitzroy River , Rockhampton. Papua, Indonesia. NTM S.14832- 001, 1(133), Ajkwa Estuary , 4°52’S, 136°59’E;GoogleMaps  NTM S.15112-001, 1(60), West Minajeriji River , 4°11’S, 137°01’E;GoogleMaps  NTM S.15102-001, 7(42–74), Kamora River , 4°46’S, 136°42’E;GoogleMaps  NTM S.15108-002, 2(90–101), Kamora Estuary , 4°49’S, 136°38’E;GoogleMaps  WAM P.31058-001, 2(45–70), south-east of Timika , 4°46’S, 137°09’E;GoogleMaps  WAM P.31302-007, 1(122), Etna Bay , 3°57’S, 134°59’E;GoogleMaps  WAM P.31459-013, 1(112), tributary of Wapoga River , 2°43’S, 136°05’E.GoogleMaps  Papua New Guinea. AMS I.16668-004, 2(148–161), North of Maiwara , 5°04 S, 145°48’E;GoogleMaps  AMS I.17104-010, 3(33–79), Port Moresby, 9°32’S, 147°18’E;GoogleMaps  BMNH 1974.5.25:3530–3532, 2(61–103), Murnass River , 25 mi N of Madang, ca. 04°59’S, 145°47’E;GoogleMaps  WAM P.30974-008, 1(81), tributary of Kikori River , 7°05’S, 144°18’E;GoogleMaps  KFRS F.4280-01, 3(85–106), mouth of Karama River , ca. 8°03’S 145°57’E;GoogleMaps  WAM P.30980-012, 2(29–64), tributary of Kikori River , 7°20’S, 144°11’E.GoogleMaps 

Diagnosis: Predorsal area scaled forward to or near to eyes, usually to posterior interorbital and post orbital pores. Operculum moderately scaled, with scales extending from preopercular margin to beyond middle of operculum and often to end of operculum, total scales 27–50, arranged in 3–5 rows vertically. Prepelvic area covered with cycloid scales in 10–16 rows, forward to approximately below posterior preopercular margin, about one-third to one-quarter naked anteriorly on midline, isthmus scaled at sides; pectoral fin base largely scaled, with scales reaching base of pectoral fin rays, in 8–11 horizontal rows. Pectoral rays 18–20, usually 18–19; longitudinal scale count 28–32; predorsal scale count 16–25; transverse scale count (TRB) 8.5–10.5, usually 9.5; gill rakers on outer face of first arch 1–2+1+6–8; lower gill rakers on outer face of second arch 6–8. First dorsal fin without black spot posteriorly or near distal tip of fin, but often with oblique dark bands extending to end of fin, sometimes broken up into small black spots surrounding distal areas of last 2–3 spines. Tip of urogenital papilla of mature females without melanophores. Central part of mental frenum with little pigment to brown, each side with distinct oblique dark brown stripe ( Plate 1View PLATE 1), lower surface of head usually with scattered melanophores and horizontally elongate spots along lower surface of lower jaw and area adjacent to jaws, rarely with distinct round spots on isthmus; body with 4–5 thin dark brown stripes, spots on midside often extend above and below two stripes bordering midside ( Figures 5–12View FIGURE 5View FIGURE 6View FIGURE 7View FIGURE 8View FIGURE 9View FIGURE 10View FIGURE 11View FIGURE 12).

Description: Based only on 87 Australian and New Guinea specimens, 40–161 mm SL.

First dorsal spines 6(33*); second dorsal rays I,9 (33*); anal rays I,7)1), I,8 (32*); longitudinal scale count 27(1), 28(5), 29(16), 30(19), 31(12), 32(4), 33(1); segmented caudal rays 17(17); branched caudal rays 12(3), 13(10), 14(10); vertebrae 9+17(1), 10+16(13).

Proportions for most measurements based on specimens from 70–120 mm SL. Cheeks narrow, tapering in dorsal view, rarely slightly bulbous. Interorbital narrow, subequal to or less than eye diameter. Head moderate, 27–30.3% SL in specimens 55–70 mm SL, 30.3–33.3% SL over size range of 70–120 mm SL. Snout broadly pointed in dorsal view, with a notch dorsally in side view, 9.7–11.6% SL. Eye about 2–3 in snout, 6.8–7.9% SL in specimens from 55–70 mm SL, 6–7% SL in specimens 71–100 mm SL, 4.3–6.4% SL in specimens above 100 mm SL. Snout usually with a small notch just before eyes, side profile straight to slightly convex, 8.6–10.9% SL over size range of 77–113 mm SL. Mouth large, reaching to below a point between anterior margin of eye and anterior margin of pupil; jaws forming an angle of 28–40° (usually about 30°) with body axis; upper margin of upper jaw in line with middle of eye; upper jaw 10.9–12.4% SL in specimens below 70 mm SL, 12.3–13.3% SL in specimens above 70 mm SL. Small bump below nostrils absent or indistinct. Anterior nostril at end of short tube, 1–2 nostril diameters above upper lip. Posterior nostril well before eye and 2–3 nostril diameters from anterior nostril. Preoperculum moderate, distance from end of eye to upper posterior preopercular margin much less than snout length (about half snout length); preoperculum with small blunt projection at angle. Postorbital long, subequal to or greater than distance from tip of snout to middle to posterior margin of eye. Gill opening broad reaching to below posterior quarter of preoperculum, just anterior to posterior margin of preoperculum. Teeth in upper jaw: outer row of teeth conical, slightly enlarged and wideset, 2–3 inner rows of smaller depressible, inwardly directed teeth, innermost row larger than middle row. Teeth in lower jaw: teeth in outer row conical, slightly enlarged and wideset anteriorly, 2–3 inner rows of smaller depressible teeth. Tongue tip bilobed. Gill rakers on outer face of first arch short, less than one–half filament length. Rakers on inner face of first arch and other arches short and denticulate. Cheek naked. Body covered mostly with large ctenoid scales, cycloid on anteromedian predorsal region, pectoral base, prepelvic area and midline of belly; belly fully scaled. First dorsal fin with rounded to triangular margin, second spine longest, filamentous in some males, second to sixth spines extending beyond other spines when fin depressed, origin of fin well behind pelvic insertion. Second dorsal fin height subequal to first. Anal fin slightly lower than second dorsal fin. Pectoral fin with rounded margin, reaching to above anus, insertion before pelvic origin, length 20.6–27.2% SL over size range of 77–113 mm SL. Pelvic fin thin and long, much longer than wide; reaching to or almost to anus. Pelvic disc thin, much longer than wide, length 19–22.5% SL over size range of 77–112 mm SL. Caudal fin with rounded margin, 22.4–27% SL over size range of 77–112 mm SL. Body depth at pelvic origin 14.5–19.2% SL, not showing significant change with size over range of 55–139 mm SL. Body depth at anal origin 14.8–18.3% SL over size range of 55–139 mm SL Caudal peduncle depth 8.7–12.1% SL, not showing significant change with size over range of 55–139 mm SL.

Head pores: Nasal pore immediately above posterior nostril; median anterior interorbital pore present above anterior quarter of eye; median posterior interorbital pore above posterior margin of eye; postorbital pore behind eye present in line with upper margin of pupil; infraorbital pore below postorbital present; lateral canal pore above posterior quarter of preoperculum; terminal lateral canal pore above and just behind posterior preopercular margin; short tube above posterior quarter of operculum, with pore at each end; 3 preopercular pores, upper in horizontal line with lower margin of eye; middle pore much closer to lower than to upper.

Sensory Papillae ( Figures 3View FIGURE 3 & 4View FIGURE 4): Line 1 (before nasal pore) composed of 3 rows of papillae in adults. Line 2 (between nasal pores) curved, composed on single row of papillae, often two rows above 100 mm SL, continuous across snout. Line 5 (suborbital) composed of single row of papillae in juvenile, becoming double in specimens between 50 and 100 mm SL; sometimes composed of 3 rows of papillae anteriorly. Line 6 (suborbital branch) short, composed of 1–2 rows of papillae anteriorly and 1 row posteriorly. Lines 7, 9, 10 composed of 1–2 rows of papillae in young, 3–5 rows in adults above 100 mm SL; line 7 usually with fewer rows than lines 9 and 10, usually at least 3. Lines 8 and 11 composed of single row of papillae, straight, reaching to posterior preopercular margin. Line 12 (= Outer POP-mandibular line) composed of 2 rows around chin, single elsewhere, with no gap or short gap at end of jaws. Line 13 (= Inner POP-mandibular line) composed of 3–4 rows of papillae (1–2 in juveniles below 40 mm SL), with no gap at end of jaws. Line 20 composed of one row of papillae, curved forward ventrally, breaking up into multiple rows anteriorly to form line 23. Line 21 a curved line, composed of single row. Line 22 short with vertical branches dorsally and ventrally. Several vertical papillae rows on belly. A single curved line anteriorly on most body scales (often obscure dorsally and posteriorly). Extensive coverage of chin by papillae, almost reaching lips, but not covering dark mental frenum, usually in 2 patches on each side of chin, with jointed anteriorly, with separate wings posteriorly. Line 15, a single row of papillae from end of eye to lateral canal tube. Line 17 with 2–3 rows between terminal lateral canal pore and lateral canal tube. Line 19 single well extending from well behind lateral canal pore above preoperculum to just behind or above upper preopercular pore ending close to and separate from line 20.

Coloration of freshly collected Australian specimens ( Plate 2View PLATE 2): Intensity of pigmentation highly variable in different populations and environmental conditions. Top of eye usually with two or three round to oval dark spots, not connected to interorbital region, usually without a distinct transverse bar over middle of eye. Head and body brown, pale below. Top of head to end of snout darker than rest of head; a dark brown bar from anteroventral margin of eye to middle of lips; an oblique, broad, brown bar from posteroventral margin of eye extending posteroventrally to posterior preopercular margin, usually broken into series of 2–3 short bars; often with short, slightly oblique, almost horizontal bar on cheek, posterior second often obscure; operculum brown, with large dark blotch or a series of small blotches on anterior portion of operculum, largely formed from pigment on inner surface of operculum; posterior end of lips usually without pigment; pectoral base with long and thin horizontal brown stripe dorsally, extending onto base of pectoral ray; a lower brown horizontal dark brown stripe just above ventral base of pectoral fin; mental frenum brown, lighter at center and dark brown at margins, pigment behind frenum variable as described in diagnosis ( Plate 1View PLATE 1). Body with mottling dorsally and brown horizontal stripes above and below midside; stripes often obscure dorsally; a short, horizontally elongate, brown stripe above pectoral fin base. Midside with series of large brown spots, covering 2–6 scale rows horizontally and 2–5 rows vertically; midside spots often rounded or horizontally elongate; first spot below middle of first dorsal fin extending ventrally onto sides of belly; second spot below space between two dorsal fins; third spot below posterior half of second dorsal fin; fourth on anterior part of caudal peduncle; fifth at end of caudal peduncle, followed by triangular to square brown spot (apex forward) on midbase of caudal rays. First dorsal spine with a prominent black spot near the base extending onto the adjoining membrane, other fin markings less intense and being variable in colour ranging from a brownish-red to gray-black. Dorsal fins usually with distinct small black spots forming rows; caudal fin with 4–8 wavy black bands (except on ventral 3–4 rays); pectoral fins often with up to 8 wavy gray bands, pelvic and anal fins white to gray with no defined pattern.

Coloration of preserved specimens: Coloration in alcohol is generally similar to that of freshly collected specimens, except that the dark spots and stripes fade to a lighter brownish coloration. Specimens stored in alcohol for long periods (>30 years) are often very faded, but the general patterns are usually discernible ( Figures 5–12View FIGURE 5View FIGURE 6View FIGURE 7View FIGURE 8View FIGURE 9View FIGURE 10View FIGURE 11View FIGURE 12).

Distribution: Glossogobius laticeps  is known only from Papua, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Northern Territory in Australia and from Cooktown to Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia. Adults are typically found in freshwater and juveniles sometimes in estuaries. Genetic samples indicate the mitochondrial lineage of G. laticeps  ( giuris  A), also occurs in Vietnam, Bangladesh and China (Hammer et al. in press, but see taxonomic note below).

Similarity to other species: Glossogobius laticeps  is most similar in sensory papillae and general morphology to G. giuris  (see discussion under that species). It is also similar to G. aureus  , G. circumspectus  and G. munroi  in general appearance and in having a poorly developed mental fraenum covered with sensory papillae. Glossogobius laticeps  differs from G. circumspectus  in having fewer gill rakers and in having a multiple longitudinal papilla pattern (vs. transverse pattern in adults). The papilla patterns are similar in the two species in specimens below 40 mm SL. Glossogobius laticeps  differs from G. aureus  in having cheek papilla line 6, fewer predorsal scales on average, in having a multiple longitudinal papilla pattern and in having a shorter snout at comparable sizes. The species is easily mistaken for G. munroi  , which also occurs within Daly River with G. laticeps  . Glossogobius munroi  also has a spot on the leading edge of the first dorsal fin, but the spot is more diffuse in G. munroi  . It also can have the chin darker at the sides as in G. laticeps  . Glossogobius munroi  differs from G. laticeps  in having a distinct lobed mental frenum and cheek and preopercular mandibular papilla lines composed of a single row of papillae. In poorly preserved material, the cheek papillae may not be visible and the mental frenum collapsed, however the preopercular line 13 is usually visible. Glossogobius laticeps  is similar to other species of the Glossogobius giuris  complex, in having lines 5, 7 9, 10 and 13 composed of multiple rows of papillae and in having a distinct dark black spot near the base of the first dorsal spine. The species is distinctive from most other species in having horizontal thin dark lines on the body and predorsal scales reaching almost to eye, usually touching the posterior interorbital pore. We have examined specimens from the Philippines and Madagascar and photos from Madagascar, India and Sri Lanka. Those specimens have a uniformly coloured chin, without distinct a distinct stripe at the outer edge of the mental frenum and we treat these specimens as Glossogobius cf. laticeps  ( Figure 13View FIGURE 13) in tables (nuclear genetic data across the range would assist in defining species boundaries and characters).

Remarks: Examination of the urogenital papilla indicates that specimens from Australia and southern New Guinea are probably mature at around 80–120 mm SL, and the largest specimens examined in this study was 138 mm SL.

Common Names: The species has been referred to as Glossogobius giuris  . In Australia several names have been used including Tank Goby, Flathead Goby, Ganges Goby. We have informally referred to the species as the Coastal Tank Goby relating to its habitat and distribution in Australia.


Queensland Museum


Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences


Western Australian Museum


Museum Victoria


Kanudi Fisheries Research Station














Glossogobius laticeps ( De Vis, 1884 )

Hoese, Douglass F. & Hammer, Michael P. 2021

Eleotris laticeps

De Vis 1884: 692