Tubenose Goby

  • Tubenose Goby

    (Proterorhinus semilunaris)

    The Tubenose Goby is a bottom-dwelling invasive fish native to the rivers and estuaries of the Black and Caspian seas in Eurasia. First observed in the St. Clair River in the late 1980s, Tubenose Gobies were likely introduced to North America through ballast water from ocean-going ships. It is now found in a few locations in the Great Lakes.

    Preferring waters near the shores of lakes and rivers where they can hide among aquatic plants, Tubenose Gobies compete with bottom-dwelling species such as Rainbow Darters (Etheostoma caeruleum) and Northern Madtoms (Noturus stigmosus) for insects, shellfish and worms while also preying on young native fish.

    Female Tubenose Gobies are prolific spawners, spawning multiple times during warmer weather, and the males guard their nesting sites to defend the eggs and protect the young fish. Although the males die after spawning, the females live up to five years.

    Since their arrival in the Great Lakes, Tubenose Gobies have caused minimal impacts in the great Lakes compared to Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus), which arrived around the same time. The population of Round Gobies has escalated while the population of Tubenose Gobies has seen limited growth.

    No control methods currently exist.


    Tubenose Gobies are located most abundantly in the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair. They have also been found in Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Superior at Thunder Bay and Duluth Harbour, Minnesota. Tubenose Gobies have been observed in the St. Lawrence River near Kingston.

  • Identification

    • The Tubenose Goby is named for its long tube-shaped anterior nostrils, which extend over the upper lip.
    • Generally smaller than the Round Goby, it does not have the prominent black spot on the dorsal fin that the Round Goby has.
    • It has a fused scallop-shaped pelvic fin, the same as the Round Goby but different from the native Sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsoni and Cottus sp.).
    • The Tubenose Goby grows up to 8.5 cm in length while the Round Goby grows from 6 to 16 cm and the Sculpin grows up to 25 cm.
    • It ranges in colour from grey to light brown to olive or tan with black or reddish-brown mottling on the back.
    • The Tubenose Goby also has a fully scaled body, thick lips and protruding eyes.


    • Tubenose Gobies consume young bottom-dwelling fish such as Rainbow Darters and Northern Madtoms and compete with them for food.
    • They also compete for food with other fish species that spawn near the shores of water bodies.
    • Although it is not known how the Tubenose Goby will affect native species, scientists are concerned about the long-term effects of its choice of habitat and diet.

    How can you help?

    • Learn to identify the Tubenose Goby and how to prevent its spread to other water bodies.
    • Do not buy or use Tubenose Gobies for bait. It is against the law to use it for bait or to possess live Tubenose Gobies.
    • Do not release Tubenose Gobies or any other live fish into Ontario’s water bodies.
    • Report any information about the illegal importation, distribution or sale of Tubenose Goby to the toll-free Ministry of Natural Resources TIPS line at 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) or contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources office ( during regular business hours. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) .
    • If you catch or observe a Tubenose Goby or other invasive species, please contact the Turtle Island Invaders hotline at 1-844-872-2348 (1-844-TRACE-IT) toll-free or report the sighting to your local Lands or Natural Resources officer.
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