Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Critically Endangered as Stiphodon semoni
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011g) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011i) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, the approved conservation advice for the species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats (23/12/2010).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (103) (23/12/2010) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010d) [Legislative Instrument] as Stiphodon semoni.
 
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Data Deficient (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Stiphodon semoni [83909]
Family Gobiidae:Perciformes:Actinopterygii:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Weber, 1895
Infraspecies author  
Reference Ebner, B.C. & Thuesen. P. (2011) Discovery of stream-cling-goby assemblages (Stiphodon species) in the Australian Wet Tropics. Australian Journal of Zoology 58, 331-340
Other names Stiphodon allen [82956]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

The current conservation status of the Opal Cling Goby, Stiphodon semoni, under Australian legislation, is as follows:

National: Listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The nomination for the Opal Cling Goby under the EPBC Act included information provided by the Kuku Yalanji women Traditional Owners on the traditional significance and value of the species.

Scientific name: Stiphodon semoni

Common name: Opal Cling Goby

Other common names: Cobalt Blue Goby, Neon Blue Goby, Allen's Stiphodon, Allen's Cling Goby

Originally described as Stiphodon allen (AFD 2010), the Opal Cling Goby species is now considered to be synonymous with Stiphodon semoni, a species found in Bali, Indonesia, northern Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands as well as north-east Queensland (Ebner & Thuesen 2010). The species is also sometimes mistakenly referred to as Stiphodon elegans, which is a different species found in Polynesia (Froese & Pauly 2010).

The Opal Cling Goby has its first dorsal fin approximately the same height as the second (Seriously Fish 2010). This physical difference can be a distinguishing characteristic for the species. In Australian habitats the Opal Cling Goby has been recorded at a maximum total length of 35 mm (Thuesen et al. 2009).

Males and females differ in colouration, with males having a bright lateral band along the length of the body of vivid blue, green or pink that changes based on light reflectance in the water (Thuesen et al. 2009). Males have transparent dorsal and pectoral fins, a caudal fin that is transparent with mottled dark spots on the rays and an anal fin sooty in appearance with mottled blue flecks and a bright blue margin (Thuesen et al. 2009). Females are whitish-cream in colour with two horizontal black bands and a black spot on the caudal peduncle (Thuesen et al. 2009).

Cling gobies are small, slender fish of the order Sicydiinae. Cling gobies get their name from the fused pelvic fins on their belly that form what is known as a 'pelvic disk' that assists them to adhere to rocks and submerged surfaces in the sometimes fast flowing streams in which they live. In Stiphodon species, the pelvic disk is attached to the belly only between the fifth pair of fin rays. Other species in the order Sicydiinae have the pelvic disk attached between all five of the fin rays on the belly (Seriously Fish 2010). Cling gobies may also sometimes be known as 'toothed-lip' gobies, due to their outwardly pointing teeth in the upper jaw, that are tricuspid (having three pointed cusps) in shape. These teeth are replaced if they are lost. The number of teeth in an individual is also an aid in identifing specific species (Seriously Fish 2010).

In Australia, the Opal Cling Goby is confined to a limited number of rainforest streams in far north-east Queensland (Ebner 2009 unpubl. data cited in TSSC 2011i). Locations where the species has been found include Cooper Creek north of the Daintree River, Pauls Pocket Creek north of the Mulgrave and Russell Rivers, and Harvey Creek that drains into the Mulgrave River and Russell River estuary (Ebner & Thuesen 2010).

The species was first recorded in Australia in 1987 after a single individual was collected from one site in the Wet Tropics (Watson 1996). The species’ distribution lies within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and the Wet Tropics Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia Bioregion (TSSC 2011i).

The Opal Cling Goby is estimated to have 10–30 individuals estimated from numbers recorded in surveys of streams within the Wet Tropics, Queensland (Thuesen et al. 2009).

In Australia, adult Opal Cling Gobies are found in pristine rainforest streams that have significant flow and direct access to marine habitats (Thuesen et al. 2009).

Age at maturity and longevity of the Opal Cling Goby are not known, however other cling gobies live for between two and five years (Yamisaka & Tachihara 2006). The generation length of this species has been estimated to be between two to three years (TSSC 2011i).

Stiphodon species appear to be loosely territorial when breeding and, though males are not necessarily gregarious, females tend to exist in loose groups. Males are capable of rapid and extreme changes of colour and patterning during the breeding period (Seriously Fish 2010).

Little is known of the biology of the species in Australia, however studies in other countries reveal that females spawn in rainforest streams, laying eggs in the small, narrow (interstitial) spaces between submerged stream boulders, where they are fertilised by males and guarded until hatching. Hatching of eggs is rapid (20–30 hours) and, upon hatching, larvae immediately migrate to sea, where first feeding and growth takes place for a number of weeks. Cling goby larvae are very small (1–2 mm) and the potential for them to be transported long distances by ocean currents during the marine larval stage is high. After the marine larval stage, juveniles enter the nearest rainforest streams to mature and live the rest of their lives (McDowall 2007, 2009; Ryan 1991; Yamisaka & Tachihara 2006).

This strategy of reproduction in freshwater, immediate migration of larvae to sea for first feeding and growth, and return of juveniles to freshwater habitats for maturation and adult life is a specialised migratory behaviour termed amphidromy and is widely present in Pacific Ocean island fish faunas, particularly gobies (McDowall 2007, 2009).

Opal Cling Gobies 'cling' to rocky substrates in fast flowing rainforest streams while feeding on benthic algae, microinvertebrates and small macroinvertebrates (Thuesen et al. 2009).

Little is known regarding the movements of the Opal Cling Goby in Australian streams, however, in Indonesia the species has been observed migrating upstream from estuary areas in large groups (Martin 1999 cited in Keith 2003).

The main threat to the Opal Cling Goby in Australia has been identified as collection for the aquarium trade. Whilst this threat has not been quantified, the small population size estimates for the species make any collection detrimental to survival of the species in the wild (Ebner & Thuesen 2010).

Potential threats include loss of suitable habitat due to human development, water extraction, climate change and prolonged drought (Ebner 2009 pers. comm. cited in TSSC 2011i). These threats are likely to alter the species' habitat through changes to water quality and flow regime. Construction of physical barriers, such as culverts and dams are also considered possible threats as these structures can prevent movement of the larvae out to sea and the subsequent return of juveniles (Ebner 2009 unpubl. data cited in TSSC 2010i). Due to the isolation of the species, stochastic events, such as severe floods or prolonged drought, in the area of habitat is likely to have a significant impact on the populations of this species.

Spotted Tilapia (Tilapia marinae) is an introduced fish species that has established populations around the Cairns area (ACTFR 2007). The Spotted Tilapia may out compete the Opal Cling Goby for food resources, and has the potential for piscivory (consuming eggs and larvae of other fish) (ACTFR 2007).

Minister's Reasons for Recovery Plan decision

There should not be a recovery plan for the Opal Cling Goby as the approved conservation advice for the species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats.

Commonweatlh conservation advice

The Commonwealth conservation advice lists research priorities and abatement actions (TSSC 2011g). 

Research priorities

  • More precisely assess population size, distribution, lifecycle and ecological requirements and the relative impacts of threatening processes.
  • Design and implement a program to monitor population sizes and dynamics or, if appropriate, support and enhance existing programs.
  • Undertake survey work in suitable habitat and potential habitat to locate any additional populations.
  • Investigate the habitat use and lifecycle of the species.
  • Resolve taxonomy between this species and other species of cling goby.
  • Investigate and quantify the impact of collecting for aquariums.

Abatement of habitat loss, disturbance and modification priority actions

  • Monitor known populations to identify key threats.
  • Ensure there is no disturbance in areas where the Opal Cling Goby occurs, excluding necessary actions to manage the conservation of the species.
  • Manage any disruptions to water flows and barriers which may prevent movement of larvae out to sea and subsequent return of juveniles.
  • Prevent overcollection.

Management documents for the Opal Cling Goby include:

  • Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Stiphodon semoni (TSSC 2010g).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Collection for the aquarium trade Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011i) [Listing Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Droughts:Drought Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011i) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation by fish Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011i) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes including flooding Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011i) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alterations to hydrology through water extraction Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011i) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Changes to hydrology including construction of dams/barriers Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011i) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Extraction of ground water Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011i) [Listing Advice].
Residential and Commercial Development:Residential and Commercial Development:Land reclamation and soil dumping due to urban and industrial development Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2011i) [Listing Advice].

Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (ACTFR) (2007). Pest Fish in North East Queensland- Pest fish profiles Tilapia mariae - Spotted Tilapia. [Online]. Available from: http://www.jcu.edu.au/vhosts/actfr/Projects/Pestfish/PDFs/Tilapia%20mariae.pdf.

Ebner, B. & P. Thuesen (2010). Discovery of stream-cling-goby assemblages (Stiphodon speciesp.) in the Australian Wet Tropics. Australian Journal of Zoology. 58(6):331-340.

Froese, R. & D. Pauly, eds. (2010). FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. [Online]. Available from: http://www.fishbase.org/search.php.

Keith, P. (2003). Biology and ecology of amphidromous Gobiidae of the Indo-Pacific and the Caribbean regions. Journal of Fish Biology. 63:831-847.

McDowall, R.M. (2007). Hawaiian Stream Fishes: the Role of Amphidromy in History, Ecology and Conservation Biology. Biology of Hawaiian Streams and Estuaries. 3:3-9.

McDowall, R.M. (2009). Early hatch: a strategy for safe downstream larval transport in amphidromous gobies. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. 19:1-8.

Ryan, P.A. (1991). The success of the Gobiidae in tropical Pacific insular streams. New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 18:25-30.

Seriously Fish (2010). Stiphodon sp. 'ST02' - Rainbow Stiphodon. [Online]. Available from: http://www.seriouslyfish.com/profile.php?genus=Stiphodon&species=%5Bpl%5Dsp.+'ST02'%5B%2Fpl%5D&id=1427.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2011g). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby). [Online]. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Canberra, ACT: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/83909-conservation-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2011i). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Stiphodon semoni (Opal Cling Goby). [Online]. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Canberra, ACT: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/83909-listing-advice.pdf.

Thuesen, P., B. Ebner & R. Silcock (2009). Distribution and abundance of Cling Gobies (Stiphodon spp.) in the Australian Wet Tropics. In preperation. Queensland: James Cook University.

Watson, R.E. (1996). A review of Stiphodon from New Guinea and adjacent regions, with descriptions of five new species (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Sicydiinae). Revue française d'aquariologie. 23:113-132.

Yamisaka, N. & K. Tachihara (2006). Reproductive biology and morphology of eggs and larvae of Stiphodon percnopterygionus (Gobiidae: Sicydiinae) collected from Okinawa Island. Ichthyological Research. 53:13-18.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Stiphodon semoni in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:59:47 +1000.