Gobius niger Linnaeus, 1758

Common names: English: Black goby
German: Schwarzgrundel

Common synonym
Gobius jozo
Linnaeus, 1758.

Length: 12 - 15 cm.

Yellowish grey, lateral row of small dark spots (often in groups of 3, especially in juveniles). Sometimes dark spot on first rays of D1. Males nearly black during spawning season (photograph).

Description: In adult males D1 sickle-shaped and prolonged (similar to G. roulei). Anterior nostril with short protrusion. Praedorsal area and nape scaled, cheek nacked. Pelvic disc roud to oblongated.
35-41 (32-42) scales in lateral series.
Fins: D1 VI (V-VII); D2 I+12-13 (11-13); A I+11-12
(10-13); P 17-19 (15-20).

Carnivorous; crustaceans, molluscs, polychaets, small fish.

Spawning season Mediterranean: March to May. Reproductive behaviour: goby pattern. Produce pheromones (steroids) in testicular gland (--> photographs) to attract females. One female has 700 to 2.000 eggs (1.5 x 0.45 mm). Larvae hatch with 2.5 mm. Sexually mature with 2 years, at least 4 years old.

0.5 - 75 m, also found in 96 m. Sandy bottoms. Seems to prefer polluted areas; also in brackish waters. Settles under flat stones or other objects. Produces rattling sounds (190 to 320 Hz). Common.

Gobius niger, spawning male
Photograph: Robert A. Patzner ©
Italy, northern Adriatic Sea, 2 m depth, June 1999


Species list
General info


Mediterranean; Black Sea; Atlantic; Suez Canal and northern Gulf of Suez.




Literature on Gobius niger

Ahnelt H. & J. Dorda, 2004: Gobioid fishes from the north eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean: new records and rarely found species. Ann. Nat. Hist. Mus. Wien 105B: 5-19.

Ballard W.W., 1969: Normal embryonic stages of Gobius niger jozo. Publ. Staz. Zool., Napoli 37: 1-17.

Bilecenoglu M., Taskavak E., Mater S. 6 Kaya M., 2002: Checklist of the marine fishes of Turkey. Zootaxa 113: 1-194.

Boban J., Isajlovic I., Zorica B. et al., 2013: Biometry and distribution of the black goby Gobius niger (Linnaeus, 1758) in the Adriatic Sea. Acta Adriatica 54: 265-272.

Bouchereau J.L. & O. Guelorget, 1997: Comparison of three Gobiidae (Teleostei) life history strategies over their geographical range. Oceanologica Acta 21: 503-517.

Collignon J., 1979: Calalogue raisonne des poissons des mers Marocaines 4. Partie. Bull. Inst. Pech. Mar. Maroc 24: 83-155:

Ehrenbaum E. & S. Strodmann, 1904: Eier und Jugendformen der Ostseefische. Wiss. Meeresunters. Abt. Kiel und Abt. Helgoland 6: 57-126.

Fabi G. & G. Gianetti, 1985: Growth parameters of the black goby (Gobius niger L.) in the Adriatic Sea, based on otoliths reading. Rapport de la Commision Internationale pour la Mer Mediterranee 29: 87-90.

Fazio F., Faggio C., Marafioti, S. et al., 2012: Comparative study of haematological profile on Gobius niger in two different habitat sites: Faro Lake and Tyrrhenian Sea. Cahiers de Biologie Marine 53: 213-219.

Franco A, F. Riccato,S. Malavasi, P. Franzoi & T. Torricelli, 2006: Food resource utilization by gobies (Pisces, Teleostei) in the shallows of the Venice Lagoon. Biol. Mar. Medit. 13: 866-868.

Hajji F., Ouannes-Ghorbel A., Ghorbel M. et al., 2013: Feeding habits of the black goby, Gobius niger (Linnaeus, 1758), in the Gulf of Gabes (Southern Tunisia). Cahiers de Biologie Marine 54: 133-141.

Hesthagen I.H., 1976: Locomotory activity of the black goby (Pisces, Gobiidae), under artificial light conditions, including a false dawn and dusk. Sarsia 62: 9-18.

Ilkyaz A.T., Metin G. & Kinacigil H.T., 2011: The use of otolith length and weight measurements in age estimations of three Gobiidae species (Deltentosteus quadrimaculatus, Gobius niger, and Lesueurigobius friesii). Turkish Journal of Zoology 35: 819-827.

Immler S., 2001: From parasitic to burgeois male: change of reproductive traits in males of the black goby, Gobius niger (Teleostei, Gobiidae). 10. Europ. Congr. Ichthyol, Prague. p. 155 (abstract).

Joyeux J.-C. J.L. Bouchereau & J.A. Tomasini, 1991: Croissance et structure demographique de la population de Gobius niger (Pisces, Teleostei) dans une lagune nord-mediterraneenne. Cah. Biol. Mar. 32: 415-437. 

Joyeux J.-C. J.L. Bouchereau & J.A. Tomasini, 1991: La reproduction de Gobius niger (Pisces, Gobiidae) dans la lagune de Mauguio - France. Rapports gonosomatiques, fécondités, ponte, oeufs et larves. Vie et Milieu 41: 97-106.

Joyeux J.C., J.A. Tomasini & J.L. Bouchereau, 1991: Le regime alimentaire de Gobius niger L. 1758 (Teleostei, Gobiidae) deans la lagune de Mauguio-France. Ann. Sci. Nat. Zool. Biol. Anim. 12: 57-69.

Joyeux J.C., J.A. Tomasini & J.L. Bouchereau, 1992. Reproductive cycle of Gobius niger (Teleostei, Gobiidae) in a Mediterranean brackish Lagoon. Vie et Milieu 42: 1-13.

Kassar A., Benallia A., Bouchelif D. & F. Hemida, 2019: Population dynamics and yield of the black goby Gobius niger L. in Algeria (Gulf of Annaba). XVI Europ. Congr. Ichthyol., Lausanne DOI: 10.3389/conf.fmars.2019.07.00140

Katalay S., Minareci E., Tuglu I. et al., 2012: Histopathological alterations in Gobius niger (black goby) due to pollution of the Izmir Bay. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin 21: 61-67.

Kinzer J., 1960: Zur Ethologie und Biologie der Gobiiden unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Schwarzgrundel Gobius jozo. Zool. Beitr. 6: 207-290.

Kovacic M., 2005: An annotated checklist of the family Gobiidae in the Adriatic Sea. Annales Ser. hist. nat. 15: 1-24.

Kovacic M., 2020: Checklist of gobies (Teleostei: Gobiidae) of the Mediterranean Sea and a key for species identification. Zootaxa 4877: 075-101.

Kovacic M. & Patzner R.A., 2011: North-Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Gobies. In: The Biology of Gobies. (Eds: Patzner R.A. et al.) Science Publishers: 177-206.

Kruschel C. & Schultz S.T., 2011: Juvenile Gobius niger avoids seagrass in the presence and uncertain absence of seagrass-inhabiting predators. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 409: 240-246.

Lebour M.V., 1919: The young of the Gobiidae from the neighbourhood of Plymouth. J. mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 12: 48-80.

Linnaeus C., 1758: Systema Naturae, ed. X. 1: 230-338.

Lo Bianco S., 1909: Notizie biologiche riguardanti specialmente il periodio di maturita sessuale degli animali del golfo di Napoli. Mitt. zool. Stn. Neapel 19: 513-761.

Locatello L. & C. Mazzoldi, 2001: Alternative male tactics in the black goby, Gobius niger (Teleostei: Gobiidae): mesorchial gland and pheromone communication. 10. Europ. Congr. Ichthyol, Prague. p. 157.

Lombarte A., Miletic M. & Kovacic M. et al., 2014: Identifying Mediterranean Sea gobies using otoliths. 5th Int. symp. fish otolith res. appl., Peguera, Mallorca: Poster.

Louiz I, O.K. Ben Hassine, O. Palluel et al. (2018): Spatial and temporal variation of biochemical biomarkers in Gobius niger (Gobiidae) from a southern Mediterranean lagoon (Bizerta lagoon, Tunisia): Influence of biotic and abiotic factors. Mar. Poll. Bull. 107: 305-314.

Louiz I., Palluel O., Ben-Attia M. et al. (2018): Liver histopathology and biochemical biomarkers in Gobius niger and Zosterisessor ophiocephalus from polluted and non-polluted Tunisian lagoons (Southern Mediterranean Sea). Mar. Poll. Bull. 128: 248-258.

Magnhagen C., 1988: Changes in foraging as a response to predation risk in two gobiid fish species, Pomatoschistus minutus and Gobius niger. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 49: 21-26.

Magnhagen C., 1990: Reproduction under predation risk in the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus, and the black goby, Gobius niger: the effect of age and longevity. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 26: 331-335. 

Marconato A., M.B. Rasotto, & C. Mazzoldi, 1996: On the mechanism of sperm release in three gobiid species (Teleostei: Gobiidae). Envir. Biol. Fish. 46: 321-327.

Mazzoldi C. & M.B. Rasotto, 2002: Alternative male mating tactics in Gobius niger. J. Fish Biol. 61: 157-172.

Miller P.J., 1986: Gobiidae. In: Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Volume III. (Eds.: Whitehead P.J.P. et al.) pp. 1019-1085. UNESCO, Paris.

Mozzi C., 1967: Preliminary studies on breeding of Gobius jozo L. in captivity (ital.). Arch. Ozean. Linnol. Suppl. 15: 47-54.

Nash R.D.M., 1984: Aspects of the biology of the black goby Gobius niger L., in Oslofjorden, Norway. Sarsia, 69: 55-61.

Padoa E., 1953: Sottordine Gobiiformes. Famiglia Gobiidae in uova, larve e stadi giovanili di Teleostei. Fauna Flora Golfo Napoli, 38: 648-678.

Pampoulie C., F. Priour, J.-L. Bouchereau, E. Rosecchi & A.-J. Crivelli, 1999: Reproductive traits of Gobius niger (Teleostei: Pisces) following a salinity stress: is it really a sedentary lagoon species? J. Mar. Biol. Ass. UK. 79: 961-962.

Pampulie C., P. Chauvelon, E. Rosecchi, J.-L. Bouchereau & A.J. Crivelli, 2001: Environmental factors influencing the gobiid assemblage of a Mediterranean Lagoon: empirical evidence from a long-term study. Hydrobiologia 445: 175-181.

Patzner R.A. & H. Moosleitner, 1997: Die Grundeln des Mittelmeeres. Teil 2. Große Grundeln des Weichbodens 1. Das Aquarium 342: 43-46.

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Poli F., Locatello L. & M.B. Rasotto (2018): Seminal fluid enhances competitiveness of territorial males' sperm in a fish with alternative male reproductive tactics. J. Exp. Biol 22: jeb175976.

Rasotto M.B. C. Mazzoldi, 2002: Male traits associated with alternative reproductive tactics in Gobius niger. J. Fish Biol. 61: 173-184.

Seiwald M. & R.A.Patzner, 1989: Histological, fine structural and histochemical differences in the testicular glands of gobioid and blennioid fishes. J. Fish Biol. 34: 631-640.

Silva M.N. & L.S. Gordo. Age, growth and reproduction of the black goby, Gobius niger, from Óbidos Lagoon, Portugal. Cah. Biol. Mar. 38: 175-180.

Sparta A., 1934: Uova e larve di Gobiidae. II. Gobius jozo L. Mem. R. Com. talassogr. ital. 216: 8.

Vaas K.F., A.G. Vlasblom & P. Koeijer, 1975: Studies on the black goby (Gobius niger, Gobiidae, Pisces) in the Veerse Meer, SW Netherlands. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 9: 56-68.

Vasilyeva E.D., 1990: The skull's morphology of goby Gobius niger L. in connection with its position in genus Gobius sensu lato (Gobiidae, Pisces). Nachr. Moskauer Univ. 16: 62-68.

Vesey G. & T.E. Langford, 1985: The biology of the black goby, Gobius niger L. in an English south-coast bay. J. Fish Biol. 27: 417-429.

Vodyanitzki W.A. & I.L. Kazanova, 1954: Key for identification of the pelagic eggs and fish larvae in the Black Sea. Trudy vses. nauchno-issled. Inst. morsk. ryb. khoz. Okeanogr. 28: 240-327. (in Russian).

Wiederholm A.-M., 1987: Habitat selection and interactions between three marine fish species (Gobiidae). Oikos 48: 28-32.

Wilkins H.K.A. & A.A. Myers, 1992: Microhabitat utilisation by an assemblage of temperate Gobiidae (Pisces: Teleostei). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 90: 103-112.


Photographs of Gobius niger

Gobius niger
Adriatic Sea, Italy, 5 m depth, 1988
Photograph: Robert A. Patzner ©
Gobius niger
Northern Adriatic Sea, Croatia, 2 m depth, 1998
Photograph: Robert A. Patzner ©
Gobius niger, spawning male
Italy, northern Adriatic Sea, 2 m depth, June 1985
Photograph: Robert A. Patzner ©

Gobius niger, histological section of testis region.
Upper region = testicular gland (tg). Left: normal secion, right: frozen section indicating 3ß-HSD activity (steroids) in tg.
From Seiwald & Patzner, 1989




Drawings of Gobius niger

Drawings from Miller (1986)



Copyright © 2019 - Robert A. Patzner, Department of Biosciences, Univ. Salzburg, Austria.
State: 2019-07-16
E-mail: robert.patzner@sbg.ac.at