New freshwater goby

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A new species of freshwater goby from the genus Stiphodon has been found in Peninsular Malaysia.

The fish, which has been named Stiphodon aureorostrum, was found in freshwater streams on the island of Pulau Tioman, which lies about 28 miles/45 km off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the South China Sea.

Heok Hui Tan, of the National University of Singapore, and I-Shiung Chen, of the National Taiwan Ocean University, described the species in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology and say that it is only the second Stiphodon species to be recorded from Tioman.

The new goby has a distinctive golden stripe on the snout. Picture: Dr HH Tan.

The new species is one of only six primary freshwater fishes found on the island, which is home to 48 recorded species of diadromous secondary freshwater fishes, that migrate to or from the sea to spawn, feed or grow.

Golden snout gobyThe species get its name "aureorostrum", which is latin for golden snout, from the gold longitudinal line that extends along the front and side of the snout of both sexes of the fish, which is a characteristic of the species.

Tan and Chen say that the new Stiphodon also has a number of morphometric features that allow the species be differentiated from others in the genus, as well as a distinctive golden stripe:

"It is characterised by a combination of the following features: I/9 second dorsal fin rays; I/10 anal fin rays, 15-15 pectoral fin rays, 35-37 longitudinal scale rows, 4-11 predorsal scales, first dorsal fin with prolonged filamentous rays; pectoral fin with 8-10 vertical rows of greyish black spots, body with distinct 9-10 narrow, dark grey bars in male."

As with most Stiphodon species, the males are rather brighter in colour than the females.

Algal grazerThe new Stiphodon was seen swimming in small groups of 8-10 fish, grazing on algae attached to the surface of rocks in moderately fast flowing water. The species was also seen in faster moving waters, but only occured in groups of three or four when seen in these areas.

Most of the specimens in the type species are around 4-6cm in length, so the species appears a little smaller than some of the other members of the genus.

A number of Stiphodon species have recently entered the UK aquarium trade. The fishes can be difficult to keep, and some fishkeepers have stated that the fishes appear reluctant to initially accept aquarium foods.

Stiphodon are generally sold as unidentified fishes and appear under the common names of Rock goby and Freshwater neon goby.

For more information on the new goby see the paper: Tan HH and IS Chen (2005) - A new species of freshwater goby (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Stiphodon) from Pulau Tioman, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia.