mudskippers species list :
Sex determination :
Sex discrimination of adult mudskippers is not straightforward. Clear-cut sexual dimorphism is exhibited by only few species (e.g. Periophthalmodon septemradiatus, Figure 6; Periophthalmus novemradiatus, Figure 10). If this is not the case, the only external clue is the shape of the urogenital papilla, as in most gobies: pointed in males and square and tapered in females (Figure 5).
Figure 5' - A clear example of a male (left) and female (right) urogenital papillae (Periophthalmus gracilis, from Peninsular Malaysia; ventral views; specimens are facing upward; the female is full of eggs). The profile of the papilla was contoured by dashed lines. Unfortunately, things are not always that easy, especially in subadults, but also in sexually inactive adults. © Gianluca Polgar
All the species of the genera Periophthalmus and Periophthalmodon are opportunistic carnivores, though some species also (accidentally?) ingest some algae as well. In general they are gape-limited, meaning they will eat whatever they can catch and swallow! In some species, and within some populations, seasonal specialisation may exist, presumably a response to changes in prey availability.
Under aquarium conditions these mudskippers have proven to be very adaptable, though small live foods such as flies, spiders and so on are particularly favoured. Once settled, wet-frozen foods and even dry pellets are readily accepted, and captive mudskippers may become tame enough to be fed by hand.
Species descriptions :
1-Periophthalmodon septemradiatus (Hamilton, 1822):
1- Most commonly traded species :
courtesy to : www.wetwebmedia.com
Most of the mudskippers traded commercially are species of Periophthalmus and to a lesser degree Periophthalmodon. These are the species described in the following sections. Only occasionally traded are species such as Pseudapocryptes elongatus, Boleophthalmus boddarti andOxuderces dentatus. These latter species are finicky specialists that feed mostly or exclusively on microscopic algae skimmed from mud, and might not be easy to rear in most aquarium conditions, largely explaining why they are so rarely seen in aquarium shops.
Mudskippers are regularly exported from West Africa, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and in smaller numbers, India and Sri Lanka. This is why for example Australian or New Guinean species are almost impossible to find in an aquarium shop. Nonetheless, the author’s experience is limited to the European, North American and Southeast Asian markets: other species might be available in different countries hosting fervent aquarist communities, such as Japan and Australia.
Mudskippers are frequently misidentified by retailers, or given obsolete names (synonyms) different to those used in the modern literature. Consequently any names supplied by the retailer should be accepted only provisionally, and when possible compared against the scientific literature. Even though some work remains to be done, the present taxonomy of this group is relatively stable and generally accepted.
Figure 4' - How to handle a mudskipper to identify it. A: try to delicately confine the mudskipper with your hand against the glass of the aquarium, below water (better if the mouth is out of water, to let him breathe more efficiently): this will allow you to examine its pelvic fins at a close distance. B: Alternatively, observe him from below when he climbs on the walls of a transparent plastic bag. C: the best way to get more details is probably a close examination in your hand, even if this procedure should always be avoided when there are other alternatives, in order to avoid unnecessary stress for the animal; hold the mudskipper out of water in your palm with three fingers, covering its head and eyes. In the darkness, he will eventually stop fighting, allowing a closer examination. Be particularly careful when unfolding the delicate fin membranes to observe their colouration. For smaller specimens, a small wet brush may be utilised. © Gianluca Polgar
Periophthalmodon septemradiatus (Upper : female; Up : : male), Kuala Selangor, Selangor, Malaysia; © Gianluca Polgar. In this and other photos, scale bars are 10 mm long.
Synonyms: Gobius tredecemradiatus, Gobius septemradiatus, Periophthalmodon tredecemradiatus, Periophthalmus borneensis
Maximum recorded size: 100 mm standard length (SL, i.e., from the tip of the snout to the structural base of the caudal fin).
Sexual dimorphism: Females have extremely reduced first dorsal fins.
Body colouration: Body background colour grey to brownish, dorsally paler, white on venter and throat; margins of opercula dark; a brown stripe is frequently visible, running dorsally and posteriorly from each orbit to the end of the first or second dorsal fin, becoming a row of irregular dark blotches, up to the caudal peduncle; these two series of dark dorsolateral blotches may form a pattern of 8-10 saddle-like bars; numerous small dark brown, pale red and pale blue speckles are present on snout, opercula and flanks; scales on opercula are arranged in a typical diagonal pattern and have dark margins.
Fin colouration: First dorsal fin blackish to dark blue with reddish margin in males; second dorsal fin dusky with series of dark speckles on rays and a red margin; pectoral fins greyish with red speckles on rays; caudal fin dusky with series of dark speckles on rays.
Pelvic fin shape: Pelvic fins are completely separated and no pelvic frenum is present (Fig. 3, condition E)
Distribution: This species is distributed in East India, Myanmar and SE Asia; it is frequently imported from Viet Nam. It is probably one of the most terrestrial species, living in almost pure freshwater, even nearby the small irrigation dikes crossing human villages. It is one of the few mudskippers which flees to the land when it is chased, plunging into water only as a last resource. This species is extremely cryptic: if not moving, it is almost invisible on the forest ground. In Malaysia Pn. septemradiatus is probably rare, maybe due to the destruction of mangrove forest and peat swamps from land; up to date, it has been found only in a village nearby Kuala Selangor. It probably feeds on small invertebrates. Its behaviour is completely unknown.
2- Periophthalmus argentilineatus Valenciennes, 1837; Silver-lined Mudskipper, Barred Mudskipper
Synonyms: Euchoristopus kalolo regius, Periophthalmus dipus, Periophthalmus sobrinus,Periophthalmus vulgaris
Maximum recorded size: 93 mm SL.
Sexual dimorphism: None known.
Body colouration: Body background colour brownish to dark grey on dorsum and sides, ventrally whitish; head ventrally white; many small white speckles on cheeks, opercula and sides of body; silvery vertical stripes on flanks, ventrally more evident; 3-8 dorsal dark brown saddle-like irregular bars, may also be visible.
Fin colouration: First dorsal fin with a reddish brown background, a wide black to dark brown stripe below margin, darker in the anterior portion, and many small white spots below it; margin white to transparent; second dorsal fin with a transparent background, a black medial stripe, irregular brownish speckles proximally on rays and membrane, and an orange margin; caudal fin dusky, with series of dusky to brownish speckles along rays.
Pelvic fin shape: Pelvic fins are completely separated and no pelvic frenum is present (Fig. 3, E).
Distribution: The Silver-lined Mudskipper is the most widespread mudskipper species, presently known from East Africa eastward to the entire Indo-Pacific region, to the Samoa and Tonga Islands, southern Japan and eastern Australia. This species is particularly popular in southern Japan. It is usually found nearby water at low tide, frequently nearby the mangrove marine fringe, but it apparently is an extremely adaptable species, and different populations are found in different environmental conditions. A very territorial species: aggressive and agonistic behaviours are frequently observed. Males jump to attract females into burrows. Burrows typically have two main turreted openings. It feeds on small invertebrates. Its behaviour was studied in East African and Malagasy populations.
3- Periophthalmus barbarus Linnaeus, 1796; Atlantic Mudskipper, West African Mudskipper
Synonyms: Gobius barbarus, Gobius koelreuteri, Periophthalmus papilio, Periophthalmus erythronemus, Periophthalmus gabonicus
Maximum recorded size: 250 mm SL.
Sexual dimorphism: None known.
Body colouration: Background colour dark brown to greyish on head, dorsum and flanks, ventrally whitish; sky blue speckles on flanks, which are larger and more numerous on snout, cheeks and opercula; several black to dark brown irregular saddle-like diagonal bars may be visible on dorsum.
Fin colouration: First dorsal fin membrane dark brown, with a black to bluish band below margin, sandwiched by a narrow and broken whitish-blue stripe and a narrow transparent margin; completely black in some specimens. Second dorsal fin background brown, with a medial black stripe sandwiched by two white stripes, and a brown margin. Caudal fin dusky, with series of dark brown speckles along rays in some specimens; anal fin from whitish to brownish with a yellowish margin; pelvic fins dark brown on dorsal side; pectoral fins dusky.
Pelvic fin shape: Pelvic fins are completely separated and no pelvic frenum is present (Fig. 3, condition E)
Distribution: The Atlantic Mudskipper is the only mudskipper found on the Atlantic coast of Africa, its range extending from Morocco to Angola. If a mudskipper comes from this region, either it is a new species, or it is Periophthalmus barbarus. In Nigeria, its diet apparently includes algae in the dry season. In this region, it is found in mangrove and Nypa palm (Nypa fruticans) forests, and has consequently been included on lists of endangered species due to the high level of coastal environmental degradation in this area.
4-Periophthalmus gracilis Eggert, 1935; Slender Mudskipper
Maximum recorded size: 45 mm SL.
Sexual dimorphism: Mature males and females have differently coloured dorsal fins; see below.
Body colouration: Body ground colour dorsally and laterally grey, ventrally white; white irregular blotches on ventral side of head and vertical iridescent bluish stripes on flanks; 5-7 diagonal, irregular saddle-like dark brown bars on dorsum.
Fin colouration: First dorsal fin with transparent background, with a faint greyish infra-marginal stripe, medially yellowish in mature males, and a large black blotch posteriorly, covering the last 3-4 spines; in some specimens, black spots may be present between spines; second dorsal fin with a transparent background, grey spots on proximal membrane and a medial dark stripe; a reddish margin is present in mature males; membrane of caudal fin and pectoral fins transparent, with series of dark speckles on rays.
Pelvic fin shape: Pelvic fins are completely separated and no pelvic frenum is present (Fig. 3, condition E).
Distribution: The Slender Mudskipper is distributed from the Straits of Malacca to the Philippines and northern Australia. It is frequently imported from Singapore and Thailand. It is one of the smallest mudskipper species. It lives inside mangrove forests; at higher levels, reached by tides only intermittently; it is frequently found around tide pools or the openings of burrows made by the Giant Mudskipper, Periophthalmodon schlosseri. It feeds on small invertebrates, but otherwise its behaviour is almost completely unknown.
5-Periophthalmus novemradiatus (Hamilton, 1822); Indian mudskipper
Maximum recorded size: 51 mm SL.
Sexual dimorphism:The first spine of the first dorsal fin is highly elongated on males, reaching the second dorsal fin if pushed down.
Body colouration: Body ground colour dorsally and laterally grey to pale brown, whitish on venter; white speckles scattered on flanks, denser and rounded on opercula and cheeks, interspersed with smaller dark dots only on flanks; speckles on cheeks can become sky blue; 5-8 diagonal, irregular saddle-like dark brown bars may be visible on dorsum.
Fin colouration: First dorsal fin membrane with a white margin, red between the first 5-7 spines, with brown diffused blotches in the distal portion, hyaline to grey for the rest, and with white flecks parallel to the spines in some specimens; spines not pigmented; second dorsal fin with a dusky translucent background, white margin, a large dark grey inframarginal stripe, a medial dark stripe and coalescent dark grey spots on the proximal membrane; membrane of caudal fin and pectoral fins dusky, darker along rays. Pelvic fins dorsally pigmented and with a white margin.
Pelvic fin shape: Pelvic fins are fused by a basal membrane for more than half the length of the inner pelvic rays, and a strong pelvic frenum is present (Fig. 3, condition C-D).
Distribution: The Indian Mudskipper is distributed in the Gulf of Bengal, from East India to southern Thailand, where it may occur with Periophthalmus variabilis. This species was found not far from the water’s edge, along the mud banks of creeks and tidally influenced rivers. Its behaviour and ecology are largely unknown.
6-Periophthalmus variabilis Eggert, 1935; Dusky-gilled Mudskipper
Maximum recorded size: 65 mm SL.
Sexual dimorphism: None known.
Body colouration: Body ground colour dorsally and laterally brown, ventrally whitish to grey; edge of the gill cover posteriorly blackened; head and trunk with numerous dark brown blotches, larger on trunk; tiny iridescent bluish speckles on cheeks and flanks; 5-8 diagonal, irregular saddle-like dark brown bars on dorsum.
Fin colouration: First dorsal fin with a transparent background with proximal red spots between elements, a greyish stripe below margin, anteriorly darker, and a translucent margin; second dorsal fin with a proximal series of reddish-brown spots, a dark stripe below margin, and a yellow margin; caudal fin membrane dusky, rays distally orange with series of brownish speckles; pectoral fins distally orange.
Pelvic fin shape: Pelvic fins are fused by a basal membrane for less than half the length of the inner pelvic rays, and a strong pelvic frenum is present (Fig. 3, D).
Distribution: The Dusky-gilled Mudskipper is distributed across Southeast Asia, and is frequently imported from Singapore, together with Periophthalmus gracilis. It is a relatively terrestrial species found inside mangrove forests, being more abundant inland, and less abundant closer to the sea. It is also found in the high supra-tidal zone, where sea water submerges the substrate only on a few days each month during the very highest tides. It hides well on the forest floor, moving only at the very last moment when approached. It feeds on small invertebrates. Its behaviour is almost completely unknown.
Other Species :
- Blue-spotted Mudskipper :
Maximum Length : 13 cm +
Mudskippers rank amongst the most fascinating of intertidal life of mangrove and mudflat habitats. The Blue-spotted MudskipperBoleophthalmus boddarti is amongst the most conspicuous of its kind and, if present, is easily seen at low tide when active on exposed mudflats. At high tide they remain in their burrows, hidden from sight.
The species reaches around 20 cm in total length, and is boldly patterned with diagonal rows of blue spots along the flanks and scattered spots on the cheeks. Dark bands are generally present on the flanks too. The eyes are large and bulging.
In some areas a similar and closely related species, Boleophthalmus pectinirostris ('Great Blue-spotted Mudskipper'), may live alongside this species.
The Blue-spotted Mudskipper is highly territorial, and skirmishes between neighbouring males are frequent. During such confrontations both dorsal fins are raised as a threat. At this time the soft fin spines running through the anterior dorsal fin are easily seen. Males also raise their dorsal fins and leap into the air to attract a female, who is then escorted to the burrow for mating.
Observations suggest these mudskippers feed both on plant material as well as small invertebrates
The Blue-spotted Mudskipper is widely distributed in coastal Southeast Asia and beyond, from India in the west to at least Indochina, Borneo and New Guinea in the east. In parts of Peninsular Malaysia it is locally abundant. The species also occurs in Singapore.
An adult male Blue-spotted Mudskipper patrols the area around its burrow at Parit Jawa, Peninsular Malaysia.
Sparring pair of males at Parit Jawa, Johor, Peninsular Malaysia.
- Elongate Mudskipper
Maximum Length : around 19 cm
The Elongate Mudskipper inhabits mangrove creeks and small, muddy tidal inlets. It generally lies fully submerged, resting on the substrate, or at the water's edge with just its eyes protruding above water.
The species is a benthic feeder, and probably only emerges onto mudflats as it moves from one water body to another.
It is recognised by its slender, elongate body form, and by the dark, irregular, narrow bars which adorn its ventral surface. Its dorsal background colour varies from yellowish to different shades of brown. The front dorsal fin is translucent, and the tail fin is speckled.
The Elongate Mudskipper ranges from parts of Eastern India and Bangladesh to much of Southeast Asia including Indochina, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.
- Giant mudskipper
Maximum Length : 25 cm
The Giant Mudskipper Periophthalmodon schlosseri is one of the largest of mudskippers. It prefers mangrove habitat, and is often seen clinging to mangrove tree roots. It ventures out onto adjacent mudflats at low tide, keeping near the waters edge as the tide falls.
The species is identified by its pale to dark brown body colour, adorned with a black lateral stripe on each flank extending from the eye to the base of the tail (though in some specimens the black stripe may be less apparent). Some specimens or populations have dark banding across the back, extending to the flanks.
The cheeks are patterned with numerous pale bluish-white speckles, which are also present on the flanks though fewer in number. The front dorsal fin is reddish-brown, and the rear dorsal fin is dark, with a pale base. Both have a white or cream margin.
Giant Mudskippers feed mainly on invertebrates in the intertidal zone, particularly small crabs. However, they have also been observed taking other, smaller mudskippers of different species
Like the Blue-spotted MudskipperBoleophthalmus boddarti, they build extensive burrows in soft mud. These are marked by depressions in the substrate up to a metre across, which remain water-filled at low tide and are fiercely defended from rivals.
Periophthalmodon schlosseri occurs in various parts of Southeast Asia including Indochina, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Indonesia.
Courting pair at Sedili Besar, Johor, Peninsular Malaysia.
- Great Blue-spotted Mudskipper
Maximum Length : 15 cm
Boleophthalmus pectinirostris (or 'Great Blue-spotted Mudskipper) tends to occur in open habitats in mangrove systems, such as seaward mudflats, and sparsely covered parts of the back-mangrove.
Similar in appearance to the closely-relatedBlue-spotted Mudskipper, this species is most easily identified in the field by the fine blue spots on the front dorsal fin, and by the arrangement of hyphen-like blue spots on the second dorsal fin, which are neatly arranged in vertical and horizontal lines. Dark bands are often visible on the flanks, and in some populations the skin below the eye is pale blue.
This species is farmed and consumed in parts of the Far East (China, Japan). In 2009 the species was confirmed in parts of Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia. The image at left was taken on the north coast of Borneo, and the other images on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Adult specimen in a shallow, back-mangrove pool at Bako National Park, Sarawak, Borneo.
Adult on estuarine mudflats near the mouth of Sungei Sedili, Johor, Peninsular Malaysia.
Maximum Length : 13 cm
This large mudskipper is regarded as uncommon, but can be easily located in parts of Singapore. It has been observed venturing onto mudflats at low tide, and clinging to mangrove roots at high tide.
The dorsum and flanks are pale to dark brown, adorned with numerous pale speckles. Some specimens may have dark dorsal barring, and immediately behind the eye there is sometimes a short, dark stripe.
The front dorsal fin is dark brown, with a somewhat darker edge and thin, whitish to transparent margin. The Yellow-spotted Mudskipper can be distinguished from another similarly large species, the Giant MudskipperPeriophthalmodon schlosseri, by the absence of bluish-white speckles on the cheeks.
The snout is blunt, and the large eyes typically protuberant.
The species constructs its burrows in the landward zone of mangrove habitat.
This mudskipper occurs on the Andaman Sea coast of Southern Thailand, and in the Straits of Malacca off Peninsular Malaysia's west coast. In Singapore it can be found in the northerly mangroves at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserveand Khatib Bongsu facing onto the Johor Straits which separate Singapore from Malaysia.
Male and female pair at their burrow entrance, Sungei Buloh, Singapore.
Specimen from Pulau Ubin, Singapore.
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