Proterorhinus semilunaris
Proterorhinus semilunaris
(Freshwater Tubenose Goby)
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Proterorhinus semilunaris (Heckel, 1837)

Common name: Freshwater Tubenose Goby

Synonyms and Other Names: P. marmoratus of authors, not of Pallas 1814; See Stepien and Tumeo 2006 for name change.

Identification: Characteristics were given by Berg (1949) and Miller (1986). This species (along with the round goby Neogobius melanostomus) can be distinguised from all other fishes in the Great Lakes by the presence of fused pelvic fins. Tubenose goby can be distinguished from the round goby by its long anterior nostrils and lack of black spot on posterior base of dorsal fin (Miller 1986; Jude 1993). Miller (1986), Crossman et al. (1992), and Jude et al. (1992) provided characteristics to distinguish the round and tubenose gobies.

Size: 12.7 cm total length

Native Range: Slightly brackish to freshwater. Eurasia, primarily in rivers and estuaries of the Black Sea basin; also in rivers of northern Aegean (Miller 1986, Freyhof and Naseka 2007; Neilson and Stepien 2009).

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: The species was introduced into the St. Clair River, Michigan. It was taken in several 1990 collection samples from the cove next to the Detroit Edison Company's Belle River Power Plant and near the intake structures (Jude et al. 1992; Jude 1993; Jude, personal communication; G. Smith, personal communication). As of 1994, it also had been found at the north end of Lake St. Clair at Anchor Bay (Cavender, personal communication). In July 1997, a single tubenose goby was captured in Lake Erie at Port Glasgow, Canada (ROM 70904) (A. Dextrase, personal communication). Since then, additional specimens have been found in the area (Kingsville Marsh) and the species is believed to be established on the northwestern shore of Lake Erie. Tubenose gobies have been collected in the waters of western Lake Erie around Catawba, Kelly's, and the Bass Islands, Ohio (Kocovsky et al. 2011), and in eastern Lake Erie in a small embayment (Marina Lake) adjacent to Presque Isle Bay, Erie, Pennsylvania (Grant et al. 2012). In 2001, a specimen was found in Duluth Harbor of western Lake Superior on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border (Vanderploeg et al. 2002). This species is also reported in Lake Huron (Cudmore-Vokey and Crossman 2000). Collected in Swan Creek, Monroe County in 2001 (Bowen, personal communication).

Ecology: The tubenose goby is a benthic omnivores, consuming a wide variety of benthic invertebrates (chironomids, crustaceans, copepods, dipterans, ephemeropterans, ostracods, and trichopterans) and occasionaly larval fishes (French and Jude 2001; Adamek et al. 2007).

Generally inhabits shallow (less than 5 m depth), slow-moving, nearshore environments. Prefers areas with abundant aquatic macrophytes, but can also be found in sandy areas (Jude and Deboe 1996).

Means of Introduction: Introduced via ballast water.

Status: This species is believed to be established but rare in the St. Clair River, and in Lake St. Clair, Michigan (Jude 1993; Cavender, personal communication). Eggs attached to vegetation brought up during a trawl in 1994 were bought into a laboratory and hatched (Cavender, personal communication). This species is not spreading rapidly (Vanderploeg et al. 2002), but has undergone some recent expansion in both the western and eastern basins of Lake Erie (Kocovsky et al. 2011; Grant et al. 2012).

May be able to occupy all shallow waters of all five Great Lakes (U.S. EPA 2008)  It is predicted by the GARP model to become established in Lake Erie and the shorelines areas of the other Great Lakes. Predictions could not be made for most of the rest of the region. Their distribution around the inshore areas of the Black and Caspian Seas indicates their potential for widespread occupation of inshore habitats where cover, especially plants, occurs in the lower Great Lakes (Jude et al 1992).

Impact of Introduction: The tubenose goby does not feed on zebra mussels, as do round gobies (Vanderploeg et al. 2002). However, it has been shown to have a significant overlap in diet preference with rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum) and northern madtoms (Noturus stigmosus) and may compete with these native fish for food (French and Jude 2001).

Remarks: All tubenose gobies were previously included in a single species, P. marmoratus. Recently, P. marmoratus was restricted to marine/brackish populations in the Black Sea, and several names were resurrected/created for freshwater populations of tubenose gobies in different regions: P. nasalis and P. semipellucidus for populations inhabiting the Caspian Sea and Volga River basins (Freyhof and Naseka 2007; Neilson and Stepien 2009); P. tataricus endemic to several rivers on the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine (Freyhof and Naseka 2007); and P. semilunaris for tubenose gobies in rivers and estuaries in the Black, Azov, and Aegean Sea basins (Freyhof and Naseka 2007; Neilson and Stepien 2009). Proterorhinus semilunaris is the only species of tubenose goby that has been introduced to North America (Stepien and Tumeo 2006; Neilson and Stepien 2009), and has also been introduced into several areas of central and western Europe (e.g., Manné and Poulet 2008; Cammaerts et al. 2011).

Although P. semilunaris is widely dispersed among drainages within the Black Sea basin, it is threatened in certain locale. The tubenose goby is considered endangered in Greece in the Ayannis spring near the town of Seres due to pollution and human-induced habitat change (Economidis 1995). In the Greek State, the tubenose goby is protected by law No. 67/1981 (Economidis 1995). This goby may live as long as five years (Jude 1993).

Pettitt-Wade et al. (2015) examined trophic niche breadth, plasticity, and overlap between round and tubenose gobies in Lakes Superior and St. Clair using stable isotope analysis. They found a higher isotopic trophic position and generally higher isotopic nichc breadth and plasticity in round gobies, with little overlap between size-matched round and tubenose gobies, and suggested that this increased isotopic niche breadth and plasticity has assisted in the establishement success of round goby in the Great Lakes (widely abundant and distributed vs. low abundance and localized distribution of tubenose goby).

References: (click for full references)

Adamek, Z., J. Andreji, and J.M. Gallardo. 2007. Food habits of four bottom-dwelling gobiid species at the confluence of the Danube and Hron rivers (South Slovakia). International Review of Hydrobiology 92:554-563.

Berg, L.S. 1948-1949. Freshwater fishes of the U.S.S.R. and adjacent countries, 4th edition. Three volumes. Translated from Russian, 1962-1965, for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation, by Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem, Israel. Volume 1:504 pp.; volume 2:496 pp.; volume 3:510 pp.

Cammaerts, R., F. Spikmans, N. van Kessel, H. Verreycken, F. Chérot, T. Demol, and S. Richez. 2012. Colonization of the Border Meuse area (The Netherlands and Belgium) by the non-native western tubenose goby Proterorhinus semilunaris (Heckel, 1837)(Teleostei, Gobiidae). Aquatic Invasions 7:251-258.

Cavender, T. - Ohio State University, Museum of Biological Diversity, Columbus, OH.

Clearwater, S.J., C.W. Hickey, and M.L. Martin. 2008. Overview of potential piscicides and molluscicides for controlling aquatic pest species in New Zealand. Science & Technical Publishing, New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.

Crossman, E.J., E. Holm, R. Cholmondeley, and K. Tuininga. 1992. First record for Canada of the rudd, Scardinius erythrophthalmus, and notes on the introduced round goby, Neogobius melanostomus. Canadian Field-Naturalist 106(2):206-209.

Cudmore-Vokey, B., and E.J. Crossman. 2000. Checklists of the fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes and their connecting channels. Canadian Manuscript Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2500: v + 39 pp.

Dextrase, A. - Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Aquatic Ecosystems Branch, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

Economidis, P.S. 1995. Endangered freshwater fishes of Greece. Biological Conservation 72(2):201-211.

French, J.R.P, III, and D.J. Jude. 2001. Diets and diet overlap of nonindigenous gobies and small benthic native fishes co-inhabiting the St. Clair River, Michigan. Journal of Great Lakes Research 27(3): 300-311.

Freyhof, J., and A.M. Naseka. 2007. Proterorhinus tataricus, a new tubenose goby from Crimea, Ukraine (Teleostei: Gobiidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 18(4):325-334.

GLMRIS. 2012. Appendix C: Inventory of Available Controls for Aquatic Nuisance Species of Concern, Chicago Area Waterway System. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Grant, K.A., M.J. Shadle, and G. Andraso. 2012. First report of tubenose goby (Proterorhinus semilunaris) in the eastern basin of Lake Erie. Journal of Great Lakes Research 38:821-824.

Jude, D.J. - University of Michigan and Freshwater Physicians, Inc. Ann Arbor, MI.

Jude, D.J. 1993. The alien goby in the Great Lakes Basin. Great Lakes Information Network (Online).

Jude, D.J., and S.F. Deboe. 1996. Possible impact of gobies and other introduced species on habitat restoration efforts. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 53(S1):136-141.

Jude, D., J. Janssen, and G. Crawford. 1995. Ecology, distribution, and impact of the newly introduced round and tubenose gobies on the biota of the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers. In M. Munawar, T. Edsall, J. Leach (eds.), The Lake Huron Ecosystem: Ecology, Fisheries and Management. SPB Academic Publishing, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 447-460.

Jude, D.J., R.H. Reider, and G.R. Smith. 1992. Establishment of Gobiidae in the Great Lakes Basin. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 49:416-421.

Kocovsky, P.M., J.A. Tallman, D.J. Jude, D.M. Murphy, J.E. Brown, and C.A. Stepien. 2011. Expansion of tubenose gobies Proterorhinus semilunaris into western Lake Erie and potential effects on native species. Biological Invasions 13: 2775-2784.

Miller, P.J. 1986. Gobiidae. Pages 1019-1085 in P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot., J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen, E. Tortonese, editors. Fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, volume III. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Paris, France.

Neilson, M.E., and C.A. Stepien. 2009. Evolution and phylogeography of the tubenose goby genus Proterorhinus (Gobiidae: Teleostei): evidence for new cryptic species. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 96:664-684.

Patrick, P.H., A.E. Christie, D. Sager, C. Hocutt, and J. Stauffer, Jr. 1985. Responses of fish to a strobe light/air-bubble barrier. Fisheries Research 3:157-172.

Pettitt-Wade, H., K.W. Wellband, D.D. Heath, and A.T. Fisk. 2015. Niche plasticity in invasive fishes in the Great Lakes. Biological Invasions 17:2565-2280.

Manné, S., and N. Poulet. 2008. First record of the western tubenose goby Proterorhinus semilunaris (Heckel, 1837) in France. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 389:1-5.

Smith, G. - Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Stepien, C.A., and M.A. Tumeo. 2006. Invasion genetics of Ponto-Caspian gobies in the Great Lakes: a 'cryptic' species, absence of founder effects, and comparative risk analysis.  Biological Invasions 8:61-78.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 2008. Predicting future introductions of nonindigenous species to the Great Lakes. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC; EPA/600/R-08/066F. Available from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA, and

Vanderploeg, H.A., T.F. Nalepa, D.J. Jude, E.L. Mills, K.T. Holeck, J.R. Leibig, I.A, Grigorovich, and H. Ojaveer. 2002. Dispersal and emerging ecological impacts of Ponto-Caspian species in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 59:1209-1228.

FishBase Fact Sheet

Author: Fuller, P., L. Nico, E. Maynard, M. Neilson, J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro

Revision Date: 9/21/2015

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., L. Nico, E. Maynard, M. Neilson, J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro, 2017, Proterorhinus semilunaris (Heckel, 1837): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 9/21/2015, Access Date: 11/20/2017

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [11/20/2017].

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