The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

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 distinguished 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).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Proterorhinus semilunaris are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
MI1990202311Cheboygan; Clinton; Detroit; Huron; Lake Erie; Lake Huron; Lake St. Clair; Lone Lake-Ocqueoc; Ottawa-Stony; Raisin; St. Clair
MN200120182Lake Superior; St. Louis
NY201620222Headwaters St. Lawrence River; Raisin River-St. Lawrence River
OH200120192Cedar-Portage; Lake Erie
PA201120151Lake Erie
WI200320182Beartrap-Nemadji; St. Louis

Table last updated 6/17/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

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

Tubenose gobies generally inhabits shallow (less than 5 m depth), slow-moving, nearshore environments. They prefer areas with abundant aquatic macrophytes, but can also be found in sandy areas (Jude and Deboe 1996, Eros et al 2015).  Eggs are typically attached to vegetation (Cavender, personal communication).

Means of Introduction: Introduced via ballast water.

Status: This species is reproducing and overwintering in the St. Clair River, and in Lake St. Clair, Michigan (Jude 1993; Cavender, personal communication). Beginning in 2016, tubenose goby has been consistantly captured in annual surveys in the Thousand Island area of the upper St. Lawrence River (Goretzke et al. 2019). However, it remains relatively rare in even these environments even 30 years after first introduced.  This species is not spreading rapidly (Vanderploeg et al. 2002), but has undergone discontinuous expansion such that it is found in localized nearshore areas of 4 of the 5 Great Lakes (Vanderploeg et al 2002; Kocovsky et al. 2011; Grant et al. 2012; MISIN 2019; Bowen 2018). Active adult movement and passive downstream larval drift could serve as a secondary invasion pathway along the St. Lawrence Seaway (Goretzke et al. 2019).

Tubenose goby is predicted by the GARP model to become established in the shoreline areas of all five Great Lakes (U.S. EPA 2008). 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).  Presence of round goby (Neogobious melanostomus) which expanded more rapidly in the Great Lakes may inhibit the population size of tubenose goby.

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.

Froese, R., and D. Pauly. editors. 2015. Proterorhinus semilunaris (Heckel, 1837) Western tubenose goby. FishBase. Available; http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Proterorhinussemilunaris.html. (June 2015).

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.

Goretzke, J.A., M.J.S. Windle, and J.M. Farrell. 2019. Range expansion of the western tubenose goby (Proterorhinus semilunaris Heckel, 1837) in eastern Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. BioInvasions Records 8(3): 684–698. https://doi.org/10.3391/bir.2019.8.3.26

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

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.

Ondrackova, M., Z. Valova, I. Hudcova, V. Michalkova, A. Simkova, J. Borcherding, and P. Jurajda. 2015. Temporal effects on host-parasite associations in four naturalized goby species living in sympatry. Hydrobiologia 746:233-243.

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. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-015-0894-3

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.

Slapansky, L., P. Jurajda, and M. Janac. 2016. Early life stages of exotic gobiids as new hosts for unionid glochidia. Freshwater Biology 61:979-990.

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 http://www.epa.gov/ncea.

USFWS. 2015. Western Tubenose Goby (Proterorhinus semilunaris) Ecological Risk Screening Summary. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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.

Zhokhov, A.E., M.N. Pugacheva, and N.M. Molodozhnikova. 2017. Parasites of the Invasive Goby Proterorhinus semilunaris (Pisces: Gobiidae) in Rybinsk Reservoir and Checklist of the Parasites of Gobiids (Genus Proterorhinus) in Eurasia. Russian Journal of Biological Invasions 8(1):18-33.

FishBase Summary

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

Revision Date: 3/7/2024

Peer Review Date: 9/12/2019

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., L. Nico, E. Maynard, M. Neilson, J. Larson, T.H. Makled, A. Fusaro, and R. Sturtevant, K.M. Reaver, 2024, Proterorhinus semilunaris (Heckel, 1837): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=714, Revision Date: 3/7/2024, Peer Review Date: 9/12/2019, Access Date: 6/17/2024

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. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/17/2024].

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