BIOTIC Species Information for Pomatoschistus minutus
Researched byKaren Riley Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byDr Angus Jackson
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandThe sand goby is abundant along all British and Irish coasts.
Global distributionIts distribution extends from the eastern Atlantic (Tromso, Norway) to the Mediterranean and areas of the Baltic Sea.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth rangeUp to 20 m (sometimes up to 60-70 m)
MigratorySee additional information   
Distribution Additional Information
  • The sand goby is considered to be an abundant species, found along all coasts of the British Isles. It can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and salinities, shown by its distribution from Norway and the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean, and the fact that it resides in brackish and fully saline waters. It is usually found in deeper waters and at higher salinities than Pomatoschistus microps.
  • Fonds (1973) showed that adult sand gobies tolerate salinities between 0.9 psu and 45 psu and that they survived and remained in good condition at a temperature as low as 2 °C. However, in the Thames estuary they preferred high salinity and high suspended solids concentrations (Araújo et al., 2000).
  • Pomatoschistus minutus is a migratory species of semi-enclosed lagoon-like environments (Pampoulie et al., 1999). It has been noted to undertake spawning migrations in the Mediterranean Sea (Bouchereau et al., 1989) and thermal migrations in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea (Fonds, 1973; Hesthagen, 1977). Thermal migrations occur when temperatures decrease below 4-5 °C (Fonds, 1973) or increase above 19 °C (Hesthagen, 1977). In the Thames estuary an increase in numbers has been noted during autumn and winter (Araújo et al., 2000). In the Severn estuary, however, goby numbers declined in winter. This was suspected to have reflected a movement away from the shallows and towards deeper, warmer water (Claridge et al., 1985). Healey (1971) observed a scarcity of sand gobies in the Ythan estuary from February to June and, after eliminating decreased temperature, a change in salinity or a change in food supply as a cause, suggested that it was a result of a seasonal migration. Healey (1971) hypothesized that the gobies migrated out to sea so that eggs could develop, however, the hypothesis was subsequently rejected.

Substratum preferencesCoarse clean sand
Fine clean sand
Sandy mud
Muddy sand
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Isolated saline water (Lagoon)
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneSublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Lower Infralittoral
Wave exposureExposed
Moderately Exposed
Tidal stream strength/Water flowInsufficient information
SalinityFull (30-40 psu)
Variable (18-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward et al., 1996, Campbell, 1994, Fonds, 1973, Hesthagen, 1977, Araújo et al., 2000, Claridge et al., 1985, Miller, 1986, Pampoulie et al., 1999, Bouchereau et al., 1989, Healey, 1971, Eno et al., 1997, Bruce et al., 1963, Geffen et al., 1998,
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