BIOTIC Species Information for Gobius cobitis
Researched byKaren Riley Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byProf. Robert Patzner
Scientific nameGobius cobitis Common nameGiant goby
MCS CodeZG463 Recent SynonymsGobius capito

PhylumChordata SubphylumVertebrata
SuperclassGnathostomata ClassOsteichthyes
SubclassTeleostei OrderPerciformes
Suborder FamilyGobiidae
GenusGobius Speciescobitis

Additional InformationGobius cobitis is Britain's largest goby. It inhabits high shore rock pools, often with a fresh water input. Although limited to the south west of England it is also found further afield, from the western English Channel to Morocco, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Gulf of Suez.
Taxonomy References Wheeler, 1994, Miller, 1986, Howson & Picton, 1997, Froese & Pauly, 2000(a), Pallas, 1831,
General Biology
Growth formPisciform
Feeding methodOmnivore
Environmental positionDemersal
Typical food typesCrustaceans, polychaetes, small fishes, insects and large amounts of green algae. HabitFree living
Bioturbator FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityIntermediate SizeMedium-large(21-50cm)
Height Growth RateInsufficient information
Adult dispersal potentialNo information found DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationThe feeding habits of Gobius cobitis vary with the size of the animal. Young fish, which measure about 8-9 cm, feed on smaller food items such as copepods, ostracods and small amphipods (Gibson, 1970). As the individual grows it will feed on larger food items until its diet consists of large amounts of green algae, Ulva spp., smaller amounts of crustaceans such as amphipods, crabs, prawns, amphipods, isopods and extremely small amounts of polychaetes and small fishes, particularly juveniles of the blenny, Blennius pholis (Potts & Swaby, 1992). Its longevity is approximately 10 years and the maximum total length reported was 23-27 cm (Potts & Swaby, 1992; Hayward et al., 1996). No difference in longevity has been noticed between sexes (Gibson, 1970).
Biology References Potts & Swaby, 1992, Gibson, 1970, Hayward et al., 1996,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandThe distribution of Gobius cobitis in Britain is restricted to the south-west coast of England, from Wembury to the Isles of Scilly.
Global distributionFound in the eastern Atlantic, from the western English Channel to Morocco, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea (except north-west) and the Gulf of Suez.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth rangeIntertidal to up to 10m
MigratoryInsufficient information   
Distribution Additional Information
  • The south-west coast of England represents the most northern limit of the giant goby's range.
  • Gobius cobitis is common within its geographical limits. Often seen 'basking' in direct sun on exposed patches within pools. It feeds on Ulva spp., crustaceans and polychaetes. Sublittoral pools inhabited by Gobius cobitis usually contain large boulders with a crevice large enough to shelter beneath and are devoid of gravel or sand. However, Gibson (1970) recorded gravel and stones on the bottom of their rock pools and Faria et al. (1998) noted that they preferentially occupied mixed bottom and sandy substratum. Usually, there is fresh water draining into the rock pools inhabited by Gobius cobitis. Upper shore rock pools are likely to experience extremes in temperature, light levels and salinity.
  • Despite previous records for Wembury and West Looe, Potts & Swaby (1992) found no Gobius cobitis within these areas and therefore assumed that populations had declined or were absent at that time. However, a record of Gobius cobitis was made at West Looe on 31 January 1998 by John Markham. Although there is no evidence that the species is endangered, it is potentially vulnerable to human interference due to its preferred shore habitat (Potts & Swaby, 1992). The giant goby is a very common inshore fish in the North East Atlantic and the Mediterranean (Miller, 1986).

Substratum preferencesRockpools
Under boulders
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Biological zoneSublittoral Fringe
Wave exposureSheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowInsufficient information
See additional information
SalinityVariable (18-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Wheeler, 1994, Potts & Swaby, 1992, Gibson, 1970, Miller, 1986, Wheeler, 1993, Eno et al., 1997, Faria et al., 1998,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeGonochoristic
Developmental mechanismOviparous
Reproductive SeasonSpring and summer Reproductive LocationInsufficient information
Reproductive frequencyAnnual episodic Regeneration potential No
Life spanSee additional information Age at reproductive maturity1-2 years
Generation time3-5 years Fecundity2,000-12,000 eggs per female
Egg/propagule sizeInsufficient information Fertilization typeExternal
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential>10km Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stage11-30 days   
Reproduction Preferences Additional Information
  • The life span of Gobius cobitis is 10 years.
  • Gobius cobitis usually mature in their second year. Females usually produce 2 clutches of eggs each season for a further 8 years (Potts & Swaby, 1992). Eggs are laid by the female and attached to the under-surface of large boulders. The eggs are fertilized and guarded by the male. Gibson (1970) suggested that males fertilise and guard batches of eggs from at least two females and that spawning occurs twice during the breeding season. Thus the eggs are protected and kept inshore until the feeding larvae hatch.
  • The breeding season usually occurs in spring and early summer in Britain, but differences have been noted worldwide. For instance, reproduction takes place between March and May in Naples, and May to early July in Varna, the Black Sea. Fecundity was reported by Gibson (1970) to be dependent on size, and varies between 2,000 and 12,000 eggs per female. Hatching occurs approximately 22- 24 days after spawning at a temperature of 12-16 °C, and between 15 and 17 days after spawning at a temperature of 15-18 °C (Gil et al., 1997).
  • Gobius cobitis live for approximately 10 years (Potts & Swaby, 1992; Hayward et al., 1996). No difference in longevity has been noticed between sexes (Gibson, 1970).
Reproduction References Potts & Swaby, 1992, Gibson, 1970, Miller, 1986, Gil et al., 1997, Hayward et al., 1996,
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