BIOTIC Species Information for Gobius couchi
Researched byKaren Riley Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byProf. Robert Patzner
Scientific nameGobius couchi Common nameCouch's goby
MCS CodeZG464 Recent SynonymsNone

PhylumChordata SubphylumVertebrata
SuperclassGnathostomata ClassOsteichthyes
SubclassTeleostei OrderPerciformes
Suborder FamilyGobiidae
GenusGobius Speciescouchi

Additional InformationCouch's goby is a very localised, rare and protected species. It is found low shore under red or green algae in south Cornwall and north west Ireland, below high tide level in County Cork and sublittorally in a sheltered sea lough in south Ireland.
Taxonomy References Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Wheeler, 1994, Froese & Pauly, 2000(b),
General Biology
Growth formPisciform
Feeding methodOmnivore
Environmental positionDemersal
Typical food typesAlgae, crustaceans, bivalves and polychaetes. HabitFree living
Bioturbator FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityIntermediate SizeSmall-medium(3-10cm)
HeightInsufficient information Growth RateInsufficient information
Adult dispersal potentialNo information found DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationGobius couchi is a rare British marine fish which feeds on algae, crustaceans, bivalves and polychaetes. It is known to reach a maximum of 9 cm in length and has a life span of approximately 6 years.
Biology References Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Wheeler, 1994,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandThis species has only been recorded from four locations in the British Isles: Helford in south Cornwall; Bill of Portland, Dorset; Lough Hyne, Co. Cork, Ireland; and Mulroy Bay, Co. Donegal, Ireland.
Global distributionCouch's goby has recently been recorded at Naples in the western Mediterranean and in the Adriatic Sea.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range0.5 to 16 m
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional Information
  • Gobius couchi was discovered relatively recently, in 1974, and is considered to be a resident of three locations in the British Isles. However, it was recorded in 1998 in the western Mediterranean (Ischia Island, Naples, Italy) (Stefanni & Mazzoldi, 1999), and, more recently, in the Kvarner region of the Adriatic Sea (Kovacic, 2001) suggesting that the distribution of the species may be wider.
  • Couch's goby occurs in fully saline water. Both Irish localities where the goby is found are sheltered and have reduced tidal ranges (Minchin, 1988). At Lough Hyne and Mulroy bay there are well-established populations. Couch's goby ranges in depth from 0.5 to 16 m at Lough Hyne and 3-14 m depths at Mulroy bay (Minchin, 1987). It tends to be found with stones in shallow water, boulders at greater depths and also with shell debris. Gobius couchi was noted to be the most dominant species present in some areas.
  • Helford is a sheltered, land-locked habitat. In this environment Gobius couchi is normally associated with flat stones or muddy sand with shells and pebbles present (Minchin, 1988). They are also exposed at low water spring tides. Potts & Swaby (1991) observed that the population at this site has diminished over the last 10 years.
  • The salinity preferences of Gobius couchi lie between 25-35 psu.

Substratum preferencesPebbles
Under boulders
Fine clean sand
Muddy sand
Sandy mud
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneSublittoral Fringe
Wave exposureSheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowInsufficient information
SalinityVariable (18-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Wheeler, 1994, Stefanni & Mazzoldi, 1999, Minchin, 1987, Minchin, 1988, Potts & Swaby, 1991, Eno et al., 1997, JNCC, 1999, NBN, 2002, Kovacic, 2001,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeGonochoristic
Developmental mechanismOviparous
Reproductive SeasonSpring and summer Reproductive LocationInsufficient information
Reproductive frequencyAnnual protracted Regeneration potential No
Life spanSee additional information Age at reproductive maturityInsufficient information
Generation timeInsufficient information FecundityInsufficient information
Egg/propagule sizeInsufficient information Fertilization typeExternal
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential1km-10km Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stageInsufficient information   
Reproduction Preferences Additional InformationGobius couchi has a life span of up to 6 years (Miller, 1986).
Very little information is available detailing the reproduction of Gobius couchi, but it is probable that this is fairly similar to that of other Gobiidae. For instance, Gobius cobitis, Pomatoschistus microps, and Pomatoschistus minutus usually produce 2 clutches of eggs each breeding season. Eggs are laid by the female and attached to the under-surface of large boulders or shells. The eggs are then fertilized and guarded by the male. 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. Fecundity will probably vary between 2,000 and 12,000, within the same range as that of other Gobiidae.
Reproduction References Potts & Swaby, 1992, Miller, 1986,
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