What is a shrimpgoby?

The mutualistic relationship between shrimpgobies (also known as prawngobies) and alpheid shrimps, which live together in the same burrow, has been known for many years.

Two Yellowface Shrimpgobies

William Tan © William Tan

The shrimp has poor eyesight. It builds and maintains the burrow while the keen-eyed goby serves as a sentry at the burrow entrance. The shrimp spends much of the daylight hours "bulldozing" sand or rubble from the burrow. Each time it emerges from the burrow entrance, it rests one of its antennae on the body of the goby. If the goby detects danger the posterior portion of its body quivers to alert the shrimp. The goby may also back into the burrow and block the shrimp's exit. If the threat escalates, the goby will dart straight into the burrow.

Fifteen genera of gobies, including Amblyeleotris, Cryptocentrus, Ctenogobiops, Lotila, Psilogobius, Stonogobiops and Vanderhorstia contain species that share burrows with alpheid shrimps

Further reading

  1. Hoese, D. F. and R. Steene. 1978. Amblyeleotris randalli, a new species of gobiid fish living in association with alphaeid shrimps. Records of the Western Australian Museum. 6 (4): 379-389.
  2. Mohlmann, M.S. & P.L. Munday, 1999: Amblyeleotris arcupinna, a new species of Shrimp Goby from Papua New Guinea. Revue Fr. Aquariol. 26(1-2):59-62.
  3. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.
  4. Shao, K.T., J.P. Cheng & M.S. Jeng. 1987. New records of gobiid fishes associated with snapping shrimps from Taiwan. Journal of Taiwan Museum, 40: 57-69.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
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Tags fishes, ichthyology, faq, prawngoby, shrimpgoby, Gobiidae,