Naked gobies are bottom-dwelling fish resembling lizards.
Naked gobies are bottom-dwelling fish resembling lizards.
Courtesy: South Florida Water Management District

Naked Goby (Gobiosoma bosci)

Color: Dark greenish brown on top, pale below, and eight to nine dark vertical bars along the side.
Size: Up to 2 1/2 inches long.
Habitat: Protected coastal waters, underwater vegetation and seagrass beds, and tidal fresh water.
Seasonal appearance: All year.


Naked gobies are bottom-dwelling fish resembling small lizards. They have large eyes that are set close together on the top of their heads. They are distinguishable by having a round tail, two separate dorsal fins, and fused pelvic fins. These pelvic fins act as suction cups and are used to cling to rocks and shells. The naked goby is a small fish with no scales and is smooth to the touch.

Life History and Behavior

Of all the temperate species of goby, the naked goby is the most abundant in Rhode Island. Although significant numbers of naked gobies can be found in Narragansett Bay, they are generally solitary and reclusive fish. The naked goby inhabits shallow marshes, mud flats, and oyster reefs, and they are often found hiding inside empty, hinged clam and oyster shells. Females lay eggs inside dead oyster shells and leave the males to guard the nests until the eggs hatch.

The naked goby feeds on worms and amphipods, and is preyed upon by American eels, sand shrimp and larger fish. In winter, the naked goby becomes sluggish, stops feeding and swimming, and seeks shelter from predators.

Special Notes

Adapted from The Uncommon Guide to Common Life on Narragansett Bay. Save The Bay, 1998.