Chlamydogobius micropterus Larson 1995
Elizabeth Springs goby


image 17KK jpeg Male, 50mm (2in) TL. Peter Unmack photo.


The genus Chlamydogobius has just been revised by Helen Larson of the Northern Territory Museum (Larson 1995).


To 62mm (2.4in) TL.

Conservation Status

Listed as Endangered by the Australian Society for Fish Biology.

Distribution & Abundance

Restricted to Elizabeth Springs in the Springvale Spring Supergroup in Western Queensland. The total population size is estimated to be between 1000-2000 individuals (Unmack & Wager in prep. a).

Habitat & Ecology

Elizabeth Springs is a group of low mound springs. They occur over an area of about 1,500m by 400m (5,000 by 1,300ft). The springs include dry or non-flowing mounds with little or no vegetation, vegetated marshy soaks with no surface water, springs with small pools among marshy vegetated areas, and well vegetated springs with many pools and short, well defined outflows. Maximum water depth is approximately 100mm (4in). Gobies only occur in some of the larger springs with depths greater than 10mm (0.2in). They are thought to be omnivorous (Unmack & Wager in prep. a).


Spawning has been recorded in aquaria at temperatures over 20C (68F). Around 40-100 eggs are laid on the ceiling of a cave. Males guard the eggs until hatching occurs ten days later (Unmack & Wager in prep. a). Fry are around 5-6mm (0.2in) and are able to eat newly hatched brine shrimp. Most other aspects of spawning are similar to the desert goby.


The flow rate of Elizabeth springs has declined from an estimated 158 litres/second (42gal/s) to less than 5 l/s (1.2gal/s) today (>95%) due to extraction of water from Great Artesian Basin (Habermahl 1982). This has resulted in considerable loss of habitat. Prior to fencing, the springs were trampled and polluted by cattle (Unmack & Wager in prep. a, b).

Conservation Action

Springvale Station, the property on which Elizabeth Springs is found has recently been acquired by the National Parks Service. Elizabeth Springs were fenced in 1993. The fence excludes domestic stock, while still allowing access by native animals. A national program to regulate the flow of artesian bores (wells) and to cap free flowing bores should ensure that the flow rate of Elizabeth Springs does not decrease further. Captive breeding populations of Elizabeth Springs goby have been established (Unmack & Wager in prep. a).

Conservation Recommendations

Regular monitoring for the presence of damnbusia (which has been recorded from nearby waterways) should be carried out. Allocation of water from the Great Artesian Basin for Elizabeth Springs should become a priority (Unmack & Wager in prep. a).

Important References

Habermahl, M. A. 1982. Springs of the Great Artesian Basin, Australia-their origin and nature. Bureau of Mineral Resources Geology and Geophysics. Report Number 235.

Larson, H. K. 1995. A review of the Australian endemic gobiid fish genus Chlamydogobius, with description of five new species. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 12: 19-51.

Unmack, P. J. & Wager, R. N. E. (in prep. a) Threatened fishes of the world, Chlamydogobius micropterus.

Unmack, P. J. & Wager, R. N. E. (in prep. b) The Elizabeth Springs goby, its aquarium care, habitat and conservation status.

Australian Desert Fishes--Home | Species Index
Desert Fishes Council--Home | Species Index
Texas Natural History Collections--FISH-- Home | Species Index
Comments or questions on the Australian desert fishes pages are welcome

Search these web pages

The Australian desert fishes pages are compiled and maintained by Peter J. Unmack
Many thanks to Karen Randall for her excellent drawing of a desert goby that is
the background to these pages. Please don't reuse this image without her permission.

This file was last modified:  18 March 2003