Gobius vittatus

We are in front of another species belonging to the wide Gobiidae family or commonly known as Gobies. Gobius vittatus is a small fish whose distribution is little studied. It is known to be present in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and it is believed that it may also be present in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the Spanish, Portuguese and Moroccan Atlantic coasts. The bathymetric range has also been little studied, with data from few publications estimating that they can be found between 15 and 60 meters depth, and mainly associated with the precoraligenic ecosystem.

The body of Gobius vittatus is elongated, usually not exceeding 6 cm in length, compact, with the head also compact and slightly depressed, but the rest of the body towards the tail clearly compressed laterally. It has moderately large eyes located on the top-lateral part of the head, as well as a mouth with thick lips. Just in front of its eyes, it has two pairs of short nasal appendages on each side. The anteriormost appendage adopts a slightly arborescent tentacular shape, while the posteriormost tentacle is more elongated and tubular in shape. Gobius vittatus has two dorsal fins, the first one formed by 6 spines of decreasing length. The second dorsal fin has 11 to 13 soft rays. The anal fin has 12-13 rays, while the pectoral fins have 17 rays and extend to the vertical formed by the end of the first dorsal fin. Unlike the vast majority of species of the Gobiidae family in which specimens have ventral fins modified to form adherent discs, in Gobius vittatus this is not the case. It should also be noted that with the sole exception of the marginal rays of the caudal fin and the rays of the first dorsal fin, the remaining rays of the other fins are all branched at the ends.

As for the livery of Gobius vittatus, there is a wide and contrasting stripe of very intense brown to black color that runs along almost the entire body at the height of the upper third. This stripe starts just above the mouth, crossing in a completely horizontal way the upper third of the eye orbits until reaching the caudal peduncle. On the rostrum, the stripes of both flanks join together to form a point, above which we find some slightly golden spots. Below the lateral stripe, the body is bright white, with a slight touch of pink between the lower part of the eyes and the base of the pectoral fins. Above the stripe, the color is slightly lighter grayish-greenish.

Despite clear differences, it is possible to confuse Gobius vittatus with the nearby species Parablennius rouxi. Both species have a similar livery, with a wide dark horizontal stripe on the upper third of the body. The differences between the two species is the presence of two dorsal fins in Gobius vittatus, while the dorsal fin of Parablennius rouxi is single. Also the nasal appendages are much more developed in Parablennius rouxi than in Gobius vittatus and the caudal fin of Parablennius rouxi is rounded, while Gobius vittatus has a more truncated caudal fin. The fourth differentiating feature is that Parablennius rouxi has a taller body than Gobius vittatus specimens.

The diet of Gobius vittatus specimens is varied, although among their main prey we find polychaetes and copepods, both representing approximately 50% of their catch. To a lesser extent, but in a complementary way, they also feed on other small crustaceans, as well as sponges and algae.