Round gobies are native to the Black, Caspian, Marmara, and Azov Seas and their tributaries in Eurasia.
Round gobies have been introduced in several areas outside of their native range. They are an invasive species in the Great Lakes region of North America, with a rapidly expanding range there. Round gobies are beginning to enter the river drainages of the Great Lakes, including the Chicago River, eventually resulting in the invasion of the Mississippi River drainage.
They have also been introduced into the Moscow River and the Baltic Sea. They are especially problematic in the Gulf of Gdansk, where populations densities have exploded, but they have been subsequently found in many parts of the Baltic Sea and into the Danube River. It is not clear how round gobies were introduced to the Baltic Sea.
Jude, D. 1995. Two New Fish Aliens in the Great Lakes. Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences Factsheet University of Michigan.
Marsden, J., D. Jude. 1995. Round gobies invade North America. Great Lakes SeaGrant Factsheet, FS 065.
Fuller, P., A. Benson, E. Maynard. 2007. "Apollonia (Neogobius) melanostomus" (On-line). USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Accessed December 10, 2008 at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.asp?speciesID=713.
Pascualita, S. 2008. "fishbase.org" (On-line). Accessed December 10, 2008 at http://www.fishbase.org/summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=12019.
Sapota, M. 2006. "NOBANIS – Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet – Neogobius melanostomus" (On-line). Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Accessed December 11, 2008 at http://www.nobanis.org/files/factsheets/Neogobius_melanostomus.pdf.
Habitat: Inshore habitats, estuaries, brackish- and fresh-water lagoons and lakes, large rivers, harbours, on sand or rock bottom. To 50-60 m deep in Black Sea during winter. Mostly found on well vegetated or rock bottom.
Biology: Lives up to four years. Males reproduce for the first time at 3-4, females at 2-3. Spawns in April-September. Males have entirely black body during spawning season. Individual females may repeat spawning during a season every 18-20 days. Adhesive eggs are deposited under or between stones, shells and aquatic plants. Males guard eggs until eggs hatch, in 2-3 weeks. Males usually die after spawning season. Feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates and small fish. Egg clutches are supposed to be occasionally transported attached to the hull of ships, facilitating the invasion of new areas.
As an invasive species in the United States, efforts to reduce round goby populations are underway. They have no special status in their native range, though their cousins, Proterorhinus marmoratus, which are also invasive in the Great Lakes, are endangered in the Black Sea region.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Azov, Black and Caspian Sea basins. Invasive in Baltic basin, which it reached via navigation canals. Reached westwards to German Baltic coast in 2002. Recently recorded in lower parts of rivers in Gulf of Gdansk (Poland). Also moving upwards in rivers of its original range; in Volga upstream to Moscow and north to Lake Rybinskoye; in Dniepr up to Belarus, in Danube reached Austria in 2000. Accidentally arrived in North America in 1991 and lowermost Rhine (Netherlands) in 2004 with ballasts water in ships.
Comments: In the Black and Caspian seas, habitat is mainly nearshore areas, with movements to deeper water (up to 60 m) for winter; occurs also in rivers and slightly brackish water; prefers rocky or gravelly habitat; when startled, hides in crevices or actively burrows into gravel; able to tolerate degraded water quality; eggs are deposited in nests on the tops or undersides of rocks, logs, or cans; aggressively defends spawning sites (Marsden and Jude 1995).