Austrolethops wardi

Whitley 1935

Austrolethops wardi
From Whitley (1935)




Indo-West Pacific: marine


Only a Holotype has been assigned: AMS IA.6175.


Type locality: Boat Port Beach, Lindeman Island, Queensland, Australia. Known from the Indo-West Pacific, east Africa to Aldabra, Philippines, Guam, Great Barrier Reef.


Lives obligately in tubes of the thalassinidean shrimp Neaxius acanthus. This mode of life is also seen in Typhlogobius californiensis.

Biological Notes

In the original description of this species Whitley (1935:244) made the folowing prescient comments:

"This new genus affords a striking parallel to the blind gobies of California, and the existence of such fishes in Australia has hitherto been unsuspected. Hubbs has described Lethops connectens which resembles the Australian form, but differs in having united ventrals. He regarded Lethops as intermediate in form between tIle normal reef gobies and the San Diego Blind Fish, Typhlogobius californiensis Steindachner, and stated that "...the concomitant degeneration of the eye and increased
differentiation of tactile organs thus marks the ontogenetic as well as the evolutionary line". The integument and its sensory papillae and the eyes of Typhlogobius have been examined in detail by Ritter, and it may be possible to compare the Australian genus with his account when further specimens are forthcoming.
Possibly Austrolethops lives in darkened crustacean burrows. It is interesting to note that when fishes, even of different families or orders, adopt similar modes of life, they come to resemble one another in structure. The Brotulid fish Dinematichthys lives in crevices in the Queenland reefs, and the form of the head, pectoral, and ventral fins and other parts resemble that of Austrolethops."

The views of the second paragraph are exactly why this web site contains three different lists of fishes, all from lightless environments, because they "they come to resemble one another in structure."

Conservation Status


Greenfield, D. & Larson, H. 2016. Austrolethops wardi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T68328081A68333624. Downloaded on 31 October 2021.

Key References

Whitley, G.P. Journal Article 1935 Studies in ichthyology. No. 9
Liu, H.T.H., Kneer, D., Asmus, H. and Ahnelt, H. Journal Article 2008 The feeding habits of Austrolethops wardi, a gobiid fish inhabiting burrows of the thalassinidean shrimp Neaxius acanthus
Liu, H.T.H. Thesis 2008 Biodiversity of shrimp associated gobies (Teleostei: Gobiidae) in a seagrass bed at Barrang Lompo Island, Archipelago, Indonesia, with special remarks on Austrolethops wardi
Kneer, D., Asmus, H., Ahnelt, H. and Vonk, J.A. Journal Article 2008 Records of Austrolethops wardi Whitley (Teleostei: Gobiidae) as an inhabitant of burrows of the thalassinid shrimp Neaxius acanthus in tropical seagrass beds of the Spermonde Archipelago, Sulawesi, Indonesia
Karplus, I. Book 2014 Symbiosis in fishes: The biology of interspecific partnerships