Stippled Clingfish

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Gobiesox punctulatus - Poey, 1876
Stippled Clingfish

Stippled Clingfish male. Matthew L. Wittenrich


These curious little fish is so named for its ability to cling tightly to hard substrates in the wild, where they are commonly found along rocky shallow shorelines with strong currents and wave action. 

In the aquarium, they will attach to live rock or the walls of  the tank but will dash into the water column when food items are available.

They make interesting subjects for nano aquariums where their behaviors can be closely observed.

Family: Gobiesocidae

Other common name(s):

Native range:

Habitat: Clean seawater in coastal areas from 1 to 30 ft deep (.3 m to 9 m). They have no special requirements in the aquarium, as long as live rock with nooks, crannies, and caves are present. Clingfish may position themselves upside down under ledges or on the roofs of caves.

Maximum length: 6.35 cm (2 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 38 L (10 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: All levels, often resting on bottom.


Carnivore. In the wild, it feeds primarily on benthic crustaceans (amphiopods, isopods, small shrimp and crabs) as well as worms and small fish.

Offer meaty foods at least twice daily.  Mysis Shrimp are eaten ravenously. Vary diet with reef plankton, krill, chopped squid, and reef carnivore rations.

Aquarium Compatibility

Will generally coexist with other small, peaceful species, but may defend its territory and skirmish with members of its own species.


Demersal spawner, laying sticky masses of eggs on hard substrate or aquarium walls. See Breeding the Stippled Clingfish by Felicia McCauley from the March/April 2012 issue of CORAL Magazine.


Although their shape is suggestive of the Plecostomus or sucker-mouth catfish popular in the freshwater aquarium world, clingfishes are carnivorous and members of the Family Gobiesocidae—goby-like fishes with a suction disk on their ventral side formed by fused pelvic fins. This is not the mouth, as some mistakenly believe.

Underside showing suction disk formed by fused pelvic fins.
Reference: CORAL Magazine
Image credit: MLW
Text credit: JML