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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes > Family Gobiidae > mudskippers
Bearded mudskipper
Scartelaos histophorus

Family Gobiidae
updated Sep 2020

Where seen? This long leaping mudskipper has so far only be seen at Pasir Ris and Chek Jawa. Its preferred habitat is soft liquid mud where it often squirms rapidly in a snake-like manner. According to FishBase it is intertidal and found on sand and mud flats along bay shores. Also in estuarine areas, swamps, marshy areas and on tidal mud flats. It actively shuttles back and forth between rock pools and air.

Features: To about 14cm long, those seen about 7-10cm. Scales are tiny and partly embedded and thus not visible with the naked eye. The skin on the top of the head and on the back is full of blood vessels allowing the fish to respire through the skin. The first dorsal fin is tall and mast-like. Tail fin quite large and long.

Tall mast-like dorsal fin raised when creeping.
Chek Jawa, Dec 09

Pasir Ris Park, Jul 09

When leaping, second dorsal fin is raised,
but tall first dorsal fin is not.
Chek Jawa, Apr 12

'Stands' on its tail when it leaps..
Chek Jawa, Dec 09
Leaping lovers: The fish does display its tall mast-like dorsal fin when it is creeping about on the ground. But the spectacular behavious is when it leaps 'on the spot', hurling itself almost vertically and for a brief moment, standing on its tail! This is believed to be part of the courtship ritual of the male mudskipper! As it leaps, it spreads out its pectoral fins, and its second dorsal fin. The tall, mast-like first dorsal fin is not raised when leaping. One fish has also been seen raising its tail fin, first and second dorsal fin when horizontal, next to another fish.

Chek Jawa, Jan 10
Photo shared by James Koh on flickr.

A pair emerging from a narrow burrow
that opens sideways into a pool.
Chek Jawa, Mar 11
Burrowing behaviour: It appears to build a burrow that opens sideways into a pool of water.

What does it eat?
It eats tiny bottom dwelling creatures such as diatoms, ostracods, copepods and worms.

Bearded mudskippers on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Pasir Ris, Dec 08
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Pasir Ris, Mar 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Chek Jawa, Jan 10
Photo shared by James Koh on flickr.

  • Larson, Helen K and Kelvin K. P. Lim. 2005. A Guide to Gobies of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 164pp.
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