learn only 3 things about them ...
They are fishes but can breathe out of water. How do they
They use their pectoral fins to crawl.
are well camouflaged. Watch your step!
Mudskippers are commonly seen on many of our shores. They are particularly
abundant in mangroves and muddy shores, but are also seen on rocky
shores and near reefs.
What are mudskippers? Often mistaken
for frogs or snakes, mudskippers are actually fish that breathe with
gills. Mudskippers belong to the Family Gobiidae
and include these four genera Boleophthalmus, Periophthalmus, Periophthalmadon
Features: Those seen about 6-12cm,
some species can be much larger or smaller. Mudskippers are well adapted
to the intertidal area. Being able to stay of water for a while gives
mudskippers an advantage over 'normal' fishes. During low tide, they
are among the few marine creatures that can exploit the dry muddy
or sandy flats. More
about how to tell apart small mudskippers
commonly found on our shores.
Fish out of water? How do does it
breathe out of water? Just as divers breathe underwater through tanks of air, the mudskipper carries 'tanks of water' in its gill chambers. These chambers are enlarged which give the fish their cute puffy-faced look. Just as air tanks give divers only limited breathing time underwater, the mudskipper also has to go back to the water to refresh the 'tank of water' in its gills. The fish can also breathe air through its wet skin.
The mudskipper is in
fact more comfortable crawling around on the mud than submerged in
Masters of the mudflats: The mudskipper has other interesting features that enables it to rule the mud! Large eyes at the top of the head give an all-round view - it's hard to sneak up on a mudskipper. While the mouth faces downwards to feed on the mud surface. The pectoral fins are used like crutches to crawl over
mud. In some mudskippers, the pelvic
fins are fused to form a sucker so they can better cling to rocks
and mangrove tree roots. Some have colourful dorsal fins that can be raised to signal
other mudskippers on the sand or mudflats.
How do mudskippers skip? They
curl their muscular body sideways then push against the mud to spring
forward. The Bearded mudskipper (Scartelaos
histophorus) can 'stand' on its tail, if only for a brief moment,
in an attempt to impress the ladies.
Human uses: The Giant
mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) is eaten in some
places such as Taiwan. They are caught with nets strung at ground
level, or with cast-nets.
Status and threats: The Giant
mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) is listed among the
threatened animals of Singapore, mainly due to habitat loss. Our other
mudskippers are not listed as endangered. However, like other creatures
of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such
as reclamation and pollution.
Bulbous eyes high on the head.
Kusu Island, Jun 05
Dorsal fin often colourful and raised
to communicate with other mudskippers.
Chek Jawa, Dec 09
These fishes can be quite quarrelsome.
Chek Jawa, Oct 07
A tunnel at the base of the 'swimming pool'.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Feb 12
Mudskipper tracks on the mud.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Feb 12
on Singapore shores
recorded for Singapore
from Helen K. Larson, Zeehan Jaafar and Kelvin K. P. Lim. 29 June 2016. An updated checklist of the gobioid fishes of Singapore.
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Record, etc)
- Zeehan Jaafar, Kelvin K. P. Lim, Loke Ming Chou. 2009. Periophthalmus variabilis (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Oxudercinae), a Valid Species of Mudskipper, and a Re-diagnosis of Periophthalmus novemradiatus. Zoological Science 26(4):309-314.
- Larson, Helen
K and Kelvin K. P. Lim. 2005. A
Guide to Gobies of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre.
Michael, 1997. Mangroves:
The Forgotten Forest Between Land and Sea. Tropical Press,
Malaysia, 200 pp.
- Field, Colin,
among Mangroves. International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems,
Jeremy, 1996. Mangrove: The Forgotten Habitat. Immel Publishing,
London. 277 pp.
- Wee Y.C.
and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
National Council on the Environment. 163pp.