Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is of one of Ontario's most unwanted invasive species.
Round goby was first discovered in 1990 in the St. Clair River near Windsor, Ontario. The fish is believed to travel by the ballast water in ships from the Black and Caspian seas in Europe to the Great Lakes in North America. The round goby has since spread into inland lakes in Ontario, including Lake Simcoe.
Round goby are typically 7.5-12.5 cm (3”-5”) in length but some can live up to 5 years old and reach a length of 25 cm (10”).
Their body is a brown color with dark brown spots; dorsal fin has a prominent black spot.
Spawning males are darker, almost black.
Round goby resemble our native sculpins; however their fused scallop-shaped pelvic fin (bottom fin behind gills) is a distinguishing feature.
Where are Round Gobies in our watershed?
Round goby are common along the Nottawasaga Bay shoreline and abundant in Collingwood Harbour. They are penetrated tributary systems such as Black Ash Creek in Collingwood. Round goby are present in the Nottawasaga River at least as far upstream as Angus and are present in the lower reaches of the Pine River.
Why are they of concern?
These bottom-dwelling fish are aggressive feeders and can spawn multiple times each year, which has allowed them to spread so quickly. They tend to feed on insects, other small organisms, zebra and quagga mussels, and sometimes even on eggs of sport fish like bass and walleye. Once the zebra and quagga mussels populations were established in the Great Lakes, the round goby had an abundance of food leading to an increased survival rate. Native fish species are now being out-competed for habitat and food.
How to Control the Spread
It is important that everyone contributes by preventing the introduction of Round Goby into new lakes. It is illegal to posses a live Round Goby or to use them as bait!
- Empty your bait bucket on dry land, at least 30 m away from any body of water, or freeze for future reuse.
- Remember to make sure that your boat is clean before boating in new waters, by either rinsing it
with warm water, pressure washing, or
leaving it in the sun for 5 days to dry off, to avoid further spread.
Early Detection is Key
Early detection and rapid response is essential for the control and/or eradication of invasive species in an area. If you spot a Round Goby, please report the sighting to
With thanks to the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters for the photograph.