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Round Goby (Apollonia melanostomus)

The round goby (Apollonia melanostomus) poses a serious threat to North American aquatic ecosystems, with potential impacts on sport and commercial fishing. Since its discovery in the St. Clair River in 1990, this bottom-dwelling fish has rapidly spread to many areas of the Great Lakes. Once established, populations typically increase quickly. The round goby can displace native fish, eat their eggs and young, take over optimal habitat, spawn multiple times a season, and survive in poor quality water - giving them a competitive advantage.

Anglers, commercial fishermen, and fishery professionals should know how to identify the round goby. Often, anglers are the first to discover round gobies because these aggressive fish are commonly caught by hook and line. Your help to report new sightings and to prevent their spread is vital.

Identify Round Goby

General Characteristics

  • No other native fish in the Great Lakes has the single pelvic fin
  • Young are solid slate gray
  • Usually 3-6 inches (7-15 cm) long, may be up to 10 inches (25 cm)

What You Can Do

  • Learn to identify the round goby.
  • Remove visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from boat, motor, and trailer before transport.
  • Drain lake or river water from bilge, livewell, and motor before leaving access.
  • Dispose of unwanted live bait, worms, and fish parts in the trash.
  • Rinse boat and equipment with high pressure, hot water, AND/OR
  • Dry everything for five days or more before reuse.
  • Never dump live fish from one body of water into another.
  • If you catch a round goby outside the St. Louis River, kill it, freeze it, and call the Minnesota Sea Grant Program in Duluth, (218) 726-8712, or a Minnesota DNR Invasive Species Specialist (see www.mndnr.gov/invasives/contacts.html), 1-888-MINNDNR or (651) 259-5100.

Know the Rules!

Specimens are needed to confirm sightings, but some jurisdictions prohibit possession and transport of invasive aquatic plants and animals. Contact your local natural resource management agency for instructions. Unauthorized introduction of plants, fish, or invertebrates into the wild is illegal. Protect your property and our waters.

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This page last modified on July 26, 2013     © 1996 – 2016 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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