Gobioid fishes are found in several diverse marine and brackish-water habitats. About half the known species of go-bioid fishes are found in coral reef habitats. Gobiid genera such as Gobiodon and Tenacigobius spend much of their life among the branches of corals such as the black or thorny corals (Antipatharia) and the sea fans and sea whips (Gorg-onacea). Gobiosomine gobies (family Gobiidae) such as Ever-mannichthys, Risor, and Gobiosoma, include tiny species that live exclusively within sponges.

Many gobiid species live epibenthically (on the surface) over sandy or muddy substrates. European species of Gobius and Pomatoschistus are very common in these habitats. Mud-skippers (for example, some species of the gobiid genus Pe-riophthalmus ) are benthic inhabitants of mangroves. They are highly amphibious, crawling out onto the mud or onto the mangrove roots, and some species also construct burrows, into which they retreat at high tide. Representatives of several other groups of gobioid fishes exhibit a burrowing lifestyle. For example, species of Kraemeriidae (or sand gobies) and the eleotrid genus Calumia burrow in sand; the gobiid Luciogob-ius burrows in gravel, and species of amblyopine gobiids burrow in mud. Some species, such as the blind goby (Typhlogobius californiensis), from the Eastern Pacific, and the arrow goby (Clevelandia ios), live inside the burrows of marine invertebrates.

There are a few examples of blind eleotrid and gobiid species that live in the subterranean fresh waters of caves and sinkholes; for example, Oxyeleotris caeca from Papua New Guinea, Glossogobius ankaranensis from Madagascar, and the blind cave gudgeon (Milyeringa veritas) from Australia. The two species of loach goby (Rhyacichthys aspro and Rhyacichthys guilberti) show several anatomical specializations for life in torrential rivers and streams. Although the Rhyacichthyidae represents the most basal gobioid lineage, this is not taken as evidence that ancestral gobies also lived in fast-flowing rivers. Instead, it is assumed that this habitat is a specialization of the Rhyacichthyidae. Many species of the Sicydiinae (a subfamily of Gobiidae), including o'opo alamo'o (Lentipes concolor), also inhabit torrential hill streams. Their pelvic fins form a strong suctorial disc that allows them to attach firmly to rocks, preventing the fish from being swept away by the swift currents. Some gobies, such as species of Chlamydogo-bius, live in freshwater desert habitats. The Dalhousie goby (Chlamydogobius gloveri) can tolerate temperatures up to 111°F (43.9°C); the desert goby (Chlamydogobius eremius) can tolerate temperatures between 41 and 106°F (5-41°C), salinities in the range 0-60 parts per thousands and oxygen levels as low as 0.8 parts per million.

Some gobiid species are nektonic, living in the midwater region of shallow coastal waters and estuaries. Cool-temperate midwater dwellers include small aphyiine gobies (family Go-biidae) such as the transparent goby (Aphia minuta) and the crystal goby (Crystallogobius linearis). Some small nektonic species are also found in warm-temperate and tropical regions; for example, species of Parioglossus are found around mangrove roots.

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