Benthophilus leobergius Berg, 1949
Caspian stellate tadpole-goby
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Family:  Gobiidae (Gobies), subfamily: Gobiinae
Max. size:  14.3 cm TL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  demersal; freshwater; brackish
Distribution:  Europe and Asia: Northern, western and southern parts of Caspian Sea; lower reaches of Volga up to Astrakhan.
Diagnosis:  This species is distinguished from its congeners by the following characters: 2 tubercles between the eyes; projecting upper jaw distinct; tubercles in dorsal row 27-30, ventral row 27-30, upper lateral row 15-24 but the lower one usually absent; granules few or sparse on head and back in front of first dorsal; a few larger ones between upper lateral and dorsal rows of tubercles; chin barbel slightly compressed, half of eye diameter in length; D1 III-IV; sides with dark blotches and irregular dots (Ref. 59043).
Biology:  This species is rarely found in marine waters for it prefers salinity below 9 ppt. Occurs in still or slowly flowing water over muddy bottom at depths of around 0.5-10 m in summer and moves to deeper waters in winter. It lives for a about a year; spawns in April-October. Females lay eggs in two portions, sometimes more and die shortly after last release of eggs while the males die 3-4 weeks later. The males probably guard a clutch of eggs until hatching. Feeds on benthic invertebrates, mainly molluscs (Ref.59043).
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC); Date assessed: 01 January 2008 Ref. (124695)
Threat to humans:  harmless
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