CREATURE FEATURE: Atlantic Mudskipper

The Atlantic Mudskipper (Periophthalmus barbarus) is a marine (saltwater) fish in the Oxudercidae family. It is similar to the Goby. It is also found in freshwater and brackish water. It is amphibious – it can live in the water and on land – but it is not an amphibian (like a frog or toad) because it does not have lungs. 

The Atlantic Mudskipper has a long brown or greenish body. During the mating season it develops coloured spots, such as red, green or blue. It has close-set, bulging eyes. It has forward fins that are similar to legs that enable it to walk, or skip, along the surface of the mud. It can even climb trees. 

Atlantic Mudskipper

It breathes through its skin and the lining of its mouth and throat. It does not have lungs to breathe air when it is out of the water. Instead, it has enlarged gill chambers where it keeps bubbles of air. The chambers close tightly when the fish is above water, due to a ventromedial valve of the gill slit, keeping the gills moist, and allowing them to function while exposed to air. 

It grows to 30 centimetres (12 inches) in length. 

It is found in tropical waters off the coast of West Africa, mainly in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, and Ghana. 

The Atlantic Mudskipper prefers to live in the tidal flats of coastal mangrove forests where the mud is soft. It digs burrows in the mud.

The Atlantic Mudskipper is an omnivore. It eats worms, flies, beetles, small fish, and crabs.

The female lays hundred of eggs in a burrow in the mud. The male guards the eggs. The eggs hatch after about 19 days. 

Atlantic Mudskipper
Atlantic Mudskipper
Atlantic Mudskipper
Atlantic Mudskipper
Atlantic Mudskipper

Location of photographs: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua, France

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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