Schismatogobius insignum is a tiny scaleless goby that lives in the rivers of Northern Australia and other rivers across the Indo-Pacific. In Australia the species has only been recorded in a handful of streams including the Little Mulgrave River, which is where the fish in the photo above was found. I was fortunate to sample and study the Little Mulgrave River, and the other rivers of the Wet Tropics region in Northern Australia. S. insignum is definitely the smallest adult fish that I have ever held! It measures less than 5 centimeters in length! S. insignum lives in between rocks and substrate, hiding away most of the day. This was the only individual of the species that we found during several hours of sampling along a stretch of the Little Mulgrave River! There were likely many more of the scaleless S. insignum around our sampling area but they were very difficult to detect with our sampling methods and the rushing waters of the Little Mulgrave River. This fish species has left an impression on me, and remains one of the most interesting that I have been lucky enough to encounter. There is growing research to better our understanding about these tiny, scaleless gobies, and about other freshwater fishes of tropical Australia.

Haiku and photo: Steph Januchowski-Hartley