Last update: 06 April 2012

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Common names:


Chinese Mandarin

点弹涂鱼 (Dian tan tu yu - spotted mudskipper)*



perioftalmo punteggiato*



black-spotted mudskipper*

* proposed name

Periophthalmus spilotus. Kukup Is., Peninsular Malaysia;
lateral view (above); dorsal view (centre); ventral view (below);
the bar is 10 mm long - freshly dead specimen (photo G. Polgar, 2007)


Periophthalmus spilotus

Murdy & Takita, 1999

(senior synonym, original combination)

'Periophthalmus' is a compound name from the Greek 'peri' (around) and 'ophthalmon' (eye), which refers to the wide visual field of these species

'spilotus' comes from the Greek 'spilôtos' (stained), which refers to the iridescent whitish blue speckles on head and flanks (Murdy & Takita, 1999)

Maximum recorded length:
77 mm SL (Khaironizam & Norma-Rashid, 2002)

Live colouration (Murdy & Takita, 1999; Khaironizam & Norma-Rashid, 2002):
body ground colour golden brown on dorsum and flanks, dorsally darker; venter witish; numerous, iridescent blue speckles scattered on flanks, cheeks, throat and snout, as large as the exposed field of the underlying scale; and fewer, scattered black speckles on flanks, smaller than the exposed field of the underlying scale; 7-8 irregular saddle like, diagonal, brown bars on dorsum, not reaching the lateral midline; the 2nd bar may become darker, forming a dorsal dark blotch behind the operculum; on the nape 4 brown blotches forming an "X" are sometimes visible. D1 reddish brown with white spines; margin transparent. D2 with 1-2 proximal series of red spots, a medial brown stripe sandwiched between two white stripes, and a reddish margin; anal fin hyaline; pectoral fins dusky to yellowish, with crescent reddish blotches basally on rays; caudal fin dusky to grey in background, medially darker; pelvic fins ventrally white, dorsally dusky along rays

Colouration on preservation (Murdy & Takita, 1999; Khaironizam & Norma-Rashid, 2002; pers. obs.: Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra):
ground colour grey to pale brown; saddle-like dorsal bars may be visible: 2nd bar more evident than the other ones; on the nape are sometimes visible 4 dark blotches forming an "X"; venter paler; scattered black speckles on flanks, smaller than the exposed field of the underlying scale. D1 brown, in some specimens anteriorly darker; margin and spines transparent; D2 background transparent, with a brown medial stripe and 1-2 proximal series of pale spots with a thin dark brown border (‘ocular’ spots); distal margin and rays pale brown; anal fin hyaline; pectoral fins hyaline to grey to pale brown; in some specimens, a brown blotch is present on the muscular part of the fin; caudal fin pale brown, often medially darker; pelvic fins whitish-grey on the ventral side, dorsally with few, tiny brown speckles

Diagnosis (Murdy & Takita, 1999):
total elements of D2 14-15; total elements of anal fin 13-15; length of anal fin base 21.8-29.0%SL; length of D2 base 22.5-26.7%SL; scattered black tiny speckles on flanks; D1 without stripes nor spots; D2 with a brown medial stripe sandwiched by white stripes and proximal series of red spots in live specimens; a dark medial stripe with proximal series of white ocular spots in preserved ones; dorsal fins not connected by membrane; caudal fin medially darker; anal fin hyaline, with no spots or stripes; pelvic fins with a strong frenum and completely fused by a basal membrane along innermost rays.
The genus is yet undefined by synapomorphies

carnivorous, opportunistic (crustaceans, insects, etc.: Khaironizam & Norma-Rashid, 2002a, b)

the details of its reproductive cycle have not been described in literature: it probably follows the general model proposed for all the congeneric species (see also Reproductive behaviour); no published study is available

Ecological notes (pers. obs.: Peninsular Malaysia):
locally abundant inside mangrove forests from the lower to the higher intertidal zone, in this latter case being more abundant on the beds of ephemeral inlets during low tide

middle: Kukup Is., Johor, Malaysia: high mangrove forest at high spring tide; here this species is abundant (photo: G. Polgar, 2007)

only recorded from the Straits of Malacca (Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia); type locality: Tebing Tinggi Is., Sumatra, Indonesia (Murdy & Takita, 1999)

Photographs of Periophthalmus spilotus:


A: an individual on an emerged root at high tide (photo: G. Polgar; Kukup Is., Peninsular Malaysia, 2007); B: a close-up of the nape: the "X" blotch is discernible (photo: G. Polgar; Kukup Is., Peninsular Malaysia, 2007); C: another close-up: note the high and vertical profile of the snout (photo: G. Polgar; Kukup Is., Peninsular Malaysia, 2007); D: an individual perching on a root at high tide: note the darker saddle-like bar behind the operculum (photo: G. Polgar; Kukup Is., Peninsular Malaysia, 2007); E: P. spilotus in aquarium floating at water surface (photo: G. Polgar; Kukup Is., Peninsular Malaysia, 2007); F: another close-up in aquarium (photo: G. Polgar; Tg. Piai, Peninsular Malaysia, 2006); G: the second dorsal fin in a live specimen (photo: G. Polgar; Kukup Is., Peninsular Malaysia, 2007)

Drawings of Periophthalmus spilotus:

cephalic sensory and nasal pores of Periophthalmus spp.: an= anterior nostril; pn= posterior nostril (modified from Murdy, 1989)* - * with permission

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