A Virtual Museum on the State's Fish Biodiversity
Gobiomorus dormitor
Bigmouth Sleeper

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Eleotridae (Sleepers)
Gobiomorus dormitor (Bigmouth Sleeper)


All text below is derived from a January 2013 copy of Dr. Timothy Bonner's website at Texas State University. That content was derived primarily from published literature. We are aware of some conflicts with the museum record and the content below will evolve as the new, expanded UT and Texas State Fishes of Texas project team members are able to update it. We invite collaborations to improve and expand the species account content. Please contact us if you wish to help, or if you discover flaws in our species account content that you can address.

Type Locality

Martinique (Lacepede 1798).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name




Alvarius lateralis

Eleoris longiceps

Eleotris dormitatrix

Platycephalus dormitor



Maximum size: Lindquist (1980) reported adult size ranging from 110-610 mm SL; Gobiomorus dormitor is the largest gobioid fish.




Counts: More than 50 scale rows (Hubbs et al. 2008).


Body shape:


External morphology: Maxillary reaching posterior margin of pupil (Hubbs et al. 2008).


Internal morphology: Teeth on vomer (Hubbs et al. 2008).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Southern Florida and Texas and south through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean to South America (Hubbs et al. 2008).


Texas distribution: Inhabits the coastal regions of southern Texas (Hubbs et al. 2008).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, NGO)

Very common in the lower reaches of the Rio Grande (Texas; Lindquist 1980; Hubbs et al. 2008). Vulnerable (Warren et al. 2000) in the southern United States. Threatened in Florida (American Fisheries Society status by Distinct Populations Segments; Musick et al. 2000); this status based on multiple threats to the Indian River Lagoon System.


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Freshwater-Estuarine (Hubbs et al. 2008). Amphidromous, marine to freshwater (Musick et al. 2000). Common in brackish coastal lagoons and freshwater streams entering the sea (Lindquist 1980).





Spawning season:


Spawning habitat:


Spawning Behavior:




Age at maturation




Growth and Population structure: 




Food habits:


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes



Host Records



Commercial or Environmental Importance





Darnell, R.M. 1955. Nocturnal terrestrial habits of the tropical gobiod fish Gobiomorus dormitor, with remarks on its ecology. Copeia 1955(3):237-238.


Gilbert, C.R., and D.P. Kelso. 1971. Fishes of the Tortuguero area; Caribbean Costa Rica. Bull. Fla. State Mus. Biol. Sci. 16(1):1-54.


Gilmore, RG. 1992. Bigmouth Sleeper, Gobiomorus dormitor. pp 105-111 in: Gilbert, C.R. (ed.). Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida, Volume 2, Fishes. University Press of Florida, Gainsville.


Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards, and G.P. Garrett. 2008. An annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of Texas, with keys to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement, 2nd edition 43(4):1-87.


Lacepede, B.G.E. 1798. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 2:1-632.

Lindquist, D.G. 1980. Gobiomorus dormitor (Lacepede), Bigmouth sleeper.  pp. 784 in D. S. Lee et al., Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N. C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

McKaye, K.R. 1977. Competition for breeding sites between the cichlid fishes of Lake Jiloa, Nicaragua. Ecology 58(2):291-302.

Miller, R.R. 1959. Variation, distribution, and relationships of the Mexican eleotrid fish Gobiomorus polylepis. Occas. Pap. Mus. Zool. Univ. Mich. 607:1-11.


Musick, J.A., M.M. Harbin, S.A. Berkeley, G.H. Burgess, A.M. Eklund, L. Findley, R.G. Gilmore, J.T. Golden, D.S. Ha, G.R. Huntsman, J.C. McGovern, S.J. Parker, S.G. Poss, E.Sala, T.W. Schmidt, G.R. Sedberry, H. Weeks, and S.G. Wright. 2000. Marine, estuarine, and diadromous fish stocks at risk of extinction in North America (exclusive of Pacific salmonids). Fisheries 25(11):6-30.


Warren, M.L., Jr., B.M. Burr, S.J. Walsh, H.L. Bart, Jr., R.C. Cashner, D.A. Etnier, B.J. Freeman, B.R. Kuhajda, R.L. Mayden, H.W. Robison, S.T. Ross, and W.C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, Distribution, and Conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries 25(10):7-29.

Zaret, T.M., and A.S. Rand. 1971. Competition in Tropical Stream Fishes: Support for the Competitive Exclusion Principle. Ecology 52(2):336-342.



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