Noise is an important theoretical constraint on the evolution of signal form and sensory performance. In order to determine environmental constraints on the communication of two freshwater gobies Padogobius martensii and Gobius nigricans, numerous noise spectra were measured from quiet areas and ones adjacent to waterfalls and rapids in two shallow stony streams. Propagation of goby sounds and waterfall noise was also measured. A quiet window around 100 Hz is present in many noise spectra from noisy locations. The window lies between two noise sources, a low-frequency one attributed to turbulence, and a high-frequency one (200-500 Hz) attributed to bubble noise from water breaking the surface. Ambient noise from a waterfall (frequencies below 1 kHz) attenuates as much as 30 dB between 1 and 2 m, after which values are variable without further attenuation (i.e., buried in the noise floor). Similarly, courtship sounds of P. martensii attenuate as much as 30 dB between 5 and 50 cm. Since gobies are known to court in noisy as well as quiet locations in these streams, their acoustic communication system (sounds and auditory system) must be able to cope with short-range propagation dictated by shallow depths and ambient noise in noisy locations.