Australian Native Fishes


Rainbowfish Desert Goby Archer Fish Purple Spotted Gudgeon
Scats Trout Gudgeon Blue-eyes Fire-tailed Gudgeon
Pygmy Perch Tandanus Catfish Galaxias Peacock Gudgeon
Desert Goby - Chlamydogobius  eremius  (Zietz, 1896)   

Male Desert Goby
Description: Small goby with fused ventrals and large dorsal fin; body colour is yellowish with black speckling and a hint of blue in dominant males; unpaired fins are black and edged in blue-white, except for the first dorsal which is yellow edged and has a large metallic blue dot in the centre.

Distribution: Endemic to central Australia.

Natural Habitat: demersal; freshwater; pH range: 7.0 - 8.0; dH range: 9.0 - 19.0; occurs in pools, permanent waterholes and streams associated with artesian springs and bores and subject to high evaporation and thus the water conditions vary considerably with rain and evaporation levels across the habitat.
Climate: temperate; 10 - 35°C, with low night temperatures in winter; high ground temperatures in summer. 
Conservation Status: Not in IUCN Red List.

Threats:  Unknown
Size: 6.0 cm TL.; females smaller than males.

 Water Requirements: Freshwater that is moderately hard, pH 7.0- 8.0; dH 9.0 - 19.0, and contains some salt but not brackish. Ideal temperature range is 20-22°C.  Adaptable, easy to keep and breed; short lived at higher temperature range.
Tank Habitat: Fine gravel substrate with rocky hiding places; some floating cover such as Duckweed.
Diet: Feeds on insects, crustaceans, filamentous algae and detritus. Will take flake foods and frozen or dried live foods.
Sexing:  Males have blue/black second dorsal fin, edged in white, which is larger than in female; males have larger mouth than females; females lack colouring of male and show a prominent black spot on the first dorsal fin.
Reproduction: Egg layers on substrate (hidden); guarders; male guards eggs in a clutch.  Males will mate with a number of females in his brooding hollow (in crevices and under rocks).  Fry may be eaten in close quarters.
Tank Community:  Species tank only: keep in trios or with more females than males.
Incompatible Species: larger fish; wading birds. 
[Information Source:
Index of Freshwater Fishes sv. Chlamydogobius  eremius.]
Comments: Acquired: One pair, 10/19/2001. Initially set up in a small tank with cut flower pot hide. 

Purple Spotted Gudgeons

There are two very similar species, the Northern Purple Spotted Gudgeon and the Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon.  The former is still common in its range, while the latter species is endangered, having become extinct over most of its southern range, especially in South Australia and Victoria.

Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon - Mogurnda adspersa (Castelnua, 1878) Chequered Gudgeon, Trout Gudgeon.

Mogurnda adspersa, is an endangered species.

Map shows former range of the two species of Purple Spotted Gudgeons.

Description: Small elongate, large mouthed gudgeon, with golden brown body colour and purple-magenta spotting  laterally and on the tail; two prominant eye stripes diagonally backwards from the eye and a parallel third strip on the operculum.  Has two dorsal fins, of which the second is the larger and edged in yellow/green or white; anal fin edged in blue-white; short ventral fins resemble those of a goby but are not conjoined.

This fish rarely swims continuously.  Longer distances accomplished by a series of jerky darts. 

Distribution: endemic to Australia, in the Murray- Darling System of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland; perhaps South Australia; originally its distribution extended into Northern Victoria where it had been presumed extinct since the 1930's.  Recently re-discovered in the Cardross Lakes (an irrigation drainage basin system) near Mildura in Northern Victoria; also found in eastern coastal drainages north of the Clarence River, New South Wales. Introduced widely in dams.

Natural Habitat: benthopelagic, freshwater; Climate: subtropical; 16 - 20°C; 14°S - 36°S. Inhabits slow-flowing or still waters, among weed. 
Conservation Status: Rare across its range; Endangered in Victoria. A protected species in the Queensland, Burnett River Catchment area; listed for conservation in other areas. Breeding programs are active in S.A and Victoria.
Threats:  Competition with introduced species; habitat destruction; rising salinity in the River Murray-Darling System; pollution from agricultural run-off..
Size: 14.0 cm TL (male/unsexed); At maturity, female at 4.9 cm, male at 4.5 cm. 
Water Requirements: freshwater; pH range: 7.0; dH range: 10.0 - 20.0; temperature range 15- 24°C.
Tank Habitat: Still, hard, freshwater;  pH range: 7.0- 7.4; planted and with rocky hiding places.

Diet: Feeds on worms, dragonfly larvae, midge and mosquito larvae, crustaceans and small fishes.  An ambush predator, lying motionless on bottom until suitable prey approaches. Eats feral Mosquitofish (Gambusia spp.); will eventually take pellet foods; does best on live foods.
Sexing: Sexually dimorphic: males may have a slightly more pronounced "bump" on the head and the male urinogenital papilla is pointed whereas that of  the female is shorter.
Reproduction: external dioecism; guarders and tenders, with pair spawning in rivers and ponds at 19-34°C in Dec.-Feb, during one, clear, seasonal peak per year. A single cluster of demersal eggs laid on a solid substrate, often close to vegetation. Male swims around female with all fins erect and opercula expanded.  This courting behavior may continue for some days. Male cleans spawning site and pairs with a gravid female.  Eggs deposited in clusters on solid objects such as rocks, wood, broad leafed plants. Female deposits about 30 eggs and then rests while male fertilizes them. She then continues to lay another batch. After producing about 280-1300 eggs, the female moves away and the male remains to fan and guard the eggs until hatching, which takes about 7 - 9 days.  Remove parent once fry are hatched.
Tank Community: This species is not recommended for private fish keeping but is bred in conservation programs in species only tanks. The following species is recommended for aquarists.

Northern Purple Spotted Gudgeon - Mogurnda mogurnda (Castelnua, 1878) Australian Chequered Gudgeon, Trout Gudgeon.

Description:  Small elongate, trout-like gudgeon, with greenish body colour and purple-magenta spotting  laterally and on the tail, pinkish colouring on the operculum; five prominant "facial"stripes diagonally backwards from the eye and a cross the operculum. 

Has two dorsal fins, of which the second is the larger and edged in yellow/green or white; anal fin edged in blue-white; short ventral fins resemble those of a goby but are not conjoined.

Male M. mogurnda

Distribution: Widely distributed across Northern Australia and southern New Guinea.  Australian range extends from Cape York, adjacent to the Gulf of Carpentria, to the gulf drainages, Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, Western Australia as far west as Fitzroy River.  Also found in the Lake Eyre drainage, N.T., Qld., S.A.. 
Native Fish Asociation Ref: Northern P S Gudgeon]

Map shows former Australian range of the Northern Purple Spotted Gudgeon in red.  Note the northern SA population.

Natural Habitat: benthopelagic, freshwater creeks, billabongs and streams; found in dams and bores; found in murky waters as well as clear waters, with wide physiochemical tolerances.  M. mogurnda can withstand short periods of low oxygen levels, water temperatures from 5C to at least 32°C and salinities up to 10,000 parts per million.
Conservation Status: Not in IUCN Red List
Threats: Regarded as non-threatened.
Size:  up to 170 mm; most commonly about 100 mm TL.
Water Requirements:  Best in cool to warm, moderately hard feshwater, temperature 20 - 27°C (will tolerate slow drop in temperature to 5°C.  Tolerates a wide range of water parameters.
Tank Habitat:  Large tank, gravel bottom (u/g filtration adequate if acidification is monitored) with very little water movement.  Provide planted areas, retreats and cover.
Diet:  Mainly carnivorous, feeds on a variety of insects and crustaceans, molluscs, other fish, worms and some plant material. Takes live foods, frozen foods and flakes in captivity.
Sexing:  some slight sexual dimorphism- males more vividly coloured and with a pronounced "bump" on the head; sexing is generally difficult except in breeding season. See below:-
Reproduction: Sexual dimorphism is displayed during the breeding season, the male urinogenital papilla are pointed and may attain an  intense blue colouration, in females the papilla are short and broad with a fringed margin.  Spawning involves the adults swimming closely together, the female deposits a patch of demersal, adhesive eggs on a hard surface such a rock or log.  Each clutch is around 50 mm in diameter and contains around 100 to 150 eggs.  During the breeding season (November to February) the female may deposit up to 10 clutches.  The male remains on guard over the eggs, fanning them with his pectoral fins to maintain a current of water until they hatch in about 9 days. Will breed in captivity.  It has been suggested that it is best if one female is kept with several males but I have had breeding success with pairs. Often the female  deposits the eggs on the glass of the aquarium. The female and other males should be removed after spawning and the  brooding male after the eggs hatch.  If the adults are not removed, they will eat the larvae and any remaining eggs.  Larvae can be raised on newly hatched brine shrimp, micro-worms and small rotifers, until they take finely powdered dry foods.  Growth is rapid.  Source: Native Fish Asociation Ref: Northern Purple Spotted Gudgeon]
Tank Community: Does well with Rainbowfish. This fish has amazing jumping abilities- so house in a covered tank or large pond, with weed cover.  A very attractive and popular aquarium species, reasonable easily obtained though the aquarium trade.  Often mistaken for the endangered Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon to which it is very similar. Best maintained in a tank with adequate cover and with a water temperature between 20 to 27°C.  The fish tends to be a fairly belligerent bottom dweller and will usually take only live or fresh foods.  Suitable foods include small earthworms, brine shrimp and daphnia.  Beef-heart mix can be given as well. 
Comments:  Suitable for mosquito control in dams.
Incompatible Species:  Larger fishes.
Comments: I caught this species in billabongs along the Adelaide River, NT, during 1970-71 and kept them in the school's aquaria with Rainbows. This species makes a delightful subject and does well with Rainbowfish in a large tank. Acquired: 1 pair, Jan. 2001.  Breeding began 26 October, 2001.
To breed this pair, I placed them in a small, covered 28 litre tank (a plastic storage box, actually), with water depth about 30 cms and the tank bare except for floating Java Fern and half a coconut shell.  Filtration was via a mature sponge filter.  The fish were fed on live foods and frozen beef heart and left undisturbed except for feeding and partial water changes each week.  The female was courted by the male in a more vigourous chase than described above, but not violent.  The first batch of spawn was laid inside the coconut shell.  Free swimming fry were seen 6 days after spawning.  Subsequent spawning sites were on the walls and bottom of the tank.  They produced several broods during the summer months, from October 2001 to March 2002.

For the first two weeks, the fry are very small and were fed on infusoria, "green water" rich in rotifers and single-celled algae, and microworms then on newly hatched brine shrimp.  They were gradually introduced to powdered dry foods over the next few weeks.  There was a marked difference in growth rate among individuals in the batch, with some fish taking brine shrimp and very fine beef-heart mix at one month of age and others still requiring very fine foods. 

Firetailed Gudgeon - Hypseleotris galii  (Ogilby 1898) 
Description: Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes). Order: Perciformes; Family: Eleotridae (Sleepers); Small, olive/bronze gudgeon with grey lateral stripe and reddish tail; has a compressed body, two dorsal fins and a small, oblique mouth that reaches to below the front of the eye.  Not an active species but can move fast when disturbed. The colouration of his species varies with age, habitat and season. The body is generally grey to bronze with black scale margins. During the breeding season males can be almost black, with intense red-orange fins. There is often a black bar above the pectoral fins base and a faint stripe along the side of the body.

Distribution: Australia: coastal drainages of eastern Australia from Fraser Island, in Queensland to Eden in southern New South Wales. Introduced to dams; now widespread in Australia.

Natural Habitat: demersal; warm temperate freshwater. Occurs in streams, ponds, swamps, usually among aquatic weeds; also found in dams, irrigation canals and drains.
Conservation Status: Not in IUCN Red List.
Threats:  habitat degradation.
Size: to 5.5 cm TL; 4.0 cm TL (female);
Water Requirements: freshwater, pH 6.5 - 8; temperate; 10°C - 30°C; lives longer at lower temperature range 15°C - 24°C; adequate filtration provided by u / g systems or sponge filters with low water flow; water changes essential to keep nitrate levels low.
Tank Habitat: Freshwater, with rocky cover and plants, best kept in pairs in small aquaria; adapts well to a quiet aquarium, and can be kept with small Rainbowfish.
Diet: Omnivorous; an ambush feeder, feeding mainly on insects and small crustaceans.
Sexing:  Easier once pairs form with female with eggs having a fatter abdomen. Female Firetailed Gudgeons can be easily distinguished from other species of Hypseleotris by the black area around the vent. This area is usually brown in males.
Reproduction: dioecism; guarders and nesters; Female lays adhesive eggs on the roof of a rocky ledge. Male guards and fans the nest until hatching takes place after 3-5 days.
Tank Community: Shy, needs plant and rock cover.
Incompatible Species:  Introduced trout and cichlids; larger fishes.
Comments: Important fish for Mosquito control within its natural range. I have kept them but they are not an active species.

Toxotes jaculatrix (Pallas 1767) syn.  Toxotes jaculator, Archerfish; Rifle Fish.
Toxotes  chatareus  (Hamilton, 1822) Large Scaled Archerfish; Seven-spot Archerfish.

Toxotes jaculatrix

Toxotes charateus


Description: Laterally compressed, deep bodied fish with an arrow-head-like outline; body colour white, with black bars or spots above the lateral line. Very active. Diagnosis of species:
Toxotes jaculatrix- Dorsal spines (total): 4-4; Dorsal softrays (total): 11-13; Anal spines: 3-3; Anal soft-rays: 15-17.

C.f. Toxotes charateus- Dorsal spines (total): 5-6; Dorsal softrays (total): 12-13; Anal spines: 3-3; Anal soft-rays: 15-17. T. charateus grows larger, to 40.0 cm SL (male/unsexed); max.weight: 750.0 gms.

Distribution: Asia and Oceania: from India eastward to the Philippines, and south to Indonesia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and northern Australia. Australia: Rivers and estuaries of northern Australia: Darwin, Alligator, Mary, Katherine, Daly, Roper and Adelaide Rivers; Gulf Of Carpentaria drainage area; rivers of North Eastern Australia.

I loved watching these active fishes in the Daly and Adelaide Rivers, N.T. They are always on the move, scanning the areas above and on the water, for insects.

Natural Habitat: pelagic; freshwater; brackish water; Climate: tropical; 25 - 30°C.  An estuarine species, migrates into lower reaches of rivers and is also found in billabongs.  Lives near the water surface, constantly on the move.  Occurs primarily in brackish mangrove estuaries, but also penetrates rivers and small streams. Reported to occur near overhanging vegetation on reefs. Feeds at the surface during daytime on floating debris which includes insects and vegetable matter. It is renowned for its ability to 'shoot down' insect prey by expelling beads of water from its mouth with considerable force and for its remarkable ability to compensate for visual refraction when aiming its shoots; shooting range is about 150 cm. Will extinguish a glowing cigarette with one shot!

Conservation Status: Not in IUCN Red List.
Threats: Over fishing.

Size: A large fish to 30.0 cm TL (male/unsexed).
Water Requirements: Tropical freshwater to brackish water in estuaries; Brackish water is best for these fish.
Tank Habitat: Medium to very large tank with free swimming spaces is essential; surface area is more important that depth but tank not too shallow; cover is essential. Some floating cover may help easily frightened individual fish. The water must be well oxygenated and have very good biological filtration. Archerfish also tolerate water movement.

Diet:  Predatory on small frogs, fish, and crustaceans, as well as insects, which it shoots down with a well directed jet of water.  Jumps to retrieve prey.  Adapts to frozen foods and floating high protein pellets.
Sexing:  no information.
Reproduction: no information.
Tank Community:  A very large tank with Rainbows and the less aggressive mbuna works well, although Archer fish do not do well with aggressive species in confined space. Scats and Monos may work; Archerfish are relatively shy, take fright easily and jump: they are best kept away from fin nipping species and smaller fish that may make a nice meal. T. chatareus requires considerably more room than T. jaculatrix.
Incompatible Species:  Aggressive fishes; larger Archerfish; fin nippers; Arowanas.
Importance: fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: commercial.  Sold fresh in markets. 
[Information Source:
Index of Freshwater Fishes sv. Toxotes jaculatrix.]
Comments: Both Toxotes jaculatrix and T. chatareus can be kept with large Rainbows as a "dither fish"; they does best in brackish water environment.
Scatophagus argus (Linnaeus 1766) Spotted Scat, Red Scat

Scatophagus argus argus, Spotted Scat.
Description: A shoaling species. Laterally compressed, deep bodied fish with a small head; body colour barred golden to brassy yellow, white ventrally, with darker bars and black spots over the body; vertical eye stripe and some facial stripes. Small mouth. 
Several varieties exist, such as the Spotted and Red Scats.
Diagnosis of species: C.f. Scatophagus tetracanthus (Lacepède, 1802) - Dorsal spines (total): 11-11; Dorsal softrays (total): 15-18; Anal spines: 4-4; Anal soft-rays: 14-15

Distribution: Indo-West Pacific; off shore reefs and estuaries and rivers: Australian distribution in estuaries and lagoons of the Indo-Pacific coast. 

Natural Habitat: benthopelagic; freshwater; brackish; marine environments. Climate: tropical; 22 - 30°C. Found in harbours, lagoons and estuaries, venturing into freshwater during periods of flooding and high rainfall.
Conservation Status: Not in IUCN Red List.

Threats:  no information.

Size: 30.0 cm TL (male/unsexed)

Water Requirements: Brackish, tropical water is best for these fish. Juveniles can be adapted to freshwater to which a little salt has been added.
Tank Habitat: Medium to large tank with free swimming spaces; plants not essential; good filtration; partial water changes weekly.
Diet:  Feeds on detritus and benthic invertebrates; accepts black worms, brine shrimp, flakes; eats plants in aquaria.
Sexing:  no information.
Reproduction: no information.
Tank Community:  A very large tank with Monos works well, under brackish conditions.  A peaceful fish, that adapts well to aquaria when young.  Keep in small shoals.
Incompatible Species: Seems to hold its own with a wide range of brackish water species.
Importance: aquarium: commercial.  Sold fresh in markets.
[Information Source:
Index of Freshwater Fishes sv. Scatophagus tetracanthus; plus personal field experience.]
Comments: I have found that this species will eat aquatic plants and algae with a determination that makes any take plant free tucker; adapts well to being kept with small Archerfish. A form that I caught from the Daly River estuary has a bright red vertical mark running down the front of the head between the eyes. I kept several of these in a freshwater aquarium, together with Rainbowfish, Archerfish and Sailfin Mollies. Colour was brighter yellow in juvenile fish.

A Habitat for Rainbows, Scats and Archerfish


My Rainbowfish Page

Notes on Fish Keeping


Treating Diseases in Bettas
and Other Fishes

IUCN Red List.