Into the remote Kimberley part 2.2 – the fish

As many of you know, fish are my thing, next to frogs and reptiles. On the Kimberley Bush Blitz, one of my major jobs was to photograph the fish species as they came in. Unfortunately many were in poor condition by the time they got back to the lab, and others were put into formalin before I got a shot. This is a snapshot of what I could photograph:

And the star of the trip – the Bindoola rainbow fish is an unnamed species related to the Exquisite of the NT. This is one spectacular fish!

A Prionobutis gudgeon from the salt. I have no info on these so far.

The Selheim’s gudgeon is one of the “sleepy cod” complex. It grows large, to a couple of kilograms and is a great table fish.

Unlike practically every other Australian catfish, the false spined (Neosilurus pseudospinosis) has no sharp spines

What we thought was a normal black catfish (Neosilurus ater) may be a new species

A pseudogobius yet to be described. Check out the blue tail margins.

Archer fish turned up in many places. This sevenspot has extra spots! These fish shoot jets of water at prey in overhanging bushes, knocking them into the water

The Kimberley Mogurnda is a purple spotted gudgeon native to the region

Mullet are usually on the heads of Western Australians but here is the fish variety – a greenback mullet (Liza subviridis)

This glassfish arrived in poor condition but is an interesting and undetermined species from the salt water.

The Northwest Glassfish is a name given to a whole complex of similar species from Darwin to Broome. This one might be new to science.

It’s the grunters that shine in the Kimberley. These tough fish fill many niches feeding on everything from algae to insects, frogs lizards and other fish! Some are vegetarian though, such as the species from the Syncomistes group:

The common large grunter in the Kimberley is the Western Sooty or Jenkins’ Grunter (Hephasteus jenkinsi). This is a juvenile.

Adult Jenkins’ grunters can develop “blubber lips” but nobody has an answer as to why.

Another look at them Jagger lips

The juvenile Butler’s grunter wears striped pyjamas

…but the adult is plainer. This species is named after conservationist Harry Butler.

Although a vegetarian, the teeth look like those of Tyrannosaurus rex!

As sub adults, the Kimberley grunter (Syncomistes kimberleyensis) has a prominent “duck bill”. It’s a vegetarian and until this trip was known from only 5 specimens!

…like the Butler’s, the juveniles have stripes.

The Drysdale Grunter is the closest relative of this unnamed species

So there you go, the fishy highlights of the Kimberley 2014 Bush Blitz! Next up are the reptiles and a frog.

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8 comments on “Into the remote Kimberley part 2.2 – the fish

  1. Brad Leach on said:

    Great shots Nathan…what a buzz if you do indeed have some new specimens. Am thinking those blubber lips on the Jenkins Grunter may be some sort of sensory organ…of course that is totally untested, but just throwing it out there. Great work.

    Cheers Brad

    • Nathan on said:

      Cheers Brad! Only some individuals have the blubber lips, males are just as likely as females. None of the Icthyologists had an answer…

  2. Really beautiful photos Nathan, and I believe you took these in some type of field studio setup. Would love to hear some more background on the these shots and how you stage them. must have been a fantastic experience to go on that trip with like minded people!

    • Nathan on said:

      Hi there Greg.

      I’ve been thinking about writing up an article about aquarium photography. One of these things y’know… always busy.


  3. Peter Unmack on said:

    G’day Nathan, “What we thought was a normal black catfish (Neosilurus ater) may be a new species”, that picture is a Hyrtl’s catfish. Awesome shots!


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