Puddle pirating in the NT – Finniss river

Well, you may have noticed the site has been really quiet of late. I have been busy with tourists, Bush Blitz and getting a bunch of fish photos while the dry season here in Darwin hangs on. Not long now and the rains will return and make access impossible to many areas. So let’s have a look at some of the fish I have been encountering in my travels. I’ll start with recent fish from the Finniss region west of Darwin:

Macculloch's [dwarf] rainbow fish from NT (Melanotaenia maccullochi)

The NT dwarf rainbowfish (Melanotaenia maccullochi)

The first is this tiny little rainbowfish – the Macculloch’s or Dwarf rainbowfish. This species is found in patches of northeastern Australia, PNG and one tiny part of the NT, where the local variety is very small and unusually coloured. They sport a pale colour overlaid with black stripes and a red throat. The fin tips are white with a dark submarginal band and a greenish base. This variety is found in extremely shallow water in spring fed swamps.

Primitive, Lorentz's Archerfish (Toxotes [Protoxotes] lorentzi)

The rarely seen Primitive archerfish (Toxotes lorentzi)

Most anglers of northern Australia are familiar with Archerfish- the fish with the awesome ability to weaponize water – shooting a well aimed jet from their mouths at insects, frogs and lizards in the vegetation above. This is the Primitive archerfish, one rarely seen or noticed. Juveniles have tiger stripes and together with adults are found in freshwater lagoons and rivers with lots of overhanging trees. Like the other archerfish species, the Primitive can spit water, though it is not as well adapted as the other species.

Strawman or Blackmast (Craterocephalus stramineus)

Strawman or Blackmast (Craterocephalus stramineus)

Found only in the hard alkaline rivers of the limestone country is this neat little fish. The Blackmast has a tall black and yellow dorsal fin. Feeding mostly on algae and small invertebrates it is a fast swimming species that forms large schools. Delicate and difficult to keep in the aquarium it is spectacular nonetheless.

Giant gudgeon guarding nest (Oxyeleotris selheimi)

Snorkeling in one of the waterfalls I was pleased to find this giant gudgeon guarding a clutch of eggs. This species is often called the “sleepy cod”, a name that belongs to a closely related species (Oxyeleotris lineolata). Ambush predators, they sit and wait for something to swim by, darting out in a flash. This one was about 40cm long.


Finniss glassfish (Ambassis sp)

Glassfish are common in many of the northern rivers. This variety is not yet named but it is common in the Finniss. Glassfish are predators, feeding on small aquatic animals.

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4 comments on “Puddle pirating in the NT – Finniss river

  1. Peter Unmack on said:

    G’day Nathan, those Darwin maccullochi are not maccullochi, while they are part of the “Maccullochi” species group, they are more closely related to NG species than Australian ones.


    • Hi Peter,

      Mike Hammer made me aware of that recently. So have they been described yet? I have only tentatively listed them as maccullochi so far…



  2. Peter Unmack on said:

    Not yet described. I think Michael was going to take that one on!

    • Mike and I were puddling about in the upper Reynold’s and sourced a few more specimens for DNA/morphology. He’s a busy bloke though.

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