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Lates calcarifer

This large fish grows to over 150 cm. Silver to bronze in colour with large scales, pink eyes and strong dorsal spines this fish is unlikely to be confused with any other species. Though usually considered catadromous some individuals and populations complete their entire life cycle in marine environments. Landlocked freshwater specimens can obtain large sizes (~’45 kg or 100 lbs’ recorded in region) and become dark in colour. Iconic recreational and important commercial fishery species. Spring – summer spawning aggregations form at the mouths of rivers. Artificially bred and commonly stocked in impoundments beyond its historical range and used in aquaculture production. Present in the Black River basin, Lower Burdekin basin, Ross River basin, Haughton River basin, Saltwater Creek, Elliot River, Euri Creek, Don River and Yellow Gin Creek. Known to have been added as stock to the Burdekin River (above the Burdekin Falls Dam and also above the Clare Weir), Bowen River and Star River. Natural recruitment range has been reduced due to fish passage barriers within the Ross, lower Burdekin (Clare Weir) and Haughton River (Giru and Val Bird Weirs) catchments.


Much of the information about fish species and their distribution in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region presented throughout this Wiki is based on the work of Pusey(2005). The Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (ACTFR) also provided access to their Norther Australian Fish (NAF) database (in press), which contains the most current available fish survey data for tropical Australia. Allan Webb also from ACTFR provided information of the expanding list of exotic fish species recorded from the immediate Townsville region principally the Ross River. Additional information about species distribution is the authors experience (principally Jim Tait) and knowledge of the region. Descriptions of species are based on Allen et. al. (2002) and Pusey et. al (2004) with additional detail and comments by the authors of the Fish Passage Study.

Fish illustrations and mapping by Jason Carter. Illustrations have been drawn from specimens and photographs and after other illustrations, in particular Swainston and Ruse (in Allen 1997) and Pusey (in Pusey et. al. 2004)


  • Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (in press) Northern Australia Fish (NAF) database.
  • Pusey, B. Kennard, M Arthington, A (2004) Freshwater Fishes of North-eastern Australia, CSIRO Publishing. (Available from

External Links

Barramundi © NQ Dry Tropics Burdekin Region distribution Download PDF printable version of this page

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