Black catfish

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(Neosiluris ater)

This catfish is grey to blackish overall, often mottled. Grows to 47 cm but commonly to 25 cm. Have dorsal and pectoral spines capable of inflicting painful wounds. Species observed to make upstream breeding migrations to tributary stream riffle bed spawning sites during wet season flow events. Broadcast spawner with demersal eggs. Popular recreational species also known as ‘Butter Jew’. Known to occur throughout the Burdekin basin ( Upper, Lower Burdekin and Bowen catchments) as well as within the Ross River, Haughton River, Barratta Creek and Plantation Creek. Is expected to be present throughout the Black River basin, Ross River basin and Haughton River basin, as well as Saltwater Creek, Monongle Creek and Elliot River of the Don River basin.


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

Black catfish Burdekin Region distribution

Burdekin Region distribution

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