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Macquaria ambigua

Yellowbelly are a popular recreational fishery species native to the Fitzroy and Murray Darling River basins. They have been both deliberately and accidentally introduced to the Burdekin River basin and have now formed breeding populations in upper basin catchments. They are a large fish commonly reaching 40-50 cm and weights of 5 kg. They have a distinctive concave forehead and protruding lower jaw. Adults are bronze, olive or brown overall, yellow underneath. Inhabits a variety of riverine habitats but prefers warm, slow moving, turbid sections of streams. Spawning migration in native river basins can be over 1,000 km and spawning occurs 3-5 hours after sunset. Known to be established in the Belyando, Suttor, Campaspe and upper Burdekin River catchments they have also been periodically recorded in the lower Burdekin catchment.


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

Yellowbelly Burdekin distribution

Burdekin Region distribution

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