Cave Gudgeon, Milyeringa veritas Whitley 1945

Other Names: Blind Gudgeon

Cave Gudgeon, Milyeringa veritas. Source: Douglas Elford / Western Australian Museum. License: All rights reserved


A small blind cave-fish with a whitish to slightly pink body, and no eyes. Species in the genus Milyeringa completely lack features that relate to vision, and use sensory papillae on the body to move around and locate food.

The Cave Gudgeon lives in total darkness beneath coastal limestone formations on the northern part of the Cape Range Peninsula, Western Australia.

Video of Cave Gudgeons at Cape Range, North Western Australia. 

Milyeringa veritas is one of  three blind cave fishes that live in this subterranean karst region of north-western Australia. The others are Milyeringa justitiaand the Blind Cave Eel, Ophisternon candidum. All three species are stygobites – aquatic animals that complete their entire life cycles underground.

The term karst refers to a landscape formed when limestone and/or dolomite dissolves over time to create underground caves and channels through which groundwater flows.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Milyeringa veritas in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 Apr 2019,

Cave Gudgeon, Milyeringa veritas Whitley 1945

More Info


Known only from a number of sites on the northern part of the Cape Range Peninsula, an arid part of northwestern Western Australia, and Barrow Island, northeast of the Cape Range Peninsula.

The Cave Gudgeon inhabits underground caves, sinkholes, wells and bores beneath coastal limestone. The species lives in total darkness in waters that are fresh at the surface and become more saline until they have the same salinity as seawater at depth. Mees (1963) reported that water temperatures during late autumn and winter ranged from 27-30°C.


Dorsal fin II-V + I, 8; Anal fin I, 7; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 17; Pectoral fin 13; Pelvic fin 4; Gill rakers (lower limb) 9-11.

Body elongate, cylindrical anteriorly, slightly compressed posteriorly; head large broad, depressed; snout flattened, spatulate; chin protruding; anterior nostril in a raised tube just above lip at corner of snout; eyes absent; mouth large, oblique; jaws with bands of backward slanting, villiform teeth; tongue rounded.

Head with several rows of small sensory papillae particularly apparent on chin, just above upper lip, along border of preopercle, and vertically on anterior portion of opercle. Gill opening wide, attached to isthmus.

Body covered with scales, longitudinal series 29-33; head naked.

Two dorsal fins, the first greatly reduced with weak spines, and widely separated from second; anal fin small; pectoral fins with free silk-like rays, one or two upper rays produced; pelvic fins slender, separate; caudal fin broadly rounded with middle rays produced.


To 5.1 cm.


White, sometimes slightly pink; skin lacking pigment; fins transparent.


Omnivore - feeds on algae, small insects and small unpigmented crustaceans, and perhaps detrital material.


Due to its subterranean habitat, little is known about the biology of the Cave Gudgeon. It uses sensory papillae on its head and body to move around and find prey items.


  • EPBC Act 1999 : Vulnerable
  • IUCN Red List : Data Deficient
  • Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (WA): Vulnerable
  • Remarks

    Milyeringa brooksi Chakrabarty, 2010, is a junior synonym.

    Similar Species

    Species Citation

    Milyeringa veritas Whitley, G.P. (1945). New sharks and fishes from Western Australia. Part 2. Aust. Zool. 11(1): 1–42 figs 1–15 [36, fig. 15]. Type locality: Milyering, 20 miles southwest of Vlamingh Head, North West Cape, Western Australia.


    Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

    Cave Gudgeon, Milyeringa veritas Whitley 1945


    Adams, M. & Humphreys, W.F. 1993. Patterns of genetic diversity within selected subterranean fauna of the Cape Range peninsula, Western Australia: systematic and biogeographic implications. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 45: 145-164.

    Allen, G.R. 1982. Inland Fishes of Western Australia.  Perth : Western Australian Museum 86 pp. 6 figs 20 pls.

    Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia.  Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp. pls 1–63.

    Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia.  Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

    Black, S., Burbidge, A., Brooks, D., Green, P., Humphreys, W., Kendrick, P., Myers, D., Shepherd, R. & Wann, J. 2001. Cape Range Remipede Community (Bundera Sinkhole) and Cape Range Remidpede Interim Recovery Plan 2000-2003. Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management.

    Cawthorn, P. 1963. Discovery of subterranean freshwater fauna on the eastern side of North West Cape. The Western Australian Naturalist. 8(6): 129-132.

    Chakrabarty, P. 2010. Status and phylogeny of Milyeringidae (Teleostei: Gobiiformes), with the description of a new blind cave-fish from Australia, Milyeringa brooksi, n. sp. Zootaxa 2557: 19–28.

    Humphreys, B. & J. Blyth. 1994. Subterranean Secrets. Landscope - W.A's Conservation, Forests and Wildlife Magazine. 9(3): 22-27.

    Humphreys, W.F. 1994. The subterranean fauna of the Cape Range coastal plain, northwestern Australia: 202.

    Humphreys, W.F. 1999. The distribution of Australian cave fishes. Records of the Western Australian Museum 19: 469-472.

    Humphreys ,W.F. 2001. Milyeringa veritas (Eleotridae), a remarkably versatile cave fish from the arid tropics of  northwestern Australia. Environmental Biology of Fishes 62: 297-313.

    Humphreys, W.F. & M. Adams. 1991. The subterranean aquatic fauna of the North West Cape peninsula, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum. 15(2): 383-411.

    Humphreys, W.F., Shiao, J-C., Iizuka, Y. & Tzeng, W-N. 2006. Can otolith microchemistry reveal whether the blind cave gudgeon, Milyeringa veritas (Eleotridae), is diadromous within a subterranean Estuary? Environmental Biology of Fishes 75: 439-453. doi: 10.1007/s10641-006-0012-6

    Humphreys, W.F. & M.N. Feinberg. 1995. Food of the blind cave fishes of northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 17: 29-33.

    Knott, B. 1993. Stygofauna from Cape Range Peninsula, Western Australia: Tethyan relicts. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 45: 109-127.

    Larson, H.K., R. Foster, W.F. Humphreys & M.I. Stevens. 2013. A new species of the blind cave gudgeon (Pisces: Gobioidei, Eleotridae) from Barrow Island, Western Australia, with a redescription M. veritas Whitley. Zootaxa 3616(2): 135-150. PDF abstract

    Mees, G.F. 1962. The subterranean freshwater fauna of Yardie Creek Station, North West Cape, Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 45(1): 24-32.

    Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. (1984). Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management.  Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs.

    Proudlove, G.S. 2006. Subterranean fishes of the World. An account of the subterranean (hypogean) fishes described up to 2003 with a bibliography 1541-2004. International Society for Subterrnaean Biology, Moulis.

    Romero, A. & K.M. Paulson. 2001. It's a wonderful hypogean life: a guide to the troglomorphic fishes of the world. Environmental Biology of Fishes 62: 13-41.

    Seymour, J.R., Humphreys, W.F. & Mitchell, J.G. 2007. Stratification of the microbial community inhabiting an anchialine sinkhole. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 50: 11-24.

    Unmack, P.J. 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogepgraphy 28: 1053-1089.

    Wager, R. 1996. Milyeringa veritas. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. <>. Downloaded on 01 February 2012.

    Whitley, G.P. 1945. New sharks and fishes from Western Australia. Part 2. Aust. Zool. 11(1): 1–42 figs 1–15.

    Whittaker, F.H. & Kritsky, D.C. 1973. An examination of the Australian blind cavefish, Milyeringa veritas Whitley, 1945, for helminth parasites. Proceedings of the Helminthological Society of Washington 40: 297-298.

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37429032

    Biology:Blind - lacks eyes

    Conservation:EPBC Act Vulnerable; IUCN Data Deficient

    Habitat:Underground aquifers

    Max Size:5 cm SL


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