Murray Hardyhead, Craterocephalus fluviatilis McCulloch 1912


Other Names: Mitchellian Freshwater Hardyhead, Mitchellian Hardyhead, Western Crat, Western Freshwater Hardyhead

Murray Hardyhead, Craterocephalus fluviatilis. Source: Gunther Schmida. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

Summary:

A small, silvery-green to dark golden hardyhead with a reticulated pattern along the back formed by dark scale margins, a pale silvery to golden belly, and a distinct mid-lateral stripe.

Video of Murray Hardyhead conservation and recovery efforts in the Victorian Mallee region.


Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2018, Craterocephalus fluviatilis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Nov 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1384

Murray Hardyhead, Craterocephalus fluviatilis McCulloch 1912

More Info


Distribution

Endemic to the Murray and Murrumbidgee river systems in few isolated areas in Victoria and South Australia.

Historically, Murray Hardyhead were known to occur as far upstream as Narrandera on the Murrumbidgee River, Wentworth on the lower Darling River in New South Wales, in wetlands near Swan Hill and Mildura in Victoria, and in parts of the Murray River and its tributaries near Renmark, Swan Reach and the Lower Lakes near the Murray River mouth in South Australia. Over the past five decades, the species has dramatically declined in distribution and abundance, and scientists fear that the Murray Hardyhead is on the verge of extinction.

Remnant populations now only occur in the Lower Murray Region and Lower Lakes Region of South Australia. In Victoria, until recently, the Murray Hardyhead is found in Round Lake, Woorinen North Lake and Cardross Lakes, along with some salt lakes, irrigation channels and creeks in northern Victoria. No viable populations have been found in New South Wales for some time. The species has been recorded in freshwater wetlands in South Australia, although in Victoria, remnant populations of Murray Hardyhead occur in saline habitats.

Murray Hardyhead school in open water habitats, preferring relatively salty fringing wetlands in floodplains and lakes. Historically they survived in isolated wetlands on floodplain fringes during dry seasons, dispersing out over the floodplain during wet seasons. 

Features

Dorsal fin IV-VII + I, 5-8; Anal fin I, 6-9; Pectoral fin 11-13. 

Body laterally compressed, moderately deep and elongate; greatest body depth 4.0-5.1 in SL; mouth small, protrusible, lips not thick, gape restricted by labial ligament from one third to half way along premaxilla; teeth small, in single row and restricted to anterior part of both jaws; rear edge of jaw does not reach eye; eye diameter 3.2-3.9 in HL.

Scales on body small, thin, deciduous, almost circular, with circuli obvious and complete; scales on top head large and irregularly shaped; vertical scale rows 31-35; horizontal scale rows 10-12.

Two small, separate, short-based dorsal fins; origin of 2nd dorsal fin directly above anal fin; caudal fin forked; pectoral fins positioned high on sides; pelvic fins abdominal.

Size

To 7cm SL

Colour

Silvery to golden above, paler with a silvery sheen below, a silvery dark mid-lateral stripe, and a reticulate pattern above formed by dark scale margins. The fins become bright yellow during spawning.

Feeding

Omnivore - feeds on micro-crustaceans, aquatic insects (midge and mosquito larvae), and algae.

Biology

The Murray Hardyhead is primarily an annual species (i.e. most fish reach maturity, spawn and die within a year), and spawns from September to April, mostly during late spring to early summer.Females deposit batches of eggs with adhesive filaments amongst aquatic vegetation, particularly Eel Grass.

Conservation

EPBC Act: Endangered under the the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Endangered 

NSW: Listed as Critically Endangered (Fisheries Management Act 1994 (New South Wales: August 2013 list)

VICTORIA: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria: May 2014 list)

The major threats to remaining Murray Hardyhead populations are habitat degradation, the impact of non-native species such as Eastern Gambusia, European Carp, and Redfin, drought, salinity, and the regulation of rivers and creation of barriers to dispersal.

Remarks

Adams et al. (2011) found the Craterocephalus fluviatilis comprised four genetically distinct populations.
Historically the species has been confused with a number of species including C. eyresii, C. amniculus and (Crowley and Ivanstoff 1990 However, only the latter species is also found in the southern tributaries of the Murray-Darling Basin (Ivanstoff and Crowley 1996).

Similar Species

Historically the Murray Hardyhead had been confused with a number of species, including Craterocephalus amniculus,  C. eyresii, and C. fulvus. Crowley and Ivantsoff (1990) revised the genus, recognising C. fluviatilis as valid. This is the only species found in the southern tributaries of the Murray-Darling Basin (Ivanstoff and Crowley 1996). C. fluviatilis differs from C. eyresii and the Darling Hardyhead, C. amniculus, in scale counts, body depth and in having a single row of inward pointing teeth in the upper and lower jaw.

Etymology

The specific name fluviatilis is from the Latin meaning ‘of a river’.

Species Citation

Craterocephalus fluviatilis McCulloch, 1912. Proc. R. Soc. Qld. 24: 49 pl. 1(1). Type locality: North Yanko Creek, Narranderra, NSW.

Author

Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2018

Resources

Australian Faunal Directory

Murray Hardyhead, Craterocephalus fluviatilis McCulloch 1912

References


Adams, M., Wedderburn, S.D., Unmack, P.J., Hammer, M.P. & Johnson, J.B. 2011. Use of Congeneric Assessment to Reveal the Linked Genetic Histories of Two Threatened Fishes in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. Conservation Biology 25: 767–776. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01692.x

Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp., (p. 78, as C. eyresii, in part) 

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

Anon. 2002. Murray hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis. Fishnote, Threatened Species in NSW. NSW Fisheries, Nelson Bay.

Arthington, A.H. & F. McKenzie. 1997. Review of impacts of displaced/introduced fauna associated with inland waters. Australia: State of the Environment Technical Paper Series (Inland waters), Department of the Environment, Canberra (Australia). 69 pp.

Backhouse, G., Lyon, J. & Cant, B. 2008. National Recovery Plan for the Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne. PDF

Backhouse, G., Lyon, J. & Cant, B. 2008. Background and Implementation Information for the Murrray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis National Recovery Plan. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne, 16 pp. PDF

Barnham, C. 1998. Freshwater Fish of Victoria - Hardyheads. Fisheries Notes, pp 1-2. Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria.

Crowley, L.E.L.M. & Ivantsoff, W. 1990. A review of species previously identified as Craterocephalus eyresii (Pisces: Atherinidae). Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of New South Wales 112(2): 87-103.

Crowley, L.E.L.M. & Ivantsoff, W. 1992. Redefinition of the freshwater fish genus Craterocephalus (Teleostei: Atherinidae) of Australia and New Guinea with an analysis of three species. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 3(3): 273–287.

Ebner, B. & Raadik, T. 2001. Murray hardyhead – Craterocephalus fluviatilis. Australian Society for Fish Biology Newsletter 31: 2.

Ebner, B., Raadik, T. & Ivantsoff, W. 2003. Threatened fishes of the world: Craterocephalus fluviatilis McCulloch, 1913 (Atherinidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 68: 390.

Ellis, I. 2005. Ecology and breeding seasonality of the Murray hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis (McCulloch), Family Atherinidae, in two lakes near Mildura, Victoria. A report prepared for the Mallee Catchment Management Authority by the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre.

Ellis, I. 2006. Age Structure and Dietary Analysis of the Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis (McCulloch), Family Atherinidae, in Two Lakes near Mildura, Victoria. Publication No.10/2006. (Murray–Darling Freshwater Research Centre: Mildura, Vic.) 

Ellis, I., Carr, L. & Pyke, L. 2011. Conservation of Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis in Victoria: Status of Population Monitoring, Translocation and Captive Breeding Programs 2010/11. Publication No. 26/2011. (Murray–Darling Freshwater Research Centre: Mildura, Vic.) 

Ellis, I., Carr, L. & Pyke, L. 2012. Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis rejuvenation in Victoria: population monitoring, translocation and captive breeding programs 2011–12. Publication No. 20/2012. (Murray–Darling Freshwater Research Centre: Mildura, Vic.) 

Ellis, I. & Kavanagh, M. 2014. A review of the endangered Murray Hardyhead: streamlining recovery processes. Final report for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority by the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, MDFRC Publication 19/2014, June, 66 pp.

Ellis, I. & Pyke, L. 2010. Conservation of Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis in Victoria: Status of population monitoring, translocation and captive breeding programs. Publication No. 18/2010. (Murray–Darling Freshwater Research Centre: Mildura, Vic.) 

Ellis, I., Stoessel, D., Hammer, M., Wedderburn, S., Suitor, L. & Hall, A. 2013. Conservation of an inauspicious endangered freshwater fish, Murray hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis), during drought and competing water demands in the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 64: 792-806. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF12252

Gilligan, D. 2005. Fish Communities of the Murrumbidgee Catchment: Status and Trends. NSW Department of Primary Industries – Final Report Series No. 75.

Hammer, M.P., Adams, M. & Foster, R. 2012. Update to the catalogue of South Australian freshwater fishes (Petromyzontida & Actinopterygii). Zootaxa 3593: 59-74.

Hammer, M.P., Bice, C.M., Hall, A., Frears, A., Watt, A., Whiterod, N.S., Beheregaray, L.B., Harris, J.O. & Zampatti, B.P. 2013. Freshwater fish conservation in the face of critical water shortages in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 64: 807-21.

Hammer, M. & Wedderburn, S. 2008. The threatened Murray Hardyhead: natural history and captive rearing. Fishes of Sahul 22: 390–399.

Hardie S.A. 2000. Examination of fish and invertebrate fauna in seven lakes in the Swan Hill – Kerang region, Northern Victoria. Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria, 45 pp.

Harris, J.H. & Gehrke, P.C. 1997. Fish and Rivers in Stress: the NSW Rivers Survey. NSW Fisheries, Cronulla.

Ivantsoff, W. 1978. Taxonomic and systematic review of the Australian fish species of the family Atherinidae with references to related species of the Old World. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney 701 pp. 118 figs. (p. 245, as Craterocephalus eyresii, in part)

Ivantsoff, W. & Crowley, L.E.L.M. 1996. Silversides or hardyheads, pp. 123-133. In, McDowall, R.M. (ed.)  Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia.  Reed, Sydney.

Ivantsoff, W., Crowley, L.E.L.M. & Allen, G.R. 1987. Description of three new species and one subspecies of freshwater hardyhead (Pisces: Atherinidae: Craterocephalus) from Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 13(2): 171-188.

Kuiter, R.H. 2013. Pictorial Guide to Victoria's Freshwater Fishes. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics 178 pp.

Lake, J.S. 1978. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Melbourne : Thomas Nelson 160 pp. 140 figs.

Lintermans, M. 2007. Fishes of the Murray-Darling Basin: An introductory guide. Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Canberra. 157 pp.

Llewellyn, L.C. 1979. Some observations on the spawning and development of the Mitchellian freshwater hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis McCulloch from inland waters in New South Wales. Australian Zoologist 20: 269-288.

Lloyd, L.N. & Walker, K.F. 1986. Distribution and conservation status of small freshwater fish in the River Murray, South Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 110: 49–57. 

Lyon, J., Dixon, W., O'Mahony, J., Tonkin, Z. & Backhouse, G. 2005.Threatened Species Report. Implementation of Recovery Plan for the Management and monitoring of Murray hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis. Prepared by Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, DSE, Victoria.

Lyon, J. & Ryan, T. 2005. Observations of the nationally threatened freshwater fish, Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis McCulloch 1913, in three Victorian salt lakes. The Victorian Naturalist 122(2): 78-84.

McCulloch, A.R. 1912. Notes on some Australian Atherinidae. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 24: 47–53. See ref at BHL

McDowall, R.M. 1996. Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia.  Sydney : Reed Books 2nd Ed.  247 pp.

Morris, S.A., Pollard, D.A., Gehrke, P.C. and Pogonoski, J.J. 2001. Threatened and Potentially Threatened Freshwater Fishes of Coastal New South Wales and the Murray-Darling Basin. NSW Fisheries Final Report Series No. 33.

Raadik T.A. & Fairbrother P.S. 1999. Cardross Lakes aquatic fauna monitoring – November 1998. Freshwater Ecology Parks, Flora and Fauna. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Heidelberg, Victoria, 27 pp. 

Raadik T.A. & O’Connor J.P. 1996. Third aquatic fauna survey (fish and decapod crustacea) of Cardoss Lakes near Mildura, Victoria. Report for Cardross Lakes Task Group, North West Area, Department of Natural Resources and Environment (State Public Offices, 253 Eleventh Street, Mildura

Stoessel, D. 2007. Assessment of the status of Murray hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis) populations within Round, Woorinen North and Elizabeth Lakes – interim report. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Heidelberg, Victoria.

Stoessel, D. 2008. Status of Murray hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis) populations in three lakes in the region, Victoria (2007–2008). Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Heidelberg, Victoria.

Stoessel, D. 2010. Review of Murray Hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis) biology and ecology, and the environmental data for two key populations in the Kerang region. Report No. 2010/30, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne. 

Stoessel, D. 2011. Status of Murray Hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis) populations within Round and Woorinen North Lakes for 2010–2011, and assessment of potential translocation sites in north-central Victoria. Report No. 2011/108, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne. 

Stoessel, D. 2012. Targeted survey for threatened Murray hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilus) in selected waterbodies in the lower Loddon River system, Victoria. Report No. 2012/81, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne. 

Stoessel, D. 2013. Status of Lake Kelly, Round Lake, and Woorinen North Lake Murray Hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis) populations, and assessment of potential translocation sites in north-central Victoria. Report No. 2012/77, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne. 

Unmack, P.J. & Dowling, T.E. 2010. Biogeography of the genus Craterocephalus (Teleostei: Atherinidae) in Australia. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55: 968-984.

Wager, R. 1996.  Craterocephalus fluviatilis.  The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. . Downloaded on 06 November 2013.

Wedderburn, S.D. 2008. Population fragmentation in the Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis McCulloch, 1912 (Teleostei: Atherinidae): Ecology, Genetics and Osmoregulation. Ph.D. Thesis, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia. PDF available

Wedderburn, S.D., Hammer, M.P. & Bice, C.M. 2012. Shifts in small-bodied fish assemblages resulting from drought-induced water level recession in terminating lakes of the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia. Hydrobiologia 691: 35–46. 

Wedderburn, S.D., Hillyard, K.A. & Shiel, R.J. 2013. Zooplankton response to flooding of a drought refuge and implications for the endangered fish species Craterocephalus fluviatilis cohabiting with alien Gambusia holbrookiAquatic Ecology 47: 263. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10452-013-9442-3 Abstract

Wedderburn, S., Shiel, R., Hillyard, K. & Brookes, J. 2010. Zooplankton Response to Watering of an Off-channel Site at the Lower Lakes and Implications for Murray Hardyhead Recruitment.(The University of Adelaide: Adelaide.) 

Wedderburn, S.D. & Walker, K.F. 2008. Osmoregulation in populations of an endangered hardyhead (Atherinidae: Craterocephalus fluviatilis McCulloch, 1912) from different salinity regimes. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 17: 653–658. 

Wedderburn, S.D., Walker, K.F. & Zampatti, B.P. 2007. Habitat separation of Craterocephalus (Atherinidae) species and populations in off-channel areas of the lower River Murray, Australia. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 16: 442–449.

Wedderburn, S.D., Walker, K.F. & Zampatti, B.P. 2008. Salinity may cause fragmentation of hardyhead (Teleostei: Atherinidae) populations in the River Murray, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 59: 254–258.

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37246020

Conservation:EPBC Act Endangered; IUCN Endangered

Conservation:VIC Endangered; ASFB Critically Endangered

Habitat:Freshwater (rel. saline)

Max Size:8 cm TL

Native:Endemic

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map