Common Galaxias, Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns 1842)


Other Names: Common Jollytail, Eel Gudgeon, Eel-gudgeon, Inanga, Lananga, Minnow, Native Trout, Pulangi, Slippery Tarki, Spotted Minnow, Turket, Whitebait

Common Galaxias, Galaxias maculatus. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

Summary:

A small slender, elongate olive-grey to amber Galaxias with irregular darker spots or blotches on the back and sides,  a slightly forked tail, and the anal-fin origin directly below the dorsal-fin origin. The eyes, gill covers and belly are silvery-olive to white, and the fins are translucent.

Adults migrate downstream and spawn in estuaries, laying their eggs amongst dense vegetation. On hatching, the larvae are washed out to sea and develop in the open ocean, returning as whitebait to the rivers and streams where they hatched.

Video of Common Galaxias stranded in pools left by high spring tides in the lower reaches of the Thurra River in Croajingolong National Park, Victoria.

Common Galaxias and Pygmy Perch (Nannoperca) in Darlot Creek, Western Victoria, April 2017.

Video of Common Galaxias in Western Australia.

Video of Common Galaxias embryos.

Video of Common Galaxias whitebait in New Zealand.

A Common Galaxias close-up.

Spotted Galaxias (Galaxias truttaceus), Common Galaxias (Galaxias maculatus), Freshwater Flathead, Tupong (Pseudaphritis urvillii) and Southern Shortfin Eel (Anguilla australis) in Fotheringate Creek, Flinders Island, Tasmania.


Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Galaxias maculatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Nov 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2129

Common Galaxias, Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns 1842)

More Info


Distribution

Galaxias maculatus has one of the world's largest natural distributions for a freshwater fish. It is known Australia, New Zealand and the southern tip of South America.

In Australian waters, Common Galaxias inhabit temperate coastal flowing streams and rivers east and south of the Great Dividing Range, from Brisbane, Queensland, to Albany, Western Australia. The species also occurs on Flinders Island and King Island, Bass Strait, and is widespread at low elevations in Tasmania.

In the Murray-Darling Basin the species is known from Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert near the Murray River mouth to about Mannum on the Lower Murray and streams of the Mt Lofty Ranges in South Australia. The species is thought to have been introduced into the Wimmera, Loddon and Campaspe river catchments in Victoria.

Galaxias maculatus inhabits a wide range of environments, usually in still or slow-flowing waters such as streams, rivers and lakes within a short distance of the sea. The species is sometimes found in brackish streams and can tolerate salinities up to 50 ppt. Some populations are landlocked and others are diadromous, migrating downstream to the estuaries to spawn.

Features

Dorsal fin 9-15; Anal fin 13-21; Pectoral fin 10-15.

Body elongate, slender; depth at vent 9.0-14% SL; head small, bluntly pointed, not depressed; snout blunt and rounded; mouth small reaching back to front of eyes; jaws equal in length; eyes relatively large, diameter 17-31% HL; caudal peduncle long and slender. Scales absent.

Fins thin, membranous, caudal fin emarginate to slightly forked, anal fin origin directly below dorsal fin origin.

Size

Maximum size 19 cm TL; usually to around 8-12 cm TL

Colour

Body a translucent grey-olive to amber, with irregular greenish-grey blotches or spots on back and upper sides, belly, gill covers and eyes a bright silvery-olive to silvery-white, fins largely unpigmented.

Feeding

Carnivore - feeds on a variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects, and crustaceans, taken from the bottom and throughout the water column.

Biology

The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Females may produce many thousands of tiny adhesive eggs (1 mm diameter) that are spawned onto on dense terrestrial vegetation either in flooded banks of streams or estuaries flooded by the high spring tides. When the tides recede, the eggs survive and develop aerially in these moist environments for two to four weeks until the next spring tides.

After hatching, the larvae (about 7 mm long) are washed out to sea and develop in the open ocean for about six months. The pelagic larvae eventually migrate back to shore, returning to rivers and streams the following spring as unpigmented juveniles known as whitebait.

Land-locked individuals migrate upstream to spawn in the tributaries during late winter to early spring when water levels rise. After hatching, the larvae are washed downstream into lakes, usually developing amongst near-shore vegetation.

Individuals mature after about one year, and usually die after spawning.

Fisheries

Commonly known as whitebait, the juveniles of Galaxias maculatus (and other Galaxias species) are the basis of a commercial and recreational fishery in New Zealand, and also in Chile and Argentina. Although no longer fished commercially in Australia, whitebait were commercially fished in Tasmania until the 1970's.

Remarks

The Common Galaxias has the largest natural distribution of any freshwater fish species.

Species Citation

Mesites maculatus Jenyns 1842, Zool. voyage H. M. S. Beagle, 1832 to 1836, Part 4 Fishes: 119, Pl. 22 (figs. 4, 4a). Type locality: fresh water brook on Hardy Peninsula, Tierra del Fuego and Río Santa Cruz, Patagonia.

Author

Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Common Galaxias, Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns 1842)

References


Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater fishes of Australia. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey.

Allen, G.R., H. Midgley & M. Allen. 2002. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Australia. Western Australian Museum: I-xiv + 1-394.

Barbee, N.C., R. Hale, J. Morrongiello, A. Hicks, D. Semmens, B.J. Downes & S.E. Swearer. 2011. Large-scale geographic variation in the life history traits of a diadromous fish. Marine and Freshwater Research 62(7): 790-800.

Barbee, N.C. & S.E. Swearer. 2007. Characterizing natal source population signatures in the diadromous fish, Galaxias maculatus, using embryonic otolith chemistry. Marine Ecology Progress Series 343: 273-282.

Becker, A., Laurenson, L.J.B., Jones, P.L. & Newman, D.M. 2005. Competitive interactions between the Australian native fish Galaxias maculatus and the exotic mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki, in a series of laboratory experiments. Hydrobiologia 549: 187–196.

Berra, T.M., L. Crowley, W. Ivantsoff & P.A. Fuerst. 1996. Galaxias maculatus: an explanation of its biogeography. Mar. Freshw. Res. 47: 845–849.

Cadwallader, P.L. & G.N. Backhouse. 1983. A guide to the freshwater fish of Victoria. Government Printers. Melbourne. 249 pp.

Chapman, A., Morgan, D.L., Beatty, S.J. & Gill, H.S. 2006. Variation in life history of land-locked lacustrine and riverine populations of Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns 1842) in Western Australia. Environmental Biology of Fishes 77: 21–37.

Chapman, A., Morgan, D.L. & Gill, H.S. 2009. Description of the larval development of Galaxias maculatus in landlocked lentic and lotic systems in Western Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43: 563–569.

Chessman, B.C. & Williams, W.D. 1975. Salinity tolerance and osmoregulatory ability of Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns) (Pisces, Salmoniformes, Galaxiidae). Freshw. Biol. 5: 135-140.

Fulton, W. 2000. Tasmanian whitebait – a multi-species fishery targeting migrating fishes, pp. 256–260. In  D. A. Hancock, D. C. Smith and J. D. Koehn (eds.) Fish Movement and Migration: Australian Society for Fish Biology Workshop Proceedings, Bendigo, 28–29 September 1999. Australian Society for Fish Biology: Sydney.

Gomon, M.F., D.J Bray & R.H. Kuiter. 2008. Fishes of Australia's southern coast. Chatswood, N.S.W. : Reed New Holland, 928 pp.



Hale, R., Downes, B.J. & Swearer, S.E. 2008, Habitat selection as a source of inter-specific differences in recruitment of two diadromous fish species.Freshwater Biology 53: 2145–2157. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.2008.02037.x Abstract

Hale, R. & S.E. Swearer. 2008. Otolith microstructural and microchemical changes associated with settlement in the diadromous fish Galaxias maculatus. Marine Ecology Progress Series 354: 229-234.

Hale, R., B.J. Downes & S.E. Swearer. 2008. Habitat selection as a source of inter-specific differences in recruitment of two diadromous fish species. Freshwater Biology 53: 2145-2157.

Hale, R., S.E. Swearer & B.J. Downes. 2009. Is settlement at small spatial scales by diadromous fish from the Family Galaxiidae likely to be passive or active in a small coastal river? Marine and Freshwater Research 60(9): 971-975.

Hale, R., Swearer, S. & Downes, B. 2009. Separating natural responses from experimental artefacts: habitat selection by a diadromous fish species using odours from conspecifics and natural stream water. Oecologia 159: 679-687.

Hickford, M.J.H., Cagnon, M. & Schiel, D.R. 2010. Predation, vegetation and habitat-specific survival of terrestrial eggs of a diadromous fish, Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns, 1842). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 385: 66–72.

Hicks, A., N.C. Barbee, S.E. Swearer & B.J. Downes. 2010. Estuarine geomorphology and low salinity requirement for fertilisation influence spawning site location in the diadromous fish, Galaxias maculatus. Marine and Freshwater Research 61: 1252-1258.

Hicks, A.S., G.P. Closs & S.E. Swearer. 2010. Otolith microchemistry of two amphidromous galaxiids across an experimental salinity gradient: A multielement approach for tracking diadromous migrations. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 394: 86-97.

Jung, C.A., N.C. Barbee & S.E. Swearer 2009. Post-settlement migratory behaviour and growth-related costs in two diadromous fish species, Galaxias maculatus and Galaxias brevipinnis. Journal of Fish Biology 75(3): 503-515.

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

McDowall, R.M. 1972. The species problem in freshwater fishes and the taxonomy of diadromous and lacustrine populations of Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns). J. R. Soc. N. Z. 2: 325–367.

McDowall, R.M. (ed.) 1980. Freshwater fishes of south-eastern Australia (New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Terrey Hills, N.S.W.: Reed, 208 pp.

McDowall, R.M. & Charteris, S.C. 2006. The possible adaptive advantages of terrestrial egg deposition in some fluvial diadromous galaxiid fishes (Teleostei : Galaxiidae). Fish and Fisheries 7: 153–164.

McLean, F., S.E. Swearer & N.C. Barbee. 2007. The role of olfaction in the avoidance of native versus non-native predators by recruits of the common galaxiid, Galaxias maculatus. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 41: 175-184.

Merrick, J.R. & G.E. Schmida. 1984. Australian freshwater fishes: biology and management. Griffin Press Ltd., South Australia. 409 pp.

Pollard, D.A. 1971. The biology of a landlocked form of the normally catadromous salmoniform fish Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns). I. Life cycle and origin. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 22: 91–123.

Pollard, D.A. 1971. The biology of a landlocked form of the normally catadromous salmoniform fish Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns). II. Morphology and systematic relationships. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 22: 125–137. 

Pollard, D.A. 1972. The biology of a landlocked form of the normally catadromous salmoniform fish Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns). III. Structure of the gonads. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 23: 17–38.

Pollard, D.A. 1972. The biology of a landlocked form of the normally catadromous salmoniform fish Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns). IV. Nutritional cycle. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 23: 39–48. 

Pollard, D.A. 1973. The biology of a landlocked form of the normally catadromous salmoniform fish Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns). V. Composition of the diet. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 24: 281–295.

Waters, J. M. & C. P. Burridge. 1999. Extreme intraspecific mitochondrial DNA divergence in Galaxias maculatus (Osteichthyes: Galaxiidae), one of the world’s most widespread freshwater fish. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 11:1–12.

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37102006

Biology:Amphidromous - marine larvae

Habitat:Freshwater, estuarine, marine

Max Size:19 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map