Estuary Cobbler, Cnidoglanis macrocephalus (Valenciennes 1840)


Other Names: Cobbler, Estuarine Cat-fish, Estuary Catfish, South Australian Catfish

An Estuary Cobbler, Cnidoglanis macrocephalus, at Halifax Park, Port Stephens, New South Wales. Source: Dave Harasti / http://www.daveharasti.com/. License: All rights reserved

Summary:

A large mottled brownish-yellow catfish with stout dorsal and pectoral-fin spines and five pairs barbels surrounding the mouth. Estuary catfish have large venomous dorsal and pectoral-fin spines that are capable of inflicting very painful wounds.

Video of an Estuary Cobbler at Shelly Beach, Sydney


Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Cnidoglanis macrocephalus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2017, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2758

Estuary Cobbler, Cnidoglanis macrocephalus (Valenciennes 1840)

More Info


Distribution

Endemic to temperate coastal waters of southern Australia, from Moreton Bay, Queensland, to the Abrolhos Islands (Western Australia), but absent from most of Victoria and Tasmania; occurs in Eastern Victoria (to about Lakes Entrance) and Duck River, northern Tasmania. 

The Estuary Cobbler inhabits marine and estuarine waters in bays and sandy or muddy inlets near river mouths. Individuals live on sandy and muddy bottoms in clear to turbid waters, often amongst rocks and algae. They also occur amongst wrack (detached seagrass and macroalgae) in the surf zone. 

The species is usually nocturnal, and individuals often shelter in holes and beneath rocky ledges during the day.

Features

Dorsal fin I, 4; Anal fin 95-112; Pectoral fin  I, 9; Pelvic fin  9-12.

Body shallow (11-15% SL), very elongate, thick anteriorly, compressed and tapering to a point posteriorly. Head large (20-23% SL), depressed anteriorly;  eyes small (13-16% HL), covered by skin, located dorsolaterally on head;  mouth small (upper jaw length 26-28% HL), inferior, overlapped by large fleshy lips, underside of lips papillose, mouth surrounded by four pairs of long fleshy barbels, fifth pair on snout; small patch of short canines at front of each jaw;  forward end of opercular membrane attached to underside of head below and behind eye. Scales absent; lateral line represented by pores, straight except for curve above pectoral fins.  

Dorsal fin with short base, arising above pectoral fin base, spine serrate, enveloped in skin; anal and caudal fins continous, caudal continuing forward on back to just behind dorsal fin, resembling a second dorsal fin; caudal-fin rays slightly longer than anal-fin rays, anal fin originating almost as far forward as dorsal side of caudal fin. Anal fin preceded by large fleshy dentritic organ. Pectoral and ventral fins small, paddle-like; pectoral fin arising midlaterally behind head, spine serrate; pelvic fins arising below pectoral-fin tips.

Size

To a total length of about 91 cm SL.

Colour

Variously mottled dark brown to grey, often with speckles of cream or yellow, underside of head and belly creamy.

Feeding

The Estuary Cobbler is an omnivore, feeding mostly at night on fishes and benthic invertebrates such as crustaceans, molluscs and polychaete worms. Individuals also consume algae and detritus.

Biology

The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external, and females lay large demersal eggs during spring and summer. Adult males guard the newly hatched larvae between their pelvic fins.

Fisheries

A major component of both commercial and recreational fisheries in New South Wales and Western Australia.

Conservation

IUCN Red List Status: Data Deficient

Remarks

The dorsal and pectoral-fin spines are serrated and have a venom gland at the base. The venom is injected into punctured skin via a groove in the spine, and wounds can be extremely painful.

Etymology

The species is named macrocephalus for its large head.

Species Citation

Plotosus macrocephalus Valenciennes, 1840 in Cuvier & Valenciennes, Hist. Nat. Poiss.15: 428, pl. 449.   Type Locality: Timor Island, southern Malay Archipelago (probably in error for Tasmania, Australia).

Author

Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Resources

Australian Faunal Directory

Estuary Cobbler, Cnidoglanis macrocephalus (Valenciennes 1840)

References


Ayvazian, S.G., M.S. Johnson, & D.J. McGlashan. 1994. High levels of genetic subdivision of marine and estuarine populations of the estuarine catfish Cnidoglanis macrocephalus (Plotosidae) in southwestern Australia. Mar. Biol. (Heidelberg, Ger.) 118: 25–31.

Blaber, SJM, DP Cyrus, J-J Albaret, CV Ching, JW Day, M Elliott, M S Fonseca, D E Hoss, J Orensanz, IC Potter & W Silvert. 2000. Effects of fishing on the structure and functioning of estuarine and nearshore ecosystems. ICES Journal of Marine Science 57: 590–602.

Castelnau, F.L. de 1873. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 8. Fishes of Western Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 2: 123-149 (p. 140, as Cnidoglanis bostocki)

Castelnau, F.L. de 1875. Researches on the fishes of Australia. Intercolonial Exhibition Essays. 2. pp. 1–52 in, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 : Official Record. Melbourne. ( p. 45, as Neoplotosus waterhousii).

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Crawley KR, GA Hyndes & SG Ayvazian. 2006. Influence of different volumes and types of detached macrophytes on fish community structure in surf zones of sandy beaches. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 307: 233–246.

Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. 544 pp.

Ferraris, C.J. 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418: 1–628.

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Family Plotosidae, in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Plotosidae. pp. 196-197 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Hoese, D.F. & Gates, J.E. 2006. Plotosidae. pp. 357-365 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3 2178 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs.

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762.

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp.

Kner, R. 1867. Fische, Dritte Abteilung. Reise der österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde in den Jahren 1857–1858–1859, unter den Befehlen des Commodore B. von Wüllestorf-Urbair. Zoologischer Theil 1. Wien : Kurl Gerold's & Sohn Vol. 5 273-433 pp. 12-16 pls. (p. 300, pl. 12(1), as Choeroplotosus decemfilis)

Kowarsky, J. 1976. Clarification of the name and distribution of the plotosid catfish Cnidoglanis macrocephalus. Copeia 1976(3): 593-594.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Laurenson, L.J.B., F.J. Neira, & I.C. Potter. 1993. Reproductive biology and larval morphology of the marine plotosid Cnidoglanis macrocephalus (Teleostei) in a seasonally closed Australian estuary. Hydrobiologia 268: 179–192.

Laurenson, L., I. Potter, R. Lenanton & N. Hall. 1993. The significance of length at sexual maturity, mesh size and closed fishing waters to the commercial fishery for the catfish Cnidoglanis macrocephalus in Australian estuaries. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 9: 210–221.

Laurenson, L.J.B., I.C. Potter & N.G. Hall. 1994. Comparisons between generalized growth curves for two estuarine populations of the eel tailed catfish Cnidoglanis macrocephalus. Fish. Bull. 92: 880–889.

Lenanton, R.C.J., I.C. Potter, N.R. Loneragan & P.J. Chrystal. 1984. Age structure and changes in abundance of three important species of teleost in a eutrophic estuary (Pisces: Teleostei). J. Zool. London 203: 311-327.

Loneragan, N.R., I.C. Potter & R.C.J. Lenanton. 1989. Influence of site, season and year on contributions made by marine, estuarine, diadromous and freshwater species to the fish fauna of a temperate Australian estuary. Mar. Biol. 103: 461-479.

Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Trnski, T. 1998 Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: Laboratory guide for larval fish identification. University Western Australia Press. 474 pp.

Nel, S.A., I.C. Potter & N.R. Lonergan. 1985. The biology of the catfish Cnidoglanis macrocephalus (Plotosidae) in an Australian estuary. Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science 21(6): 895-909.

Ogilby, J.D. 1899. Contributions to Australian ichthyology. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 24(1): 154-186 (p. 156, as Ostophycephalus duriceps).

Richardson, J. 1845. Ichthyology. 17-52 pls 7-8 (parts), 11-30 in Richardson, J. & Gray, J.E. (eds). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror under the Command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839–43. London : E.W. Janson Vol. 2 139 pp. pls 1-60. (p. 31, pl. 21(1-3), as Plotosus megastomus)

Wise, B.N. 2005. Age composition and growth rates of selected fish species in Western Australia. Ph.D thesis, Murdoch University, Western Australia.

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp. 

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37192001

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:0-30 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Max Size:91 cm SL

Native:Endemic

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map