Australian Bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Steindachner 1866)


Other Names: Australian Perch, Eastern Freshwater Perch, Freshwater Perch, Perch

Australian Bass, Macquaria novemaculeata. Source: Tarmo Raadik. License: All rights reserved

Summary:

Although Australian Bass spend most of their lives in freshwater rivers and streams, they migrate downstream each year to spawn in estuaries.

Identifying features: 
• Dorsal profile evenly arched
• Snout straight to slightly concave, lower jaw protruding
• Caudal fin forked
• Back and sides dark greenish-brown to greyish with darker scale margins, silvery to whitish below
• Fins dusky brown to black, with white tips on anal and pelvic fins
• Juveniles banded with a dark blotch on the gill cover.

This species hybridizes with Estuary Perch, Macquaria colonorum, especially within the Snowy River and Gippsland regions in eastern Bass Strait, Victoria (Shaddick et al. 2011a)

Great video of Australian Bass in the wild.


Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson, Macquaria novemaculeata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 13 Nov 2018, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3233

Australian Bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Steindachner 1866)

More Info


Distribution

Endemic to coastal rivers and estuaries in southeastern Australia, from Tin Can Bay, Queensland to about Gippsland, in eastern Victoria.

Australian Bass inhabit lakes, rivers and small streams in upland and coastal plain areas including brackish estuaries. Individuals often shelter beneath aquatic vegetation in rocky or gravel bottomed pools.

Features

Meristic features: Dorsal fin VII-IX, I, 8-11; Anal fin III, 7-9; Pectoral fin 12-16; Lateral line scales 48-55.

Body elongate to oval, compressed; dorsal profile evenly arched from above eye to tail; dorsal head profile slightly concave to straight; snout somewhat tapered, of moderate length; eye moderately large, lateral in position; mouth large, terminal, oblique; gape extending to below middle of eye in adults; lower jaw protruding; jaws, vomer and palatines with bands of villiform teeth; preoperculum serrated on upper arm; strong, forward-pointing spines on lower arm; operculum with two spines, lower larger, well-defined, fairly broad.

Scales of moderate size, mostly ctenoid; cheeks and operculum scaled; snout naked; 25-30 in horizontal rows; lateral line complete, follows dorsal profile.

Single dorsal fin, with anterior spinous and posterior soft-rayed portions separated by moderate notch, fourth spine longest; anal fin opposite soft part of dorsal fin, with 3 stout spines; pectoral fins somewhat pointed, upper rays longer than lower rays; pelvic fins inserted just behind base of pectoral fins; caudal fin moderately forked.

Size

To 60 cm SL and at least 3.8 kg.

Colour

Dark olive to greenish-grey on dorsal surface and sides, off-white or yellowish-white below. Fins generally greyish to colourless, translucent. Pectoral fins darker at base. Anal and pelvic fins with white tips; most lateral (anterior) rays of pelvic fins white. Fish less than about 120 mm long have dark spot between opercular spines; 4-6 faint vertical bands across back and sides just behind eyes. Small fish also have darker markings on dorsal, anal and ventral fins. When freshly caught, the eyes often appear red in colour, but this disappears shortly after removal from water.

Feeding

Adults feed small fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates such as insects. Juveniles feed on zooplankton.

Biology

Australian Bass are catadromous, and adults migrate downstream to spawn in estuaries during flood events between May and August.

Females deposit small planktonic eggs onto aquatic plants and sandbars. The eggs are spherical, transparent, and non-adhesive. The larvae hatch after 2-3 days at around 2.5 mm TL.

Fisheries

This species is very popular with recreational anglers, and is an important aquaculture species.

Remarks

Only the females are usually found upstream, whereas males tend to remain in the lower reaches of estuaries.

Similar Species

Although similar to Macquaria colonorumAustralian Bass have a slightly shallower body, have darker markings on the sides, and appear duller and less silvery. The species also has a straighter dorsal head profile and the anterior rays of the pelvic fins are white rather than grey.

Etymology

Macquaria is named for the Macquarie River. The specific name novemaculeata is from the Latin novem for 'nine' and maculeata for 'spot' in reference to the dark blotches on the fins of juveniles.

Species Citation

Dules novemaculeatus Steindachner, 1866, Anz. Kaiser. Akad. Wissensch. 3 (7): 50. Type locality: Port Jackson, NSW.

Author

Dianne J. Bray & Vanessa J. Thompson

Australian Bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Steindachner 1866)

References


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

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

Brown, P. & Neira, F.J. 1998. Percichthyidae: basses, perches, cods (pp 259-265). In: Larvae of temperate Australian fishes: laboratory guide for larval fish identification. Neira, F.J., Miskiewicz, A.G. & Trnski, T. (eds). University of Western Australia Press, Perth.

Cadwallader, P.L. & Backhouse, G.N. 1983. A Guide to the Freshwater Fish of Victoria. Melbourne: F.D. Atkinson Government Printer 249 pp.

Chenoweth, S.F. & Hughes, J.M. 1997. Genetic population structure of the catadromous Perciform: Macquaria novemaculeata (Percichthyidae). Journal of Fish Biology 50: 721–733.

Grant, E.M. 2002.Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe: E.M. Grant Pty. Limited 9th Edn 880 pp. (p. 815, in part). 

Harris, J.H. 1985. Diet of Australian bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Perciformes: Percichthyidae) in the Sydney Basin. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 219–234.

Harris, J.H. 1985. Age of Australian bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Perciformes: Percichthyidae) in the Sydney Basin. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 235–246.

Harris, J.H. 1986. Reproduction of the Australian bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Perciformes: Percichthyidae) in the Sydney Basin. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 37: 209–235.

Harris, J.H. 1987. Growth of Australian bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Perciformes: Percichthyidae) in the Sydney Basin. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38: 351–361.

Harris, J.H. 1988. Demography of Australian bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Perciformes: Percichthyidae), in the Sydney Basin. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 39: 355–369.

Harris, J.H. & Rowland, S.J. 1996. Family Percichthyidae: Australian freshwater cods and basses (pp 150-163). In McDowall, R.M. (ed.)Freshwater fishes of south-eastern Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, New South Wales.

Howell, T., Laurenson, L.J., Myers, J.H. and Jones, P.L. 2004. Spatial, temporal and size-class variation in the diet of estuary perch (Macquaria colonorum) in the Hopkins River, Victoria, Australia. Hydrobiologia 515(1-3): 29-37.

Jerry, D.R. 1998. Population genetic structure of the catadromous Australian bass from throughout its range. Journal of Fish Biology 51: 909–920.

Jerry, D.R. & Baverstock, P.R. 1998. Consequences of a catadromous life-strategy for levels of mitochondrial DNA differentiation among populations of the Australian bass, Macquaria novemaculeata. Molecular Ecology 7: 1003–1013.

Jerry, D.R. & Cairns, S.C. 1998. Morphological variation in the catadromous Australian bass, from seven geographically distinct riverine drainages. Journal of Fish Biology 52: 829–843.

Jerry, D.R., M.S. Elphinstone & P.B. Baverstock. 2001. Phylogenetic relationships of Australian members of the family Percichthyidae inferred from mitochondrial 12s rRNA sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 18: 335−347.

Jerry, D.R., Raadik, T.A., Cairns, S.C. & Baverstock, P.R. 1999. Evidence for natural interspecific hybridization between the Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata) and estuary perch (M. colonorum). Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 50: 661–666.

Kirwin, M.L. 2000. Age and growth of estuary perch, Macquaria colonorum (Perciformes: Percichthyidae) in the Bemm River, Eastern Victoria. Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute Internal Report No. 16.

Mallen-Cooper, M. 1992. Swimming ability of juvenile Australian bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Steindachner), and juvenile barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch), in an experimental vertical-slot fishway. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43: 823–833.

McDonald, C.M. 1978. Morphological and biochemical systematics of Australian freshwater and estuarine percichthyid fishes. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 29(5): 667-698 figs 1-11

McCarraher, D.B. & J.A. McKenzie. 1986. Observations on the distribution, growth, spawning and diet of estuary perch (Macquaria colonorum) in Victorian waters. Arthur Rylah Inst. Environ. Res. Tech. Rep. Ser. 42.

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

Schnierer, S.B. 1982. The Biology of the Australian Bass (M. novemaculeata) (F.Steindachner) in the Richmond River, Northern N.S.W. Master's Thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane Qld.

Schwartz, T.S. & Beheregaray, L.B. 2008. Using genotype simulations and Bayesian analyses to identify individuals of hybrid origin in Australian bass: lessons for fisheries management. Journal of Fish Biology 72: 435–450.

Schwartz, T.S., Jenkins, F. & Beheregaray, L.B. 2005. Microsatellite DNA markers developed for the Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata) and their cross amplification in estuary perch (Macquaria colonorum). Molecular Ecology Notes 5: 519–520.

Shaddick, K., Burridge, C.B., Jerry, D.R., Schwartz, T.S., Truong, K., Gilligan, D.M. & Beheregaray, L.B. 2011. A hybrid zone and bidirectional introgression between two catadromous species: Australian bass Macquaria novemaculeata and estuary perch Macquaria colonorum. Journal of Fish Biology 79: 1214-1235.

Shaddick, K., Gilligan, D.M., Burridge, C.P., Jerry, D.R., Truong, K. & Beheregaray, L.B. 2011. Historic divergence with contemporary connectivity in a catadromous fish, the estuary perch (Macquaria colonorum). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68: 304-318.

Smith JA; Baumgartner LJ; Suthers IM; Taylor MD. 2011. Generalist niche, specialist strategy: the diet of an Australian percichthyid. Journal of Fish Biology 78(4): 1183-1199. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2011.0292

Smith JA; Baumgartner LJ; Suthers IM; Taylor MD. 2011. Distribution and movement of a stocked freshwater fish: implications of a variable habitat volume for stocking programs. Marine and Freshwater Research 62(11): 1342-1342 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF11120

Steindachner, F. 1866. Über die Fische von Port Jackson in Australien. Anzeiger der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftlichen Classe 3(7): 50-54. 

Trnski, T. 2002. Behaviour of settlement-stage larvae of fishes with an estuarine juvenile phase: in situ observations in a warm-temperate estuary. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. 242: 205−214.

Trnski, T., Hay, A.C. & Fielder, D.S. 2005. Larval development of estuary perch (Macquaria colonorum) and Australian bass (M. novemaculeata) (Perciformes: Percichthyidae), and comments on their life history. Fishery Bulletin 103: 183-194 http://fishbull.noaa.gov/1031/trns.pdf

Walsh, C.T. 2012. Ecology and movement behaviour of two co-occurring estuary-dependent fishes, Macquaria colonorum and M. novemaculeata. Ph.D thesis, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/3650/

Williams, J.R. 1970. A comparison of two species of the genus Percalates Ramsey and Ogilby (Percomorphi : Macquariidae), and their taxonomy. NSW State Fisheries Bulletin 11: 1–61.

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37311034

Behaviour:Migratory

Depth:1-10 metres

Fishing:Recreational angling; aquaculture

Habitat:Estuarine & freshwater

Max Size:60 cm SL; 3.8 kg

Native:Endemic

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CAAB distribution map