Climbing Galaxias, Galaxias brevipinnis Günther 1866

Other Names: Broad-finned Galaxias, Cox's Mountain Galaxias, Cox's Mountain Trout, Lake Trout, Lowland Galaxias, Mersey Jollytail, Mountain Trout, Pieman Galaxias, Pieman Jollytail, Short-fin Galaxias, St. Claire Trout

A Climbing Galaxias, Galaxias brevipinnis, from the Grey River, Otways, Victoria, November 2018 (photographed in an aquarium) . Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A large robust Galaxias with a large head, a slightly overhanging upper jaw, the dorsal fin origin before the anal-fin origin, and thick fleshy pelvic and pectoral fins.

Climbing Galaxias are greyish-brown to dark olive above, paler below, with a golden iridescence in sunlight, and a highly variable pattern of darker bars, blotches or fine mottling on the sides, including a dark blotch above the pectoral-fin base.

The species is renowned for its climbing ability. Video of Climbing Galaxias at Wilsons Promontory, Victoria.

Climbing Galaxias on Flinders island, Bass Strait.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Galaxias brevipinnis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Jul 2019,

Climbing Galaxias, Galaxias brevipinnis Günther 1866

More Info


Adults occur in cool coastal streams of south-eastern Australia, from Hunter River (New South Wales) to about Adelaide and Kangaroo Island (South Australia), Bass Strait islands and Tasmania.

Marine juveniles are likely to be found in adjacent seas. Adults prefer clear fast-flowing shady streams with rocks, boulders and logs, usually well-upstream in the headwaters. Climbing Galaxias swim near the bottom usually near rocks and logs. Marine juveniles occur in adjacent seas.


Dorsal fin 11-15; Anal fin 12-17; Caudal fin 16; Pectoral fin 12-16; Pelvic fin 7; Vertebrae 55-63; Gill rakers 11-17.

Body elongate, stout, almost tubular; body depth at vent 6.5-9.1 in SL; head large, dorsoventrally flattened, snout slender; lower jaw distinctly shorter than upper; mouth of moderate size reaching below eyes; gill rakers long, slender.

Fins well developed, pelvic fins with thick, fleshy bases; single dorsal fin; anal fin short, origin distinctly behind origin of dorsal fin; pectoral fins large, low and downward facing; caudal fin truncate to emarginate.


Maximum size to around 28 cm TL, commonly to 15cm.


Greyish-brown, darker above with a golden iridescence, and a highly variable pattern of dark bars, rows of spots, blotches or fine mottling on the sides; dark blotch often present above pectoral fin base.


Carnivore - feeds mostly on aquatic invertebrates including mayfly and caddis fly larvae, and small crustaceans. They will also prey on terrestrial insects such as flies, beetles, millipedes and amphipods from the surface.


In coastal streams breeding occurs during autumn and winter. Eggs are scattered amongst vegetation on the stream edge above the normal flow level, presumably when streams are in flood; fecundity is high up to 23676 eggs have been reported with an average of 7000 per individual.

Eggs are round, adhesive, 1.8-2.1mm diameter. Develop out of water in damp habitats for days or weeks before hatching on the next flood.

Larvae are swept downstream to the sea where they develop for 5-6 months before migrating back into estuarine and freshwater habitats.


Climbing Galaxias historically formed part of the Tasmanian whitebait industry.


Renowned for its ability to climb vertical waterfalls and rock faces using its broad pectoral and pelvic fins. Individuals can navigate most upstream barriers, including vertical cliff faces, by using their thick fleshy pelvic and large downward facing pectoral fins to 'wriggle' up damp rocky surfaces. This ability allows Climbing Galaxias to inhabit the headwaters of streams that are inaccessible to introduced species such as trout.

Species Citation


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Climbing Galaxias, Galaxias brevipinnis Günther 1866


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. : I-xiv + 1-394.

Günther, A. 1866. Catalogue of the fishes of the British Museum. Catalogue of the physostomi, containing the families Salmonidae, Percopsidae, Galaxidae, Mormyridae, Gymnarchidae, Esocidae, Umbridae, Scombresocidae, Cyprinodontidae, in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 6 368 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

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 brevipinnisJournal 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.

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

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

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

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37102002

Behaviour:An excellent climber

Biology:Migratory - larvae carried out to sea

Habitat:Freshwater to marine

Max Size:28 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map