Finke Hardyhead, Craterocephalus centralis Crowley & Ivantsoff 1990

Other Names: Finke River Hardyhead

A Finke Hardyhead, Craterocephalus centralis, from the Finke River, Northern Territory. Source: Dave Wilson / Aquagreen. License: All rights reserved


A small, slender silvery to golden hardyhead becoming paler below, with a distinct greenish-gold mid-lateral stripe, and dark-edged scales on the upper sides. This species occurs in the Finke River (Northern Territory), and may also occur in northern South Australia during times of heavy flooding.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2017, Craterocephalus centralis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Dec 2023,

Finke Hardyhead, Craterocephalus centralis Crowley & Ivantsoff 1990

More Info


Restricted to the Lake Eyre catchment including the Finke River, Northern Territory, and the Neales River, South Australia. The species is widespread and abundant in the Finke River, its tributaries, and waterholes. During the dry season, Finke hardyheads seek refuge in pools in the gorges, and in other semi-permanent waterholes such as natural spring fed pools in the river bed. Individuals may be more widespread in the Lake Eyre Basin during times of heavy flooding. The species schools in open water or amongst aquatic vegetation.


Dorsal fin V-VI + I, 4-6; Anal fin I, 5-7; Pectoral fin 11-13.

Body long, slender, greatest depth 3.6-4.9 in SL; mouth small but protractile, lips moderately thin; gape restricted by labial ligament one third of way along mouth; jaw not reaching back to eye; teeth in jaws sparse, minute.

Scales moderately large, strong, in even rows above midlateral stripe. Rows not always even below midlateral stripe. Scales on top of head large, irregular; opercles with scales; horizontal scale rows 10-11; vertical scale rows 31-33.

Two short-based, well-separated dorsal fins; caudal fin moderately forked, edges rounded; pectoral fins positioned high on sides, near top of gill openings, elongate and pointed; pelvic fins abdominal, elongate, pointed.


to 7.5 cm.


Silvery-golden above the prominent green/gold midlateral stripe; paler below; abdomen whitish; opercles and eyes silver; top of head dark down to eye, pale silver below; scales outlined above midlateral stripe forming a faint network pattern.


Omnivore - feeds on small crustaceans, insects, gastropods, polychaete worms, algae and fish eggs.


Little is known of the biology of the Finke Hardyhead. The species is tolerant of a wide temperature and salinity ranges.

The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. The species breeds during warmer months and spawns in pairs. Females lay demersal adhesive eggs amongst aquatic vegetation.

Larvae hatch after 5-7 days.


IUCN Red List: Near Threatened.


Although Crowley & Ivantsoff (1990) recognised Craterocephalus centralis as being distinct from C. eyresii, Adams et al. (2011) failed to find genetic differences between the species. Both species are retained pending further studies.

Similar Species

Differs from Craterocephalus eyresii in having a slightly more slender body, and in fin ray and scale counts. C. centralis is the only Craterocephalus species found in the Finke River system. 


Craterocephalus is from Greek cratero meaning 'strong' or 'sturdy', and cephalus meaning 'head' in reference to the strong head of species in the genus. The species is named centralis after the region in which it is found — Central Australia.

Species Citation

Craterocephalus centralis Crowley & Ivantsoff 1990, Proc. Linn Soc. N.S.W. 112(2): 92 fig. 3. Type locality:  Finke River, Glen Helen Gorge, NT [23°41'S, 132°40'E].


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Finke Hardyhead, Craterocephalus centralis Crowley & Ivantsoff 1990


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(4): 767-776

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Australia. Perth: Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

Crowley, L.E.L.M. & Ivantsoff, W. 1990. A review of species previously identified as Craterocephalus eyresii (Pisces: Atherinidae). Proceedings of the Linnean 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. Ichthyol. Explor. Freshw. 3(3): 273–287

Davis, J.A. 1996. Aquatic ecosystems in central Australia: comparison of recent records of fishes and invertebrates with those of the Horn Expedition. Pp. 282–286 In: S.R. Morton and D.J. Malvaney (eds) Exploring Central Australia: Society, the Environment and the 1894 Horn Expedition. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton.

Ivantsoff, W. & G.R. Allen. 2011. A new species and genus of a large unusual freshwater hornyhead, Sashatherina giganteus (Pisces: Atherinidae) from West Papua, Indonesia and a comparison with its closest relatives of the genus Craterocephalus. aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 17(1): 43-57.

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293

Unmack, P.J. & Dowling, T.E. 2010. Biogeography of the genus Craterocephalus (Teleostei: Atherinidae) in Australia. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55(3): 968-984.

Wager, R. 1996. Craterocephalus centralis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. <>

Wager, R. & Unmack, P.J. 2000. Fishes of the Lake Eyre catchment of central Australia. Department of Primary Industries Queensland Fisheries Service 88 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37246016

Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened


Max Size:7.5 cm TL


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