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: Neil Armstrong. License: All rights reserved


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 24 Sep 2020,

Common Galaxias, Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns 1842)

More Info


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Common Galaxias, Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns 1842)


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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