Hyrtl's Catfish, Neosilurus hyrtlii Steindachner 1867

Other Names: Common Eel-tail Catfish, Glencoe Tandan, Hyrtl's Tandan, Inland Catfish, Moonfish, Moony, Morton's Tandan, Mottled Tandan, Salmon Catfish, Silver Moonfish, Straight-backed Catfish, White Tandan, Yellow Fin Tandan, Yellow-finned Catfish

Hyrtl's Catfish, Neosilurus hyrtlii. Source: Sabine Hoeng. License: All rights reserved

A dark brown to pale silver-grey catfish with a whitish underside, and dark brownish to yellow fins.
All catfishes have venomous fin spines and may inflict a very painful injury.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2017, Neosilurus hyrtlii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 02 Dec 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/3304

Hyrtl's Catfish, Neosilurus hyrtlii Steindachner 1867

More Info


Coastal drainages from the Pilbara and Kimberley, Western Australia, across northern Australia to Cape York and south to the Mary River, Queensland; also in the Lake Eyre drainage system, and the upper Darling River System. Occurs in a range of freshwater habitats including still or flowing water of streams, billabongs and pools.


Dorsal fin I, 5-6; 2nd Dorsal + Caudal + Anal fin 115-135; Pectoral fin I, 10-11; Pelvic fin 12-14.

Body elongate, tapering posteriorly; head broad, slightly flattened with four pairs of barbels; nasal barbels barely reaching beyond eye, mental barbels reaching to gill opening; snout obtusely pointed and wider than long; dorsal profile straight or slightly convex; pointed teeth on sides of maxilla, mixed molariform and conical teeth in small triangular patch on palate, teeth in lower jaw conic towards the front and molariform at the back.

Scales absent.

First dorsal fin short-based, tall, with a stout, slightly curved, weakly serrated spine; 2nd dorsal-fin confluent with anal and caudal fins; caudodorsal origin well back towards end of body; spiny dorsal and pectorals can be locked erect.


To 40 cm TL, commonly to 20 cm.


Dark brown to light silver-grey, whitish on belly and underside of head; fins dark brown to yellow.


Feeds on insects, very small crustaceans and some detritus.


Sexual maturity is reached at a relatively small size and around 12 months of age. Oviporous, eggs rapidly settle amongst the interstices of the sediment to avoid downstream removal in the current.

Eggs are ~2.6 mm in diameter, non-adhesive and strongly demersal. Eggs hatch after 60 hours at 26-27° C at 5.7-6.0 mm TL. Length at metamorphosis is 25 mm and larval duration is 28 days.


The fin spines are very sharp and venomous.

Species Citation

Neosilurus hyrtlii Steindachner, 1867, Sber. Akad. Wiss. Wien 55(1): 14, pl. 1(3, 3a). Type locality: Fitzroy River, Rockhampton, QLD.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2017


Australian Faunal Directory

Hyrtl's Catfish, Neosilurus hyrtlii Steindachner 1867


Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp., 63 pls.

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Leggett, R. 1990. A collection of freshwater fishes from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 14(4): 527-545 fig. 1

Burgess, W.E. 1989. An Atlas of Freshwater and Marine Catfishes — a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. Neptune City, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 783 pp. (as Tandanus hyrtlii)

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. (as Silurichthys australis)

Castelnau, F.L. de 1878. Australian fishes, new or little known species. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 2(3): 225-248 pls 1-2 (as Neosilurus australis)

Castelnau, F.L. de 1878. On some new Australian (chiefly) freshwater fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 3(2): 140-144 (as Eumeda elongata)

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

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. (as Neosilurus hyrtlii and N. mortoni)

Hammer, M.P. & Walker, K.F. 2004. A catalogue of South Australian freshwater fishes, including new records, range extensions and translocations. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 128(2): 85-97

Huey JA, Baker AM, Hughes JM (2006) Patterns of gene flow in two species of eel-tailed catfish, Neosilurus hyrtlii andPorochilus argenteus (Siluriformes: Plotosidae), in western Queensland's dryland rivers. Biol J Linn Soc 87: 457–467. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2006.00590.x

Larson, H.K. & Martin, K.C. 1990. Freshwater Fishes of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences Handbook Series Number 1. Darwin : Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences 102 pp. 73 figs.

Leggett, R. & Merrick, J.R. 1987. Australian Native Fishes for Aquariums. Artarmon : J.R. Merrick Publications 241 pp. 142 figs. (as Neosilurus glencoensis)

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs. (as Neosilurus glencoensis)

Morgan, D.L., Allen, G.R., Pusey, B.J. & Burrows, D.W. 2011. A review of the freshwater fishes of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Zootaxa 2816: 1-64

Morgan, D.L., Allen, M.G., Bedford, P. & Horstman, M. 2004. Fish fauna of the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley region of Western Australia – including the Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Ngarinyin, Nyikina and Walmajarii Aboriginal names. Records of the Western Australian Museum 22: 147-161.

Ogilby, J.D. 1908. New or little known fishes in the Queensland Museum. Annals of the Queensland Museum 9(1): 3-41 (as Neosilurus robustus)

Pollard, D.A, Davis, T.L.O. & Llewellyn, L.C. 1996. Family Plotosidae: Eel-tailed catfishes. pp. 109-113 in McDowall, R.M. (ed.). Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Sydney : Reed Books 247 pp.

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J. & Arthington, A.H. 2004. Freshwater Fishes of North-eastern Australia. Collingwood, Victoria : CSIRO Publishing 684 pp.

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J. & Bird, J. 2000. Fishes of the dune fields of Cape Flattery, northern Queensland and other dune systems in north-eastern Australia. Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwater 11(1): 65-74

Rendahl, H. 1922. A contribution to the ichthyology of north-west Australia. Meddelelser fra det Zoologiske Museum. Kristiania 5: 163-197 figs 1-6 (as Copidoglanis glencoensis)

Steindachner, F. 1867. Über einige Fische aus dem Fitzroy-Flusse bei Rockhampton in Ost-Australien. Sber. Akad. Wiss. Wien 55(1): 9-16.

Unmack, P.J. 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogeography 28: 1053-1089

Wager, R. & Unmack, P.J. 2000. Fishes of the Lake Eyre Catchment of Central Australia. Brisbane : Department of Primary Industries and Queensland Fisheries Service 88 pp.

Whitley, G.P. 1957. The freshwater fishes of Australia. 9. Catfishes. Aqualife 2(6): 6-10 (as Neosilurus mortoni)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37192011

Danger:Venomous spines


Max Size:40 cm


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