Firetail Gudgeon, Hypseleotris galii (Ogilby 1898)

Other Names: Fire-tailed Gudgeon, Gale's Carp-gudgeon

A Firetail Gudgeon, Hypseleotris galii, from the Clarence River system, Bonalbo, New South Wales. Source: Jason Coughran / FishBase. License: All rights reserved

A small greyish to bronze gudgeon with dark scale margins, especially along the mid-side (may appear as a faint mid-lateral stripe), a silvery belly that appears orange to pink in gravid females, and often a black bar above the pectoral fin base. Adult males have elongated rays in the rear of the second dorsal and anal fins, with the fin tips extending along the length of the caudal peduncle, 
Breeding males become blackish with a broad reddish-orange margin on the dorsal and anal fins, and a dusky reddish-orange caudal fin. Females have transparent fins and black pigment on and around the genital papilla.
Eastern Water Dragons feeding on Firetail Gudgeons in Sydney, New South Wales.

Firetail Gudgeons in Manly Dam, Sydney.

Firetail Gudgeons in a bait trap.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2022, Hypseleotris galii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Apr 2024,

Firetail Gudgeon, Hypseleotris galii (Ogilby 1898)

More Info


Coastal drainages of eastern Australia, from Water Park Creek, central Queensland, to the Georges River,  central New South Wales, including Fraser, Bribbie, Moreton and North Stradbroke islands (and possibly south to Yadboro, west of Ulladulla, New South Wales). This species has also been translocated elsewhere in the Murray-Darling Basin in Queensland and New South Wales. Inhabits coastal freshwater streams, large rivers, floodplains, coastal wetlands, dune lake systems, dams and weirs, often around aquatic vegetation.


Dorsal fin VI-VIII; I,10-12; Anal fin I,11-13; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 15; Pectoral fin 14-15; Pelvic fin I,5; Gill rakers 9-12; Longitudinal series 31-33; Vertebrae 29-30.
Head and body distinctly compressed, body moderately slender, tapering toward tail. Males developing slight hump on top of head behind eyes. Mouth small, oblique, reaching to below anterior margin of eye; teeth small in several rows in both jaws. Tongue tip truncate. Gill opening moderately broad, extending forward to below posterior end of preoperculum. Pectoral base narrow, with rays developed ventrally; a free fold of skin extending to upper attachment of opercular membrane above uppermost ray. Head pores absent.
Body scales ctenoid, lateral line absent; top of head scaled forward to above posterior half of eye, predorsal scales 8-12; cheeks and gill covers with small cycloid scales, none on snout.
Two dorsal fins; first dorsal with rectangular margin in males, rounded in females; second dorsal higher than first; anterior rays of second dorsal and anal fins elevated, posterior rays elongated in males. Caudal fin truncate to slightly rounded. Pelvic fins separate.


Males to around 5.5 cm SL; females to 4 cm.


Colour varies according to habitat, time of year and age of the individual fish. The colouration of the species varies with age, habitat and season. Body generally grey to bronze or almost black, with a black bar on the side above the pectoral fin base, covering the upper two thirds of base, becoming narrower and paler ventrally; faint stripe from black bar to tail base; scales edge in black; belly paler. Fins clear to dusky; basal two thirds of dorsal and anal fins darer than margins; large fish with dusky bases and reddish orange margins; caudal fin clear to reddish orange.


Feeds mostly on insects, larvae and small crustaceans such as cladocerans and ostracods.


Oviparous, spawning from October to January. Females attach batches of 25-440 eggs beneath substrates such as stones, leaves or shells between late winter and early summer. The male parent guards and fans the eggs until the larvae hatch after up to 7 days.

Similar Species

Hypseleotris galii differs from H. acropinna and  in having dark pigment on and around the genital papilla in females; differs from H. moolooboolaensis generally in having fewer lateral scales (31–33 rather than 33–34 in H. moolooboolaensis).
The species differs from other southeastern Australian species in having adult males with elongated rays in the posterior portions of the dorsal and anal fins, with fin tips extending along the length of the caudal peduncle. In breeding males, the median fins have distal bands of pale orange, and a dusky red caudal fin. 


The species is named galii in honour of Ogilby's friend, Mr. Albert Gale, who observed the fish in the Sydney Botanic Gardens, suspected it was a new species, and assisted Ogilby with collection of the fish.

Species Citation

Carassiops galii Ogilby, 1898, Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 22(4): 788. Type locality (neotype): Hickeys Creek, a Macleay River tributary near Millbank, New South Wales, Australia (PU18-24), 30.8645 S, 152.6313 E.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Firetail Gudgeon, Hypseleotris galii (Ogilby 1898)


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

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Cashner, R.C., Hawkes, G.P., Gartside, D.F. & Marsh-Matthews, E. 1999. Fishes of the Nymboida, Mann and Orara Rivers of the Clarence River Drainage, New South Wales, Australia. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 121: 89-100

Hoese, D.F., Larson, H.K. & Llewellyn, L.C. 1980. Family Eleotridae: gudgeons.  pp. 169–185 19 figs in McDowall, R.M. (ed.) Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia.  Sydney : A.H. & A.W. Reed 208 pp. figs.

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Konagai, M. & Rimmer, M.A. 1985. Larval ontogeny and morphology of the fire-tailed gudgeon, Hypseleotris galii (Eleotridae). Journal of Fish Biology 27: 277–283.

Lake, J.S. 1978. Australian Freshwater Fishes.  Melbourne : Thomas Nelson 160 pp. 140 figs.

Larson, H.K. & Hoese, D.F. 1996. Family Gobiidae, subfamilies Eleotridinae and Butinae. pp. 200-219 in McDowall, R.M. (ed.) Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Sydney : Reed Books 247 pp.

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Ogilby, J.D. 1898. On some Australian Eleotrinae. Part 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 22(4): 783-793. See ref at BHL

Ogilby, J.D. 1907. Notes on exhibits. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 20: 27–30. 

Pusey B., Kennard M. & Arthington A. 2004. Freshwater Fishes of North-Eastern Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood Australia. 684 pp.

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Thacker, C.E., Geiger, D.L. & Unmack, P.J. 2022. Species delineation and systematics of a hemiclonal hybrid complex in Australian freshwaters (Gobiiformes: Gobioidei: Eleotridae: Hypseleotris). Royal Society Open Science 9: 220201.

Thacker, C.E., Shelley, J.J., McCraney, W.T. et al. 2022. Phylogeny, diversification, and biogeography of a hemiclonal hybrid system of native Australian freshwater fishes (Gobiiformes: Gobioidei: Eleotridae: Hypseleotris). BMC Ecology and Evolution 22.

Thacker, C.E. & Unmack, P.J. 2005. Phylogeny and biogeography of the eleotrid genus Hypseleotris (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Eleotridae), with redescription of H. cyprinoides. Records of the Australian Museum 57: 1-13.

Thacker, C.E., Unmack, P.J., Matsui, L. & Rifenbark, N. 2007 Comparative phylogeography of five sympatric Hypseleotris species (Teleostei: Eleotridae) in south-eastern Australia reveals a complex pattern of drainage basin exchanges with little congruence across species. Journal of Biogeography 34: 1518–1533. 01711.x

Waite, E.R. 1904. A review of the eleotrids of New South Wales. Records of the Australian Museum 5(5): 277–286 figs 34–36

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429025

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Freshwater streams, ponds

Max Size:5.5 cm SL


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