Spangled Gudgeon, Ophiocara ophicephalus (Valenciennes 1837)

Other Names: Bumblebee, Mullet Gudgeon, Northern Mud Gudgeon, Tittle

A Spangled Gudgeon, Ophiocara ophicephalus, in Arrawarra Creek, New South Wales, January 2018. Source: Brett Vercoe / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

An overall dark brown to blackish gudgeon, becoming paler on the sides, with a yellowish belly, often pale centres on the scales forming scattered white spots on the sides, clear spots and white margins on the second dorsal and caudal fins, and a yellow margin on the anal fin. Individuals may have three pale bands along the body.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2022, Ophiocara ophicephalus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Spangled Gudgeon, Ophiocara ophicephalus (Valenciennes 1837)

More Info


Barred Creek, north of Broome, Western Australia, around the tropical north to North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, including Muralag Island in the Torres Strait. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, west Pacific: Indonesia, Philippines, Ryukyu Islands, Japan, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. 
Inhabits brackish estuaries, river mouths, and freshwater creeks at low elevations close to the sea.


Dorsal fin VI, I,8-9; Anal fin I,7-8; Caudal fin 17; Pectoral fin 14-16; Gill rakers 11-13; Vertebrae 26-27; Mid-lateral scales 33-37; Horizontal scale rows 12-14; Predorsal scales18-26.
Body stout, cylindrical; head dorsally flattened; anterior nostril long reaching lower margin of upper lip; mouth large, length of upper jaw 12.3-15.8% SL; posterior end of maxillary extending to below central to posterior part of eye; gill opening extending beyond the posterior end of urohyal; teeth inwardly curved, thickly set on both jaws, large on outer row and anterior part of inner row of upper jaw, and large on anterior part of outer row and posterior part of inner row of lower jaw.
Scales large, cycloid from snout to posterior part of head, mixed with ctenoid posteriorly to beginning of dorsal fin; ctenoid to eye on lateral side of head and to base of pelvic fins; lateral line absent.
Two separate dorsal fins; pectoral fins rounded; pelvic fins separate; caudal fin rounded.


To around 23cm SL.


Generally dark brown or blackish overall, becoming lighter on the sides with a yellowish belly; scales often with pale centres forming scattered white spots on sides; second dorsal and caudal fins with clear spots and white margins, anal fin with a yellow margin.

Species Citation

Eleotris ophicephalus Valenciennes in Cuvier & Valenciennes 1837, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons Vol. 12: 239. Type locality: Java, Indonesia.


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


Atlas of Living Australia

Spangled Gudgeon, Ophiocara ophicephalus (Valenciennes 1837)


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

Blaber, S.J.M., Salini, J.P. & Brewer, D.T. 1990. A checklist of the fishes of Albatross Bay and the Embley estuary, north-eastern Gulf of Carpentaria. CSIRO Marine Laboratory. Report 210: 1-22 (as Ophiocara porocephala)

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

Hitchcock, G., Finn, M.A., Burrows, D.W., & Johnson, J.W. 2012. Fishes from fresh and brackish waters of islands in Torres Strait, far north Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 56(1): 14-24 (as Ophiocara porocephala)

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) (as Ophiocara porocephala)

Keith, P. & Mennesson, M.I. 2021. Review of Ophiocara (Teleostei: Butidae) from Indo-Pacific Islands. Cybium 45(2): 89-108.

Lake, J.S. 1978. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Melbourne : Thomas Nelson 160 pp. 140 figs. (as Ophiocara porocephala)

Larson, H., Ravelomanana, T. & Sparks, J.S. 2017. Ophiocara porocephala. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T188101A58335116. Accessed on 26 August 2022. (as Ophiocara porocephala, in part)

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 (as Ophiocara porocephala

Macleay, W.J. 1878. The fishes of Port Darwin. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 2(4): 344-367 pls 7-10 (described as Agonostoma darwiniense, type locality Port Darwin, Northern Territory)

McCulloch, A.R. & Ogilby, J.D. 1919. Some Australian fishes of the family Gobiidae. Records of the Australian Museum 12(10): 193-291 figs 31-37 

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

Pusey, B.J., Burrows, D.W., Kennard, M.J., Perna, C.N., Unmack. P.J., Allsop, Q. & Hammer, M.P. 2017. Freshwater fishes of northern Australia. Zootaxa 4253(1): 1-104 (as Ophiocara porocephala)

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1837. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 12 507 pp. pls 344-368. See ref at BHL

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. The Australian Zoologist 6(4): 310-334 1 fig. pls 25-27 (as Meuschenula darwiniensis)

Whitley, G.P. 1935. Studies in Ichthyology No. 9. Records of the Australian Museum 19(4): 215-250 figs 1-11 pl. 18 (described as Lindemanella iota, type locality Lindeman Island, Queensland)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429007

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Habitat:Estuaries, freshwater creeks

Max Size:23cm SL

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CAAB distribution map