Lake Bonaparte Grunter, Syncomistes bonapartensis Shelley, Delaval & Le Feuvre 2017

Other Names: Amalarr manya

The Lake Bonaparte Grunter, Syncomistes bonapartensis. Source: Matthew Le Feuvre & James Shelley, University of Melbourne / Museums Victoria. License: All rights reserved

An iridescent silvery grey, olive-green to bluish grunter, with a silver to golden stripe below the eye, a pale to dark spot on the upper edge of the gill cover, dark fins, and sometimes 7-8 wavy stripes of varying thicknesses (the middle stripe the thickest) along the sides. Juveniles have pronounced stripes on the sides.
The Lake Bonaparte Grunter has a terminal mouth, a wide rounded U-shaped lower jaw when viewed from below, a thick fleshy fold on the upper and lower lips, a relatively deep body, and a distinctively steep ventral profile that is straight or concave in adults and slightly convex in juveniles.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Syncomistes bonapartensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 May 2023,

Lake Bonaparte Grunter, Syncomistes bonapartensis Shelley, Delaval & Le Feuvre 2017

More Info


Endemic to the Kimberley region in Western Australia, in rivers that drain into the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, between the Carson River, Western Australia, and the Finniss River, Northern Territory. 

Inhabits the deeper parts of slow-flowing creeks, rivers, and billabongs - in clear and turbid waters, over muddy to rocky substrates, often with abundant algal growth, and in water temperatures to 36°C. Adults form shoals around snags and river banks, while juveniles mostly occur in riffle habitats.


Dorsal fin XI–XIII, 12–13; Anal fin III, 8–10; Caudal fin 9–10+8+7+9; Pectoral fin 15–17; Pelvic fin I, 5; Vertebrae 11+14 = 25; Lateral line scales 47–51; Scales above lateral line 9–12; Scales below lateral line 17–21; Pre-dorsal fin scales 14–25; Cheek scale rows 4–6; Caudal peduncle scales 26–32; Gill rakers (first arch) 7–10 + 16–20 = 23–30; Opercular spines 2–3; Preopercular spines 19–41.


Adults uniformly silver, iridescent olive green to blue, or light grey. Occasionally with 7–8 longitudinal body stripes on juveniles and adults, that quickly fade when removed from the water or after death: first running along sheath at base of spinous dorsal from third dorsal spine to third or fourth ray; second, from origin of dorsal to below soft dorsal; third, from above eye across post-temporal and then to just beyond based on last soft dorsal ray; fourth, from upper opercular spine to dorsal edge of caudal peduncle; fifth stripe widest, from back of eye across opercle to caudal fin base; sixth, from largest opercular spine to ventral edge of caudal peduncle; seventh stripe wavy, running from dorsal edge of pectoral base to rear of soft anal fin; eighth indistinct and sometimes lacking, positioned below seventh stripe from ventral edge of pectoral fin base to base of anal fin spines.


Diet primarily consists of filamentous algae along with some detritus and invertebrates.


Individuals are sexually mature at 12–14 cm. Breeding occurs during the wet season, and females produce large (~3 mm), non-adhesive eggs. 


This species co-occurs with S. holsworthi, S. kimberleyensis, S. rastellus and S. trigonicus.

Similar Species

Differs from the similar Holsworth’s Grunter, Syncomistes holsworthi, in having a U-shaped rather than a V-shaped lower jaw when viewed from below.  
The Lake Bonaparte Grunter differs from all other species of Syncomistes in having the following combination of characters: lower jaw rounded anteriorly making a ‘U-shape’ when viewed from below, in juveniles and adults; mouth slightly oblique; teeth relatively broad and large, flat, asymmetric, margins convex posteriorly and straight to slightly concave anteriorly, widest point closest to midpoint of tooth, apical region tapered to slight point: body often with 7–8 slightly wavy brown stripes running horizontally along sides; usually < 11 gill rakers on the upper arch and < 30 in total; usually ≥ 6.0 teeth per mm of jaw.


The specific name bonapartensis refers to the distribution of the species that is confined to drainages that once flowed into the paleolake, Lake Bonaparte.

Species Citation

Symcomistes bonapartensis Shelley, Delaval & Le Feuvre 2017, Zootaxa 4367(1): 26, Figs 8 & 9). Type locality: off Cossack Road, Katherine River, 14° 32' 52.8'' S, 132° 7' 48'' E, Northern Territory.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Lake Bonaparte Grunter, Syncomistes bonapartensis Shelley, Delaval & Le Feuvre 2017


Allen, G.R. 1982. Inland Fishes of Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 86 pp. 6 figs 20 pls (in part as Syncomistes butleri)

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 (as Syncomistes butleri)

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

GiIl, H.S., Morgan, D.L., Doupe, R.G. & Rowland, A.J. 2006. The fishes of Lake Kununurra, a highly regulated section of the Ord River in northern Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 23: 1-6 (as Syncomistes butleri)

Moore, G. 2019. Syncomistes bonapartensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T129056419A129056423. Downloaded on 01 September 2020.

Morgan, D., Cheinmora, D., Charles, A., Nulgit, P. & Kimberley Language Resource Centre. 2006. Fishes of the King Edward and Carson Rivers with their Belaa and Ngarinyin names. Centre for Fish & Fisheries Research, Murdoch University / Kimberley Language Resource Centre. 69 pp. (as Syncomistes butleri)

Morgan, D.L. 2010. Fishes of the King Edward River in the Kimberley region, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 25: 351–368 (as Syncomistes butleri)

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 (as Syncomistes butleri)

Shelley, J.J. 2016. Evolution and biogeography of Australian tropical freshwater fishes. PhD Thesis. The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, 273 pp. (as S. butleri II)

Shelley, J.J., Delaval, A. & Le Feuvre, M.C. 2017. A revision of the grunter genus Syncomistes (Teleostei, Terapontidae, Syncomistes) with descriptions of seven new species from the Kimberley region, northwestern Australia. Zootaxa 4367(1): 1-103 DOI:  Abstract

Shelley, J.J., Gomon, M.F. & Le Feuvre, M.C. 2018. Family Terapontidae. pp. 118-158 in Shelley, J.J., Morgan, D.L., Hammer, M.P., Le Feuvre, M.C., Moore, G.I., Gomon, M.F., Allen, M.G. & Saunders, T. (eds) A field guide to the freshwater fishes of the Kimberley. Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, 262 pp.

Shelley, J.S., Swearer, S.E., Adams, M., Dempster, T., Le Feuvre, M.C., Hammer, M.P. & Unmack, P.J. 2018. Cryptic biodiversity in the freshwater fishes of the Kimberley endemism hotspot, northwestern Australia, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 127: 843-858,

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37321036

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern


Max Size:28 cm SL


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