Common name: Grunters, striped grunters, terapon perches, terapontids, trumpeter

A large group of small to medium-sized perch-like fishes found in marine, brackish and fresh waters of the Indo-West Pacific.

Grunters have a single long-based dorsal fin with a notch between the spinous and soft-rayed parts, small to moderate-sized scales, a continuous lateral line that extends onto the caudal fin, and teeth are absent from the roof of the mouth in most species.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Grunters, TERAPONTIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jun 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

As of 2014, fourteen genera and 34 described species are known from Australian waters. A number of species from north-western Australia are yet to be described.

Family Distribution

Found in marine, brackish and freshwaters of the Indo-West Pacific. Many species spend their entire lives in freshwater, while others are inhabit marine or estuarine waters, only sometimes venturing into freshwater.

Family Reproduction

Grunters one of the most speciose and trophically diverse Australian freshwater fish families. Their feeding habits span carnivorous, insectivorous, omnivorous, herbivorous, frugivorous and detritivorous trophic strategies.


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray


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Allen, G.R., Larson, H.K. & Midgley, S.H. 1993. A new species of Scortum Whitley (Pisces: Terapontidae) from the Northern Territory, Australia. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 10(1): 71-74.

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

Corfield, J., Diggles, B., Jubb, C., McDowall, R.M., Moore, A., Richards, A. & Rowe, D.K. 2008. Review of the impacts of introduced ornamental fish species that have established wild populations in Australia. Report prepared for the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

Davis, A.M., Blanchette, M.L., Pusey, B.J., Pearson, R.G. & Jardine, T. 2012. Gut-content and stable-isotope analyses provide complementary understanding of ontogenetic dietary shifts and trophic relationships among fishes in a tropical river. Freshwater Biology 57: 2156–2172.

Davis, A.M., Pearson, R.G., Pusey, B.J., Perna, C., Morgan, D.L. & Burrows, D. 2011. Trophic ecology of northern Australia’s terapontids: ontogenetic dietary shifts and feeding classification. Journal of Fish Biology 78: 265–286.

Davis, A.M., Pusey, B.J. & Pearson, R.G. 2011. Trophic ecology of terapontid grunters: the role of morphology and ontogeny. Marine and Freshwater Research 63: 128–141.

Davis, A.M., Pusey, B.J, Thorburn, D.C., Dowe, J.L., Morgan, D.L. & Burrows, D.W. 2010. Riparian contributions to the diet of terapontid grunters (Pisces: Terapontidae) in wet-dry tropical rivers. Journal of Fish Biology 76: 862–879.

Davis, A.M., Unmack, P.J., Pusey, B.J. & Pearson. R.G. 2012. Marine-freshwater transitions are associated with the evolution of dietary diversification in terapontid grunters (Teleostei: Terapontidae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25: 1163–1179.

Davis, A.M., Unmack, P.J., Pusey, B.J., Pearson, R.G. & Morgan, D.L. 2013. Ontogenetic development of intestinal length and relationships to diet in an Australasian fish family (Terapontidae). BMC Evol Biol 13: 53. PDF Open access

Davis, A.M., Unmack, P.J., Pusey, B.J., Pearson, R.G. & Morgan, D.L. 2014. Effects of an adaptive zone shift on morphological and ecological diversification in terapontid fishes. Evolutionary Ecology 28(2): 205-227. doi:10.1007/s10682-013-9671-x Abstract

Davis, A.M., Unmack, P.J., Pusey, B J., Pearson, R.G. & Morgan, D.L. 2014. Evidence for a multi-peak adaptive landscape in the evolution of trophic morphology in terapontid fishes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 113(2): 623-634. doi: 10.1111/bij.12363 Abstract

Davis, A.M., Unmack, P.J., Vari, R.P. & Betancur-R, R. 2016. Herbivory promotes lineage diversification and dental disparification in grunters (Teleostei: Terapontidae), a freshwater adaptive radiation. The American Naturalist 187: 320-333. Abstract

Vari, R.P. 1978. The terapon perches (Percoidei, Terapontidae) a cladistic analysis and taxonomic revision. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 159(5): 175-340 figs 1-94

Vari, R.P. & Hutchins, J.B. 1978. New species of terapon perches (Percoidei, Terapontidae) from Australia. American Museum Novitates 2654: 1-8 figs 1-9