Barnett River Gudgeon, Hypseleotris kimberleyensis Hoese & Allen 1982

Barnett River Gudgeon, Hypseleotris kimberleyensis, from The Kimberley, Western Australia. Source: Freshwater Fish Group & Fish Health Unit, Murdoch University. License: All rights reserved

A small slender brownish gudgeon with dusky-brown blotches along the back, and scales with dark margins on the sides - especially on the lower sides.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Hypseleotris kimberleyensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Sep 2022,

Barnett River Gudgeon, Hypseleotris kimberleyensis Hoese & Allen 1982

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Endemic to the Kimberley region of north Western Australia, from the Calder River, Barnett River and Manning Creek in the upper Fitzroy River catchment. Inhabits clear, freshwater rocky pools often at the bse of waterfalls, with moderate flow and aquatic vegetation. Also occurs in streams over sandstone boulders and aquatic plants, mostly solitary but can form small groups.


Dorsal fin VI + I, 10; Anal fin I, 10; Causal fin (segmented rays) 15, (branched rays) 11-12; Pectoral fin 14-15; V I, 5; Tr Sc 9; GR 1-3 + 1+7-9 = 9-12; Vertebrae 26.
Head and body distinctly compressed, depth 5.9-7.7 in SL; caudal peduncle long, greater than second dorsal base. Forehead without prominent hump in both sexes. Snout short, subequal to eye. Mouth small, oblique, reaching under posterior nostril. Teeth small in several rows in both jaws. Gill opening reaching forward just in advance of posterior preopercular margin. Head pores absent.
Body scaled; lateral line absent; longitudinal series 29-32; scales in transverse series 8-10 (usually 9); naked patch under first dorsal fin from upper pectoral base to second dorsal origin; ventral surface of belly naked. Head entirely naked. No median nape scales before first dorsal fin. 
Two dorsal fins; first dorsal low, with rounded margin, height less than body depth; fourth and fifth spines longest; second dorsal fin subequal in height to first dorsal fin; posterior rays sometimes prolonged ranging from two-thirds or equal to length of third ray; second dorsal and anal rays branched once, except for first segmented ray, which is unbranched; other anterior rays sometimes with a second branch point near tip. Caudal fin with slightly rounded margin in males, truncate in females. Pectoral rays 7-11 branched, with one branch point each; middle rays longest. Pelvic fins separate, long and pointed, reaching about to anus.


To around 6 cm SL.


Body tan with 4-7 narrow dark brown bars anteriorly on side from first dorsal fin to middle of second dorsal fin, more distinct anteriorly, first 3-4 bands distinct in males, 6-7 bands evident in females; scales edged in dark brown, darkest on midside forming a row of X-shaped marks just below midside; small dark brown spot on posterior end of caudal peduncle just below midside; black bar at base of pectoral fin from upper margin to opposite first to fifth pectoral ray. Head dark brown, often on top of head only, paler in females than males. Median fins dark brown to black in males, dusky in females; second dorsal and anal sometimes with thin whitish longitudinal stripe just below middle of fin; distal margin usually paler than rest of fin, but without distinct white margin. No white spots on fins. Caudal fin sometimes with two thin vertical wavy lines near base. Pectoral and pelvic fins dusky to clear.


Likely to feed on aquatic invertebrates.


Little is known of the reproductive biology of this species, however it is likely to be an oviparous benthic spawner depositing eggs on the substrate that are guarded and fanned by the male until hatching.


Usually solitary but may form small groups.

Similar Species

Closely related to H. ejuncida from the Prince Regent River of Western Australia. These species differ from other Western Australian members of the genus by a combination of characters which includes the absence of preopercular pores, longitudinal scale count 28-32; body relatively slender, the depth at pelvic fin origin 14-18% of SL, and the pelvic fin origin under or behind the pectoral fin insertion. Hypseleotris kimberleyensis differs from H. ejuncida on the basis of the following combination of characters: predorsal and operculum without scales; second dorsal and caudal fins without distinct spotting or wavy bands; dark bar on pectoral fin base developed only on dorsal portion, usually above uppermost pectoral ray; body depth at anal fin origin 13-17% of SL; and vertebrae 26.


The species is named kimberleyensis in reference to the type locality, the Kimberley district of Western Australia.

Species Citation

Hypseleotris kimberleyensis Hoese & Allen 1982, Inland Fishes of Western Australia: 57, pl. 13(4). Type locality: Barnett River near Barnett Gorge, Central Kimberley, Western Australia, about 16°32'S, 126°08'E.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Barnett River Gudgeon, Hypseleotris kimberleyensis Hoese & Allen 1982


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

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

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

Hoese, D.F. & Allen, G.R. 1983. A review of the gudgeon genus Hypseleotris (Pisces : Eleotridae) of Western Australia, with descriptions of three new species. Records of the Western Australian Museum 10(3): 243–261 figs 1–6 See ref online

Larson, H.K. 2007. A new species of carp gudgeon, Hypseleotris (Pisces: Gobioidei: Eleotridae), from the Katherine River system, Northern Territory. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 23: 111-117. See ref at BHL

Le Feuvre, M.C. 2017. Triple jeopardy in the tropics: assessing extinction risk in Australia's freshwater biodiversity hotspot. Ph.D thesis, School of Biosciences, University of Melbourne.

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

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

Morgan, D.L., Allen, M.G., 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. & Moore, G. 2019. Hypseleotris kimberleyensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T10732A129047152. Accessed on 05 April 2022.

Shelley, J.J. & Le Feuvre, M.C. 2018. Family Eleotridae. pp. 174-203 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, Western Australia : Murdoch University Print Production Team.

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. htps://

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429026

Conservation:IUCN Endangered

Habitat:Freshwater pools

Max Size:6 cm SL


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