Katherine River Gudgeon, Hypseleotris barrawayi Larson 2007

Other Names: Barraway’s Carp Gudgeon, Barraway's Fish, Katherine Gudgeon

Katherine River Gudgeon, Hypseleotris barrawayi. Source: Dave Wilson / Aquagreen. License: All rights reserved

A small slender gudgeon with distinct vertical bars on the body, pale blue, black and red horizontal stripes on the dorsal fins, several dusky bars or rows of spots on the caudal fin, and a dark bar on the pectoral-fin base.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2022, Hypseleotris barrawayi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1168

Katherine River Gudgeon, Hypseleotris barrawayi Larson 2007

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Endemic to the upper reaches of the Katherine River and Edith River in the Daly River basin, Northern Territory in Australia.
Prefers clear quiet freshwaters with sheltered areas, such as near steep banks with overhanging vegetation among bank-side roots and submerged logs; in riverine areas associated with root masses and leaf litter close to banks; known to aggregate in large numbers.


Dorsal fin V-VII + I, 8-13; Anal fin I, 9-11; Caudal fin (segmented rays) 14-15, (branched rays) 10-13; Pectoral fin 14-16; Pelvic fin I, 5; Transverse Scales 10-14; Vertebrae 12-13 + 13-14 = 16-17; Gill rakers 2-4 + 9-12 (1) = 12-16.
Body slender, compressed, more so posteriorly, depth 13.9-22.9% of SL; caudal peduncle depth 10.3-12.7% of SL. Head somewhat compressed, length 23.6-29.3% of SL, large with somewhat convex nape but none with `hump'. Snout short, gently rounded to slightly pointed, length about equal to eye width. Anterior nostril at end of short tube just above upper lip; posterior nostril  oval, close to anterdorsal margin of eye. Eye width 24.1-31.8% of HL; interorbital broad, about equal to eye width. Mouth short and oblique, reaching to below posterior nostril; jaw teeth small, sharp and curved; in 3-5 rows anteriorly, closely packed, innermost row slightly larger than others. No vomerine teeth. Lips narrow; lower lip fused to chin anteriorly, side of lip free. Gill opening extending forward to or slightly forward of posterior margin of preopercle. Tongue tip blunt to slightly concave. Head pores absent. Sensory papillae in reduced transverse pattern. Pectoral base narrow, with rays developed ventrally; a free fold of skin extending to upper attachment of opercular membrane above uppermost ray.
Scales on body reaching forward to above pectoral fin base or to side of nape above preopercle; most ctenoid, in wedge along side of body to behind pectoral fin, cycloid under first dorsal fin; lateral line absent; longitudinal series 30-34; scales posterior to first dorsal fin larger than those anteriorly; scales in prepelvic region embedded, small and cycloid, anterior third usually naked; at least posterior half of scales on belly embedded, cycloid; pectoral fin base with variable sized patch of small cycloid scales, occasionally naked; predorsal scales small, cycloid, variably present, embedded or partly so, nearly always non-overlapping, scattered in groups in rough line along midline of nape and above opercle and preopercle in no particular pattern, 0-23 on midline; scales on side of head cycloid, firmly embedded; opercle with patch of 3 to many cycloid scales; preopercle with patch of scales at posteroventral corner, sometimes 1-2 rows ventrally on preopercle below eye, and patch of scales directly behind eye which may coalesce with ventral scales.
Two dorsal fins, first dorsal low, rounded to somewhat rectangular, no spines elongate, not or just touching second dorsal fin spine when adpressed, similar in males and females; anterior second dorsal and anal rays longest but not greatly so, fin bases short, posterior rays falling well short of caudal fin base; anteriormost second dorsal and anal rays unbranched. Pectoral fin pointed, slender, central rays longest, upper and lowermost two rays unbranched. Pelvic fins separate, slender, pointed, falling short of anus. Caudal fin truncate to slightly rounded.


To around 6cm SL.


Translucent pale grey to brownish, underside of head and abdomen bluish-white, scale margins narrowly outlined with greyish brown; 10-13 equally spaced narrow dusky to dark grey bars crossing dorsum, first crossing nape above opercle, reaching down on to side of abdomen anteriorly, bars progressively much shorter posteriorly; internal narrow pale golden-brown stripe from eye nearly to mid-caudal fin base; short black vertical bar on lower base of caudal fin; dark grey to bluish grey blotch on pectoral base; broad diffuse dusky grey stripe from lips through eye across upper part of preopercle and opercle, ending before pectoral fin base; sometimes faint thin grey stripe along preopercle behind end of jaws; scattered spots or blotches of iridescent greenish, to bluish, to pinkish gold pigment sometimes showing through body wall of upper abdomen and side of head; lips dusky grey to dark grey; pupil surrounded by rim of pale gold, most of eye brown-gold to iridescent brown. Dorsal and anal fins translucent dusky grey, with dull whitish to yellowish-grey band through centre of first dorsal and similar band along second dorsal fin but slightly below centre; anal fin becoming darker grey distally; all with narrow bluish white margin. Caudal fin translucent pale dusky, with rows of pale brownish grey to pale golden-brown spots. Pectoral fins transparent. Pelvic fins translucent dusky to whitish grey, with bluish white edge to tips. When breeding, anterior half of the body reddish brown, greyish brown posteriorly, with dark reddish-brown head; chest dark grey ventrally with pinkish-gold sides; first dorsal fin with proximal pale pink band, central dusky grey band and bluish white outer edge; second dorsal fin translucent pink, with deep red-brown area proximally, broad blackish submarginal band along posterior half of fin and outer edge of fin white; anal fin dark reddish with broad submarginal grey band and narrow bluish white margin; caudal fin dark brown with golden brown spots.


Likely to feed on aquatic invertebrates.


Oviparous; male clears breeding site on a flat surface in November-January and drives female away after eggs are laid. Egg patches are about 20 mm diameter and contain about 180 eggs of about 0.3 mm diameter.


The species was first discovered in the abandoned uranium mine pit and neighbouring billabongs at the abandoned Sleisbeck Camp in Kakadu National Park.

Similar Species

Differs from other species in the genus by having distinct dark vertical bars on the body, the first and second dorsal fins are banded horizontally with light and dark pigment, the caudal fin usually has several dusky bars or rows of spots, has a dark bar on the pectoral base, 26 vertebrae, preopercle with scales, lateral scales usually 32, and predorsal scales scattered along midline of nape, not reaching the eye and often absent altogether. 


The species is named for the late Sandy Barraway, traditional owner of the Sleisbeck country, who had great knowledge of the fauna and stories associated with that country. 

Species Citation

Hypseleotris barrawayi Larson, 2007, The Beagle 23: 111, figs 1-4. Type locality: Gimbat Creek, Katherine River, 13°33'S, 133°03.3'E, Northern Territory, Australia.


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


Atlas of Living Australia

Katherine River Gudgeon, Hypseleotris barrawayi Larson 2007


Hammer, M. & Kennard, M. 2019. Hypseleotris barrawayi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T68001158A129047081. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T68001158A129047081.en. Accessed on 05 August 2022.

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

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 

Larson, H.K. & Martin, K.C. 1990. Freshwater Fishes of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences Handbook Series Number 1. Darwin : Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences 102 pp. 73 figs. [as Hypseleotris sp. (cf) kimberleyensis]

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.

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. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-022-01981-3

Thacker, C. & 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 (as Hypseleotris sp. nov.)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429058

Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

Habitat:Quiet freshwater pools

Max Size:6 cm SL


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