Northern Saratoga, Scleropages jardinii (Saville-Kent 1892)

Other Names: Australian Bonytongue, Bony Tongue, Gulf Barramundi, Gulf Of Carpentaria Burramundi, Gulf Saratoga, Northern Spotted Barramundi, Saratoga

Northern Saratoga, Scleropages jardinii. Source: Neil Armstrong. License: All rights reserved


A large dark brown to greenish fish with a silvery sheen, a reddish crescent-shaped mark on each scale, dorsal, anal and caudal fins dark brown to grey and speckled with small red spots, a single dorsal fin far back on the body, a large mouth and a pair of chin barbels at all sizes.

Video of a Northern Saratoga in an aquarium

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2018, Scleropages jardinii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Northern Saratoga, Scleropages jardinii (Saville-Kent 1892)

More Info


Patchily distributed throughout most of the Gulf of Carpentaria drainage system, west to the Adelaide River, and throughout northern Queensland. Three separate populations occur: (1) in the Adelaide River to the Roper River, including Melville Island and Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory, and a translocated population in Girraween Lagoon, near Darwin; (2) Nicholson River system, Northern Territory; (3) CApe York, Queensland, from the Staaten River northward including most westerly flowing rivers of Cape York, and Harmer Creek and the Olive River systems within the Olive-Pascoe basin, eastern Cape York. Also occurs in the Trans-Fly system, southern Papua New Guinea.

Prefers clear low gradient streams, and pools and billabongs of floodplain wetlands, with abundant aquatic plant cover.


Dorsal fin 20-24; Anal fin 28-32; Lateral line scales 34-36.
Body elongate, compressed; depth moderate, greatest body depth 3.6-4.0 in SL; mouth large, upturned; forehead profile convex; head length more than one quater SL; snout 4.5-4.7 in SL; rear edge of jaw extending well beyond eye.
Head scaleless; large thick bony scales with canals form a mosaic-like pattern.
Dorsal fin placed posteriorly; anal fin below dorsal; pectoral fins pointed, not reaching pelvic bases, 3.5-4.1 in SL; pelvic fins 10-11 in SL.


Maximum TL 100 cm, commonly to 55 cm.


Dark brown to greenish dorsally, lighter brown to grey-green on sides with a silvery sheen; reddish crescent-shaped marking on most scales; dorsal, anal and caudal fins are dark brown to grey and speckled with small red spots; pectoral and pelvic fins dusky.


Opportunistic carnivore feeding on aquatic and terrestrial insects, small fishes and crustaceans.


Spawning generally occurs from September to early November when daytime surface temperatures approach 30°C. Females brood clutches of 50-200 eggs in the oral cavity.

Larvae hatch at 1-2 weeks and remain in the mouth for another 4-5 weeks. The young first feed at 2-3cm TL on micro-crustaceans, and become independent of the mother at 3.5-4cm TL


Renowned angling fish prized for its fighting ability and eating quality. The species may be susceptible to overfishing in localised stretches of rivers and billabongs.

Although popular, Northern Saratoga are territorial and aggressive fishes that are not suitable for community aquaria. The species has been successfully bred in captivity.


Evolved entirely from freshwater ancestor. Generally solitary; territorial.

Similar Species

Scleropages leichardti reportedly differs in fin ray counts, the angle of the mouth, reach of rear edge of the jaws, and chin barbels are present in all sizes of S. jardinii but only in S. leichardti over 15 cm. However, Pusey et al.(2016) consider S. jardinii to be a possible synonym of S. leichardti.

Species Citation

Osteoglossum jardinii Saville-Kent 1892, Proc. R. Soc. Qld. 8: 105. Type locality: Wenlock River, Queensland (as Batavia River) and Gregory River, Cape York, Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Northern Saratoga, Scleropages jardinii (Saville-Kent 1892)


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

Allen, G.R. 1991. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of New Guinea. Madang : Christensen Research Institute 268 pp.

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

Castelnau, F.L. de 1876. Mémoire sur les poissons appelés barramundi par les Aborigènes du nord-est de l'Australie. Journal de Zoologie (Gervais) 5: 129-136 (as Osteoglossum guentheri)

Greenwood, P.H. & Wilson, M.V.H. 1998. Bonytongues and their allies, pp. 80-84. In Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds) Encyclopedia of fishes. Academic Press, San Diego. 240 pp.

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

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

Lake, J.S. 1971. Freshwater Fishes and Rivers of Australia. Melbourne : Nelson 61 pp. 

Lake, J.S. 1978. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Melbourne : Thomas Nelson 160 pp. 140 figs. 

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. 

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

Leggett, R. & Merrick, J.R. 1987. Australian Native Fishes for Aquariums. Artarmon : J.R. Merrick Publications 241 pp. 142 figs. 

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

Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp. 

Pusey, B.J., et al. 2017. Freshwater fishes of northern Australia. Zootaxa 4253(1): 1–104, doi: Abstract

Pusey, B.J., Fisher, C. & Maclain, J. 2016. On the nature of Scleropages leichardti Günther, 1864 (Pisces: Osteoglossidae). Zootaxa 4173(1):

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J. & Bird, J. 2000. Fishes of the dune fields of Cape Flattery, northern Queensland and other dune systems in north-eastern Australia. Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwater 11(1): 65-74 

Saville-Kent, W. 1892. Description of a new species of true barrimundi, Osteoglossum jardinii, from north Queensland. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 8: 105-108.

Tait, R.D. 1981. Comparison of the diets of the northern spotted barramundi (Scleropages jardini) and the giant perch (Lates calcarifer) in northern Australia. Verhandlungen des Internationalen Verein Limnologie 21: 1320-1325.

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

Whitley, G.P. 1941. Burramundi. Australian Museum Magazine 7(8): 264-268.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37088001

Biology:Mouth brooder (females)

Fishing:Popular sports & aquarium fish


Max Size:100 cm TL

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