Australian Giant Herring, Elops machnata (Forsskål 1775)

Other Names: Banana Fish, Giant Herring, Lady Fish, Pincushion Fish, Pin-cushion Fish, Tenpounder, Ten-pounder

An Australian Giant Herring, Elops machnata . Source: Phil Heemstra/ FishWise Professional. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

A slender giant herring with a bluish-grey back, silvery sides with a yellow tinge, and pale yellow fins. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Elops machnata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Apr 2024,

Australian Giant Herring, Elops machnata (Forsskål 1775)

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Albany, Western Australia, to the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific: Read Sea, East Africa, South Africa, Persian Gulf, Seychelles, Madagascar and western Mascarenes, east to the Philippines, Australia, and possibly Hawaii. 
The species is pelagic in shallow coastal waters, and commonly enters estuaries and lagoons. Juveniles use warm turbid estuaries as nursery grounds.


Dorsal fin 20-27; Anal fin 14-17; Pectoral fin 17-18; Gill rakers (adults) (7-9)+ (13-15); Lateral line scales ~ 100; Vertebrae 63-66; Branchiostegal rays 27-36. 

Body depth 12-19 %SL; mouth large, upper jaw reaching well beyond eye; teeth on jaws villiform; gular plate present on underside of head. Fin spines absent; single dorsal fin originating a little behind mid-point of body; anal fin short, originating well behind dorsal-fin base; pelvic fins slightly in front of dorsal fin origin; scales very small, about 100 on lateral line.


Voracious predators feeding on fishes, squids and crustaceans. 


Although popular with anglers in parts of its range, the flesh is considered poor eating and has been described as 'insipid and full of bones'.


The presence of this species in Australian waters needs verification.


The specific name is from machnat, the common name for this species in the type locality.

Species Citation

Argentina machnata Forsskål 1775, Descriptiones Animalium: 68. Type locality: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Red Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Australian Giant Herring, Elops machnata (Forsskål 1775)


Adams, A., Guindon, K., Horodysky, A., MacDonald, T., McBride, R., Shenker, J., Ward, R. & Sparks, J.S. 2016. Elops machnata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T172363A58325231. Accessed on 15 June 2022.

Allan, R. 2002. Australian Fish and How to Catch Them. Sydney : New Holland Publishers (Australia) 394 pp. 

Alikunhi, K.H. & Rao, S.N. 1951. Notes on the metamorphosis of Elops saurus Linn, and Megalops cyprinoides (Broussonet) with observations on their growth. Journal of the Zoological Society of India 3: 99-109. (as Elops saurus)

Blaber, S.J.M., Young, J.W. & Dunning, M.C. 1985. Community structure and zoogeographic affinities of the coastal fishes of the Dampier region of north-western Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 247-266.

Bray, D.J. 2008. Family Elopidae: Giant Herrings, Ten Pounders. pp. 154-155 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

Forsskål, P. 1775. Descriptiones Animalium Avium, Amphibiorum, Piscium, Insectorum, Vermium; quæ in Itinere Orientali observavit Petrus Forskål. Post Mortem Auctoris edidit Carsten Niebuhr. Adjuncta est Materia Medica Kakirina atque Tabula Maris Rubri Geographica. Hauniæ : Mölleri 1-19, i-xxxiv, 164 pp., 1 map. 

Fraser, T.H. 1973. The fish Elops machnata in South Africa. Special Publication J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology 11: 1-6 

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. 

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs. 

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

Smith, M.M. 1986. Elopidae, pp. 155-156 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls. See ref at BHL

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37053003

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-50 m

Habitat:Coastal waters, estuaries

Max Size:118 cm FL

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CAAB distribution map