Oxeye Herring, Megalops cyprinoides (Broussonet 1782)

Other Names: Bony Mullet, Indo-Pacific Tarpon, Ox-eye Herring, Tarpon

Oxeye Herring, Megalops cyprinoides. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial


A large silvery fish with a bluish-green back, a very large mouth with a protruding lower jaw, a deeply forked tail, large scales and an elongate last dorsal-fin ray. The large eye is covered with adipose tissue and there is a conspicuous axillary scale at the base of each pectoral and pelvic fin.

Oxeye Herring (aka Tarpon) in the Finniss River, Northern Territory.

Video - Bull Shark predation on Tarpon

Fly fishing for Oxeye Herring (Tarpon) in North Queensland.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2019, Megalops cyprinoides in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Apr 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1991

Oxeye Herring, Megalops cyprinoides (Broussonet 1782)

More Info


About Port Hedland, Western Australia, around the tropical north to the Tuross River, New South Wales. Elsewhere the species is widespread in tropical waters of the Red Sea and Indo-West Pacific. 

Adults inhabit marine and estuarine waters, while juveniles and small adults may be found in well-upstream in the freshwater reaches of tropical rivers or coastal lakes, in clear or turbid water.


Dorsal fin 16-21; Pectoral fin 15-16; Anal fin 22-31; Plvic fin 10-11; Lateral line scales 36-42; Gill rakers 15-17 + 30-35; Branchiostegal rays 26-27.

Body moderately deep, compressed, deepest in middle before tapering at both ends; eye large, covered with adipose tissue. Mouth large, jaws extending to posterior margin of eye, lower jaw projecting beyond snout; a gular plate present between arms of lower jaw. Teeth small, granular;  gill rakers long and slender; modified swim bladder lies against the skull. Scales large. Fins lack spines; dorsal fin situated in middle of body, directly over ventral fins, last ray elongate and filamentous; pectoral fins low on side of body near ventral fin margin; pelvic fins abdominal; pectoral and pelvic fin bases with a conspicuous axillary scale; anal fin insertion behind dorsal fin; caudal fin deeply forked.


To around 150cm, commonly to 50cm.


Ranges from bluish-green to olive-green above, silvery on sides and belly; fins are greenish to yellowish.


Adults are carnivores, and feed on a variety of crustaceans, insects and fishes, often feeding beneath floating aquatic vegetation. Juveniles feed on plankton.


Oviparous, pelagic spawning peaks during the summer wet season in near-shore marine and estuarine areas. Produce numerous small, non-buoyant, non-adhesive eggs. The leptocephalus larvae are flat, band-like, transparent and similar to those of true eels, although unlike eels, Oxeye Herring leptocephali have forked tails. Larvae drift into shallow coastal waters and estuaries where they develop to maturity and it is during this period when young fish may venture into coastal streams. Larvae develop teeth early in life at around 11mm TL.


An excellent sports fish renowned for its fighting ability, especially when taken on light lines. However, the species is considered to be poor eating in Australia, especially because it has very bony flesh. Oxeye Herring are caught in subsistence fisheries throughout their range.



The Oxeye Herring has a modified swim bladder allowing it to gulp air from the surface to supplement its oxygen supply in low oxygen environments. They can also tolerate a wide pH range (5.2-9.1).

Species Citation

Clupea cyprinoids Broussonet 1782, Ichthyologia Sistens Piscium Descriptions et Icones: 39, Pl. 9. Type locality: Tanna Island, Vanuatu


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Oxeye Herring, Megalops cyprinoides (Broussonet 1782)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37054001

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Feeding:0-50 m

Fishing:Popular sports fish

Habitat:Freshwater to coastal marine

Max Size:152 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map