Bony Bream, Nematalosa erebi (Günther 1868)

Other Names: Bardijarr oobanyba, Australian River Gizzard Shad, Gizzard Shad, Gunangurri, Hairback Herring, Hair-back Herring, Laarri, Lakarr, Leichhardtian Bony Bream, Melon Fish, North-west Bony Bream, Pyberry, Queensland Bony Bream, Tukari

A Bony Bream, Nematalosa erebi, from Henbury Station, Northern Territory, 14 May 2013. Source: Robert Whyte / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives

A medium-sized freshwater and estuarine species that is widespread across much of northern Australia and in the Murray Darling Basin.

Bony Bream are silvery with a greenish to greyish tinge above, and often have reddish tinge on the snout and belly. The last dorsal-fin ray is elongated and the scales along the belly form a distinct keel.

Video of Bony Bream feeding in a pool at the base of the escarpment in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2021, Nematalosa erebi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Bony Bream, Nematalosa erebi (Günther 1868)

More Info


Widespread in northern Australia and the Murray Darling Basin, from the Ashburton River in the Pilbara region, Western Australia, to the Nerang River, Queensland, and in the lake Eyre Basin, Barkley Tablelands and the Murray Darling Basin. Also in New Guinea.

Inhabits the shallows of still or slow-flowing rivers, streams, lakes and waterholes, particularly in turbid conditions. Also found in desert bores and fresh or saline lakes (slightly less salty than sea water). Can tolerate water temperatures between 9° and 38°C and pH 4.8-8.6.


Dorsal fin 14-19; Anal fin 17-27; Pectoral fin 14-18; Pelvic fin 8.

Body medium sized, laterally compressed, relatively deep bodied with a blunt, rounded snout; head and mouth small; eyes large; outer edge of dentary strongly flared outwards; gill rakers of first arch less than ½ length of corresponding gill filaments; tail large and deeply forked.

Scales cycloid, easily dislodged; vertical scale rows 40-46; lateral line scales 40 to 45; distinct line of scutes along ventral margin; head scaleless.

Single spineless short-based dorsal fin with last ray a long filament in larger fish; pectoral fins small; pelvic fins situated approximately mid way along the belly, below dorsal; anal fin long based; all fins spineless.


Maximum size to about 32 cm SL, commonly 15-20 cm.


Usually silvery overall, sometimes greyish to greenish dorsally; some populations in Victoria develop a rusty red tinge thought to be associated with breeding; others have been reported with a dark blotch at the shoulder.


Feeds mostly on benthic algae and detritus, as well as on small invertebrates.


Oviparous; females release pelagic eggs in the still waters of shallow, sandy bays in October to February. Males mature at 1-2 years and females at 2 years. Fecundity is high, 33000-880000 eggs produced depending on fish size.
Eggs small (0.83 mm diameter).
Larvae small and eel-like. Generally un-pigmented except for a line of melanophores along the dorsal border of the gut, a single melanophore located anterior to the cleithrum (after 6mm TL) and a fine line of melanophores along the hindmost two-thirds of the gut.


First Peoples names for this species: Laarri (Bunuba and Gooniyandi language groups in the Kimberley); Gunangurri (Ngarinyin language group in the Kmberley); Bardijarr oobanyba (Nyikina language group).

Species Citation

Chatoessus erebi Günther, 1868, Cat. fish Brit. Mus.7: 407 [as Chatoëssus erebi from Queensland and New South Wales]. Type locality: Mary River, QLD.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2021


Bony Bream, Nematalosa erebi (Günther 1868)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37085019

Behaviour:Form large shoals

Habitat:shallow freshwater

Max Size:32 cm SL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map