Freshwater Herring, Potamalosa richmondia (Macleay 1879)

Other Names: Australian Freshwater Herring, Nepean Herring

Freshwater Herring, Potamalosa richmondia. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

An overall silvery herring with a greenish tinge above, a broad silvery dark-edged stripe along the mid-lower side, a silver belly, and clear to yellowish fins.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2021, Potamalosa richmondia in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

Freshwater Herring, Potamalosa richmondia (Macleay 1879)

More Info


Southern Queensland, to Mallacoota, Victoria. The species has not been seen in Victorian waters since 1976, and is  considered regionally extinct in Victoria.

Primarily a freshwater species usually found in the middle and upper reaches of clear, moderately flowing rivers and streams. Individuals migrate downstream to breed in estuaries during winter months.


Dorsal fin 15-18; Anal fin 15-17; Pectoral fin 15-19; Pelvic fin 8.
Body slender, compressed, ventral profile convex, dorsal profile somewhat flattened; head of moderate size; snout elongate, rounded; eye large, positioned near dorsal profile; mouth terminal, upturned, lower jaw large, protruding; gape extending to about level of middle of eye; teeth absent from jaws.

Body covered in moderately large, thin, cycloid scales; scales form sharp, serrated dorsal ridge anterior to dorsal fin; ventral ridge also present; scales absent from head and operculum scaleless; lateral line scales absent.

Dorsal fin single, short-based, triangular and pointed; anal fin small and low; pectoral fins elongate, pointed, positioned low on sides; pelvic fins small, pointed, situated on abdomen; caudal fin well developed, deeply forked with pointed lobes.


Maximum size about 32 cm, commonly to 15 cm.


Usually silvery overall, with a greenish tinge (especially dorsally), and 2 indistinct longitudinal stripes below the mid-line. Fins colourless to yellowish.


Feeds primarily on worms, small crustaceans and insects.


Little is known of the biology of this species, although it is a semi-catadromous, oviparous, pelagic spawner. Migrates downstream to spawn in estuaries during winter months (July-August). This species may move annually between marine and freshwaters. Larvae and juveniles occur in estuaries and coastal marine waters.

The species is thought to have a maximum longevity of 11 years.


O"ilby (1893) writes "Macleay tells us that angling for this fish is a favorite sport in some of  the upper waters of the Nepean, and that it is of no great value as a food fish."


Local populations may rapidly become extinct upstream of barriers to fish passage.



The species is named for the type locality, the Richmond River in New South Wales.

Species Citation

Clupea richmondia Macleay 1879, Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales (1)4(3): 380. Type locality: Richmond River, New South Wales.


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


Atlas of Living Australia

Freshwater Herring, Potamalosa richmondia (Macleay 1879)


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

Bertin, L. 1941. Mise au point sur quelques espèces de clupéidés. Bulletin de la Société Zoologique de France 66: 18-25

Brooks, S., Butler, G., Gilligan, D. & Raadik, T. 2019. Potamalosa richmondia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T98821820A123381878. Downloaded on 23 April 2021.

Cadwallader, P.L. & Backhouse, G.N. 1983. A Guide to the Freshwater Fish of Victoria. Melbourne : F.D. Atkinson Government Printer 249 pp. figs. 

Harris, J.H. & Gehrke, P.C. (eds) (1997). Fish and Rivers in Stress: the NSW Rivers Survey. NSW Fisheries Office of Conservation, ,Cronulla and Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, Canberra, 298 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2018. Pictorial guide to Victoria's freshwater fishes. E-version Part 1. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics 110 pp.

Llewellyn, L.C. 1983. The distribution of fish in New South Wales. Australian Society for Limnology Special Publication No. 7, NSW Fisheries, Sydney.

Macleay, W.J. 1879. On the Clupeidae of Australia. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 4(3): 363-385. See Ref at BHL

Briggs, I.C. & McDowall, R.M. 1996. Family Clupeidae: Herrings. pp. 46-47 in McDowall, R.M. (ed.) Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Sydney : Reed Books 247 pp. 

McDowall, R.M. 1988. Diadromy in fishes: migrations between freshwater and marine environments. London : Croom Helm pp. i-x, 1-308.

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

Miles, N.G. 2007. Biology and ecology of diadromous fishes in south eastern Australia. PhD thesis, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong.

Ogilby, J.D. 1893. Edible Fishes and Crustaceans of New South Wales. Sydney : Government Printer 212 pp. 51 pls. (as Diplomystius novaehollandiae)

Ogilby, J.D. 1897. Notes on Potamalosa and Hyperlophus. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 21(4): 504-505 (described as Potamalosa novaehollandiae)

Ogilby, J.D. 1897. New genera and species of Australian fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 22(1): 62-95 (described as Potamalosa antiqua) See ref at BHL

Pidgeon, R.W.J. 1989. Age and growth of freshwater herring, Potamalosa richmondia Macleay (Clupeidae: Hyperlophinae), in the Bellinger River, New South Wales. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 40: 679-692,

Raadik, T.A. 1992. Distribution of freshwater fishes in east Gippsland, Victoria, 1967–1991. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 104: 1-22 

Whitehead, P.J.P. 1985. FAO species catalog. Clupeoid fishes of the world (suborder Clupeoidei). Part 1 — Chirocentridae, Clupeidae and Pristigasteridae. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125 Vol. 7 Pt 1. pp. 1-303

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37085027


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Habitat:Freshwater rivers, estuaries

Max Size:32 cm SL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map