Australian Anchovy, Engraulis australis (White 1790)

Other Names: Anchovy, Blue Bait, Frogmouth, Frogmouth Pilchard, Smig, Southern Anchovy, Whitebait

Australian Anchovy, Engraulis australis. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved


Small slender silvery fishes with a bluntly rounded snout protruding well beyond the mouth, a bluish-green back becoming silvery white below, with broad silver mid-lateral stripe.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Engraulis australis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Apr 2024,

Australian Anchovy, Engraulis australis (White 1790)

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Widespread in temperate waters from central Queensland, around southern Australia to about Shark Bay, Western Australia, including around Tasmania; also the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea. 

Australian Anchovies are pelagic schooling fishes found in depths from 0-200 metres. The species mostly occurs in bays, inlets and estuaries, and adults are also found in offshore waters.


Dorsal fin 13-16; Anal fin 17-19; Caudal fin 19; Pectoral fin 14-16; Pelvic fin 7.
Body shallow (16--19% SL), elongate, compressed; caudal peduncle of moderate depth. Head small (26--30% SL); snout narrowly rounded, protruding forward of mouth;  eyes moderately small (25-29% SL), thin layer of transparent adipose tissue in front of eye; mouth extremely large (upper jaw length 62-71% HL), reaching well beyond eye;  teeth minute, row in each jaw.  
Scales moderately large, covering body but absent from head, 40-41 rowsalong sides, those on back and underside not compressed into keel; lateral line absent.  
Dorsal fin with short base located centrally on back, anterior rays much longer than posterior rays; anal fin of moderate height, with short base, located below area midway between dorsal and caudal fins; caudal fin deeply forked. Pectoral and pelvic fins small, each with prominent axillary tissue; pectorals on ventral profile of body just behind head; pelvics arising below area just in front of dorsal fin.


Feeds on zooplankton in the water column.


Australian Anchovies are of minor commercial importance and are used as bait.


The species is named australis for the southern distribution of this species.

Species Citation

Antherina australis White 1790, Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales ...: 296 and facing pl. (fig. 1)] Type locality: between Botany Bay and Broken Bay, New South Wales.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Australian Anchovy, Engraulis australis (White 1790)


Castelnau, F.L. de 1872. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 1. The Melbourne fish market. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 1: 29-242 1 pl. (described from the Melbourne markets as Engraulis antarcticus)

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Families Halosauridae, Notacanthidae, Clupeidae, Engraulidae, Gonorynchidae, Plotosidae, Salmonidae. pp. 215-231 figs 192-206 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. 

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

Günther, A. 1868. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Heteropygii, Cyprinidae, Gonorhynchidae, Hyodontidae, Osteoglossidae, Clupeidae, [thru] Halosauridae, in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 7 512 pp. (described from New Zealand as Engraulis encrasicholus antipodum)

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

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762 

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp. 

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. 

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

Roughley, T.C. 1957. Fish and Fisheries of Australia. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 341 pp. 

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls. 

Steindachner, F. 1879. Über einige neue und seltene Fischarten aus den zoologischen Museen zu Wien, Stuttgart und Warschau. Anzeiger der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien 16(4): 29-34 (described from Hobsons Bay, Victoria, as Engraulis australis

Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. 2015. 49 Family Engraulidae. pp. 299-300 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 2 pp. 1-576.

White, J. 1790. Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales with sixty-five plates of non-descript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions. London : Debrett 299 pp. 65 pls. 

Whitehead, P.J.P., Nelson, G.J. & Wongratana, T. 1988. FAO Species Catalogue. Clupeoid fishes of the world (Suborder Clupeoidei). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the herrings, sardines, pilchards, sprats, anchovies and wolf-herrings. Engraulididae. FAO Fisheries Synopsis. No. 125 Vol. 7 Pt 2. 305-579 pp. 

Wongratana, T., Munroe, T.A. & Nizinski, M.S. 1999. Family Engraulidae. pp. 1698-1753 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068. 

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37086001

Depth:0-200 m

Fishing:Commercially important

Habitat:Pelagic, inshore

Max Size:16 cm TL

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