Bullrout, Notesthes robusta (Günther 1860)

Other Names: Freshwater Bullrout, Freshwater Stonefish, Kroki

A Bullrout, Notesthes robusta, at Nambucca Heads, New South Wales, November 2000. Source: Erik Schlogl / iNaturalist.org. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A pale yellowish to dark brown ambush predator with dark reddish-brown to greyish or black irregular mottling that may form broad irregular bands.

The Bullrout is sedentary, extremely well-camouflaged and armed with venomous fin spines. The species should be handled with extreme care as it may inflict excruciatingly painful puncture wounds on unwary swimmers or anglers wading in shallow water. 

Video of a Bullrout in the Bellinger River, northern New South Wales.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F., Thompson, V.J. & Bray, D.J. 2023, Notesthes robusta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2108

Bullrout, Notesthes robusta (Günther 1860)

More Info


Endemic to eastern Australia, from the north of Cooktown, Queensland, to Pambula, southern New South Wales. 

Inhabits the lower freshwater reaches of rivers and streams, bays and estuaries. Usually found amongst aquatic vegetation or woody debris in still or gently flowing freshwaters with rocky, muddy or gravel substrates. The Bullrout may migrate downstream during heavy rain periods.


Dorsal fin with 15 robust spines


Ambush predator - feeds on small fishes and crustaceans.


Breeds in freshwater.


Bullrout are sedentary and extremely well-camouflaged and usually erect their venomous spines when threatened, rather than swim away. They are responsible for the majority of stings to anglers and people wading in freshwaters and the upper tidal reaches in New South Wales and Queensland. 
The spines of the dorsal, anal and pelvic fins have a venom gland at their base. When a spine punctures flesh the venom is forced into the wound via a groove in the spine - in a manner similar to that of a hypodermic syringe - causing excruciating pain.

Species Citation

Centropogon robustus Günther, 1860, Cat. Fishes Brit. Mus. 2: 128. Type locality: Australian Seas (= NSW).


Gomon, M.F., Thompson, V.J. & Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Bullrout, Notesthes robusta (Günther 1860)


Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp., 63 pls.

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

De Vis, C.W. 1884. New fishes in the Queensland Museum. No. 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 9(3): 453-462. (described as Centropogon nitens, and as Tetraroge bellona, type localities, Queensland coast)

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

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

Günther, A. 1860. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the acanthopterygian fishes in the collection of the British Museum. Squamipinnes, Cirrhitidae, Triglidae, Trachinidae, Sciaenidae, Polynemidae, Sphyraenidae, Trichiuridae, Scombridae, Carangidae, Xiphiidae. London : British Museum Vol. 2 548 pp. See ref at BHL

Hahn, S.T. & O'Connor, J.M. 2000. An investigation of the biological activity of bullrout (Notesthes robusta) venom. Toxicon 38(1): 79-89.

Halstead, B.W., Auerbach, P.S. & Campbell, D.R.1990. A colour atlas of dangerous marine animals. Wolfe Medical Publications Ltd, W.S. Cowell Ltd, Ipswich, England. 192 pp.

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

McDowall, R.M. 1988. Diadromy in fishes: migrations between freshwater and marine environments. Croom Helm, London.

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

Ogilby, J.D. 1903. Studies in the ichthyology of Queensland. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 18: 7-27

Pollard, D.A. & Parker, P. 1996. in McDowall, R.M. (ed.) Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Sydney : Reed Books 247 pp.

Poss, S.G. 1999. Families Scorpaenidae, Caracanthidae, Aploactinidae. pp. 2291-2358 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 2069-2790 pp.

Pusey, B.J., Arthington, A.H. & Read, M.G. 1995. Species richness and spatial variation in fish assemblage structure in two rivers of the Wet Tropics of northern Queensland, Australia. Environmental Biology of Fishes 42: 181-199

Pusey, B.J., Burrows, D.W., Kennard, M.J., Perna, C.N., Unmack, P.J., Allsop, Q. & Hammer, M.P. 2017. Freshwater fishes of northern Australia. Zootaxa 4253(1): 1-104 https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4253.1.1

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J. & Arthington, A.H. 2004. Freshwater Fishes of North-eastern Australia. Collingwood, Victoria : CSIRO Publishing 684 pp. 

Steindachner, F. 1866. Zur Fischfauna von Port Jackson in Australien. Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse 53(1): 424-480 figs 1-7 (described as Centropogon troschellii, type locality Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287058

Danger:Venomous fin spines

Depth:1-26 m

Habitat:Freshwater, estuarine, marine

Max Size:35 cm TL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map