Gilbert's Grunter, Pingalla gilberti Whitley 1955

Gilbert's Grunter, Pingalla gilberti. Source: Gerald R. Allen. License: at rights reserved

A small silvery grunter with dusky green scale margins and a blackish blotch on the anterior anal-fin rays. Gilbert's Grunter uses its rows of flattened teeth to scrape algae from rocks and debris.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon, Pingalla gilberti in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 May 2024,

Gilbert's Grunter, Pingalla gilberti Whitley 1955

More Info


Known only from the Norman River (141º02´E) to the Gilbert River (141º20´E) in northern QLD; a tropical species inhabiting slow moving freshwater rivers and streams in turbid water with mud or gravel bottoms.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XI-XII, 11-13; Anal fin III, 7-9; Pectoral fin 13-17; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 34-41; Transverse scales 4-6/1/10-12; Gill rakers 6-7+1+11-12; Vertebrae 11+14.

Body moderately deep, 2.4-2.9 in SL, ovate, compressed; dorsal profile more pronounced than ventral, convex from snout to interorbital region, then straight to dorsal origin; ventral profile curved from tip of lower jaw to pelvic insertion, straight from pelvic insertion to anus. Head length 3.0 to 3.25 in SL. Snout blunt, length 2.6-3.0 in HL. Nostrils separated by a distance twice greatest diameter of posterior nostril. Eye width 3.2-3.8 in HL. Mouth small, nonprotractile; jaws equal or upper a bit longer; jaw length 4.1-4.4 in HL; gape oblique; posterior of maxillary strongly curved downward, reaching to vertical through posterior nostril or falling slightly short; teeth flattened, brown, depressible, in 2 rows in each jaw, outer row protruding laterally slightly, inner row of teeth smaller, less flattened and embedded in fleshy inner surface of mouth; vomer and palatines without teeth. Lacrimal with 3-4 small serrations. Preoperculum serrate; serrations largest on angle. Lower opercular spine stronger and longer; not extending beyond edge of opercular lobe. Posttemporal exposed; serrate posteriorly. Cleithrum exposed; serrate posteriorly; scales on side. Supracleithrum exposed.

Scales finely ctenoid; lateral line continuous, smoothly curved; 4-5 scales on caudal; 8-9 predorsal scales to occiput; two irregular rows of scales in sheath at base of dorsal, sheath extending to fifth or sixth dorsal ray; 3-4 rows of scales in sheath at base of anal fin, sheath extending to fifth anal ray; cheek scales in four rows.

Dorsal fin continuous, base  1.8-2.0 in SL; spinous portion arched; first spine very short; fourth to sixth spines longest, 1.6-1.9 in HL, those following decreasing gradually in length to penultimate which is shorter than last; longest dorsal spine longer than longest dorsal rays; longest dorsal ray 1.8-2.0 in SL, soft dorsal rounded. Second anal spine twice as long as first, 1.7-1.9 in HL; longer and much stronger than third; shorter than longest anal rays; longest anal ray 1.6-1.8 in HL. Pectoral fin asymmetrically pointed; fourth ray longest. Ventral fins pointed; first ray longest, slightly filamentous; falling short of anus. Caudal fin emarginate.


To at least 10cm SL.


Body silvery, each scale outlined with dusky green. Smaller fish with 2-3 longitudinal stripes that are lost with age; first from nape to base of soft dorsal; second from nape to dorsal edge of caudal peduncle; third from posttemporal to middle of caudal peduncle; all slightly curved upwards. Scales of dorsal sheath with marked spots of darker pigmentation. Head darker above, pale below, with a band running from eye to snout; eye surrounded by pale yellow; opercular region dark. Dorsal fin pale olive covered with black dots. Anal fin membranes dusky, a blackish blotch on anterior rays. Caudal fin dusky with paler margin. Pectorals and ventral fins yellowish.


Omnivore- feeds mainly on algae which is scraped from rocks, and woody debris with flattened teeth.


Little is known of the reproductive biology of this species although it is likely they produce demersal eggs that sink to the bottom.


IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least Concern


The name gilberti honours John Gilbert, a naturalist in Leichhardt's expedition after whom the type locality of the species, the Gilbert River, is also named.

Species Citation

Pingalla gilberti Whitley, G.P. (1955). Taxonomic notes on fishes. Proc. R. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 1953–54: 44–57 figs 1–8 [46]. Gilbert River, QLD.


Martin F. Gomon

Gilbert's Grunter, Pingalla gilberti Whitley 1955


Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. (2002). Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Australia.  Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

Vari, R.P. (1978). The terapon perches (Percoidei, Terapontidae) a cladistic analysis and taxonomic revision. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 159(5): 175–340 figs 1–94.

Wager, R. 1996. Pingalla gilberti. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <>. Downloaded on 25 September 2013.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37321023

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern


Max Size:10 cm SL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map