Gulf Grunter, Scortum ogilbyi Whitley 1951

A Gulf Grunter, Scortum ogilbyi, from Waterhouse River near Mataranka, Northern Territory. Source: Dave Wilson / Aquagreen. License: All rights reserved

A large silvery-grey to blackish grunter which usually has irregular black blotches in the sides. The body is paler below and a pale stripe runs from the snout to below the eye.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2022, Scortum ogilbyi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Gulf Grunter, Scortum ogilbyi Whitley 1951

More Info


Gulf of Carpentaria drainages from the Roper River, Northern Territory, to the Jackson River, Queensland. The species is common and widespread in turbid and clear waters of large lowland freshwater rivers and lagoons, as well as smaller and clearer tributaries.


Dorsal fin XIII, 11-13; Anal fin III, 8-10; Pectoral fin 15-17; Lateral line scales 50-55.

Body moderately deep, 2.4-2.8 in SL, ovate, slightly compressed, more so in adults; dorsal profile much more pronounced than ventral in juveniles, only slightly more in adults, nearly straight from snout in interorbital region, concave above eyes, then convex to dorsal origin; dorsal profile of adults straighter overall; ventral profile straight from lower jaw to anus in young, gently curved in adults; more pronounced in larger specimens. Snout blunt, more so in adults. Jaws equal; gape oblique; maxillary reaching to vertical through posterior nostril or anterior of eye; teeth partially flattened, depressible; in bands with outer row enlarged; teeth variably present on vomers in adults, lacking on palatines. Lacrimal serrate; strongly in young; serrations obscure or lacking in larger individuals. Preoperculum serrate; serrations stronger on angle and vertical edge; becoming weaker with age. Lower opercular spine stronger and longer; not extending beyond edge of opercular lobe. Posttemporal exposed; posterior edge serrate. Cleithrum exposed; posterior edge serrate; serrations weaker with age; scales on side. Supracleithrum exposed.

Scales small, finely ctenoid; lateral line continuous, smoothly curved; 70-76 scales in a series above lateral line.

Dorsal fin continuous, spinous portion arched; first spine short; fifth or sixth longest, 2.0-2.2 in HL, those following decreasing gradually to the penultimate, which is slightly shorter than ultimate, longest dorsal spines longer than longest dorsal rays; soft dorsal rounded. Soft anal rounded in young, more angular in adults. Pectoral fins asymmetrically pointed; fourth or fifth rays longest. Pelvic fins pointed; Caudal fin emarginate.


To 40cm SL, commonly to 25cm.


Silvery-grey to nearly blackish on sides usually with irregular black blotches that can be flashed on and off and may vary daily in position and number. Whitish ventrally. Pearly stripe from below eye to snout.


Feeds on fishes, crustaceans, insects and molluscs.


Little is known of the reproductive biology of this species but it is likely to be oviparous producing demersal eggs.


Previously considered a synonym of Scortum hilli.

Similar Species


The species was named after the late James Douglas Ogilby, was originally prepared the manuscript.

Species Citation

Scortum ogilbyi Whitley, 1951, Rec. Aust. Mus. 22(4): 397. Type locality: Norman River, Queensland.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Gulf Grunter, Scortum ogilbyi Whitley 1951


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

Davis, A.M., Unmack, P.J., Pusey, B.J.,  Johnson, J.B. & Pearson, R.G. 2012. Marine-freshwater transitions are associated with the evolution of dietary diversification in terapontid grunters (Teleostei: Terapontidae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25(6): 1163-1179

Davis, A.M., Unmack, P.J., Pusey, B.J., Pearson, R.G. & Morgan, D.L. 2013. Ontogenetic development of intestinal length and relationships to diet in an Australasian fish family (Terapontidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 13: 53, 16 pp.

Davis, A.M. & Pusey, B.J. 2010. Trophic polymorphism and water clarity in northern Australian Scortum (Pisces: Terapontidae). Ecology of Freshwater Fish 19: 638–643

Hammer, M. & Kennard, M. 2019. Scortum ogilbyi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T122906690A123382341. Accessed on 14 December 2022.

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293

Pusey, B.J., Burrows, D.W., Kennard, M.J., Perna, C.N., et al. 2017. Freshwater fishes of Northern Australia. Zootaxa 4253(1): 1-104.  

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

Vari, R.P. 1978. The terapon perches (Percoidei, Terapontidae) a cladistic analysis and taxonomic revision. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 159(5): 175-340 figs 1-94 (in part - considered Scortum ogilbyi to be a synonym of S. hillii)

Whitley, G.P. (1951). Studies in Ichthyology No. 15. Rec. Aust. Mus. 22(4): 389–408 figs 1–14

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37321035

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Habitat:Freshwater rivers, lagoons

Max Size:40 cm SL


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