Australian Bass, Percalates novemaculeata (Steindachner 1866)

Other Names: Australian Perch, Eastern Freshwater Perch, Freshwater Perch, Perch

Australian Bass, Macquaria novemaculeata. Source: Tarmo Raadik. License: All rights reserved


A greenish to silver-grey bass becoming paler below, with dark grey dorsal, anal, caudal and pelvic fins. Juveniles usually have dark blotches on the fins. Australian Bass have a straight to slightly convex upper head profile, a relatively large eye, a short snout and a slightly forked tail.

Although spending most of their lives in freshwater rivers and streams, Australian Bass migrate downstream each year to spawn in estuaries.

Great video of Australian Bass in the wild.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2020, Percalates novemaculeata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

Australian Bass, Percalates novemaculeata (Steindachner 1866)

More Info


Endemic to coastal rivers and estuaries in southeastern Australia, from Tin Can Bay, Queensland to about Wilsons Promontory, South Gippsland eastern Victoria. The species has been widely translocated in south-eastern Queensland.

Australian Bass inhabit lakes, impoundments, rivers, small streams in upland and coastal plain wetlands including brackish estuaries. Individuals often shelter beneath overhanging vegetation, fallen trees, and aquatic vegetation, in rocky or gravel bottomed pools.


Dorsal fin VII-IX, I, 8-11; Anal fin III, 7-9; Pectoral fin 12-16; Lateral line scales 48-55.

Body elongate to oval, compressed; dorsal profile evenly arched from above eye to tail; dorsal head profile slightly concave to straight; snout somewhat tapered, of moderate length; eye moderately large, lateral in position; mouth large, terminal, oblique; gape extending to below middle of eye in adults; lower jaw protruding; jaws, vomer and palatines with bands of villiform teeth; preoperculum serrated on upper arm; strong, forward-pointing spines on lower arm; operculum with two spines, lower larger, well-defined, fairly broad.

Scales of moderate size, mostly ctenoid; cheeks and operculum scaled; snout naked; 25-30 in horizontal rows; lateral line complete, follows dorsal profile.

Single dorsal fin, with anterior spinous and posterior soft-rayed portions separated by moderate notch, fourth spine longest; anal fin opposite soft part of dorsal fin, with 3 stout spines; pectoral fins somewhat pointed, upper rays longer than lower rays; pelvic fins inserted just behind base of pectoral fins; caudal fin moderately forked.


To 60 cm SL and at least 3.8 kg.


Dark olive to greenish-grey on dorsal surface and sides, off-white or yellowish-white below. Fins generally greyish to colourless, translucent. Pectoral fins darker at base. Anal and pelvic fins with white tips; most lateral (anterior) rays of pelvic fins white. Fish less than about 120 mm long have dark spot between opercular spines; 4-6 faint vertical bands across back and sides just behind eyes. Small fish also have darker markings on dorsal, anal and ventral fins. When freshly caught, the eyes often appear red in colour, but this disappears shortly after removal from water.


Adults feed small fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates such as insects. Juveniles feed on zooplankton.


Australian Bass are catadromous, and adults migrate downstream to spawn in estuaries during flood events between May and August.

Females deposit small planktonic eggs onto aquatic plants and sandbars. The eggs are spherical, transparent, and non-adhesive. The larvae hatch after 2-3 days at around 2.5 mm TL.

This species hybridizes with Estuary Perch, Percalates colonorum, especially within the Snowy River and Gippsland regions in eastern Bass Strait, Victoria (Shaddick et al. 2011a)


Very popular with recreational anglers, and an important aquaculture species.


Only females are usually found upstream, whereas males tend to remain in the lower reaches of estuaries.

Similar Species

Although similar to Percalates colonorumAustralian Bass have a slightly shallower body, have darker markings on the sides, and appear duller and less silvery. The species also has a straighter dorsal head profile and the anterior rays of the pelvic fins are white rather than grey.


The specific name novemaculeata is from the Latin novem (= nine) and maculeata (= spot) in reference to the dark blotches on the fins of juveniles.

Species Citation

Dules novemaculeatus Steindachner, 1866, Anz. Kaiser. Akad. Wissensch. 3 (7): 50. Type locality: Port Jackson, New South Wales.


Bray, D.J. & Thompson, V.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Australian Bass, Percalates novemaculeata (Steindachner 1866)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37311034


Depth:1-10 metres

Fishing:Recreational angling; aquaculture

Habitat:Estuarine & freshwater

Max Size:60 cm SL; 3.8 kg


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map