Dalhousie Catfish, Neosilurus gloveri Allen & Feinberg 1998

Other Names: Desert Catfish

Dalhousie Catfish, Neosilurus gloveri. Source: Michael Hammer. License: all rights reserved


The Dalhousie Catfish is smallest species in the family Plotosidae. It is only found in the warm artesian pools at Dalhousie Springs and Nilpinna Spring, in the desert region of northern South Australia.

The species is tolerates extreme tempratures, commonly ranging from 33.5-38.8⁰C.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Neosilurus gloveri in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3305

Dalhousie Catfish, Neosilurus gloveri Allen & Feinberg 1998

More Info


Endemic to artesian mounds springs in the desert region of northern South Australia.  When it was described in 1998, the species was only known from the Main Spring at Dalhousie Springs and Nilpinna Spring in the northern part of South Australia. The species was abundant in the spring in water temperatures between 33.5-38.3 deg C.

The Dalhousie Catfish is nocturnal and swims near the bottom of these warm, artesian spring-fed pools and their outlet streams.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin I, 4-5; Caudal/Dorsal/Anal rays 53; Pectoral fin I, 7-9; Pelvic fin 9-11; Gill rakers 14-16; Vertebrae 38-42; Branchiostegal rays 7-8.

Head and body: Body elongate and tapering posteriorly; body depth 14-19 % SL; head moderately flattened dorsoventrally; head length 20-25% SL; dorsal profile of head nearly straight; snout pointed in lateral view, snout length 35-42 % HL; mouth subterminal; lips fleshy but relatively thin; anterior nostril tubular, on upper lip; posterior nostril narrow slit behind nasal barbel; eyes relatively small, eye diameter 15-21 % HL; nasal barbel reaching slightly beyond level of eye, nasal barbel length 40-60% HL; maxillary and outer mental barbels reaching to about edge of preoperculum; inner mental barbel slightly shorter; slender conical teeth in several rows on upper and lower jaws, patch of larger conical teeth on palate; branchiostegal rays 6-8.

 Scales absent.

First dorsal fin relatively short, its tip pointed, originating in front of level of ventral fins; pectoral fins inserted just behind opercular margin, tips rounded; caudodorsal fin originating far back towards end of body; base of caudodorsal fin 18-25% SL.


The 12 cm TL.


Dark brown to grey above, lighter below and on fins.


Omnivorous, nocturnally active fishes that feeds on gastropods, insects, microcrustaceans, fishes (hardyheads), aquatic snails, insect larvae and some plant material.


The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Females reach sexual maturity at 44 mm SL, and spawn demersal eggs.

Glover (1989) reported that a 72 mm TL female contained 136 eggs, and a 120 mm TL female had 1197 eggs. It is not known if spawning is seasonal or occurs all year round.


Of no interest to fisheries.


IUCN Red List Status: Not evaluated

EPBC Act: Not listed

South Australia 2009 Action Plan Status: Vulnerable

ASFB Threatened Species Committee. 2010 Conservation Status of Australian Fishes: vulnerable


Tolerates salinity to 10 p.p.t. and temperatures between 16° and 44°C, but usually remains in water between 30° and 38°C.

Similar Species

Differs from other species in its very small size and some meristic features.


Neosilurus is from the Greek neos meaning "new", and silouros meaning "catfish". The species is named after the late John Glover, former Curator of Fishes at the South Australian Museum.

Species Citation

Neosilurus gloveri Allen & Feinberg 1998, Aqua, J. Ichthyol. Aquat. Biol. 3(1): 13, fig.1.

Type locality: Main Spring, Dalhousie Springs, SA [26°25’S, 135°30’E]


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Dalhousie Catfish, Neosilurus gloveri Allen & Feinberg 1998


Allen, G.R. & Feinberg, M.N. 1998. Descriptions of a new genus and four new species of freshwater catfishes (Plotosidae) from Australia. Aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 3(1): 9-18 figs 1-6

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

ASFB Threatened Species Committee. 2010 Conservation Status of Australian Fishes.

Glover, C. J. M. 1989. Fishes. In, Natural History of Dalhousie Springs. Eds. Zeidler, W. & Ponder, W. F. South Australian Museum, Adelaide. pp 89-112.

Glover, C. J. M., & Sim, T. C. 1978. Studies on central Australian fishes: a progress report. South Australian Naturalist. 52(3): 35-44.

Hammer, M., S. Wedderburn & J. van Weenen. 2009. Action Plan for South Australian Freshwater Fishes. Native Fish Australia (SA) Inc., Adelaide: 1-24

Hammer, M.P. & Walker, K.F. 2004. A catalogue of South Australian freshwater fishes, including new records, range extensions and translocations. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 128(2): 85-97

Hoese, D.F. & Gates, J.E. 2006. Plotosidae. pp. 357-365 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3 2178 pp.

Kodric-Brown, A. & Brown, J. H. 1993. Highly structured fish communities in Australian desert springs. Ecology. 74(6): 1847-1855.

Unmack, P.J. 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogeography 28: 1053-1089

Wager, R. & Unmack, P.J. 2000. Fishes of the Lake Eyre Catchment of Central Australia. Brisbane : Department of Primary Industries and Queensland Fisheries Service 88 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37192017


Habitat:Artesian springs

Max Size:12 cm TL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map