Softspine Catfish, Neosilurus mollespiculum Allen & Feinberg 1998

Other Names: Soft-spined Catfish

A Softspine Catfish, Neosilurus mollespiculum, from the Burdekin River, Queensland. Source: MIchael Hammer / Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. License: All rights reserved

A dark grey to yellowish greyish-brown eeltail catfish with relatively weak fin spines. Juveniles are usually darker than adults.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2019, Neosilurus mollespiculum in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Softspine Catfish, Neosilurus mollespiculum Allen & Feinberg 1998

More Info


Burdekin River system, Queensland. Inhabits rocky freshwater pools in larger creeks and river channels.


Dorsal fin I, 4; Dorsal, Caudal &Anal fin 107-124; Pectoral fin I, 13; Pelvic fin 13-14; Vertebrae 49-52

Body elongate and tapering posteriorly; head more or less conical but flattened on ventral surface; dorsal profile of head nearly straight, slightly arched; mouth subterminal; lips fleshy; anterior nostril forming a low rimmed tube on upper lip; posterior nostril a narrow slit immediately behind nasal barbel; eyes relatively small; nasal barbel does not reach to eye; maxillary and outer mental barbels approximately equal, reaching to below level of middle of eye; inner metal barbel slightly shorter; slender conical teeth in upper and lower jaws, with lunate patch of larger conical teeth on palate.

 Scales absent, skin smooth.

Dorsal and pectoral fin spines weak and flexible; 1st dorsal fin small but tall, tip pointed, originating in front of level of ventral fins; 2nd dorsal confluent with caudal and anal fins, originating far back near end of body; pectoral fins inserted just behind opercular margin, tips pointed.


Maximum size to about 44 cm, females to about 35 cm.


Dark grey to yellowish grey-brown overall; juveniles usually darker than adults.


Omnivore - feeds on a range of terrestrial and aquatic insects, crustaceans, molluscs, detritus and algae.


Little is known of the reproductive biology of this species. Spawning is likely to occur during the wet season.

Similar Species

The Softspine Catfish has shorter nasal barbels than the similar Falsespine Catfish, Neosilurus pseudospinosus - the only other Australian eeltail catfish which lacks rigid dorsal and pectoral spines.


The species is named mollespiculum (Latin: soft spike) in reference to the characteristic soft, flexible dorsal-fin spine.

Species Citation

Neosilurus mollespiculum Allen & Feinberg 1988, Aqua, J. Ichthyol. Aquat. Biol. 3(1): 9-18. Type locality: Running River, Burdekin River system, northern Queensland, about 19°07'S, 145°50'E, Australia.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Softspine Catfish, Neosilurus mollespiculum Allen & Feinberg 1998


Allen, G.R. 1988. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. An annotated checklist. Ringwood, Victoria, Australia : New Guinea Fishes Association, Ringwood, Victoria : 8 pp. (as Neosilurus sp. C)

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. 

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

Ferraris, C.J. 2007. Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418: 1–628

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

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37192023


Max Size:44 cm SL


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