Honey Blue Eye, Pseudomugil mellis Allen & Ivantsoff 1982

Other Names: Honey Blue-eye

A male Honey Blue Eye, Pseudomugil mellis, in an aquarium. Source: Neil Armstrong. License: All rights reserved

A very small blue eye with a very limited distribution between Brisbane and Fraser Island, Queensland. The dorsal, anal and caudal fins of adult males have a white edge and a prominent black submarginal band.

Video of Honey Blue Eyes in an aquarium.

Honey Blue Eye courting behaviour.

Honey Blue Eyes in an aquarium.

Cite this page as:
Vanessa J. Thompson & Dianne J. Bray, Pseudomugil mellis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 11 Jul 2020,

Honey Blue Eye, Pseudomugil mellis Allen & Ivantsoff 1982

More Info


Distribution is restricted to south-eastern Queensland in coastal streams between Bundaberg and Brisbane, and also on Fraser Island, QLD. Tropical species inhabiting slow-flowing, tannin-stained freshwater creeks and coastal dune lakes with sandy or muddy bottoms. Often found amongst aquatic vegetation along grassy banks.


Dorsal fin IV-VI1; 6-9; Anal fin 10-13; Pectoral fin 9-12; Pelvic fin 5; Caudal fin 13-14; Gill rakers 10-13; Vertebrae 28-31

Body relatively elongate, laterally compressed; greatest body depth 19.2-29.4% SL; mouth small with a protractile maxillary; jaw teeth conical to villiform, with or without one or more rows extending outside of mouth; vomer and palatines toothless; eye relatively large; some small pores on head but absent on mandibular.

Scales relatively large, cycloid with well-developed radii; cheek scales 3-4; vertical scale rows 26-29; horizontal scale rows 5-6; predorsal scales 8-12.

Two separate dorsal fins; first dorsal fin originating before tip of pectoral about midway along body; second dorsal fin originates behind anal fin origin; anal fin originating under end or just behind first dorsal and in front of second dorsal origin; dorsal and anal fins lack rigid spines; pectoral fins short, pointed and set in a horizontal plane; caudal fin forked with rounded tips; mature males with elongate anterior dorsal, anal and ventral fin rays.


To 3.5 cm SL.


Although males and females differ in colouration, both have a blue eye and fine grainy melanophores on the head. Males are generally honey or bronze coloured; first dorsal fin mainly black with white anterior border; anal and second dorsal fins honey coloured with black submarginal band and white border. Females are plain amber colour with clear fins. Juveniles are greyish.


Feed mainly on micro-crustaceans and insect larvae.


Breed opportunistically throughout the year. Males display to females by intensifying their colours and erecting their ornate fins. Breeding episodes last several days with females depositing 4-10 adhesive eggs per day amongst aquatic vegetation. Larvae hatch in 2-3 weeks.


A popular aquarium species.


IUCN Red List: Endangered

EPBC Act: Vulnerable


Males differ from females in having brighter colouration and more elongated dorsal fins. The rapid decline in numbers of this species may be linked to the removal of suitable habitat for housing developments.

Similar Species

Pseudomugil mellis is similar to P. signifier but differs in having smaller scales on the nape, smaller cephalic sensory pores, and the dorsal, anal and caudal fins of males have a black band edged with white.


Generic name Pseudomugil is from the Greek pseudes meaning false, and the Latin mugil meaning a fish, most likely a Mullet. The specific name is from the Latin mellis meaning honey, in reference to the body colour.

Species Citation

Pseudomugil mellis Allen & Ivantsoff, 1982, Rev. Fr. Aquariol. 9(3): 83. Type locality: Peregian Beach, QLD.


Vanessa J. Thompson & Dianne J. Bray

Honey Blue Eye, Pseudomugil mellis Allen & Ivantsoff 1982


Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia.  Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications, 240 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Ivantsoff, W. 1982. Pseudomugil mellis, le honey Blue-eye, une nouvelle espèce de poisson Arc-en-ciel (Melanotaeniidae) d'Australie orientale. Rev. Fr. Aquariol. 9(3): 83–86 figs 1–7

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

Arthington, A.H. & Marshall, C.J. 1993. Volume 1: Distribution, ecology and conservation of the Honey Blue-eye, Pseudomugil mellis, in south-eastern Queensland. Final Report to the Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra. 100 pp.

Arthington, A.H. & Marshall, C.J. 1995. Threatened fishes of the world: Pseudomugil mellis Allen & Ivantsoff, 1982 (Pseudomugilidae). Environ. Biol. Fish. 43: 268.

Howe, E. 1987. Breeding behaviour, egg surface morphology and embryonic development in four Australian species of the genus Pseudomugil (Pisces: Melanotaenidae). Aust. J. Mar. Freshw. Res. 38: 885-895

Pusey B., Kennard M. & Arthington A. 2004. Freshwater fishes of north-eastern Australia. CSIRO publishing, Collingwood, Victoria 684 pp.

Saeed, B., Ivantsoff, W. & Allen, G.R. 1989. Taxonomic revision of the family Pseudomugilidae (Order Atheriniformes).  Aust. J. Mar. Freshw. Res. 40: 719–787

Semple, G.P. 1991. Reproductive Behaviour and early Development of the Honey Blue-eye, Pseudomugil mellis Allen and Ivantsoff 1982 (Pisces: Pseudomugilidae), from the North-east Coast Division, South-eastern Queensland, Australia. Aust. J. Mar. Freshw. Res. 42: 277-286.

Wager, R. 1996. Pseudomugil mellis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 16 October 2011.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37245019

Conservation:IUCN Endangered; EPBC Act Vulnerable

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Freshwater streams, dune lakes

Max Size:3.5 cm SL


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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map