Brown Spine-cheek Gudgeon, Eleotris fusca (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

Other Names: Brown Gudgeon, Dusky Sleeper, Tetard

A Brown Spine-cheek Gudgeon, Eleotris fusca, in Vellayani Lake, Kerala, India. Source: A. Biju Kumar / Fishbase. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A variably coloured gudgeon ranging from pale greyish-brown to dark brown, with narrow horizontal lines on the sides, and 2-3 dark stripes on the first dorsal fin. Juveniles have spotted fins.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray, Eleotris fusca in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Brown Spine-cheek Gudgeon, Eleotris fusca (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

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Northern Queensland from Massey Creek (13°55'S) to Cape Flattery (14°49'S), also Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. The species is found elsewhere in the tropical Indo-west-central Pacific from East Africa to French Polynesia. 
Usually inhabits muddy bottoms in lagoons, brackish estuaries and the lower reaches of freshwater streams, usually on muddy bottoms. Juveniles mostly occur among mangrove roots.


Dorsal fin VI + I, 8; Anal fin I, 8; Pectoral fin 16-19; Pelvic fin I, 5; Transverse Scales 13-17; Gill rakers (1st arch) 10-12.
Body elongate, cylindrical anteriorly, compressed posteriorly, depth 21-23.6 % SL; caudal peduncle more than twice as long as deep.  Head pointed, dorsally flattened, 28.6-33.3% SL; frontal profile above eye straight to concave. Eye 16.6-20% head length, interorbital 1.0-1.7 in eye diameter. Snout pointed, as long as eye, tip at level of upper part of eye. Anterior nostril tubular, near margin of snout. Lower jaw prominent, upper reaching to or not quite to posterior part of eye; jaw teeth in many rows, small, outer row of both jaws enlarged, subequal in upper jaw, unequal in lower, inner row in lower jaw also enlarged. Interorbital space with 2 longitudinal mucous canals, and short transverse canals laterally towards eye; 2 longitudinal mucous canals on cheek, crossed by canals radiating under eye. No pores on head. Supraopercular groove distinct. Spine of preopercle pointed, curved.
Scales of body ctenoid posteriorly, cycloid anteriorly; lateral line absent;  longitudinal series 56-65; predorsal scales 38-54. Head scaled above, between and behind eyes, on cheek and opercle; snout and area below eye naked. 12-14 scales in line crossing mid caudal peduncle.
Two dorsal fins, first dorsal obtuse, half body depth, second, third and fourth rays longest; second dorsal and anal fin higher than first dorsal fin, but lower than body depth. Pectoral fin rounded, longer than head without snout. Pelvic fins separate, shorter than pectoral fin. Caudal fin obtusely rounded, about as long as head, or a little longer.


To around 18 cm SL


Colouration variable, ranging from light grey/brown to dark brown; saddle-like markings dorsally each scale on side with dark spot, combining to form longitudinal lines; often dark blotch posteriorly at upper part of caudal peduncle and red to dark blotch dorsally on pectoral fin base. Fin membranes violet, rays orange; first dorsal fin with 2-3 longitudinal dark stripes; second dorsal, pectoral and caudal fin with small dark stripes. Young often with dark stripe along supraopercular groove.


Feeds on a variety of invertebrates including crustaceans, gastropods and insects.


Oviparous, benthic spawners. The eggs are spawned on small-leaved submerged plants. The female tends and fans the eggs until the fry hatch,

Species Citation

Poecilia fusca  Bloch & Schneider 1801, Systema Ichthyologiae: 453. Type locality: Oriadeae infulae rivulis (= Pacific Seas).


Martin F. Gomon & Dianne J. Bray

Brown Spine-cheek Gudgeon, Eleotris fusca (Bloch & Schneider 1801)


Akihito, P. 1967. On four species of gobiid fishes of the genus Eleotris found in Japan. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 14(4/6): 135-166 figs 1-30

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., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls.

Lake, J.S. 1971. Freshwater Fishes and Rivers of Australia. Melbourne : Nelson 61 pp.

Maeda, K. & Tachihara, M. 2004. Instream distributions and feeding habits of two species of sleeper, Eleotris acanthopoma and Eleotris fusca, in the Teima River, Okinawa Island. Ichthyological Research 51: 233-240.

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

Whitley, G.P. 1954. Some freshwater gudgeons mainly from tropical Australia. Australian Museum Magazine 11(5): 150-155.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429017


Habitat:Freshwater, estuaries

Max Size:26 cm TL

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