Western Carp Gudgeon, Hypseleotris klunzingeri (Ogilby 1898)

Western Carp Gudgeon, Hypseleotris klunzingeri. Source: Gunther Schmida / http://www.guntherschmida.com.au. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0

A slender pale yellowish-grey to greenish-brown gudgeon, silvery below, with a midlateral row of dark scale margins giving a 'chevron-like' or cross-hatched appearance, a narrow dark bar on the caudal peduncle, and often a pale spot at the beginning of the lateral line. Breeding males have red dorsal and anal fins with a white submarginal band. 

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2023, Hypseleotris klunzingeri in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4147

Western Carp Gudgeon, Hypseleotris klunzingeri (Ogilby 1898)

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Widespread in eastern Australia, including coastal drainages from Pioneer River, Queensland, to the Mongarlowe River, New South Wales, and the Lake Eyre and Murray-Darling drainages to mouth of Murray River, South Australia. 
Usually inhabits areas with abundant aquatic vegetation, both in slow-moving and still waters, including lakes, rivers, creeks and billabongs.


Meristic features: Dorsal fin VI-VII + I, 9-13; Anal fin I, 9-11; Pectoral fin 13-15; Pelvic fin I, 5; Longitudinal scale series 27-32.
Small, slender, elongate, moderately-compressed fish. Head large, compressed, often deep and strongly rounded above eye; mature males developing distinct hump from in front of eyes almost to origin of first dorsal fin, resulting in eye being some distance from dorsal profile. Snout bluntly rounded. Eyes moderately large, positioned high on sides of head near dorsal profile; separated by narrow, strongly-convex, interorbital space. Mouth terminal, oblique, upturned, small, not reaching or only just reaching anterior border of eye; band of tiny teeth in both jaws. Tongue tip truncate. Gill opening moderately broad, extending forward to below posterior end of preoperculum. Many lines of papillae on head, often several surrounding and radiating from eye; others over snout, nape, operculum, and along preopercular margin.
Body covered with ctenoid scales of small to moderate size, becoming cycloid ventrally and anteriorly; opercle, cheek and nape scaled; lateral line absent.
Two narrowly-separated dorsal fins, space separating dorsal fins smaller in males than in females, males often with first dorsal fin overlapping base of second dorsal; first dorsal low, rounded, shallowly notched; second higher, longer-based, somewhat elongate, posterior rays longest. Anal fin opposite, similar to second dorsal fin. Pectoral fins of moderate size, rounded to elongate. Pelvic fins small, slender, pointed, entirely separate, their bases close together. Caudal fin large, truncate to slightly rounded.


To around 4.5 cm SL; males usually larger than females.


Variable in colour, but usually yellowish-grey to greenish-brown dorsally, fading to cream or silvery ventrally; margins of upper-lateral and dorsal scales brownish-black, conferring faintly reticulate appearance; variable, irregular, dark bars on nape and dorsal surface; row of short, thin, mid-lateral, brown bars; variable in intensity; dark blotch at base of pectoral fin and thin dark bar at base of caudal fin; operculum and ventral scales often with iridescent spots. 
Fins also extremely variable, but usually yellowish to dusky grey; first dorsal fin with basal dusky stripe, rest of fin orange-red, often with white margin; second dorsal and anal fins with similar dusky stripe and orange or red distally; base of caudal fin often reddish; rest of fins colourless, translucent.


Feeds mainly on small aquatic crustaceans, such as copepods and cladocerans, insect larvae, and some filamentous algae.


Oviparous, benthic spawners, spawning in late spring and summer when water temperature exceeds 22°C. Males establish temporary territories covering an area of aquatic vegetation or a tangle of twigs. Females lay up to 2000 very small (about 0.4-0.5 mm diameter) adhesive eggs scattered amongst plants. The male parent guards the eggs, fanning them with pectoral fins. Eggs hatch after 1-2 days, and the newly-hatched larvae are 1.8-2.1 mm long; yolk sacs are absorbed in 3-4 days, when young fish become free-swimming.


Important forage fish for many larger predatory fishes, like Murray Cod and freshwater catfish; also eaten by many water birds, like herons, egrets and cormorants.

Ogilby's (1898) description was based on Eleotris cyprinoides in Klunzinger, C.B. (1880) Die von Müller'sche Sammlung australischer Fische in Stuttgart. Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften. Wein 80(1): 325–430 pls 1–9 [384, pl. 5(2)], which is not Eleotris cyprinoides Valenciennes, 1837.

At least 3 species are currently confused under this name.


Named in honour of German zoologist Carl Klunzinger, who misidentified the species as Eleotris cyprinoides in 1880.

Species Citation

Carassiops klunzingeri Ogilby 1898. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 22(4): 787. Type locality: Murray River, South Australia.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Western Carp Gudgeon, Hypseleotris klunzingeri (Ogilby 1898)


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

Balcombe, S.R. & Humphries, P. 2006. Diet of the western carp gudgeon (Hypseleotris klunzingeri Ogilby) in an Australian floodplain lake: the role of water level stability. Journal of Fish Biology 68: 1484-1493.

Bertozzi, T., Adams, M. & Walker, K.F. 2000. Species boundaries in carp gudgeons (Eleotrididae: Hypseleotris) from the River Murray, South Australia: evidence for multiple species and extensive hybridization. Marine and Freshwater Research 51: 805–815. 

Cadwallader, P.L. & Backhouse, G.N. 1983. A Guide to the Freshwater Fish of Victoria.  Melbourne : F.D. Atkinson Government Printer 249 pp. figs (p.142, in part).

Klunzinger, C.B. 1880. Die von Müller'sche Sammlung australischer Fische in Stuttgart. Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften. Wein 80(1): 325–430 pls 1–9 (misidentified as Eleotris cyprinoides)

Kuiter, R.H. 2018. Pictorial guide to Victoria's freshwater fishes. E-version Part 1. Seaford, Victoria, Australia :  Aquatic Photographics: 1-110.

Lake, J.S. 1978. Australian Freshwater Fishes.  Melbourne : Thomas Nelson 160 pp. 140 figs (p.67, in part).

Martin, K.C., Hammer, M.P. & Unmack, P.J. 2021. New locality records for carp gudgeons (Hypseleotris spp) in the Queensland Wet Tropics. Fishes of Sahul 3(2): 1745-1749.

Ogilby, J.D. 1898. On some Australian Eleotrinae. Part 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 22(4): 783-793 See ref at BHL

Pusey, B.J., Burrows, D.W., Kennard, M.J., Perna, C.N., et. al. P. 2017. Freshwater fishes of northern Australia. Zootaxa 4253(1): 1-104.

Pusey, B., Kennard, M. & Arthington A. 2004. Freshwater Fishes of North-Eastern Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood Australia. 684 pp.

Schmidt, D.J., Bond, N.R., Adams, M. & Hughes, J.M. 2011. Cytonuclear evidence for hybridogenetic reproduction in natural populations of the Australian carp gudgeon (Hypseleotris: Eleotridae). Molecular Ecology 20(16): 3367-3380. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05206.x

Schmidt, D.J., Huey, J.A., Bond, N.R. & Hughes, J.M. 2013. Population structure of sexually reproducing carp gudgeons: does a metapopulation offer refuge from sexual parasitism? Marine and Freshwater Research 64(3): 223-232. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF12305

Thacker, C.E., Shelley, J.J., McCraney, W.T. et al. 2022. Phylogeny, diversification, and biogeography of a hemiclonal hybrid system of native Australian freshwater fishes (Gobiiformes: Gobioidei: Eleotridae: Hypseleotris). BMC Ecology and Evolution 22. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-022-01981-3

Unmack, P. 2019. Hypseleotris klunzingeri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T68001287A129047243. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T68001287A129047243.en. Accessed on 08 November 2023.

Unmack, P. J., Cook, B. D., Johnson, J. B., Hammer, M. P., & Adams, M. (2023). Phylogeography of a widespread Australian freshwater fish, western carp gudgeon (Eleotridae: Hypseleotris klunzingeri): Cryptic species, hybrid zones, and strong intra-specific divergences. Ecology and Evolution, 13, e10682. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.10682

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429027

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern


Max Size:4.5 cm SL


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