Snakehead Gudgeon, Giuris aporocephalus (Macleay 1884)

Other Names: Mud Gudgeon, Snake-headed Gudgeon

Snakehead Gudgeon, Giuris aporocephalus. Source: Gerald R. Allen / Western Australian Museum. License: All rights reserved

Males are greyish (reddish in mature males) with a bluish/green tinge along the midline, several orange to reddish spots on the sides, yellowish cheeks with three dark red stripes radiating from the eye, the uppermost extending across the pectoral-fin base. Females are dark greyish to brownish with yellowish speckles and three dark stripes radiating from the eye. 
In Australia, this species was previously  known as Giurus margaritaceus.
greyish on the back. A bluish or greenish tinge along midline from the pectoral fin base to the caudal peduncle. The flanks have several, orange to reddish dots from pectoral base to hypural base, giving a certain shine to the fish

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2022, Giuris aporocephalus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Snakehead Gudgeon, Giuris aporocephalus (Macleay 1884)

More Info


Northern Australia from Weipa, Gulf of Carpentaria to about Mackay, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the south-west Pacific: New Ireland (Papua New Guinea), Gaua (Vanuatu), Solomon Islands, Palau, Philippines and Indonesia (Ambon, Ceram, Halmahera, Sulawesi). 
mainly inhabits aquatic vegetation in ponds, lakes, swamps, and in the lower parts of rivers.


Dorsal fin VI + I,8, no filamentous rays; Anal fin I,9, positioned opposite dorsal fin; Pectoral fin 14-15; Pelvic fin I,5; Caudal fin 13 (branched rays); Lateral scales 28-30; Scales in transverse back series 8-10, transverse forward series 11-13, predorsal series 15-18; Vertebrae 25.
Body more ovoid than elongate, depth at anus 20-26% SL, Urogenital papilla of males rounded/triangular with a rounded distal tip; females with a bulbous urogenital papilla with fimbriate projections around distal opening.


To around 23 cm SL.


Generally greenish-brown with 8-10 dark bars across sides and large black blotch at base of pectoral fins. Tan or yellowish on lower half of head with 3-4 brownish red stripes radiating from lower part of eye. Grey spots on caudal and dorsal fins.


Omnivore - feeds on filamentous algae, small crustaceans and aquatic insects.


Oviparous, benthic spawners. Females deposit approximately 100,000 to 220,000 small eggs. Likely to have a marine larval phase.


Keith & Mennesson (2020) determined that Giuris margaritaceus does not occur in Australia, only in New Ireland (Papua New Guinea), Gaua (Vanuatu), Solomon Islands, Palau, Philippines and Indonesia (Ambon, Ceram, Halmahera, Sulawesi). 

Species Citation

Eleotris margaritacea Valenciennes, 1837, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 12: 240. Type locality: Vanikolo.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Snakehead Gudgeon, Giuris aporocephalus (Macleay 1884)


Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia.  Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp. pls 1–63 (as Ophieleotris aporos)

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

Blaber, S.J.M., Brewer D.T. & Salini J.P. 1989. Species composition and biomasses of fishes in different habitats of a tropical northern Australian estuary: their occurrence in the adjoining sea and estuarine dependence. 29(6): 509-531 (as Ophieleotris aporos)

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. (as Ophieleotris aporos)

Hoese, D.F. & Gill, A. 1993. Phylogenetic relationships of eleotridid fishes (Perciformes: Gobioidei). Bulletin of Marine Science 52(1): 415-440 (as Ophieleotris aporos) See ref online

Keith, P., Boseto, D. & Lord, C. 2021. Freshwater Fish of the Solomon Islands. Société Francaiçe d'Ichtyologie, Paris: 1-173.

Keith, P. & Mennesson, M.I. 2020. Review of Giuris (Teleostei: Eleotridae) from Indo-Pacific islands, with description of three new species. Cybium 44(4): 331-349

Lake, J.S. 1978. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Melbourne : Thomas Nelson 160 pp. 140 figs. (as Ophieleotris aporos)

Leggett, R. & Merrick, J.R. 1987. Australian Native Fishes for Aquariums. Artarmon : J.R. Merrick Publications 241 pp. 142 figs. (as Ophieleotris aporos)

Macleay, W.J. 1883. Notes on a collection of fishes from the Burdekin and Mary Rivers, Queensland. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 8(2): 199-213 (described as Eleotris planiceps, type locality Lillesmere lagoon, Burdekin River, Queensland - name preoccupied by Eleotris planiceps Castelnau 1878) See ref at BHL

Macleay, W.J. 1884. Supplement to the descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 9(1): 2-64 (replacement name for Eleotris planiceps Macleay 1883) See ref at BHL

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls. (as Ophieleotris aporos)

Martin, K.C. & Barclay, S. 2013. New distribution records for the Cairns rainbowfish Cairnsichthys rhombosomoides (Melanotaeniidae): implications for conservation of a restricted northern population. aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 19(3): 155-164 (as Giuris margaritaceus)

Pusey, B.J., Arthington, A.H. & Read, M.G. 1995. Species richness and spatial variation in fish assemblage structure in two rivers of the Wet Tropics of northern Queensland, Australia. Environmental Biology of Fishes 42: 181-199 (as Ophieleotris aporos)

Pusey, B.J., Burrows, D.W., Kennard, M.J., Perna, C.N., Unmack. P.J., Allsop, Q. & Hammer, M.P. 2017. Freshwater fishes of northern Australia. Zootaxa 4253(1): 1-104 (as Giuris margaritaceus)

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429010

Habitat:Freshwater streams, swamps

Max Size:23 cm SL

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