Sleepy Cod, Oxyeleotris lineolatus (Steindachner 1867)

Other Names: Black Banded Guavina, Black-banded Gudgeon, Black-banded Loter, Daly River Gudgeon, Giant Gudgeon, Lined Guavina, Loter, Mud Gudgeon, Sleeper

Sleepy Cod, Oxyeleotris lineolata. Source: Dave Wilson / Aquagreen. License: All rights reserved

A dark brown gudgeon, sides paler with indistinct darker stripes running along scale rows, a whitish or tan belly, spotted dorsal, anal, and caudal fins, and a dusky-brown lower part of the caudal fin. Juveniles often have a large white or cream area on the back and top of the head, brown sides and a whitish belly.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2023, Oxyeleotris lineolatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024,

Sleepy Cod, Oxyeleotris lineolatus (Steindachner 1867)

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Known in northern Australia from the Durack River in the Kimberley, Western Australia, to Cape York, Queensland, with a disjunct population in the Fitzroy River, Queensland. The species has also been translocated into the Burdekin River basin, the Lake Eyre Basin and the Burnett River. The species also occurs in the Fly River,  Papua New Guinea. Inhabits freshwater rivers, creeks, and billabongs, usually in quiet or slow-flowing water among vegetation or around log snags.


Dorsal fin VI; I, 8-9; Anal fin I, 7-9; Pectoral fin 17-18; Transverse scales 18-22; Gill rakers (lower limb) 6-7.
Body elongate, anteriorly depressed, posteriorly compressed, depth 18.1-22.2% SL. Head depressed, profile straight, 2.75 in SL; profile concave. Snout slightly shorter than eye to as long as eye, tip before middle of eye. Anterior nostril in short tube. Eye diameter 6.0-12.0 in head length; interorbital 1.5-2.5 eye diameters. Lower jaw prominent, mouth oblique, reaching to below posterior part of eye; jaw teeth in several rows, upper jaw with outer row slightly enlarged; outer row in lower jaw at front and a few teeth laterally of inner row enlarged. Head pores minute; some open pores around eyes and along posterior margin of preopercle. Mucous canals radiating under eye; two canals longitudinally on cheek.
Scales on body ctenoid, cycloid on nape, breast and belly; longitudinal series 62-70; cycloid scales on head from dorsal fin to in between nostrils, on cheek and opercle; predorsal scales 35-45.
Two dorsal fins, first dorsal fin height about half body depth; second dorsal slightly higher than first; caudal fin rounded. Pectoral fin rounded, as long as postorbital part of head. Pelvic fins separate, about half head length.


Maximum size to around 45 cm SL, commonly to 20 cm.


Dark brown on back, paler on sides with indistinct darker stripes running along scale rows; belly whitish or tan; dorsal, anal, and caudal fins spotted, with clear membranes, lower part of caudal fin often dusky brown; anal, pelvic, and pectoral fins clear or whitish. Juveniles frequently with extensive white or cream area on back and top of head, with brown sides and whitish belly.


Feeds on insects, fishes, and crustaceans.


Oviparous, benthic spawners; spawns from October to February; male guards nest on solid surface, like ceiling of rock crevice or submerged log. Eggs are demersal with an adhesive end for attachment to substrate. Nests contain up to 70,000 eggs. Larvae hatch after around 5-7 days.


Fish weighing as much as 3.0 kg are caught by anglers, and the flesh is considered good eating.

Species Citation

Eleotris lineolatus Steindachner 1866,   Sber. Akad. Wiss. Wien 55(1): 13. Type locality: Fitzroy River, Rockhampton, Queensland.


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


Atlas of Living Australia

Sleepy Cod, Oxyeleotris lineolatus (Steindachner 1867)


Allen, G.R. 1982. Inland Fishes of Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 86 pp. 6 figs 20 pls (59, as O. herwerdenii).

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

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

Ebner, B., Kerezsy, A., Brooks, S. & Larson, H. 2021. Oxyeleotris lineolata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T68001545A186747992. Accessed on 11 September 2023

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes.  Brisbane : Co-ordinator-General Department 3rd edn  640 pp. (557, as Bunaka herwerdenii).

Herbert, B. & Graham, P. 2003. Breeding and fecundity of the endemic Australia gudgeon, sleepy cod Oxyeleotris lineolatus (Steindachner 1867) (Eleotridae). Aquaculture 236(1): 241-252.  

Herbert, B.W. & Graham, P.A. 2003. Effects of added shelter and stocking density on growth of sleepy cod Oxyeleotris lineolatus in ponds. Journal of the World of Aquaculture Society 34(4): 433-440.

Huey, J.A., Cook, B.D., Unmack, P.J. & Hughes, J.M. 2014. Broadscale phylogeographic structure of five freshwater fishes across the Australian Monsoonal Tropics. Freshwater Science 33: 273-287.

Larson, H.K. & Martin, K.C. 1990. Freshwater Fishes of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences Handbook Series Number 1.  Darwin : Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences 102 pp. 73 figs.

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management.  Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs (p. 303, as Oxyeleotris herwerdenii).

Pusey, B., Burrows, D., Arthington, A., & Kennard, M. 2006. Translocation and spread of piscivorous fishes in the Burdekin River, north-eastern Australia. Biological Invasions 8: 965-977.  

Pusey, B.J., Arthington, A.H., and Read, M.G. 2000. The dry-season diet of freshwater fishes in monsoonal tropical rivers of Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 9: 177-190. 

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

Steindachner, F. 1866. Über einige Fische aus dem Fitzroy-Flusse bei Rockhampton in Ost-Australien. Sber. Akad. Wiss. Wien 55(1): 9–16 figs 1–2

Sternberg, D. & Cockayne, B. 2018. The ongoing invasion of translocated sleepy cod (Oxyeleotris lineolata) in the Lake Eyre Basin, central Australia. Wildlife Research 45(2): 164-175. 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429038

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern


Max Size:45 cm SL

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