Blackbanded Gudgeon, Oxyeleotris selheimi (Macleay 1884)

Other Names: Black Banded Guavina, Black-banded Gudgeon, Giant Gudgeon, Sleeper, Sleeper Gudgeon, Sleepy Cod

Blackbanded Gudgeon, Oxyeleotris selheimi. Source: Dave Wilson / Aquagreen. License: All rights reserved

A large dark brown gudgeon, paler below, with narrow dark stripes along sides, and small dark spots forming transverse bands on dorsal, anal and pelvic fins.

Cite this page as:
Martin F. Gomon, Oxyeleotris selheimi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Blackbanded Gudgeon, Oxyeleotris selheimi (Macleay 1884)

More Info


Known only in northern Australia from the Adcock River, WA (125°49'E) to Cooktown, QLD (15°S), but probably also in New Guinea; benthic, inhabiting freshwater rivers, creeks and billabongs, usually in slow flowing water amongst aquatic vegetation, woody debris or undercut banks.


Dorsal fin VI + I, 9; Anal fin I, 8-9; Pectoral fin 17-19; Gill rakers (lower limb) 6-7. 
Body elongate, cylindrical, anteriorly depressed, posteriorly compressed, depth 4.5-5.5 in SL. Head depressed, profile straight, 2.75-3.2 in SL. Snout slightly shorter than eye to as long as eye, tip before lower margin of eye; Eye diameter 4.5-6.0 in head length; interorbital 1-2 eye diameters. Lower jaw protruding, mouth oblique, reaching to below middle 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; anterior nostril long in tube, posterior nostril short and not tube-like; nostrils and adjacent pores surrounded by an indistinct patch of papillae.
Scales on body ctenoid, cycloid on nape, breast and belly; longitudinal series 55-60; cycloid scales on head scaled above from dorsal fin to in front of eyes, on cheek and opercle; vertical scale rows 62-69; horizontal scale rows 19-20; predorsal scale rows 40-48.
Two dorsal fins, the first dorsal fin much lower than body depth; height of second dorsal about 0.67 body depth; caudal fin rounded, slightly pointed; Pectoral fin rounded, as long as head without snout; Pelvic fins separate, slightly shorter than pectorals.


Maximum size around 55 cm SL, commonly to 30 cm.


Dark brown dorsally, lighter ventrally with narrow dark stripes on sides; median fins and pelvic fins with small dark spots forming transverse bands.


A nocturnally active carnivore feeding on fishes, crustaceans and aquatic insects.


Oviparous, benthic spawners; females deposit eggs onto a hard surface and males guard and fan eggs until hatching. Eggs are fusiform, 2-2.5 mm long and 1 mm wide. Larvae hatch after 3-7 days, depending on temperature, and begin feeding within days of hatching.


Nocturnally active.

Initially described by Macleay as Eleotris planiceps Macleay, W.J. (1882). The fishes of the Palmer River. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. (1)7(1): 69–71 [69] but subsequently renamed as the name is a junior homonym of Eleotris planiceps Castelnau, 1878.

Similar Species

Frequently confused with O. lineolata.

Species Citation

Eleotris selheimi Macleay, W.J. (1884). Supplement to the descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. (1)9(1): 2–64 [33] [nom. nov. for Eleotris planiceps Macleay, 1882].

 Palmer River, north QLD.


Martin F. Gomon

Blackbanded Gudgeon, Oxyeleotris selheimi (Macleay 1884)


Allen, G.R. (1982). Inland Fishes of Western Australia.  Perth : Western Australian Museum 86 pp. 6 figs 20 pls [60] (as O. lineolatus).

Allen, G.R. (1989). Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp. pls 1–63 [198] (as O. sp. A).

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

Grant, E.M. (1975). Guide to Fishes.  Brisbane : Co-ordinator-General Department 3rd Edn  640 pp. [557] (as O. lineolatus, in part).

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 [70] (as O. sp.).

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. (1984). Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management.  Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs [303] (as O. lineolatus).

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429040

Habitat:Freshwater rivers, streams, lagoons

Max Size:55 cm SL

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