River Garfish, Hyporhamphus regularis (Günther 1866)

Other Names: Beakie, Eastern River Garfish, Gardie, Lakes Garfish, Lake's Garfish, Needle Gar, Needle Garfish, Splinter Gar, Western River Garfish

River Garfish, Hyporhamphus regularis. Source: Rudie H. Kuiter / Aquatic Photographics. License: All rights reserved

A pale greenish garfish with a silver stripe along the side, a silvery-white belly, a reddish-orange tip on the lower jaw, three narrow dark streaks along anterior part of back, and yellowish fins with a black spot at the pectoral-fin base.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2018, Hyporhamphus regularis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4494

River Garfish, Hyporhamphus regularis (Günther 1866)

More Info


Bunbury to Shark Bay, Western Australia (and possbily from the Onslow region), and north of Cardwell, Queensland, southwards to Franklin Harbour, South Australia (H. r. ardelio). Inhabits surface waters in bays, estuaries and sheltered coastal waters, often around seagrass beds.


Dorsal fin 14-17; Anal fin 15-19; Pectoral fin 11-12; Caudal fin 15; Pelvic fin 6; Lateral line scales 58.
Body very shallow (10-13% SL), elongate, rectangular in cross section; caudal peduncle narrow.  Head small (22-25% SL), flattened above, triangular in cross section; snout of moderate length; lower jaw produced into an elongate, depressed beak, extending well beyond tip of upper jaw; preorbital bone without posterior branch of preorbital canal; eyes of moderate size (21-26% HL);  mouth small (upper jaw length 21-26% HL), nearly horizontal; teeth tiny, many tricuspidate in large specimens, narrow band in each jaw; 30-36 (usually 31-34) gill rakers on first gill arch.

Scales of moderate size, cycloid, weakly attached, covering body and most of head including at least some of triangular part of upper jaw; lateral line low on side, following ventral profile, lateral-line scales smaller than others on sides.

Dorsal and anal fins small, of similar size and shape, located posteriorly on body opposite each other, anterior rays longest; caudal fin forked, lower lobe slightly larger than upper; pectoral fins of moderate size, arising high on side, reaching about one-fourth of way to dorsal-fin origin; ventral fins small arising slightly closer to anal-fin origin than to opercular edge, reaching far short of anal-fin origin; distance from ventral-fin origin to base of tail about equal to distance from ventral-fin origin to posterior edge of orbit.


Reaches at least 35 cm, including beak.


Greenish above, silvery white below, with three narrow dark streaks running along foremost portion of back, and a longitudinal silver stripe from opercular edge to base of tail;  tip of beak orange-red; fins yellowish with black spot at base of pectoral.


Omnivorous feeding on zooplankton and seagrasses.


Spawning occurs between July and December.
Eggs are large with adhesive filaments that attach to vegetation.


The river garfish has been split into two geographically separated sub-species, the eastern river garfish, Hyporhamphus regularis ardelio and the western river garfish, Hyporhamphus regularis regularis.  The eastern form has a beak that is slightly longer proportionately than that of the western form.

Species Citation

Hemirhamphus regularis Günther 1866, Cat. Fish. British Museum 6: 261. Type locality: west Australia.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

River Garfish, Hyporhamphus regularis (Günther 1866)


Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Collette, B.B. 1974. The garfishes (Hemiramphidae) of Australia and New Zealand. Records of the Australian Museum 29(2): 11-105 figs 1-23 (as Hyporhamphus regularis ardelio)

Gomon, M.F. 1994. Families Exocoetidae, Hemiramphidae, Scomberesocidae. pp. 383-393 figs 343-351 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Hemiramphidae in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

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

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. 

Günther, A. 1866. Catalogue of the Fishes of the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Salmonidae, Percopsidae, Galaxidae, Mormyridae, Gymnarchidae, Esocidae, Umbridae, Scombresocidae, Cyprinodontidae, in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 6 368 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs.

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.

Noell, C.J. 2003. Larval development of the southern sea garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) and the river garfish (H. regularis) (Beloniformes: Hemiramphidae) from South Australian waters. Fishery Bulletin 101(2): 368-376. Ref available online, open access

Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide.Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp. 

Roughley, T.C. 1957. Fish and Fisheries of Australia. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 341 pp. 

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1847. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 19 544 pp. pls 554-590. 

Whitley, G.P. 1931. New names for Australian fishes. The Australian Zoologist 6(4): 310-334 1 fig. pls 25-27 (as Reporhamphus ardelio)

Whitley, G.P. 1943. Ichthyological notes and illustrations. Part 2. The Australian Zoologist 10(2): 167-187 figs 1-10  (misidentified as Euleptorhamphus longirostris)

Valenciennes, A. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1847. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 19 544 pp. pls 554-590. (paralectotypes from Sydney misidentifed as Hemiramphus gaimardi)

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37234012

Depth:0-20 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Habitat:Estuaries, freshwater

Max Size:35 cm TL


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