Diamond Mullet, Liza ordensis (Whitley 1945)

Other Names: Basket Mullet, Ord River Mullet

A Diamond Mullet, Liza ordensis, from the Daly River, Northern Territory, 2012. Source: Dave Wilson / www.aquagreen.com.au/. License: All rights reserved

A silvery-grey mullet becoming paler below, with a horizontal white streak on each scale, dark grey to black pelvic fins with a yellow or orange outer margin, and a yellow iris. 
Until recently, Liza ordensis was considered to be a junior synonym of the widespread Liza alata. Recent authors have placed this species in the genus Planiliza.
Video of Diamond Mullet

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2019, Liza ordensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4537

Diamond Mullet, Liza ordensis (Whitley 1945)

More Info


Northern Australia from Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia including the Ord and the Fitzroy rivers of the Kimberley region, to at least Townsville, Queensland, including rivers draining into the Gulf of Carpentaria, and possibly south to northern New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in the western-central Pacific. Inhabits inshore areas including estuaries, and individuals frequently occur well upstream in major rivers of northern Australia.


Dorsal fin IV + i, 8; Anal fin III, 9; Pectoral fin 16-17; Gill rakers 64-79.
Body elongate, robust; head broad, pointed; interorbital slightly convex, less than twice eye diameter in small fishes, but greater large; eye diameter less than snout, greater in large; mouth corner on vertical from anterior nostril, tip of upper jaw reaching vertical from posterior nostril. 3-5 rows of unicuspid teeth in upper lip; lower edentate but with broad low papillae with long axes perpendicular to lip edge at inner base of lip; no teeth on palatine, but teeth on vomer, pterygoids and high-keeled tongue; anterior nostril entirely within vertical span of posterior nostril; posterior nostril nearer eye than anterior to lip; gill rakers short.
Head scale-free to anterior nostrils; 30 or 31 mid-lateral scales.
Pectoral fin reaching anterior half of eye when laid forward, dorsal ray of pectoral fins developed as a short spur or ‘spine’ (not a true spine); ventral fin origin nearer vertical from first dorsal fin origin than to that from pectoral fin origin; first dorsal fin origin nearer snout tip than to caudal base; 1st dorsal spine shorter than 2nd, 4th dorsal spine weak; second dorsal fin origin at vertical around1/3 along anal fin base; tips of anterior rays reaching behind tips of posterior rays; anal and second dorsal fins subequal, but first dorsal fin lower; second dorsal and anal fins falcate, densely scaled. Caudal fin forked, falcate.


Silvery-grey, darker dorsally; scales with a horizontal white streak; ventral fins dark grey or black with yellow or orange outer margin; eye yellow.


Grazes on fine algae and diatoms as well as consuming large amounts of detritus. Teeth and lips are specialised for scraping fine layers of algae off gravel, submerged logs and aquatic plants in addition to bottom sediments.


Breeds in estuaries, spawning large numbers of tiny free-floating eggs; likely to participate in group spawning.


Considerable confusion exists over the names of Liza alata, Liza tade and Liza ordensis. Thompson (1954) regarded Liza alata as a senior synonym of Liza ordensis. Larson et al. (2013) recognised the species as distinct based on molecular studies of Durand et al. (2012a). However, Durand et al. (2012b) stated that ordensis was a synonym of alata and placed the species in the genus Planiliza. Durand & Borsa (2015) consider Planiliza ordensis to be a valid species.

Species Citation

Moolgarda (Planiliza) ordensis Whitley 1945, Australian Zoologist 11(1): 17, fig. 9. Type locality: Ord River, Western Australia.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Diamond Mullet, Liza ordensis (Whitley 1945)


Allen, G.R. 1991. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of New Guinea. Publication No. 9 of the Christensen Research Institute, Madang, Papua New Guinea. Pls. 1-18: 1-268. (as Liza alata)

Durand, J.-D. 2016. Implications of molecular phylogeny for the taxonomy of Mugilidae, pp. 22-41 in Crosetti, D. & Blaber, S. (eds) Biology, Ecology and Culture of Grey Mullets (Mugilidae). CRC Press. (as Planiliza ordensis)

Durand, J.-D. & Borsa, P. 2015. Mitochondrial phylogeny of grey mullets (Acanthopterygii: Mugilidae) suggests high proportion of cryptic species. Comptes Rendus Biologies 338(4): 266-277. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crvi.2015.01.007 (as Planiliza ordensis

Durand, J.-D., Chen, W.-J., Shen, K.-N., Fu, C. & Borsa, P. 2012b. Genus-level taxonomic changes implied by the mitochondrial phylogeny of grey mullets (Teleostei: Mugilidae). Comptes Rendus Biologies 335: 687-697. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crvi.2012.09.005 (as Planiliza ordensis)

Durand, D., Shen, K.-N., Chen, W.-J., Jamandre, B.W., Blel, H., Diop, K., Nirchio, M., Garcia de León, F.J., Whitfield, A.K., Chang, C.-W. & Borsa, P. 2012a. Systematics of the grey mullets (Teleostei: Mugiliformes: Mugilidae): Molecular phylogenetic evidence challenges two centuries of morphology-based taxonomy. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 64(1): 73-92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2012.03.006

Harrison, I.J. & Senou, H. 1999. Order Mugiliformes. pp. 2069-2790 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 pp. 2069-2790.  

Hutchins, J.B. 2003. Checklist of marine fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. pp. 453-478 in Wells, F.E., Walker, D.I., & Jones, D.S. (eds). Proceedings of the Eleventh International Marine Biological Workshop: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Dampier, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum.  

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 (as Liza alata)  

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.  

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293  

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management.  Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs (p. 272, as Liza diadema)  

Morgan, D.L., Allen, M.G., Bedford, P. & Horstman, M. 2004. Fish fauna of the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley region of Western Australia - including the Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Ngarinyin, Nyikina and Walmajarri Aboriginal names. Records of the Western Australian Museum 22: 147-161. (as Liza alata)  

Pusey, B.J., Burrows, D.W., Kennard, M.J., Thomson, J.M. 1954. The Mugilidae of Australia and adjacent seas. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 5(1): 70-131 figs 1-16 pls 1-2 (as Liza alata)  

Thomson, J.M. 1997. The Mugilidae of the world. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 41(3): 457–562. (as Liza diadema)  

Whitley, G.P. 1945. New sharks and fishes from Western Australia. Part 2. The Australian Zoologist 11(1): 1-42 figs 1-15  

Xia, R., Durand, J.-D., Fu, C. 2016. Multilocus resolution of Mugilidae phylogeny (Teleostei: Mugiliformes): Implications for the family’s taxonomy, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 96: 161-177, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2015.12.010 (as Planiliza ordensis

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37381014

Habitat:Coastal marine, estuaries (enters FW)

Max Size:75 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map