Giant Glassfish, Parambassis gulliveri (Castelnau 1878)

Other Names: Chanda Perch, Giant Perchlet, Gulliver's Perchlet

Giant Glassfish, Parambassis gulliveri. Source: Gerald R. Allen / Western Australian Museum. License: All rights reserved

The Giant Glassfish is a tropical species found in large rivers of northern Australia. This species is easily distinguished from other Australian ambassids by its large size, humped forehead and pattern of narrow black stripes on the side of the body.

Video of Giant Glassfish in the Territory Wildlife Park, NT

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Parambassis gulliveri in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Giant Glassfish, Parambassis gulliveri (Castelnau 1878)

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Known from a few large rivers of northern Australia including the Ord River, Western Australia, Victoria River, Northern Territory, and the Flinders River and Norman River, Queensland: three areas - southern Gulf of Carpentaria, southwestern Northern Territory, Ord River in the Kimberley. Elsewhere the species occurs in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Inhabits large lowland freshwater rivers and waterholes usually with high turbidity.


Dorsal fin VII, I, 10-11; Anal fin III, 9-10; Pectoral fin 16-17.

Body compressed, deep, greatest body depth 42.0 to 47.5% of SL; head length 37.9 to 39.3% of SL; snout length 8.1 to 8.7% SL; eye diameter 10.3 to 13.3 % head length; forehead humped in profile; mouth relatively large; gill rakers well developed; supraorbital spines 1 or 2 (rarely none); nasal spine absent; preorbital ridge usually smooth; suborbital smooth; preorbital edge with 7 to 15 serrae; preopercular ridge with 3 to 13 serrae on lower limb, vertical limb mainly smooth; lower edge of preoperculum with 7 to 28 serrae, hind margin smooth; interoperculum with 4 to 14 minute serrae.

Scales relatively small, cycloid; cheek scale rows 4; vertical scale rows in excess of 35; lateral line with 37 to 42 scales, usually continuous throughout its length or occasionally interrupted in middle portion by a few tubeless scales

Second dorsal spine longer than third dorsal spine; second anal spine longer than third anal spine.


Silvery overall series of narrow dark stripes present on side (sometimes only on the upper portion); anal and ventral fins yellowish; dorsal, pectoral and caudal fins dusky.


Carnivorous feeding on small fishes and crustaceans.


Spawning occurs during June to July but little else is known of the reproductive biology of this species.


Used in the aquarium trade.


The striped body pattern is generally not evident in juvenile specimens.

Similar Species

Parambassis gulliveri is distinguished from all other Ambassids by the possession of four scale rows on the cheek, a vertical scale row count in excess of 37 and its greater size.


The species is named for Mr. Gulliver 'who has resided two years in this settlement, and has done much for the zoology of that remote part of Queensland, has sent me two collections of fishes from this river...'

Species Citation

Acanthoperca gulliveri Castelnau 1878, Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. (1)3(1): 45. Type locality: Norman River, Queensland.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Giant Glassfish, Parambassis gulliveri (Castelnau 1878)


Allen, G.R. 1982. Inland Fishes of Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 86 pp. 6 figs 20 pls. 

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

Allen, G.R. 1991. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of New Guinea. Madang : Christensen Research Institute 268 pp.

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

Allen, G.R., Storey, A.W. & Yarrao, M. 2008. Freshwater Fishes of the Fly River Papua New Guinea. Tabubil, Papua New Guinea : Ok Tedi Mining 216 pp. 

Allen, G.R. & Burgess, W.E. 1990. A review of the glass-fishes (Ambassidae) of Australia and New Guinea. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 34: 139-206 

Castelnau, F.L. de 1878. Notes on the fishes of the Norman River. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 3(1): 41-51 See ref at BHL

Gill, A.C., Russell, B.C. & Nelson, G.J. 2018. F.L. de Castelnau’s Norman River fishes housed in the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney. Zootaxa 4459(3): 565-574.

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

Hammer, M. & Kennard, M. 2019. Parambassis gulliveri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T122906148A123382281. Accessed on 23 February 2022.

Hitchcock, G. 2002. Fish Fauna of the Bensbach river, southwest Papua New Guinea. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 48(1): 119-122.

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. 

Morgan, D.L., Allen, G.R., Pusey, B.J. & Burrows, D.W. 2011. A review of the freshwater fishes of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Zootaxa 2816: 1-64.

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

Ramsay, E.P. & Ogilby, J.D. 1886. A contribution to the knowledge of the fish fauna of New Guinea. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 2 1(1): 8-20 

Roberts, T.R. 1978. An ichthyological survey of the Fly River in Papua New Guinea with descriptions of new species. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 281: 1-72 figs 1-39 

Unmack, P.J. 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogeography 28: 1053-1089 

Whitley, G.P. 1935. Fishes from Princess Charlotte Bay, North Queensland. Records of the South Australian Museum 5(3): 345-365 figs 1-11

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37310017

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Large coastal freshwater rivers

Max Size:32 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map