Flathead Gudgeon, Philypnodon grandiceps (Krefft 1864)

Other Names: Big-headed Gudgeon, Bull Head, Bull-headed Gudgeon, Collundera, Flat-headed Gudgeon, Yarra Gudgeon

A Flathead Gudgeon, Philypnodon grandiceps. Source: Gunther Schmida / http://www.guntherschmida.com.au. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0


A common grey, brown, yellowish of blackish gudgeon with blotches along the back below the dorsal fins, and usually 4-5 thin dark oblique lines on the belly. The Flathead Gudgeon has a broad flattened head, a large mouth reaching to below the rear half of the eye, and wide gill openings reaching forward to below the eye.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2019, Philypnodon grandiceps in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/56

Flathead Gudgeon, Philypnodon grandiceps (Krefft 1864)

More Info


Known only from coastal rivers of eastern and southern Australia from the Coastal rivers from Emerald, Queensland, to Adelaide, South Australia (rare north of the Mackay region, Queensland), and inland Murray-Darling drainage from the Macquarie River near Warren and Lachlan rivers, New South Wales, to the mouth of the Murray River, South Australia, also northern Tasmania.

The Flathead Gudgeon inhabits freshwater lakes, reservoirs and brackish estuaries with muddy substrates and aquatic vegetation; may also be found in gently flowing streams.


Dorsal fin VI-VII + I, 8-10; Anal fin I, 8-10; Pectoral fin 16-20 (usually 18-19); Caudal fin 15 (segmented rays); Pelvic fin I, 5; Vertebrae 29-31; Gill rakers 14-20.

Body slender, tapering posteriorly. Head large, 2.7-2.9 in SL, depressed, flattened on top; cheeks broad becoming bulbose in large males; anterior nostril at end of short tube above and almost in contact with middle of upper lip, posterior nostril with raised rim slightly in front of anterior margin of eye; interorbital broad, distance between orbits greater than eye diameter; large mouth, longer in males than females, slightly oblique, small in females and young males, reaching below front to middle of eyes, and reaching to or beyond end of eyes in large males; vomer and palatine without teeth; bulbous cheeks in adults; wide gill opening extending to below eye or preoperculum; no head pores; transverse papilla pattern; tongue tip bilobed.

Body covered with ctenoid scales, cycloid on belly; longitudinal series 33- 44; head normally scaled to above preopercles; cheeks and opercula without scales.

Two short-based dorsal fins, first dorsal originating behind pectoral fin insertions; second dorsal beginning just behind end of first dorsal fin; anal fin similar in size and shape to second dorsal, originating just posterior to second dorsal fin origin; caudal fin rounded. Pectoral fins large, with rounded margin. Pelvic fins originating just before pectoral fin insertions. Anus just before anal fin origin.


To around 12 cm SL, commonly to 8 cm.


Grey, brown, yellowish or black; back with faint to dark blotches below dorsal fins and faint transverse bar just before first dorsal origin; usually with four or five thin dark lines on sides of belly; two or three dark stripes radiating posteriorly from each eye; faint bar on each pectoral fin base; dorsal and anal fins with dark stripes; caudal fin with small spots; pectoral and pelvic fins clear to grey. Males become darker and display more vibrant fin markings during the breeding season.


Carnivore - feeds on small fishes, crustaceans, insects and tadpoles.


Oviparous, benthic spawner, usually spawning from Spring to Summer. Females deposit a cluster of 500-1000 eggs onto a hard surface. Eggs are elongate, pointed at the adhesive base and blunt at the other; 1.5mm to 2.2mm long, 0.7-0.9mm wide. Males guard and fan the eggs until hatching. Larvae hatch after 4-6 days at around 3.7-3.9 mm TL

Similar Species

Can be distinguished from the similar Dwarf Flathead Gudgeon, Philypnodon macrostomus, by its larger size (12 cm vs 5 cm), wide gill openings (gill openings restricted and not reaching to below the eye in P. macrostomus), fine dark lines on the lower sides (absent in P. macrostomus), more pectoral-fin rays (usually 18-19 vs 15-16) and more gill rakers on the first arch (14-20 vs 11-12).

Species Citation

Eleotris grandiceps Krefft, 1864, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. : 183. Type loccality: Eastern Creek, Upper Hawkesbury River, near Richmond, NSW.


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


Atlas of Living Australia

Flathead Gudgeon, Philypnodon grandiceps (Krefft 1864)


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

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

Cadwallader, P.L. & Backhouse, G.N. 1983. A Guide to the Freshwater Fish of Victoria. Melbourne : F.D. Atkinson Government Printer 249 pp. figs.

Castelnau, F.L. de 1872. Contribution to the ichthyology of Australia. 1. The Melbourne fish market. Proceedings of the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria 1: 29-242 1 pl. (as Eleotris nudiceps) See ref at BHL

Hammer, M.P., Adams, M. & Foster, R. 2012. Update to the catalogue of South Australian freshwater fishes (Petromyzontida & Actinopterygii). Zootaxa 3593: 59–74.

Hammer, M.P., Adams, M., Thacker, C.E., Johnson, J.B. & Unmack, P.J. 2019. Comparison of genetic structure in co-occurring freshwater eleotrids (Actinopterygii: Philypnodon) reveals cryptic species, likely translocation and regional conservation hotspots. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 139: 16 pp, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2019.106556.

Hammer, M.P. & Walker, K.F. 2004. A catalogue of South Australian freshwater fishes, including new records, range extensions and translocations. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 128(2): 85-97.

Hoese, D.F. 2008. Family Eleotridae. pp. 746-748 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds) Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Hoese, D.F., Larson, H.K. & Llewellyn, L.C. 1980. Family Eleotridae: gudgeons. pp. 169-185 19 figs in McDowall, R.M. (ed.) Freshwater Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Sydney : A.H. & A.W. Reed 208 pp., figs, 32 pls.

Hoese, D.F. & Larson, H.K. 1994. Family Eleotrididae. pp. 810-813, figs 715-717 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.

Hoese, D.F. & Reader, S. 2006. Description of a new species of dwarf Philypnodon (Teleostei: Gobioidei: Eleotridae) from south-eastern Australia. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 63(1): 16-19 http://doi.org/10.24199/j.mmv.2006.63.3, open access

Krefft, G. 1864. Notes on Australian freshwater fishes, and descriptions of four new species. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1864: 182-184. See ref at BHL

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

Kuiter, R.H.  2018. Pictorial guide to Victoria's freshwater fishes. E-version Part 1. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, 110 pp.

Lake, J.S. 1978. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Melbourne : Thomas Nelson 160 pp. 140 figs.

Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs.

McCulloch, A.R. & Ogilby, J.D. 1919. Some Australian fishes of the family Gobiidae. Records of the Australian Museum 12(10): 193-291 figs 31-37 DOI: 10.3853/j.0067-1975.12.1919.886 (as Philypnodon nudiceps and P. grandiceps)

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984.Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs.

Ogilby, J.D. 1898. On some Australian Eleotrinae. Part 2. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 22(4): 783-793 (as Ophiorrhinus angustifrons) See ref at BHL

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J. & Arthington, A.H. 2004. Freshwater Fishes of North-eastern Australia. Collingwood, Victoria : CSIRO Publishing 684 pp.

Sauvage, H.E. 1880. Description des gobioides nouveaux ou peu connus de la collection du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle. Bulletin de la Société Philomathique de Paris 7 4: 40-58 (p. 57, as Eleotris (Eleotroides) melbournensis) See ref at BHL

Steindachner, F. 1866. Über die Fische von Port Jackson in Australien. Anzeiger der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, Wien 3(7): 50-55 (p. 51, as Eleotris gymnocephalus) See ref at BHL

Steindachner, F. 1866. Zur Fischfauna von Port Jackson in Australien. Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften. Wein 53(1): 424–480 pls 1–7 (Eleotris gymnocephalusSee ref at BHL

Thacker, C.E., Unmack, P.J., Matsui, L., Duong P. & Huang, E. 2008. Phylogeography of Philypnodon species (Teleostei: Eleotridae) across south-eastern Australia: testing patterns of connectivity across drainage divides and among coastal rivers. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society of London 95: 175–192 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2008.01000.x

Whitley, G.P. 1955. Taxonomic notes on fishes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 1953–54: 44-57 figs 1-8.

Whitley, G.P. 1961. The gudgeons of temperate Australia. Australian Museum Magazine 13: 332-337.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37429002

Behaviour:Fresh & brackish waters

Depth:0-3 m

Max Size:12 cm TL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map