Barred Grunter, Amniataba percoides (Günther 1864)

Other Names: Banded Grunter, Black-banded Grunter, Black-striped Grunter, Tiger Fish

A Barred Grunter, Amniataba percoides, in a freshwater pool in the Fitzroy River catchment, Kimberley, Western Australia. Source: Michael Roast. License: All rights reserved


A silvery to bronze grunter with five dark vertical bars, darker scattered spots in between bars, and a black margin on the lower caudal-fin lobe.

Although native to northern Australia and the Lake Eyre Basin, the Barred Grunter has been introduced into southeastern Queensland and northern New South Wales - areas outside their natural range. These populations are well-established and may adversely affect the aquatic environment and other native fishes found in the area. The Barred Grunter is a declared noxious species in New South Wales.

Barred Grunter in the upper reaches of the Finniss River, Northern Territory, Australia.

Cite this page as:
Thompson, V.J. & Bray, D.J. 2021, Amniataba percoides in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Barred Grunter, Amniataba percoides (Günther 1864)

More Info


Endemic to and widespread in the Lake Eyre Basin and north coastal regions of the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. The natural distribution is from the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia, to the Burnett River, southern Queensland, and the inland Finke and Georgina rivers, Northern Territory. 

Occurs in a variety of freshwater habitats ranging from still ponds and rock pools, to fast-flowing rivers and streams. The species tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions, from the clear headwaters of streams to the slightly brackish upper parts of estuaries, and can live in a range of water temperatures.

Barred Grunter have been introduced into rivers and streams in southern Queensland, and into the Clarence River system in northern New South Wales. These populations are now well established.

While Barred Grunter were not detected in the Clarence River during a 1996 survey of NSW rivers, the species was taken there by anglers in 1999. The species has the potential to damage the aquatic environment and may affect other native fishes.

Barred grunter are declared a Class 2 noxious species in all NSW waters under the Fisheries Management Act 1994. They are permitted to be kept in fully enclosed aquaria; however, fines of up to $11,000 apply for their sale or possession in anything other than an enclosed aquaria (such as garden ponds or farm dams).


Body oblong to oval, moderately compressed and deep, depth 2.2-2.7 in SL; dorsal profile more pronounced than ventral; dorsal profile straight from snout to nape, then convex to dorsal-fin origin; ventral profile straight from tip of lower lip to isthmus; convex from isthmus to pelvic insertion, then straight to anus.

Head length 2.7-3.3 in SL. Snout slightly elongate, length 2.8-3.7 in HL. Eye width 2.6-3.6 in HL. Jaws equal with lips slightly fleshy, especially in larger fish; jaw length 3.3-4.0 in SL; gape oblique; maxillary reaching to vertical through posterior nostril; teeth conic, slightly recurved, in bands, outer row enlarged; vomer and palatines without teeth. Interorbital region with distinct ridges. Nostrils distant, separated by a distance equal to one-third of eye diameter. Lacrimal serrate. Preoperculum serrate; serrations largest on vertical edge. Lower opercular spine longer and stronger; not extending beyond edge of opercular lobe. Cleithrum exposed; serrate posteriorly; scales on side. Supracleithrum exposed. Posttemporal not exposed, covered with skin and scales.

Scales finely ctenoid; lateral line continuous, smoothly curved; 4-6 scales on caudal; 14-16 predorsal scales to occiput; 1 row of scales in sheath at base of dorsal fin, sheath extending to third or fourth dorsal ray; two rows of scales in sheath at base of anal fin, sheath extending to third or fourth anal ray; cheek scales in 4-5 rows.

Dorsal fin continuous; length of base of dorsal 1.8-2.1 in SL; spinous portion strongly arched; first spine very short; fourth to sixth spines longest, longest dorsal spine 1.4-1.9 in HL; longer than longest dorsal rays, subsequent spines decreasing in length gradually to penultimate which is shorter than last; longest dorsal ray 1.6-2.0 in HL, soft dorsal with posterior edge straight or slightly convex. Second anal spine strong; about twice as long as first, 1.5-2.1 in HL, longer than third and about as long as longest anal ray; longest anal ray 1.9-2.1 in HL, posterior margin of soft dorsal slightly convex. Pectorals asymmetrically pointed; fifth ray longest. Pelvic fins pointed; first and second rays longest; reaching to anus. Caudal slightly emarginate, lobes obtusely pointed.


To 18 cm SL; commonly 10-12 cm.


Juveniles have several stripes on top of the head running between the eyes, and additional stripes from the snout tip to the top of eye and under eye across the cheek.

In adults, the top of the head is darker with stripes variably masked. Stripes below and in front of the eye are variably masked; head lighter below. Body dark above, lighter below. Scales above lateral line with darker edges. 5-7 vertical black bands on side; each about 2 scales wide.

Spinous dorsal fin slightly dusky, soft portion with 1-2 rows of dusky spots and a blotch near the base above 4th body bar. Spinous anal-fin clear; soft anal-fin dusky with a lighter border and a horizontal band of pigmentation. Caudal fin with dark edges and many small spots on the anterior 2/3 forming irregular vertical bands; lower rays white. Pectoral fins clear or with slightly dusky markings. Pelvic fins clear except outer rays dusky.


Feeds mostly on aquatic insects and crustaceans; also consumes algae and aquatic plants, as well as snails and the occasional small fishes.


The sexes are separate and fertilization is external. Females are highly fecund and produce demersal eggs from August to March.


Sometimes targeted by recreational anglers, and bag limits apply. Barred Grunter are a popular aquarium fish in Singapore, however this aggressive species is unsuitable for community tanks.


Individuals form loose aggregations with others of the same species. Barred Grunter are very common in the Western Australia and the northern Territory but less common in the eastern part of the range (Queensland) and inland (South Australia).

Similar Species

Distinguished from the adults of all other terapontids by the pattern of narrow black vertical bars. Within the genus, the Barred Grunter, Amniataba caudavittata, can also be distinguished by the lack of an oblique bar across each lobe of the caudal fin and in the absence of spots on the body.


The specific name percoides refers to the perch-like appearance of this species.

Species Citation

Therapon percoides Gunther, 1864, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3)14(42): 374. Type locality: Fitzroy River, near Rockhampton, Queensland.


Thompson, V.J. & Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Barred Grunter, Amniataba percoides (Günther 1864)


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

Ebner, B., Brooks, S., Kerezsy, A. & Butler, G. 2019. Amniataba percoides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T123358775A123382836. Downloaded on 27 August 2021.

Gill, H.S., Morgan, D.L., Doupe, R.G. & Rowland, A.J. 2006. The fishes of Lake Kununurra, a highly regulated section of the Ord River in northern Western Australia. Records of the Western Austrailian Museum 23: 1-6.

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

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

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.

Leggett, R. & Merrick, J.R. 1987. Australian Native Fishes for Aquariums. Artarmon : J.R. Merrick Publications 241 pp. 142 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, 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.

NSW Fisheries/DPI NSW

Pusey, B.J., Arthington, A.H. & Read, M.G. 1998. Freshwater fishes of the Burdekin River, Australia: biogeography, history and spatial variation in community structure. Environmental Biology of Fishes 53(3): 303-318.

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.

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J. & Bird  J. 2000. Fishes of the dune fields of Cape Flattery, northern Queensland and other dune systems in north-eastern Australia. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 11(1): 65-74.

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

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37321009

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Conservation:NSW - A Declared Noxious Species

Habitat:Fresh to slightly brackish waters

Max Size:18 cm SL


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