Murray Hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis) were once widespread and abundant in the Murray, Lower Darling and Murrumbidgee river systems in southern NSW and northern Victoria. However, they are now considered one of Australia’s most threatened species.

This small fish (3 – 8cm) usually schools near or among aquatic plants on the edges of wetlands and slow-flowing lowland rivers.  They are usually found in marginal saline habitats (e.g. isolated wetlands), but you may also encounter them in farm dams, irrigation channels, ponds or even tanks which held water in the recent drought.

You may mistake the Murray hardyhead for other closely related species, particularly Un-specked Hardyhead. But look closely at their scales – Murray hardyhead have circular scales with pigmentation on the edge in an irregular arrangement. In contrast, Un-specked Hardyhead have diamond-shaped scales with pigmentation throughout, and the scales are arranged in rows.

Un-specked Hardyhead – easily mistaken for Murray Hardyhead.  Photo credit: NSW DPI
Murray hardyhead. Photo credit: NSW DPI


What to do if you see one…

Try and snap a clear photo focusing on the scales because this is critical for identification and get in touch via the links below.

NSW: Report online – or Email fisheries.threatenedspecies@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Vic: Report online – or Email your photo to vba.help@delwp.vic.gov.au

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