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Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis (Family Pseudomugilidae)

Redfin Blue Eye, Redfin Blue-eye


The Redfin Blue-eye is only found in five small springs north-east of Aramac in central Queensland within the Lake Eyre Basin (QLD).


The Redfin Blue-eye is a very small fish; reaching only about 28 mm. Adults tend to have a bluish silvery belly and a relatively plain body. Males have brightly coloured fins, being dusky red with a strong red outer band on all fins except the pectorals. Juveniles often have a golden hue that goes away as they get larger. Blue-eyes can be distinguished from most other fishes by their small size, blue eye and coloured fins. The Redfin Blue-eye is the only Blue-eye that has a rounded or truncate tail (caudal fin); all other species have a forked caudal fin.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Many of the springs inhabited by Redfin Blue-eye are shallow (less than 10 cm) with swampy outflows (less than 0.5 litres per second), and typically have clumps of short dense sedges and grasses. Little is known of their ecology in the wild. Redfin Blue-eye are probably omnivorous and their diet likely includes algae and small invertebrates. They appear to breed throughout the year, but most reproduction occurs during the warmer months. Males briefly guard a small territory, usually under a tuft of grass and try to attract females to spawn with bright flashy displays. Females only lay a few eggs each day. The eggs take 7 to 10 days to hatch. Offspring mature by 3 months when they reach around 15 mm. Due to the small, shallow nature of their habitat they experience extreme shifts in daily temperature during summer of up to 21°C.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species is not commonly kept in aquariums mostly due to the difficulty in obtaining them, as well as their recent discovery. They are formally listed as endangered, as their habitat is vulnerable due to the gradual spread of the introduced Gambusia holbrooki (Damnbusia), which preys upon Redfin Blue-eye, as well as competing for resources. Cattle and sheep grazing can also be a problem due to trampling of the habitat and animals becoming trapped and dying in springs. While no developments are presently proposed for this area, groundwater removal could be a future threat as it may reduce or dry springs.

Other Comments:

Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis was named by Ivantsoff, Unmack, Saeed and Crowley in 1991. The name is based on Latin, scaturiginis meaning bubbling water, ichthys meaning a fish from bubbling water, vermeil meaning from old French red or vermeilion and pinnis meaning fins, referring to the red colouration of the male's fins.

Further Reading:

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

Unmack, P. J. (2003). Australian Desert Fishes.

Wager, R. & Unmack, P. J. (2000). Fishes of the Lake Eyre Catchment of Central Australia. Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane. 90pp.


Text: Peter J. Unmack & Rob Wager. Distribution map: Peter J. Unmack. Photographer: Gunther Schmida.

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