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Bidyanus welchi (Family Terapontidae)

Welch's Grunter


Welch's Grunter are found in the Lake Eyre Basin and Bulloo River in central Australia (QLD, SA, NSW, NT).


Welch's Grunter will grow to at least 375 mm in length and 1.5 kg. They have a silvery-gray coloured body that is otherwise plain. They have a relatively small mouth. They have fins with many sharp spines and their gill covers have sharp edges making them difficult to handle.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Welch's Grunters are mostly found in larger rivers and their associated permanent waterholes, which typically are extremely turbid. They are carnivorous and will consume shrimp, other invertebrates and small fishes. Spawning is thought to occur during the warmer months and is induced by a rise in water level (flooding) when temperatures are over 24°C. Female Welch's Grunter over 280 mm long may produce 100,000 eggs that are pelagic, meaning they float downstream in the water column. The eggs hatch in around 30 hours. They probably mature within two to three years at 200 mm. Little else is known of their ecology.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

Welch's Grunter are of sufficient size to be of interest to anglers, although their flesh may be leathery. They probably do not make very good aquarium subjects. They have no conservation listing as they have not declined, and are moderately widespread within central Australia.

Other Comments:

Welch's Grunter was described by McCulloch and Waite, 1917. The genus name is derived from the Aboriginal word Bidyan, an Aboriginal name for this fish. The species name welchi, is named after E. J. Welch, a member of the Burke and Wills expedition.

Further Reading:

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

Merrick, J. R. & Schmida, G. E. (1984). Australian Freshwater Fishes: Biology and Management. Griffith Press Ltd. 409pp.

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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