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Craterocephalus centralis (Family Atherinidae)

Finke Hardyhead


The Finke Hardyhead is found in waterholes associated with the Finke River (NT, SA).


The Finke Hardyhead is a small elongate fish that grows to 65 mm. They are usually silvery in colour. They are difficult to distinguish relative to other Craterocephalus species. Hardyheads can be distinguished from most other fish by their elongate shape, pointed head and slightly iridescent mid-lateral band. This species had a confused taxonomic history and has historically been referred to C. eyresii and C. cuneiceps.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Finke Hardyhead inhabits most waterbodies within the larger watercourses of the Finke River. They lead a precarious existence, as there is little permenant water and many of the places they live will dry. They migrate during flooding to recolonise these dried habitats. Little is known of their biology. The Finke Hardhead probably eat algae and small invertebrates. They have broad physiological tolerances, they can probably tolerate temperatures up to 40 °C and high salinities.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species is not commonly kept in aquariums mostly due to the difficulty in obtaining them and their plain markings. They make good pets though and can be bred in captivity. They are listed as restricted due to their limited range and abundance. Additional threats could come from the introduction of exotic fishes such as Gambusia holbrooki (Damnbusia) that may prey upon and compete with the Finke Hardyhead.

Other Comments:

Craterocephalus centralis was named by Crowley and Ivantsoff in 1990. The genus name is based on Greek, cratero meaning strong or sturdy and cephalus meaning head. The species name centralis is named after the region where the fish occurs, central Australia.

Further Reading:

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

Crowley, L. E. L. M. & Ivantsoff, W. (1990). A review of species previously identified as Craterocephalus eyresii (Pisces: Atherinidae). Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 112: 87–103.

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. pp. 90.


Text: Peter J. Unmack & Rob Wager. Distribution map: Peter J. Unmack. Photographer: Neil Armstrong.

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