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Pseudomugil mellis (Family Pseudomugilidae)

Honey Blue-eye



The Honey Blue-eye is only found in the thin coastal wallum strip between Fraser Island and Brisbane in Queensland. Within this region their occurrence is patchy (QLD).


The Honey Blue-eye is a tiny fish that grows to 38 mm. It is easily recognised as a blue-eye by the blue ring around the large eye and the tall first dorsal fin. The body is gold, yellow, or pale orange with a row of spangles along the posterior of the mid lateral line. The first dorsal fin is black with a white leading edge. The second dorsal fin and the anal fin are clear to golden with a band of black edged in white. The pectoral fins are black and tipped with white. Males are brighter than females, have more distinct colours and have extended pelvic, dorsal and anal fins.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Honey Blue-eye lives in darkly stained, low pH waters associated with wallum country. They may occur in small creeks, swamps or lakes amongst emergent vegetation. They eat small invertebrates including planktonic crustaceans and insect larvae, diatoms and algae. They form small schools that disperse for feeding and breeding. Males guard a small territory during breeding season, which is during the warmer months. The territory of dominant males is usually centred on a prime spawning site such as immersed vegetation. Attracted females lay a few (1–16), relatively large eggs (approximately 1.5 mm diameter). The eggs hatch in about 5 to 7 days, although may be as long as 11 days in cooler water. Larvae are free swimming and stay near the water surface amongst vegetation. They mature in 3 to 6 months at about 20 mm.

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Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Honey Blue-eye is listed as vulnerable because of their limited distribution within a highly developed area. The number of populations has reduced through habitat destruction and the introduction of species such as Damnbusia (Gambusia holbrooki). They occur within the national park on Fraser Island and apart from the threat of Damnbusia are relatively well protected there. The mainland wallum habitats are threatened by forestry, agriculture, and urban development. They are ideal aquarium inhabitants because of their small size, ease of feeding and ease of breeding.

Other Comments:

Pseudomugil mellis was named by Allen and Ivantsoff in 1982. The name is based on Greek, pseudo meaning false, mugil meaning mullet and mellis meaning honey, in reference to the colour.

Further Reading:

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

Leggett, R. & Merrick, J. R. (1987). Australian Native Fishes for Aquariums. J. R. Merrick Publications. Sydney. 245pp.

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


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

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Images and Multi-media:  
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image/gif 46684 bytes Pseudomugil mellis
Distribution Map  
image/jpeg 54073 bytes Distribution of Pseudomugil mellis

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