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Amniataba percoides (Family Terapontidae)

Barred Grunter, Banded Grunter



The Barred Grunter is the sixth most widespread freshwater fish in Australia and can be found over all of northern and central Australia (QLD, NT, SA, WA).


The Barred Grunter is a perch like fish that grows to 200 mm. They have light coloured bodies with a silver to golden hue with five to eight distinctive dark vertical bars. They have a relatively small mouth. Their fins have many sharp spines and their gill covers have sharp edges making them difficult to handle. When captured they will often make a grunting noise (hence their common name as grunters).

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Barred Grunter occurs in a variety of habitats, from small creeks to large rivers, from clear to turbid waters or from fast flowing to still. They are omnivorous and will consume algae, aquatic plants and various invertebrate species. Spawning typically takes place at night during the warmer months when temperatures are between 26–33°C. The conditions that cause spawning are unknown. The Barred Grunter may produce between 40,000 and 77,000 eggs that adhere to the substrate. The eggs hatch in 48–60 hours and probably mature within one year at 80–90 mm.

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Interaction with Humans/Threats:

Barred grunters are too small to be of interest to most anglers. They are sometimes kept in aquaria, but need to be kept in groups due to their aggressive nature. They have no conservation listing due to their widespread occurrence. In Queensland, they have been translocated to some areas where they did not occur previously.

Other Comments:

Amniataba percoides was named by Gunther in 1864. The name is part based on Greek, amnis meaning stream and percoides menaing perch like and part based on Aboriginal, ataba meaning a marine terapontid.

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.

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


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

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