Animal Species:Australian Bass, Macquaria novemaculeata (Steindachner, 1866)

Often found far upstream in freshwater, the Australian Bass eats fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates such as insects. It is a very popular recreational angling species.

An Australian Bass at the Bellinger River

Ian Shaw © Ian Shaw

Standard Common Name

Australian Bass

Alternative Name/s

Freshwater perch, Eastern Freshwater Perch, Perch

Identification

The Australian Bass can be recognised by a combination of characters including an evenly arched dorsal profile, a snout that is straight or slightly concave and a forked caudal fin. It has a protruding lower jaw, moderately large eyes and a notch between the spiny first dorsal fin and the soft-rayed second dorsal fin.

The species is dark olive-green or greyish on the back and sides with darker scale margins. The belly is silvery or whitish, and the fins are mostly dusky brown to black. The tips of the anal and pelvic fins are white. Juvenile fish under 12 cm long are banded and have a dark blotch on the gill cover.

Size range

It grows to 60 cm (3.8 kg) in length, but fishes of 35 cm (1 kg) are more commonly seen.

Similar Species

Four species of Macquaria are recorded from Australia. The Estuary Perch, Macquaria colonorum, looks similar to the Australian Bass, but has a longer snout which is concave in profile. The Macquarie Perch, Macquaria australasica, has a rounded to truncate caudal fin and jaws of equal length in larger specimens. The Golden Perch, Macquaria ambigua, can be recognised by its protruding lower jaw and the strongly concave head profile of larger specimens.

Distribution

It is recorded in coastal rivers, lakes and estuaries of eastern Australia from Fraser Island, Queensland to Wilson's Promontory, Victoria.

It can migrate considerable distances upstream and has been historically recorded up to an altitude of 600 m in the Hawkesbury River drainage, New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Macquaria novemaculeata

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Australian Bass specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

In recent years, population sizes have declined as building of dams and weirs has made potential habitats inaccessible. River regulation is reported to interfere with spawning cues.

Feeding and Diet

The Australian Bass eats fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates such as insects.

Life cycle

Adult Australian Bass occur in coastal drainages of temperate south-eastern Australia. They generally inhabit freshwater rivers, lakes and streams and move to brackish estuaries to spawn during winter. A full description of the Larval Australia Bass can be found here.

Mating and reproduction

In winter, adults migrate downstream to estuaries to breed.

Economic/social impacts

The Australian Bass is a very popular recreational angling species.

Classification

Species:
novemaculeata
Genus:
Macquaria
Family:
Percichthyidae
Order:
Perciformes
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. T.F.H. Publications. Pp. 240.
  2. Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & M. Allen. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 394.
  3. Harris, J.H. & S.J. Rowland in McDowall, R.M. 1996. Freshwater Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Reed Books. Pp. 247.
  4. Merrick, J.R. & G.E. Schmida. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Biology and Management. John R. Merrick. Pp. 409.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Australian Bass, Macquaria novemaculeata, Percichthyidae, Freshwater perch, Eastern Freshwater Perch, Perch, large eyes, dark olive-green, grey, pale underside, 30 cm - 1 m, coastal rivers, lakes, estuaries, Hawkesbury River,