Animal Species:Australian Smelt, Retropinna semoni (Weber, 1895)

The Australian Smelt is a small Australian freshwater species that is most common in slow flowing streams.

Standard Common Name

Australian Smelt

Alternative Name/s

Kantari, Smelt, Victorian Smelt


The Australian Smelt has a tubular-shaped body with a dorsal fin placed in the posterior half. Behind this is a small adipose fin.  The fish is usually olive greenish above and white below, but there is considerable colour variation and work is required to clarify the taxonomic status of the species.

Size range

May reach 10 cm in length but fish of 5 cm to 6 cm in length are more common.


The species is endemic to Australia.  It has a widespread distribution, from the Fitzroy River, southern Queensland to the Murray River Mouth eastern South Australia.  It also penetrates inland up the Murray and Darling Rivers.

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

Retropinna semoni

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Australian Smelt specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The Australian Smelt is usually found in slow flowing streams where it schools near the surface.  It is also known from some brackish waters.



What does this mean?


  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.

Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Australian Smelt, Retropinna semoni, freshwater, slow flowing streams, Kantari, Smelt, Victorian Smelt, tubular-shaped body, olive green, white underside, < 10 cm, endemic to Austraila, schools near surface, brackish, Retropinnidae,