Animal Species:Bony Bream, Nematalosa erebi (Günther, 1868)

The Bony Bream occurs in freshwater drainages in Australia and Papua New Guinea. It can tolerate a wide ranges of water temperatures and pH.

Standard Common Name

Bony Bream

Alternative Name/s

Australian River Gizzard Shad, Hair-back Herring, Hairback Herring, Leichhardtian Bony Bream, Melon Fish, North-west Bony Bream, Pyberry, Queensland Bony Bream, Tukari


The Bony Bream is a relatively deep-bodied, compressed species with a blunt snout and bony toothless lower jaw. The scales along both the midline of the belly and the dorsal margin of the body in front of the dorsal fin, form a sharp serrate ridge. The last ray of the dorsal fin forms a long filament that may reach the base of the tail. The species is silvery to grey, sometimes with a greenish or reddish tinge dorsally.

Size range

The species grows to about 32 cm in length.


The species occurs in Australia and Papua New Guinea. In Australia it is known from freshwaters drainages across the north of the country and south through Queensland and inland New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

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.

Nematalosa erebi

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Bony Bream specimens in the Australian Museumd.

What does this mean?


The Bony Bream can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and pH, although is susceptible to low dissolved oxygen levels. It is often the first species to die when ephemeral waters begin to evaporate.

Feeding and Diet

The Bony Bream is schooling species that eats mainly algae and detritus.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Physiological tolerances:

According to Merrick & Schmida (1984) "Preliminary studies suggest that the bony bream has wide physiological tolerances, being able to survive salinities approaching those of seawater, temperatures between 9 and 38oC and pH values from 4.8 to 8.6.  There are a number of reports of small individuals dying in large numbers after a succession of frosts - presumably due to lowered water temperatures."



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.
  3. Briggs, I.C. & R.M. McDowall in McDowall, R.M. 1996. Freshwater Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Reed Books. Pp. 247.
  4. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  5. 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, Bony Bream, Nematalosa erebi, Clupeidae, freshwater, tolerates wide range of temperature and pH, Australian River Gizzard Shad, Hair-back Herring, Hairback Herring, Leichhardtian Bony Bream, Melon Fish, North-west Bony Bream, Pyberry, Queensland Bony Bream, Tukari, silvery to grey, green, red, blunt snout, bony toothless lower jaw, 30 cm - 1 m,