Maccullochella peelii Click to enlarge image
A 53 cm long Murray Cod caught by New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, using a boat electrofisher, in March 2005. The fish was caught downstream of Yarrawonga Weir, Murray River, New South Wales. It was released after being measured. Image: J. Pogonoski
© NSW Department of Primary Industries

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    peelii
    Genus
    Maccullochella
    Family
    Percichthyidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species can grow to a length of 1.8 m and weight of 113.5 kg. It is more commonly seen up to 70 cm in length and under 10 kg.
  • Habitats
    freshwater

Introduction

The Murray Cod is Australia's largest freshwater fish. It is a prized angling species that can grow to a length of 1.8 m and weight of 113.5 kg.



Identification

The Murray Cod is a moderately elongate, deep-bodied fish. It has a concave snout profile, a large mouth and small eyes.

This species is olive to cream or yellowish with a reticulated pattern of green markings on the back and sides. It is white to cream below. The median fins are dusky with white margins. The pelvic fins are white.



Distribution

This fish is endemic to Australia, occurring in freshwaters of the Murray-Darling River drainage in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. There are also erroneous reports from the Dawson-Fitzroy drainage.

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



Feeding and diet

It preys on fishes, molluscs, turtles and some small terrestrial animals such as birds, mammals and snakes.

Mating and Reproduction



Conservation status

Murray Cod populations have declined dramatically since white settlement of Australia. A commercial fishery between the 1880s and 1930s caused an initial decline. More recently, overfishing, river degradation and human modification of the environment have caused major population declines. Murray Cod are now relatively uncommon in most areas. See Further Reading, below.

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 & Management. John R. Merrick. Pp. 409.

Further reading

  1. Australian endangered species: Murray Cod. 2013. Australian endangered species: Murray Cod. Available at: http://theconversation.com/australian-endangered-species-murray-cod-12555. [Accessed 13 May 2013].