Animal Species:Northern Saratoga, Scleropages jardinii (Saville-Kent, 1892)

The Northern Saratoga is an distinctive-looking fish that has a large mouth and chin barbels.

Northern Saratoga at Macquarie University

Northern Saratoga at Macquarie University
Photographer: Mark McGrouther © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Northern Saratoga

Alternative Name/s

Bony Tongue, Gulf Barramundi, Gulf Of Carpentaria Burramundi, Gulf Saratoga, Northern Spotted Barramundi, Saratoga


The Northern Saratoga is an elongate fish with a single dorsal fin positioned posteriorly on the body. It has a large mouth, chin barbels and a curved dorsal profile. The body is dark brown to greenish above and lighter on the sides. Each scale has a reddish crescent-shaped mark.

Two species of Scleropages occur in Australian waters. The second is the Saratoga or Spotted Barramundi, S. leichardti. It can be distinguished by the relatively straight dorsal profile and lower dorsal and anal fin ray counts (D 15-19, A 25-27 in S. leichardti vs D 20-24, A 28-32 in S jardinii).

The Asian and Australian species of Scleropages can be separated based on the number of lateral line scales. The Asian species have 21-26 lateral line scales versus 32-36 in the Australian species. The Asian species have longer pectoral and pelvic fins and a longer snout.

South American Arowanas (genus Osteoglossum), can be separated from the Australian and Asian Arowanas (genus Scleropages), by their dorsal fin counts. The former has 42-57 dorsal fin rays and the latter about 15-24 dorsal fin rays.

Size range

The species grows to 55 cm in length.


The species is known from coastal drainages of northern Queensland and the Northern Territory, primarily around the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is also recorded from southern Papua New Guinea.

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.

Scleropages jardinii

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Northern Saratoga specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?



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. Allen, G.R. 1991. Field Guide to The Freshwater Fishes of New Guinea. Christensen Research Institute. Pub. 9. Pp. 268.
  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 , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags Ichthyology, Fishes, Northern Saratoga, Scleropages jardinii, Osteoglossidae, distinctive-looking, large mouth, chin barbels, Bony Tongue, Gulf Barramundi, Gulf Saratoga, Northern Spotted Barramundi, Saratoga, elongate fish, curved dorsal profile, dark brown, green, reddish crecent-shaped mark on scales, 30 cm - 1 m, coastal drainage waters, Tropical North Queensland, Gulf Of Carpentaria Burramundi, Gulf Of Carpentaria,