Australian Grayling

Scientific nameHow to identify an Australian Grayling

Prototroctes maraena

Status in NSW



The Australian Grayling is distinguished by:

  1. Small head and rounded snout
  2. Pectoral fin sits below (rather than at the upper edge of) the gill cover
  3. Silvery in colour with an olive-grey back to olive-green or brownish on the back
  4. Whitish belly
  5. Dorsal fin positioned in front of the anal fin
  6. Distinctive small, fleshy fin between the dorsal fin and tail
  7. Clear to greyish fins


Commonly 17 - 18cm but can grow to 30cm in length.

Species similar in appearance

Australian Grayling are often confused with many species of freshwater mullet. Small Australian Grayling can be confused with the Australian Smelt.


The Australian Grayling is endemic to south-eastern Australia, including Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. Rare fish are likely in South Australia. It was once abundant throughout its range but has declined in many areas since European settlement and is now generally patchily distributed. In NSW its most northern limit is now the Clyde River.


Larvae migrate out to sea for the first 4 – 6 months before migrating back to freshwater. In their freshwater phase they are found in moderate to fast flowing waters, such as glides or runs, during the day and slow-flowing waters at night.

Why is the Australian Grayling threatened?

  • Reduced opportunity for reproduction and migration due to altered flows and temperature regimes resulting from river regulation
  • Barriers to movement from dams, weirs and road crossings
  • Increased sedimentation and erosion due to riparian vegetation removal
  • Decreased water quality due to agricultural runoff and siltation
  • Predation and competition with introduced fish such as Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis)
  • Extreme weather events, such as drought and bushfires
  • Local extinctions could greatly affect the survival of the species as a whole

More information