Mogurnda clivicola Allen & Jenkins 1999
Flinders Ranges, Barcoo, or Bulloo mogurnda

ELEOTRIDAE, Gudgeons or sleepers

image 38KK jpeg Male 90mm (3.6in) TL from the Barcoo River. Neil Armstrong photo.


The taxonomy of Australian mogurndas was recently briefly reviewed by Allen & Jenkins (1999). Genetic evidence suggests that several more species exist than are presently recognised.


To around 150mm (6in) TL.

Conservation Status

It is listed as Vulnerable by the Australian Society for Fish Biology.

Distribution & Abundance

The Flinders Ranges mogurnda is restricted to a couple of creeks in the Flinders Ranges, and it was also recently recorded from a very short section of the upper Barcoo River and an old record, tentatively identified as this species, exists for the Bulloo River.

Habitat & Ecology

In the Flinders Ranges they occur in rocky bottomed streams flowing through steep sided valleys. The fish are usually found in a few small, typically springfed pools. There are no other fish species present. The Barcoo River population exists in a typical mud bottomed lowland creek. It commonly co-exists with around 10 fish species. They are probably ambush predators.


Spawning for all Australian Mogurnda spp. is basically the same. In nature, they probably spawn throughout the warmer months of the year. In aquaria, they spawn at temperatures over 20C (68F). Females lay between 200-800 eggs, usually on the underside of a hard object. The male guards the eggs until fry hatch in seven days. Spawnings are generally repeated, as long as temperature is maintained above 20C (68F) (Young 1987; Hanson 1988). Fry are around 5mm long (0.2in) and they will eat newly hatched brine shrimp as a first food. There is no further parental care after hatching. They also have several sexually dimorphic characters, although the differences are subtle. The genus Mogurnda is one of the few for which life history information is available based upon central Australian individuals.


Both populations are threatened by their small distributions, especially the Barcoo River one. Dambusia (Gambusia holbrooki) are just starting to invade the upper Barcoo River. This may negatively impact this population. Only one specimen, in 1955 has been recorded from the Bulloo River.

Conservation Action

There is ongoing monitoring of the Flinders Ranges populations by Bryan Pierce (South Australian Research and Development Institute). The area is also enclosed within the Gammon Ranges National Park. There is nothing happening with the Barcoo River population.

Conservation Recommendations

Continue regular monitoring of Flinders Ranges populations. Undertake regular monitoring of Barcoo River populations, especially in light of the recent dambusia invasion. Try to locate additional fish from the Bulloo River. Undertake basic biological and ecology research.

Important References

Allen, G.R. & Jenkins, A.P. 1999. A review of the Australian freshwater gudgeons, genus Mogurnda (Eleotridae) with descriptions of three new species. Aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology. 3(4): 141-156.

Hansen, B. 1988. The purple-spotted gudgeon, Mogurnda adspersa. Fishes of Sahul. 5(1): 200-202. (Journal of the Australian New Guinea Fishes Association, Australia).

Young, M. 1987. A tank breeding of Mogurnda mogurnda. Fishes of Sahul. 4(3): 174-177. (Journal of the Australian New Guinea Fishes Association, Australia).

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The Australian desert fishes pages are compiled and maintained by Peter J. Unmack
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This file was last modified:  18 March 2003