Australian Bass Click to enlarge image
An Australian Bass at a depth of 5.5m, Bellinger River near Thora (west of Bellingen), north-eastern New South Wales, February 2002 Image: Ian Shaw
© Ian Shaw

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    It grows to 60 cm (3.8 kg) in length, but fishes of 35 cm (1 kg) are more commonly seen.


Often found far upstream in freshwater, the Australian Bass eats fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates such as insects. It is a very popular recreational angling species.


The Australian Bass can be recognised by a combination of characters including an evenly arched dorsal profile, a snout that is straight or slightly concave and a forked caudal fin. It has a protruding lower jaw, moderately large eyes and a notch between the spiny first dorsal fin and the soft-rayed second dorsal fin.

The species is dark olive-green or greyish on the back and sides with darker scale margins. The belly is silvery or whitish, and the fins are mostly dusky brown to black. The tips of the anal and pelvic fins are white. Juvenile fish under 12 cm long are banded and have a dark blotch on the gill cover.

Australian Bass, Macquaria novemaculeata

Australian Bass, Macquaria novemaculeata

Image: Aengus McIntyre
© Aengus McIntyre


In recent years, population sizes have declined as building of dams and weirs has made potential habitats inaccessible. River regulation is reported to interfere with spawning cues.


It is recorded in coastal rivers, lakes and estuaries of eastern Australia from Fraser Island, Queensland to Wilson's Promontory, Victoria.

It can migrate considerable distances upstream and has been historically recorded up to an altitude of 600 m in the Hawkesbury River drainage, New South Wales.

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

The Australian Bass eats fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates such as insects.

Life history cycle

Adult Australian Bass occur in coastal drainages of temperate south-eastern Australia. They generally inhabit freshwater rivers, lakes and streams and move to brackish estuaries to spawn during winter. A full description of the Larval Australia Bass can be found here.

Breeding behaviours

In winter, adults migrate downstream to estuaries to breed.

Economic impacts

The Australian Bass is a very popular recreational angling species.


  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 and Management. John R. Merrick. Pp. 409.