On this page...

In August 1999 delegates from Project Big Fish visited. They needed data on the past distribution of Clarence River Cod.

Clarence River Cod, Maccullochella ikei
Lectotype of Maccullochella ikei. The fish is stored in the Australian Museum Ichthyology Collection. Image: Mark Allen
© Australian Museum

In particular they were interested in whether the species, Maccullochella ikei, had been recorded from the Richmond River system in or before the 1930s. At the time of the visit the species was commonly called the Eastern Freshwater Cod.

A search of the database revealed that the Australian Museum Fish Collection contained three specimens of the genus Maccullochella from the Richmond drainage. Of great interest however was a fish collected in 1934. It was in good condition and we were able to identify it as a Clarence River Cod.

This one specimen is an example of how the fish collection can be used to document the past distribution of a species. The fish was collected before the Clarence River Cod was described as a new species in 1986. It was originally identified as a Trout Cod Maccullochella macquariensis, and had been stored in the fish collection under that name until the visit by the people from Project Big Fish. This single specimen provides strong evidence that the natural distribution of the Clarence River Cod included the Richmond River drainage.


  1. Harris, J.H. & S.J. Rowland in McDowall, R.M. 1996. Freshwater Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Reed Books. Pp. 247.
  2. 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.
  3. Rowland, S.J. 1993. Maccullochella ikei, an endangered species of freshwater cod (Pisces: Percichthyidae) from the Clarence River system, NSW and M. peelii mariensis, a new subspecies from the Mary River system, Qld. Records of the Australian Museum. 45: 121-145.