Common Jollytail, Galaxias maculatus Click to enlarge image
Head of a Common Jollytail. Image: Jodi Rowley
© Jodi Rowley

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 19 cm but is more common to about 10 cm in length.


The Common Galaxias is usually found in still or slow-flowing waters like streams rivers and lakes. They feed on aquatic and terrestial insects and crustaceans.


The Common Galaxias can be recognised by a combination of characters that include an elongate body, dorsal and anal fins located opposite each other at the posterior of the body and a forked tail. Its colouration ranges from green to amber, with a variable covering of spots and blotches.


Adults live in low-elevation streams.

Common Jollytail, Galaxias maculatus

A Common Jollytail from the Long Reef area, Sydney, New South Wales, May 2002.

Image: David Nelson
© David Nelson


The Common Galaxias is very widespread. It is found in Australia, New Zealand, Patagonian South America and the Falkland Islands.

In Australia it is known from coastal streams in southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, eastern South Australia, and from parts of southern Western Australia.

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.

Feeding and diet

They feed on aquatic and terrestial insects and crustaceans.

Life history cycle

They migrate downstream to spawn during new or full moons, mostly in Autumn. Thousands of small eggs are laid in vegetation on the margins of estuaries at spring tides, and often spend up to two weeks out of water until the next spring tide. The larvae leave the estuary and spend 5 to 6 months at sea as juveniles before returning to freshwater.


  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. 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.
  4. McDowall, R.M & W. Fulton in McDowall, R.M. 1996. Freshwater Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Reed Books. Pp. 247.
  5. McDowall, R.M & R.S. Frankenburg. 1981. The Galaxiid Fishes of Australia. Records of the Australian Museum. 33(10): 443-605.
  6. Merrick, J.R. & G.E. Schmida. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Biology and Management. John R. Merrick. Pp. 409.