Gulf Saratoga, <i>Scleropages jardinii</i> Click to enlarge image
A 16 year old, 50 cm long Gulf Saratoga in an aquarium at the Biological Sciences Museum, Macquarie University, February 2001. The fish was raised from an 8 cm long juvenile. Image: Mark McGrouther
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 55 cm in length.


The Northern Saratoga is an distinctive-looking fish that has a large mouth and chin barbels.


The Northern Saratoga is an elongate fish with a single dorsal fin positioned posteriorly on the body. It has a large mouth, chin barbels and a curved dorsal profile. The body is dark brown to greenish above and lighter on the sides. Each scale has a reddish crescent-shaped mark.

Two species of Scleropages occur in Australian waters. The second is the Saratoga or Spotted Barramundi, S. leichardti. It can be distinguished by the relatively straight dorsal profile and lower dorsal and anal fin ray counts (D 15-19, A 25-27 in S. leichardti vs D 20-24, A 28-32 in S jardinii).

The Asian and Australian species of Scleropages can be separated based on the number of lateral line scales. The Asian species have 21-26 lateral line scales versus 32-36 in the Australian species. The Asian species have longer pectoral and pelvic fins and a longer snout.

South American Arowanas (genus Osteoglossum), can be separated from the Australian and Asian Arowanas (genus Scleropages), by their dorsal fin counts. The former has 42-57 dorsal fin rays and the latter about 15-24 dorsal fin rays.


The species is known from coastal drainages of northern Queensland and the Northern Territory, primarily around the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is also recorded from southern Papua New Guinea.

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.


  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. Allen, G.R. 1991. Field Guide to The Freshwater Fishes of New Guinea. Christensen Research Institute. Pub. 9. Pp. 268.
  4. 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.
  5. Merrick, J.R. & G.E. Schmida. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes. Biology and Management. John R. Merrick. Pp. 409.