Cnidoglanis macrocephalus

Estuary catfish
Cnidoglanis macrocephalus
Cnidoglanis macrocephalus, New South Wales, Australia, Photo: Ian Shaw
Cnidoglanis macrocephalus
Cnidoglanis macrocephalus, Western Australia
Cnidoglanis macrocephalus
Cnidoglanis macrocephalus, Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia, Photo: Rick Stuart-Smith
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Cnidoglanis macrocephalus
Cnidoglanis macrocephalus
Cnidoglanis macrocephalus


Temperate Australasia, Tropical Indo-Pacific


Mottled brown-yellow with eel tail, flattish head and numerous barbels around mouth. A related tropical species, the whitelip catfish Paraplotosus albilabris, occurs with the estuary catfish on the southern west coast but can be recognised because it lacks a small tentacle at the back of the lip. The estuary catfish is attracted to sand where cover is provided by clumps of drift seagrass or kelp, and here remains concealed during the day.


Max Size: 91 cm

Sea Temperature Range: 15.1-24.6°C

Depth: 0-15m

Habitat Generalization Index: 2.72

Also referred to as the SGI (Species Generalisation Index), this describes the habitat niche breadth of the species. Species with values less than 15 are found in a relatively narrow range of reef habitat types (specialists), while those over 25 may be found on most hard substrates within their range (generalists). Learn more here.

Conservation and Rarity

IUCN Status: Data Deficient

Occurrence: Frequent (10.4% of sites)

Occurrence describes how often the species is found on surveys within its distribution. It is calculated as the % of reef sites surveyed by RLS divers across all the ecoregions in which the species has been observed

Abundance: Solitary (1 per transect)

Abundance is calculated as the average number of individuals recorded per RLS transect, where present.

Edit by: GJ Edgar. 2008. Australian Marine Life. New Holland, Sydney