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Galaxiids Smelts and Relatives: Osmeriformes

Australian Smelt (retropinna Semoni): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Australian smelt are about 4 inches (10 centimeters) long. The dorsal fin that runs along the top of the body is toward the rear of the fish, and an adipose fin is present. There are no scales on the head. These fish are olive green on the back, golden to orange or purple on the sides, and silvery on the belly. Australian smelt often smell like cucumbers when fresh.

Geographic range: Australian smelt live in southeastern Australia.

Habitat: Australian smelt live in slow-flowing streams and rivers, lakes and ponds, and pools. They also live in waters with a low salt content. In open water these fish live at all depths.

Australian smelt live in slow-flowing streams and rivers, lakes and ponds, and pools. (IIllustration by Jonathan Higgins. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Australian smelt eat insects, microscopic crustaceans, and algae.

Behavior and reproduction: Australian smelt form large schools from middle depths to the surface in large open bodies of water. They spawn in freshwater in the spring. Spawning fish develop bumps on their scales and fin rays. They release one hundred to one thousand sticky eggs over water plants in the stream bed. The eggs hatch after ten days.

Australian smelt and people: Australian smelt were introduced to Tasmania as forage or hunted food for introduced trouts.

Conservation status: Australian smelt are not threatened or endangered. ∎



Berra, Tim M. Freshwater Fish Distribution. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2001.

Web sites:

"Australian smelt Retropinna semoni." Basin Kids. http://www.mdbc.gov.au/education/basinkids/basin_fish/Australian_Smelt.htm (accessed on September 26, 2004).

"Ayu Fishing." Yamasa Institute. http://www.yamasa.org/japan/english/destinations/aichi/ayu.html (accessed on September 26, 2004).

"Osmeriformes." All Science Fair Projects. http://www.all-science-fair-projects.com/science_fair_projects_encyclopedia/Osmeriformes (accessed on September 26, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesGalaxiids Smelts and Relatives: Osmeriformes - Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Ayu (plecoglossus Altivelis): Species Accounts, Australian Smelt (retropinna Semoni): Species Accounts - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DI