Jolly Tail

Galaxias maculatus

Galaxias maculatus

Fishing Status

This species may not be taken without a permit. Juveniles are often found in whitebait runs, for which there is a restricted recreational season requiring a Whitebait Licence.

Distinguishing Features

Small elongated fish that have a single soft-rayed dorsal fin on their back. There are no scales present, but they do have a lateral line. The dorsal fin and anal fin begin directly above and below each other, and the tail is distinctly forked.


Generally translucent olive-green on the back and upper sides with regular sparse speckling along the sides, with a silver belly.


Commonly from 40 to 120 mm, but up to 180 mm.


Native to Tasmania and one of the most commonly occurring, and best known of the galaxias. Juveniles form a substantial part of the whitebait runs. It also has a much wider distribution than other Tasmanian galaxias, occurring in south-east Australia, New Zealand, South America and some Pacific islands. They can occur in both riverine and landlocked populations.

Life Cycle

In coastal populations, the adult fish migrate downstream in autumn to spawn in estuarine marshes. Eggs are deposited amongst vegetation on the margins of river estuaries when inundated at the peak of high tide, leaving the eggs exposed until hatching on the next spring tide. Four to five-month-old fish return from the sea and migrate up the rivers the following spring as part of the whitebait run. They generally mature after one year, and most adults die after spawning. Landlocked populations spawn in late winter.


Adults are commonly found in the lower reaches of coastal streams and rivers, in still or slow moving water. They are also found around the lake and lagoon margins, usually in small to moderate schools. They can tolerate a wide range of habitat conditions.


Will feed on a wide variety of small aquatic and terrestrial insects, also aquatic crustaceans and molluscs.

Tasmanian Distribution

Common and widespread around coastal Tasmania.