Sooty grunter

The sooty grunter (Hephaestus fuliginosus), also known by the name black bream, is a species of fish which inhabits coastal and inland freshwater creeks and rivers of northern Australia: from the upper Burdekin River in Queensland to the Daly River in the Northern Territory (records from New Guinea are a similar, but undescribed species).[1]

Sooty grunter
Scientific classification
H. fuliginosus
Binomial name
Hephaestus fuliginosus
(Macleay, 1883)

Sooty grunters inhabit large flowing freshwater streams, preferring rapidly flowing waters with a rocky bottom and sparse aquatic plant cover. The species can tolerate acidic conditions to a pH of 4.0 and temperatures between 12 and 34 °C.[1]

They can weigh up to 5 kilograms and grow to a maximum length of around 52 cm (20 in),[2] although most specimens reach 25 to 30 cm. Sooty grunters are a popular target fish for anglers due to their aggressive nature and readiness to strike at bait as well as their taste being superior to most other freshwater species.

A different species of fish called the khaki grunter is often mistaken for the sooty grunter. Sooty grunters may have golden blotches on the sides. Juveniles have a dark blotch on the anal and soft dorsal fins.[1]

Sooties feed mainly on invertebrates, especially freshwater prawns, and small fish. But their diet can be far more varied when river flows and water levels fall, and then can include water weeds and falling figs and Pandanus nuts.

The specific name fuliginosus, from the Latin word fuligo, "soot", refers to the sooty coloration of the species.[1]


  1. Martin F. Gomon (2011). "Sooty Grunter, Hephaestus fuliginosus". Fishes of Australia. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  2. Robinson, Matthew. "Lake Proserpine, Peter Faust Dam". Adrift NQ. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
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