This morning we travel to the Western coast of Australia, to the twin port cities of Dongara and Port Denison in the shire of Irwin. They are both sleepy crawfishing spots with small populations.
Here locals all have a favorite creek to collect at so we follow a local. Among the large Cherax crayfish, we find a bright red and black edged fish. Here is our quarry, the Empire Gudgeon (Hypseleotris compressa) or Sleeper.
These are a medium sized fish, reaching 3-4″ and males being the larger of the sexes. They are widely tolerant of parameters, preferring a hard alkaline. They eek out a life eating bugs, crustaceans, and small fish. In tanks, they adapt easily to standard food fare and are safe with tankmates that will not fit in their mouths. They are fine with plants and usually ignore them. Most look quite drab in shops, only coloring up once at home in an established tank.
Breeding is known, but they are an amphidromous species, meaning they spawn and eggs and fry are swept out to the ocean. They grow there, returning to freshwater as juveniles to repeat the cycle. There have been reports of success using brackish ponds. Many attribute their behavior as very cichlid-like in nature, and they fulfill a similar role as no cichlids are found in Australia.
Overall a fun and striking gudgeon for a tank. Definitely worth the time. Make the investment even if they do not look as impressive as photos, they will get there and no one can miss such amazing fish.
by Roy Williams
Hypseleotris_compressa-Frank M. Greco
Western Australia-Google Maps