Frequently called the Australian bonytongue or Northern saratoga, the Scleropages jardinii of the Osteoglossinae classification is a freshwater fish that is native to the Northern Territory of Australia. There are plenty of names that these fishes go by. Some of them include gulf barramundi, gulf saratoga, bony tongue, and Australian arowana. These bony freshwater species are a silvery green color, taking on light red or pale pinkish spots making the body look like a pearl. Differing from its Australian relative, the spotted-barramundi (S. leichardti) by a more sloping head, downward-pointing barbels, and patterned gill covers, it tends to inhabit shallow, slow-moving waters. Belonging to the Scleropages genus, this is a distinctive-looking fish that has a large, upturned mouth and chin barbels. Each scale has been observed to have a reddish crescent-shaped mark. The distribution of the Australian arowana scattered throughout most of the Gulf of Carpentaria drainage system, west to the Adelaide River in the Northern Territory, throughout northern Queensland, and in New Guinea.
This Australian bony tongue species is a powerful swimmer and can be territorial, predatory, and aggressive toward tankmates. As a result, if you consider keeping this fish in an aquarium, great care must be taken. Apart from the small size and duller color, they look very similar in appearance to the Asian arowanas. This is why, due to the shared similarities with Asian arowanas, they were often sold under the name of golden Arowana in many of the Asian countries. Nonetheless, they can be identified from Asian arowanas by their fins with red spots and seven to eight scales on their body which are in a row. These freshwater fishes are said to have a largely carnivorous diet feeding o aquatic and terrestrial insects, small fishes, mussels, shrimp, prawns, and crustaceans. However, they have been seen to consume certain plant matter as well.
The Scleropages jardinii or the Australian bonytongue is a type of freshwater fish that is endemic to the Northern Territory of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and various parts of Indonesia too.
Belonging to the class of fish and Osteoglossinae classification, this northern saratoga species tends to be predatory and aggressive at times with their tankmates when placed in an aquarium.
Although the number of Australian bonytongue species in the world has not been quantified as yet, their distribution and population exist in stable numbers in its range given its Least Concern conservation status. Feeding on small fish, they are commonly found in Australian waters.
The Northern saratoga lives in the ocean and shows a strong preference for clear streams of water, swamps, or on shores near aquatic vegetation.
Sometimes referred to as the Australian pearl by locals, the habitat of these freshwater species is found in tropical freshwaters, clear waters of pools and billabongs, and the slow-flowing sections of streams with surface vegetation often feeding on smaller fish and crustaceans.
Given their territorial and domination nature, the northern saratoga or Australian arowana prefers living on its own and is solitary.
As they are arowanas, the gulf saratoga species, that have an omnivorous diet, are estimated to live for about 10-15 years.
Very little information exists on the reproductive system of these freshwater fishes. Like other species of arowanas, it is a mouthbrooder, and the female rather than the male broods the young in her mouth. Eggs hatch in one to two weeks. The larvae, with their enlarged yolk sac, are kept in or close to the mouth for another four or five weeks. Young fish commence feeding, primarily on small crustaceans, at a size of 0.7-1.1 in (1.7-2.7 cm), well before the yolk sac is entirely resorbed. The young remain with the female once they have hatched, leaving her mouth to forage. If danger approaches she will signal for the young to return. Slowly the young begin to spend more and more time away from the adult fish until they are large enough to fend for themselves.
These gulf saratoga species of the Osteoglossinae classification have been given a Least Concern conservation status by the IUCN. This is because their population and distribution exist all across its range in stable numbers.
Two species of Scleropages occur in Australian waters. One is the Gulf saratoga and the second is the spotted-barramundi (S. leichardti). Impressive in body length, the Gulf saratoga is laterally compressed, with a large upturned mouth, big scales, and barbels on the lower lip. These freshwater fishes have large, wing-like pectoral fins. Several reddish or pinkish spots are arranged in a crescent shape around the trailing edge of the scale, giving it a pearly appearance. It can be distinguished by the relatively straight dorsal profile and lower dorsal. This fish has its distribution in parts of Australia like the Northern Territory, Northern Queensland, the Adelaide River, and also in parts of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
This fish that is native to Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia looks like every other ordinary fish species. There is nothing exceptionally unique about them except that they look like a pearl from a certain distance given the pale pinkish or reddish spots on their scales with a body and length just like any other fish.
There is not much known about the communication style of this freshwater fish species. An evident behavioral characteristic is that they are aggressive and can be predatory.
The Scleropages jardinni is said to be about 36 in (91.4 cm) in length and is about two times bigger than a sardine!
The exact speed at which this freshwater fish swims is not known but they are observed to be great jumpers. Hence why it is recommended to keep their tanks tightly sealed to prevent them from jumping out.
This Australian freshwater fishes weigh about 38 lb (17.2 kg). Some of them have been recorded to weigh as much as 60 lb (27.2 kg), about the same as an elephant's heart!
There are no specific names for the male and female names of these freshwater fishes. They are simply called by many common names such as the Gulf saratoga, northern saratoga, Australian arowana, or Australian barramundi. It can also be called by its scientific name which is Scleropages jardini and is similar to the spotted-barramundi (S. Leichardti). They come from the Scieropages genus and belongs to the Osteoglossidae family.
The baby of this fish species that are endemic to Australia is called a fry.
The Australian arowana has a diet that involves feeding on small fish like the Congo tetra and Buenos Aires tetra, shrimp, prawns, insects, crustaceans, freshwater mussels, and other floating plant matter.
These fish are not dangerous to humans and pose no threat. However, they can be dangerous to the other fish species as they are aggressive, territorial, and predatory.
Coming from the arowana family, these species are said to make good pets as in some cultures, it is believed to bring good luck to the home. If you are considering keeping the Australian arowana in your aquarium, it is important to note that they are aggressive and predatory, making them poor tankmates.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
Sometimes, the northern saratoga can jump swiftly into the air and catch a bird, using its thin, long body to its advantage.
This species was given this name as it means 'species of large fish found in Australian water'.
The Australian bonytongue looks very similar to the Asian arowana, the difference being a duller color and smaller scale size. Due to their resemblance to the Asian arowanas, they are sometimes sold in the name of golden arowana in some of the Asian countries, like India.
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Second image by Ginkgo100.