Australian Herring- Description, Habitat And Spawning

Australian herring moving in school

Australian herring are members of the perch family. The Australian salmon belongs to the same family as the adult herring and, in its juvenile stage, can be easily fooled. The Australian herring (Arripis georgianus), often known as the ruff, tommy ruff, or Australian ruff, is one of four fish species in the Arripis genus.

Australian herring fish being caught with hook

It can be found in cooler seas along Australia’s southern coast. It is not a member of the Clupeidae family of herring. The Australian herring is native to the temperate seas of southern Australia, ranging from the Swan River in Western Australia along the south coast to Forster, New South Wales on the east coast. It can also be found in Tasmania.

Australian herring can be found throughout the southern coastal parts of Australia, from Shark Bay in Western Australia to Albany, along the south coast to South Australia, and as far east as Victoria. Inshore, around offshore islands, and in southern estuaries such as Wilson Inlet and Oyster Harbour, they can be found.

Body Description

The Australian herring has a small head with huge eyes and a somewhat large oblique mouth, with maxillae that reach to the level of the eyes’ center. Each jaw bears a narrow ring of short, sharp teeth. Except for the lower jaw, mouth, and above the eyes, the entire head and body are coated in small, finely ctenoid scales. They feature a short anal fin that is about half the length of the soft section of the dorsal fin and a little notch between the higher spiny and soft rayed parts of the dorsal fin. The caudal fin is forked deeply, the pectoral fins are small, and the pelvic fins are medium in size.

Image of Australian herring that are dead

The body of the Australian herring is sleek, somewhat deep, and slightly elongated, with a compressed caudal peduncle and a thin caudal peduncle. On their flanks, the youngsters have dark golden bars. The anal fin has three spines and ten soft rays, whereas the dorsal fin has nine spines and sixteen soft rays. The longest fork length ever recorded was 41 centimeters, but most forks are between 25 and 30 centimeters. Silvery herring with vertical rows of golden spots on the upper part of the body and black tips on the tail fin is seen in Australia. The scales are a little scuffed up.


The Australian herring can be found in large schools near the surface of the water, often close to beaches, reefs, and bays. They mainly feed on smaller fish and invertebrates that live among weed beds and seagrass meadows. These fish reach sexual maturity around two-three years old and once they do, they migrate west along the Australian coast to an area where they spawn alongside adults who have already made their home there.

Australian herring fish navigating through the water


To reproduce, females deposit eggs and the number of eggs they lay varies depending on the size of the individual. In one spawning season, some females may deposit up to 50,000 eggs, while others may lay up to 200,000 eggs. The eggs, larvae, and juveniles follow the Australian coast southward until they reach the Western Coast. They travel eastward down the coast until they reach the South Coast, carried by the prevailing winds and currents. Adult fish do not return to the south coast after spawning and remain off the coast of Western Australia.


Small crustaceans living in weed and seagrass are eaten by young herring. Adults eat small fish like blue sardines, juvenile fish, small crustaceans, and insects found in seaweed or washed into the water.


This is a species that is regarded as a nice recreational fish throughout most of Australia. However, it is considered an economically important fishery species in Western Australia. Its flesh is delicate and slightly greasy, and it is considered a high-quality eating fish.

Kehinde Ezekiel is a freelance writer who has covered many topics, including home improvement, gardening, pets, tech, and parenting.