Australian Lungfish

Neoceratodus forsteri
Australian Lungfish - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Neoceratodus forsteri
Other names Burnett River Salmon, Ceratodus, Fresh Water Salmon, Lungfish, Queensland Lungfish
Size Up to 1.8 m (5.9 ft)
Weight Up to 10 kg (22 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Freshwater rivers & reservoirs amongst mud, sand & gravel bottoms often near wooden debris
Depth Range 3 - 10 m (10 - 32 ft)
Australian Lungfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Australian lungfish is found in the Burnett, Mary, and Brisbane river systems in Queensland, Australia.
  • It has a long, cylindrical body with a flattened head and a small mouth located at the end of its snout. Its skin is covered in scales, and its coloration can vary from light brown to dark greenish-brown. It has two small eyes located on the top of its head, and its fins are large and paddle-like. The Australian lungfish has a distinctive pair of external nostrils on the top of its snout, and it has a single, long dorsal fin that runs along its back.
  • The Australian lungfish is the only species of lungfish found in Australia, and it is considered a living fossil because it has remained unchanged for over 100 million years.
  • It has a unique adaptation that allows it to breathe air. It has a modified swim bladder that functions as a lung, allowing it to extract oxygen from the air.
  • It is a slow-moving fish and is not a good swimmer, but it is an opportunistic predator and feeds on a variety of prey, including crustaceans, fish, and insects.
  • It has a unique reproductive system, with males using their fins to scoop up and carry the female’s eggs until they hatch.
  • They have a long lifespan that extends to 100 years or more.
Species Interaction


The Australian lungfish is sometimes kept in aquariums, but it is not a common or easy-to-care-for species. They can grow very large, over 1 m in length, which means that it requires a very spacious aquarium.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Sarcopterygii

Order: Ceratodontiformes

Family: Neoceratodontidae

Genus: Neoceratodus

Species: Neoceratodus forsteri

Conservation Status

The Australian lungfish is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The species is protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which lists the it as a “vulnerable” species. Additionally, it is listed as a protected species under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992, which provides further legal protection for the species within its range in Queensland.

Australian Lungfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate to difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: No

Minimum Tank Size: 250+ gallons

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