Southern Saratoga

Scleropages leichardti
Southern Saratoga - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Scleropages leichardti
Other names Spotted Saratoga, Burramundi, Dawson River Salmon, Saratoga, Spotted Barramundi
Size Up to 1 m (3.28 ft)
Weight Up to 4 kg (8.81 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Freshwater habitats including slow moving streams & billabongs often near areas of vegetation
Depth Range 0 - 10 m (33 ft)
Southern Saratoga Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The southern saratoga is a freshwater fish species that is native to northern Australia, particularly the Gulf of Carpentaria and the northern parts of Queensland.
  • They have a long, slender body shape and are covered in large, shiny scales that are often greenish-brown in colour.
  • The Southern Saratoga is a predatory fish that feeds on insects, crustaceans, small fish, and other aquatic animals.
  • Southern Saratoga are sexually dimorphic, with males having a more elongated dorsal fin and a more pointed anal fin.
  • During breeding season, males will build nests in shallow water and court females by swimming around them and flashing their fins.
  • Females can lay up to 1000 eggs, which are fertilised externally by the male. The eggs hatch in about 48 hours, and the young fish are guarded by the male until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
  • The Southern Saratoga is prized by recreational anglers for its large size and challenging fight. They are also sometimes kept in home aquariums, although they require large tanks and specialised care.
  • These fish are known to be long-lived, with individuals living up to 20 years in the wild.
Species Interaction

Aquarium & Recreational Fishing

Southern Saratoga are a prized catch for recreational anglers due to their challenging fight and tasty flesh. However, they are protected in some areas, so it’s important to follow local regulations and catch-and-release practices to ensure their sustainability. They are also a popular aquarium fish as they are large, aggressive and visually impressive in aquariums. They do require specialised care, so they are best suited for experienced fish keepers.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Osteoglossiformes

Family: Osteoglossidae

Genus: Scleropages

Species: Scleropages leichardti

Conservation Status

Southern Saratoga fish are listed as a “Vulnerable” species by the Australian government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Fish Taste Quality

Southern Saratoga are considered good to eat by many people due to their firm, white flesh and mild flavour.

Taste Rating: 3/5

How to catch
Southern Saratoga

Catch Difficulty: Difficult

Tackle: Running Sinker Rig, Artificial Rig

Bait: Lures, Prawns, Worms, Yabbies, Soft plastics, Live minnow, Insects, Flies

Technique: Keep bait close to structure, Cast lures with a fast retrieve, Cast lures close to structure

Popularity: Highly Targeted

Southern Saratoga
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate to difficult

Temperament: Aggressive

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: No

Minimum Tank Size: 250+ gallons

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