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Australian BASS

Australian BASS


A moderate size , body elongate – oval and laterally compressed, slightly shallower than estuary perch, snout profile slightly concave to straight. Eyes moderately large. Back profile is evenly arcxhed from above eyes to tail.

Colour is dark olive-grey-green on back fading to off-whiteor yellowish white below, generally less glossy or silvery than estuary perch. Anal and pelvic fins have white tips, the most lateral ray of each pelvic fin whitish,lighter coloured than others. Juvenile fish generally have five dark vertical bands across head, back, and dorsal and pelvic fins. These persist longest on fins.

Recorded to about 600mm and 3.8kg and possibly larger, bit fish of 1kg are of good size.



Australian fresh water bass lives in coastal rivers from the Mary River and Fraser Islands in Queensland south tributaries of Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, and there are reports of their occurrence south to Wilsons promontory. Reports of distribution, habitats and size of bass are often dubious owning to confusion with the very similar estuary perch. The bass travels extensively upstream, historically reaching altitudes of about 600m in the Hawkesbury River system.

Conservation Status

Population has declined severely as access to about half of the total potentially available habitat has been obstructed by dams and weirs blocking migration path; River regulation also interferes with spawning cues provided by flooding and with subsequent population recruitment. Recruitment may also be prevented by acidification of streams whose catchments are affected by artificial drainage schemes in potential acid-sulphate soils.

Life Cycle

Bass are catadromous ( migrate down the river toward the sea to spawn), migrating downstream into estuaries to breed from May to August. Males mature at about 180mm (2-4 years ) , females about 280mm ( 5-6 years ) and are highly fecund producing an average of 440,000 eggs and up to 1.5 million in large fish and may spawn repeatedly in a season.

Spawns in brackish waters about 1/3 to ½ sea water when temperature is 11 – 18oC although artificial propagation is done at higher salinity and temperature. Eggs are small and transparent, non -adhesive and demersal (sink to the bottom) in the spawning salinities and about 1mm diameter when water are hardened.

Larvae hatch 2-3 days after fertilisation and are about 2.5mm long. Feeding begins about 3 days after hatching when 4mm long. Metamorphosis takes place at bout 3 months when the fish are about 25-30mm long. Young fish reach about 100mm in their first year. There is marked sexual size dimorphism, with females being much than males. Growth varies greatly between different habitat types, being fastest in floodplain lagoons and slowest in tidal reaches. Juvenile fish migrate upstream though spring and summer; most males remain in tidal waters while females travel further upstream so that the population is sexually segregated in the non-breeding season.


Keeping bass in pond is becoming very common practice though one needs to be mindful of mixing them with smaller species especially in a small sized pond. They are now being kept not just for the table but as part of a backyard pond fish stock. They are be mix in with large fish like Silver perch and even kois.


Bass are an excellent addition to dams especially if you are looking for recreational fishing or even fish for the plate. There are hatcheries where fingerlings and juveniles can be purchase to constantly restock the population.


The exact growth rate of bass for aquaponics will vary depending on the size of the tank, food quantities and the species you have chosen. But, the average bass should grow to between 5 and 20cm in the first year. It could take them another 2 years to be fully grown, at approximately 25 to 30cm in order for the eggs to hatch successfully the bass need to be kept in temperatures between 18oC and, although 24oC seems to be the optimum setting. It is possible to increase the rate of growth by feeding your bass a protein-rich diet. It’s worth noting that the eggs will usually hatch within two days of being fertilized. The fingerlings will grow fairly quickly, they should reach 5cm within the first 6 months.

Bass can tolerate relatively large changes in their environment without getting sick. Of course, significant changes are likely to alter their behaviour slightly. This makes them an excellent choice for those who want to start and aquaponic system. They can also be mixed Silver Perch.