Smallmouth Hardyhead

Baitfish hardyhead
© Tasmanian Government. Image Peter Gouldthorpe
Season: Open all year

bag limit50


possession limit100


boat limit-

Limits relate to baitfish species combined.

Guide to symbols

bagBag Limit
housePossession Limit
boatBoat Limit

Minimum size


Most scalefish are measured from the nose to the end of the tail. Get your scalefish measuring ruler or sticker at any Service Tasmania outlet.

Other names

prettyfish, Endora's hardyhead, fanged hardyhead, greyback

Scientific name

Atherinosoma microstoma

Grows to

Up to


Identifying features

​Usually an iridescent silver to olive-green above and paler below with a mid-lateral stripe. They are a small, elongate, silvery schooling fish with two widely separated dorsal fins, a forked tail fin, large eyes, a tiny mouth and jaws with large canine teeth. They have an evenly spaced line of semicircular scales along the centre of the upper surface behind the head.


Mainly found in shallow coastal bays and estuaries. Occurs abundantly in estuaries around seagrass beds and occasionally penetrates the lower reaches of rivers. An annual species which lives for only one year, dying shortly after spawning.

Fishing information

Often used by recreational fishers as bait to target other species. Taken using a bait net or cast net. They can tolerate a wide range of salinity and are often seen swimming in schools in shallow waters especially if brackish. Schools of small-mouthed hardyhead are sometimes mixed with another abundant species Leptatherina presbyroides also known as silverfish, pretty fish or Tamar hardyhead.


Will shed scales and die quickly when taken out of the water so should be chilled rapidly to prevent deterioration.


These fish can be eaten deep fried with the head on or off.


Fishwatch Report illegal fishing

0427 655 557

What to report? arrow button

Contact us

Recreational Fishing

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

Hobart TAS 7000

Phone: (03) 6165 3233, 1300 720 647


Commercial Fisheries

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550


Commercial Fisheries Licensing

Level 1, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550