Freshwater cobbler (Tandanus bostocki)

This is the largest native species in our part of the world. Cobbler are a type of catfish. They can grow to 500 mm in length, with an eel-like tail and four pairs of fleshy projections, called barbels, around the mouth. They also have a sharp, venomous spine on their back – so be careful if you try to handle them.

Cobblers are light brown in colour, with a darker head and back, and distinctive mottling over the body.

Cobblers are active at night. They prefer deeper water and like to stay close to the bottom of the stream, where they feed on invertebrates such as freshwater crayfish and mussels. They are usually seen singly, although juveniles sometimes occur in shoals.

Although they will undertake small upstream migrations, cobbler have quite a small home range and will usually spend most of their time in the same section of the stream, often in deep pools that maintain water over the dry summer/autumn period.

Freshwater cobblers are not listed as threatened, but their range does appear to be declining. They are the only native freshwater species in the south-west that are fished for sport or food.

Video supplied by Fish Health Unit, Murdoch University.