Maximum size : 12 cm

Empire Gudgeon - Hypseleotris compressa : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Empire Gudgeon (Hypseleotris compressa) is a captivating fish that can add charm and character to any aquarium. This species is hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, making it an ideal choice for both novice and experienced aquarists. While relatively peaceful, it is not a typical community fish as it can eat any small fish that can fit in its mouth. Therefore, it is best to avoid tiny tankmates. Instead, keeping them in good-sized groups will enhance their beauty and create a peaceful aquarium environment.

To provide a comfortable environment for the Empire Gudgeons, it is advisable to use a dark substrate and decorate the aquarium with plants and decor. These fish appreciate shady areas among dense planting to feel secure, which, in turn, encourages them to display their most vibrant colours.

The colour of the Empire Gudgeon varies, but generally, they have a yellowish-tan to golden-brown head, with the body usually being a brownish-bronze or orangey-red colour. Occasionally, the head can be dark brown. Their fins are a dusky colour, edged in black followed by white, and the pectoral and pelvic fins have no colour.

Empire Gudgeon Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

The sexual dimorphism between male and female Empire Gudgeons can be quite subtle, but there are some distinct physical characteristics that can aid in their differentiation. Males typically display vibrant, multicoloured bands on their dorsal and anal fins, often in shades of red. In contrast, females tend to have fins that are more muted in colour, typically ranging from brown to a lighter shade. Additionally, females are usually slightly smaller in size compared to males.

Featured Male
Featured Female
Female Male

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHypseleotris compressa
Year Described1864
Other NamesAustralian Empire Gudgeon
Max Size12 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 5.0 - 8.0
GH 2 - 25
TDS 36 - 447
Ideal Temperature
68 - 95
20 - 35

Natural Habitat

You can discover the fascinating Empire Gudgeon in the far-off reaches of Australia and New Guinea. These fish are endemic to the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia state, extending throughout the eastern and northern coastlines of the continent, all the way to the Towamba River System in New South Wales state. But that's not all; you can also find them in the Torres Strait, around Horn Island and Muralag.

In the wild, Empire Gudgeons inhabit the lower reaches of flowing streams, rivers and creeks but can also be found in still water, tolerating seawater-level salinity. They love to live amongst tree roots and vegetation, occasionally hiding among rocks and using them as caves. Interestingly, juveniles are often found in hard brackish estuaries.


Breeding the Empire Gudgeon in the home aquarium is a rare accomplishment, largely due to the species' complex amphidromous breeding behaviour. In the wild, these fish spawn in freshwater habitats, but their pelagic post-hatch larvae are swept downstream to the sea, where they grow and develop into post-larval fry in marine conditions.

In the aquarium, mature males will exhibit vibrant colours and actively court the females to breed, defending their territory against rival males. Females may lay up to 3000 tiny eggs on a cleaned surface such as rock, driftwood or even the aquarium glass. Once spawning is complete, the male will take over sole responsibility for the brood.

Incubation lasts approximately 24 hours, after which the larvae require specific conditions for survival. In nature, the parent would carry the young back to the sea to feed in estuaries and coastal areas before returning to freshwater to spawn. The post-hatch larvae are minute and lack a digestive tract and rayed fins, making it challenging for the aquarist to provide suitable food initially.

Diet & feeding

In the captive environment, it is recommended to offer Empire Gudgeons a diverse diet comprising primarily of small live or frozen foods such as chironomid, mosquito larvae, artemia, and daphnia. The occasional inclusion of dried foods is also acceptable, and some individuals may even consume algae and certain aquatic plants. Providing a varied diet ensures that these fish receive a complete and balanced nutritional profile, promoting their overall health and vitality.

Other Gudgeon of interest