Eggs and larvae of nurseryfish, Kurtus gulliveri, one of two known species of Kurtidae, are described and illustrated for the first time using material collected in two rivers of Australia's Northern Territory. Nurseryfish are unique among fishes in that males carry a cluster of fertilized eggs on a bony hook projecting from their foreheads. No brooding males were captured during this study, although one partial egg cluster was found adjacent to a male caught in a gill net. Three clusters found attached to gill nets without associated males had approximately 900–1300, slightly elliptical, 2.1–2.5 mm diameter, eggs, each with multiple oil droplets and a single, relatively thick chorionic filamentous strand at opposite poles. Larvae are pelagic and hatch at approximately 5-mm body length (BL) at the flexion stage possessing a large yolk sac, forming dorsal, caudal, and anal fins, and little pigment. Notochord flexion and yolk-sac resorption are complete by 6.9 mm. Post–yolk-sac larvae resemble adults in having a hatchet-shaped body that is almost transparent in life, including a large head with relatively small eyes, preopercular spines and a prominent, inflated gas bladder. Larval length data obtained fortnightly from August to November 2001 suggests that breeding occurs during northern Australia's dry season (May to November) and that larvae leave the pelagic environment at about 25 mm.
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Vol. 2003 • No. 2