Inhabits mud, sand or gravel bottoms (Ref. 44894). Sluggish species that prefers still or slow-flowing waters, usually in deep pools. During period of drought, it can tolerate stagnant conditions by breathing air, surfacing 1-2 times per hour; however, it lacks the ability to survive dry spells by aestivation; it is a facultative air-breather that will die if forced to depend on air breathing (Ref. 36739, 44894). The sound of the lungfish exhaling air at the surface prior to inhaling a fresh breath has been likened to that made by a small bellows. Nocturnally active (Ref. 44894). Feeds on frogs, tadpoles, fishes, shrimp, earthworms, snails, aquatic plants and native fruits fallen from trees overhanging the creeks (Ref. 36739, 44894). It browses among the detritus, using its electroreceptors to pick up hidden mollusks, worms or crustaceans. Protected by law. Fossil records show that this species remained virtually unchanged for over 380 million years. The Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco had a specimen of 1 m length, 20 kg weight, and more than 65 years of age. In 1933, an Australian lungfish was transported as a fully mature male (10 yrs. old at maturity) to the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago (C. Skonieczny, pers. comm. 11/08, e-mail: CSkonieczny@sheddaquarium.org).
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