Fishing or Water Spider

Dolomedes facetus, family Pisauridae


Dark spiders with white (males) or orange (females) band on the edge of the head (carapace) and dark body and legs with some white flecks. Males and females are similar in size. Length: Legs span up to 70mm.

Female Dolomedes facetus, with white stripe down middle of head and poired white spots on back.

Diversity & distribution

Numerous similar species found throughout eastern Australia; all belong to the same family as the Giant Water Spider. Other species occur throughout the world.

Usually found only near fresh water, ponds and streams.


Only used to protect the egg sac and newly hatches spiderlings.


Mild local pain; usually only bites if handled. Venom: Toxic to fish; recorded bites to humans have all been minor.


Hunts beside the water, diving for small fish and insects. Although not the same family as the European Water Spider that builds a bell of air in its underwater web, Dolomedes is quite capable of diving and running across the bottom and remaining there for up to at least one hour. Main prey are fish, tadpoles, aquatic insects including moths and possibly toads, but that has not been confirmed.

In the early years of Brisbane's settlement, horrified fish keepers reported finding their prize goldfish in the chelicerae of a Dolomedes on edge of their elegant pond.

Active and breeding in summer. 

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