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Galaxias pedderensis (Family Galaxiidae)

Pedder Galaxias

Distribution:

The Pedder Galaxias previously occurred only in Lake Pedder and its tributaries and surrounding swamps in Tasmania. It is no longer found within its native range. Since 1996 its distribution has been limited to a remote highland lake in south-west Tasmania (Lake Oberon), where it was introduced in a successful attempt to rescue the species from extinction. (TAS)

Features:

The Pedder Galaxias is a small scaleless freshwater fish that grows to about 180 mm in length. They are brown in colour with irregular dark blotches on the back and sides, often with an iridescent gold background colour. The upper and lower jaws are almost equal in length (unlike the Climbing Galaxias, which has the lower jaw shorter than the upper) and the head is bullet-shaped (Climbing Galaxias has a distinctly flat head). They are similar in appearance to Clarence Galaxias (Galaxias johnstoni), with Pedder Galaxias being more slender and having lighter colouring that is frequently patchy below the lateral line. However, the two have different distributions and are therefore not found together.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Pedder Galaxias lives in lakes and streams in the tea-coloured waters of south-west Tasmania. The last known natural habitat occupied was slow-flowing meandering sections of tributaries to the Lake Pedder impoundment. Pools with roots and overhanging banks providing shelter were preferred. The Pedder Galaxias live for 5–6 years. They breed once a year in spring and females produce up to 1200 large eggs that are about 2.5 mm in diameter. Eggs are laid under rocks, plants and wood. The Pedder Galaxias feed mainly on terrestrial and aquatic insects and crustaceans.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

Pedder Galaxias are classified as endangered. They declined rapidly from the late 1970s due to destruction of habitat by the flooding of Lake Pedder for a hydro-electric scheme. At the same time, predatory brown trout were introduced for recreational fishing. Since the flooding, another aggressive competitor, the native climbing galaxias, which did not previously occur in Lake Pedder, has also become abundant. Pedder galaxias were last seen in their remaining natural habitat in 1996. In 1991–92, to save the species, 31 fish were moved into Lake Oberon, a remote fish-free lake in south-west Tasmania. The Pedder Galaxias are thriving in this new habitat and in 2001 some were moved to a second artificial habitat. Their survival depends on keeping their habitats free of introduced fish species.

Other Comments:

Galaxias pedderensis was named by Frankenberg in 1968. Galaxias is probably based on their galaxy-like starry markings and pedderensis is named after Lake Pedder, the area this species was restricted to.

Further Reading:

Allen, G. R., Midgley, S. H. & Allen, M. (2002). Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Western Australian Museum. Perth. 394pp.

Hamr, P. (1992). The Pedder galaxias. Australian Natural History 23(12): 904.

Hamr, P. (1995). Threatened fishes of the world: Galaxias pedderensis Frankenberg, 1968 (Galaxiidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 43: 406.

Merrick, J. R. & Schmida, G. E. (1984). Australian Freshwater Fishes: Biology and Management. Griffith Press Ltd. 409pp.

Viney, C. (1998). Saving Australia's rarest fish. Australian Geographic 51: 24–25.

Inland Fisheries Service. (2005). Managing Tasmania's Freshwater Fisheries. http://www.ifs.tas.gov.au

Department of Primary Indusries, Water and the Environment, Tasmanian Government. (2005) Pedder Galaxias. http://www.dpiwe.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/WebPages/BHAN-54H7R8?open

Acknowledgments:

Text: Jean Jackson. Distribution map: Peter J. Unmack. Photographer: Ron Mawbey.

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