Macquarie Perch were historically found in the Macquarie River and most southern rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin (shown in pink on the map). They are now found only in a few small scattered locations in the Murray-Darling Basin as well as the Hawkesbury and Kangaroo (Shoalhaven) rivers (shown in red) (VIC, NSW).
Macquarie Perch populations from the Shoalhaven and Hawkesbury rivers on the east coast represent an undescribed, but similar species; these populations are quite distinctive morphologically, genetically and ecologically from Macquaria australasica.
Macquarie Perch grow to 460 mm and 3.5 kg, but are rarely over 300 mm. They have thick deep bodies, especially at larger sizes. They tend to have a blue-gray coloured body with a small mouth and large white eyes. Percichthyids can usually be recognised by their larger size, the presence of spines in their fins and their rounded tails. Macquarie Perch can be identified based on their shape, large eye and small mouth.
Ecology/Way of Life:
Macquarie Perch are mostly found in medium to larger rivers as well as artificial impoundments. They are carnivorous and will consume shrimp, other invertebrates and fishes. Spawning occurs during the spring and is induced by increasing water temperatures and day length. Macquarie Perch typically migrate to upstream spawning grounds and scatter their eggs over gravely ripples where they sink and lodge between rocks and pebbles. Female Macquarie Perch can produce 50 to 110,000 eggs. The eggs hatch in around 13 to 18 days. They probably reach maturity within a couple of years.
Interaction with Humans/Threats:
Macquarie Perch are a highly desirable angling species, but are now protected throughout most of their range. They are not easy to bred in hatcheries and hence have not been widely stocked. They are listed as threatened as they have declined substantially throughout their range due to habitat degradation, dams and exotic fishes.
Macquaria australasica was named by Cuvier in 1830. The genus Macquaria is named after the Macquarie River, where the genus was first described.
Allen, G. R., Midgley, S. H. & Allen, M. (2002). Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Western Australian Museum. Perth. 394pp.
Cadwallader, P. L. & Backhouse, G. N. (1983). A Guide to the Freshwater Fish of Victoria. Atkinson Government Printer. Melbourne. 249pp.
Merrick, J. R. & Schmida, G. E. (1984). Australian Freshwater Fishes: Biology and Management. Griffith Press Ltd. 409pp.
Text: Peter J. Unmack & Rob Wager. Distribution map: Peter J. Unmack. Photographer: Neil Armstrong.
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