The Action Plan for Australian freshwater fishes
Species recovery outline: Red-finned Blue-Eye
Scientific name: Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis
English name: Red-finned Blue-Eye
Species taxonomic status: Formally described by Ivantsoff et al. 1991. This genus was not known to exist prior to 1990.
Species survival status: Has an extremely restricted distribution and specific habitat requirements.
- Action plan status: Endangered.
- Australian Society for Fish Biology status: Endangered.
- Proposed new IUCN criteria status: Critical (habitat alteration, interaction with introduced species).
Former distribution: Red-finned Blue-Eye may have occurred in artesian springs throughout the Lake Eyre Drainage Division. This species may have also occurred in artesian springs in the Gulf and North East Drainage Divisions. Since its discovery this species has disappeared from two springs in the Edgbaston Spring Complex.
Current distribution: Only known from four springs in the Edgbaston Spring complex near Aramac, central Queensland. Edgbaston Springs are located within the Thomson River drainage in the Lake Eyre Drainage Division. It is possible that other populations may be discovered at Edgbaston or other spring complexes.
Habitat: Red-finned Blue-Eyes are found in small artesian springs located on a spinifex plain within mitchell grass country. The springs are shallow; average depth ranges from approximately 50 to 75 millimetres. Grasses and a variety of plants grow throughout the springs. The water is clear, pH of 7.8 to 8, total hardness of approximately 150 ppm and well oxygenated. Water temperatures are apparently extremely variable. In May 1990 the temperatures varied from 7°C to 28°C. Water temperatures of 36°C have been recorded. The temperatures throughout a spring are variable. During May 1991 at 7.00 am water temperatures of 7°C to > 20°C were recorded in different parts of the spring. The blue-eyes were located in areas with a temperature greater than 16°C.
Reasons for decline: Although population numbers in individual springs have varied since the discovery of Red-finned Blue-Eyes, specific population trends are not well known. It is suspected that the following factors may contribute to a decline in Red-finned Blue-Eye numbers:
- Presence of gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki) in several of the springs.
- Habitat destruction due to trampling by domestic and feral stock watering and grazing in the springs.
- Habitat destruction due to excavation of the springs to increase water storage for stock watering.
- Possible over collection for aquarium trade or scientific research, and associated habitat destruction.
Conservation reserves on which species occurs: None known.
Other public lands on which species occurs: None known.
Other land on which species occurs: Edgbaston Station, near Aramac.
Is knowledge about species adequate for objectives and actions to be defined accurately? (If not provide list of additional studies required): No.
- Distribution and Population Numbers:
- Determine the distribution within the Great Artesian Basin.
- Accurate mapping of the Edgbaston Springs, including contour levels (and other locations if found).
- Determination of physical parameters and water chemistry of all springs.
- Determination of population parameters (baseline data).
- Assessment of potential threats to blue-eyes:
- Determine the distribution and population parameters of gambusia in the springs.
- Assess interactions between gambusia and Red-finned Blue-Eyes.
- Assess use of springs by domestic stock, feral animals and native grazing species, and the effects on habitat.
- Maintain current distribution and abundance.
- Mitigate threatening processes.
- Determine reproduction requirements and establish captive breeding populations.
Management actions already initiated:
- Preliminary investigations of distribution within Edgbaston Spring Complex.
- Preliminary assessment of water quality requirements.
- Three captive populations established. Initial breeding success reported.
- Proposed listing under Queensland Protected Species Legislation.
Management actions required:
- Declaration of additional conservation reserves: Yes.
- There are no reserves within current distribution. Declaration of reserves containing artesian springs would enhance prospects for introduction or re-introduction and would also provide protection for other arid region fish species.
- Habitat management: Yes.
- Manage habitat degradation by restricting access to domestic and feral stocks while allowing access to native species
- Restrict artificial alteration of the springs.
- Feral animal control: Yes.
- Removal of gambusia.
- Investigate possibility of constructing a barrier to exclude gambusia during flooding.
- Translocation or re-establishment of populations: Yes.
- Investigate the possibility and effect of translocation to other spring complexes in the Great Artesian Basin.
- Captive breeding: Yes.
- Maintain captive breeding populations until species is secure in the wild.
- Develop strategy for maintaining genetic diversity.
- Other: Yes.
- Listing under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.
Organisation responsible for conservation of species:
- Queensland Department of Primary Industries.
- Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage.
Other organisations or individuals involved:
- Australia New Guinea Fishes Association (ANGFA).
- Mr Peter Unmack, naturalist.
Can recovery plan be carried out with existing resources?: Yes.
- The Australian National Parks and Wildlife Endangered Species Program has funded a Queensland Department of Primary Industries proposal to investigate the distribution and biology of the species in 1992/93. Additional funding requirements will be identified during this study.
- Cost of monitoring this species would be included in an annual program to monitor artesian spring fish populations (Red-finned Blue-Eye, Elizabeth Springs Goby and Edgbaston goby). This would involve approximately three weeks field work and one week for documenting results. Costs would include one biologist and one technician – $5 640, car hire – $1 400, and camping allowance – $1 000. Total cost of monitoring program would be $6 040.
Annual funding required for monitoring of this species would be $3 020. This will not be required until the completion of part 1.
Annual monitoring: $3 020
- A conservation reserve at Edgbaston would also protect the Edgbaston goby which may prove to be a new species.
- Collection of majority of distributional and abundance data financed by Mr Peter Unmack.
- Current captive breeding population financed by individual members of the ANGFA Qld Inc.
- The Queensland Department of Primary Industries will investigate the value of having this species listed under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.