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Swan galaxias

Current status

[Photo of Swan galaxiid by A. Sanger.]

Listed as endangered in Tasmania's Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and also in the Federal Act.

Why is this fish endangered?

The decline in populations of Swan galaxiids (Galaxias fontanus) has been attributed to predation by introduced fish such as brown trout and redfin perch. The endemic Swan galaxiid also has a fairly restricted, natural range, only being found in the Swan and Macquarie river tributaries on Tasmania's east coast. Any changes to its habitat could have a disastrous effect on the fish.

What is being done?

To prevent the Swan galaxiid being eaten to extinction by these introduced predators, since 1989 the Inland Fisheries Commission has been relocating them to areas where these predators do not occur. Sites chosen usually have natural barriers, such as waterfalls, to prevent the trout and perch from reaching them. Provided people do not interfere by introducing exotic fish to these particular sites the Swan galaxiid has a good chance of survival.

Latest successes with this fish

This tiny galaxiid appears to be making a successful comeback due to the translocation program. It has expanded from three small populations to 12 large populations. Although it will need to be monitored for several more years, the initial prognosis looks great and it is hoped that at some stage the fish can be downgraded to vulnerable status under the Act.

Maintaining a balance in inland fisheries

Many of our endemic galaxiids actually coexist with introduced fish. For some, like the endangered Galaxias johnstoni, maintaining the introduced brook trout within its range may even be a factor in this galaxiids long term survival. The brook trout and galaxiid have coexisted happily since 1963. Loss of the brook trout could cause introduction of the more voracious brown trout which is one of the major threats to this fish's survival.

People need to be aware that releasing exotic fish into new areas can have disastrous consequences. With careful thought and planning we can maintain the balance between protecting our native fish and enjoying those species introduced for recreational or commercial purposes.

View Distribution Map

Recommended further reading

Fulton W. 1990. Tasmanian Freshwater Fish.

For more information on our native freshwater fish contact the Inland Fisheries Service.