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Freshwater Pest Fish Australia

Freshwater Pest Fish Australia

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Published by: draculavanhelsing on Jun 08, 2012
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January 2011
,www.industry.nsw.gov.au/publicationsfor updatesAquatic Biosecurity and Risk ManagementPrimefact 1060 first edition
Freshwater pest fish in New South Wales
Aquatic Biosecurity & Risk Management Unit
Freshwater ecosystems are very vulnerable toinvasion by pests, including introduced animalsand weeds. Since European settlement manyexotic fish have been accidentally or deliberatelyintroduced into NSW waterways, and some havebecome widespread pests. The potential impactsof pest fish include competition with native speciesfor food and habitat, predation and introduction ofdisease.Deliberate introductions include gambusia(
Gambusia holbrooki 
), which were introduced inthe early 20
century from North America in anattempt to control mosquitoes. Other fish may havebeen introduced by accident through the escape ofaquarium or aquaculture fish (such as redclawcrayfish,
Cherax quadricarinatus 
), and thecontamination of shipments of fish destined for fishstocking (such as banded grunter,
Amniataba percoides 
).Unfortunately, once pest fish become establishedin a waterway it can be almost impossible toeradicate them.
Banded grunter (Amniataba percoides) are listed as Class 2 noxious in NSW. Photo: Gunther Schmida 
Aquarium or ‘ornamental’ fish
While several pest species have been in NSW formany decades, recently an increasing number ofaquarium fish species have established in the wild.Keeping aquarium or ‘ornamental’ fish as pets inaquaria or garden ponds is a popular pastime inNSW. Many hundreds of fish species, both nativeand exotic, are sold by aquarium suppliers.Some of the established ornamental pest fishspecies in NSW may have escaped or may havebeen released accidentally. However, it is thoughtthat some have been released by owners who nolonger wanted them and were unaware of theoptions available for humane destruction, or theenvironmental consequences of release. Once inthe wild, these fish can become pests, potentiallyimpacting native species and habitat, and mayhave the ability to spread throughout entire riversystems.
Ornamental koi carp (Cyprinus carpio) are listed as Class 3 noxious in NSW. Photo: Melissa Walker 
Industry and Investment NSW (I&I NSW)encourages aquarium fish owners to giveunwanted fish to a friend or pet shop. If a suitablehome cannot be found there are humane methodsfor destruction of unwanted fish (visit the websiteand search for ‘humane destruction of fish’ foracceptable euthanasia practices). Mostimportantly,
don’t dump fish into any waterway!
It is illegal to release or stock fish for any reasoninto NSW public waters without a permit, whetherfor recreational fishing, environmental or culturalpurposes. Visit the website and search for ‘fishstocking’ for information on fish stocking in NSW.
Noxious fish
There are 3 classes of noxious fish in NSW,representing the different levels of threat they poseto the NSW aquatic environment. Different rulesapply for each class in regard to the possession orsale of these species and penalties of up to$11,000 can apply. The Class 1 noxious listingprohibits sale and possession, Class 2 prohibitssale but allows possession in fully-containedaquaria, and Class 3 allows sale and possession.Visit the website and search for ‘noxious fish’ tosee the current list and rules.
Oriental weatherloach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) are listed as Class 1 noxious in NSW. Photo: Gunther Schmida 
What freshwater pest fish are found inNSW?
Some of the freshwater pest fish species that haveestablished populations in NSW include carp(
Cyprinus carpio 
), redfin perch (
Perca fluviatilis 
),eastern gambusia, oriental weatherloach(
Misgurnus anguillicaudatus 
), banded grunter andgoldfish (
Carassius auratus 
). There are alsoseveral other ornamental fish species that haveestablished populations in NSW. Two of the mostwidespread freshwater pest fish in NSWwaterways are carp and redfin perch.
Carp are a large freshwater fish that belong to theCyprinidae family and are native to Asia andEastern Europe. They were introduced to Australiaboth deliberately, in an attempt to imitate theEuropean environment, and accidentally, throughthe escape of ornamental or aquaculture fish.Carp are very versatile, and can survive in a greatvariety of habitats including highly degraded areas.They are now widespread throughout most ofNSW, and in many areas dominate the fishbiomass at the expense of native species.Carp can be distinguished by their pair of barbels(whiskers) at each corner of their mouth. Theyhave small eyes, thick lips, a forked tail and asingle dorsal (top) fin with strongly serrated spines.The scales are large and thick.Carp are listed as Class 3 noxious in NSW. Thislisting recognises that wild carp are a commercialfisheries species and koi carp are a popularornamental fish in NSW. I&I NSW raisesawareness of the risks associated with escapeefish and promotes secure fish pond design tominimise risks of escape.I&I NSW has developed a carp control plan thatconsolidates up-to-date information about thebiology and impacts of carp and outlines currentand recommended actions to stop further spread,control the size of populations, and increase theunderstanding and involvement of the community.The plan outlines the limited control optionscurrently available for carp and concludes that anyone option on its own is unlikely to be effective. It is
Carp (Cyprinus carpio) are listed as Class 3 noxious in NSW. Photo: Gunther Schmida 
not feasible to attempt a comprehensiveeradication program for carp in NSW; insteadseveral collaborative projects are underway toimprove management of carp. By combining arange of techniques in the one location and bytargeting high priority areas such as carp breeding‘hotspots’, the effectiveness of control efforts canbe maximised.
Redfin perch
Redfin perch (redfin) are medium sized freshwaterfish native to northern Europe. Redfin were firstintroduced to Australia in the 1860s for angling, asthey were a popular fish for their fighting qualitiesand taste in the UK. Redfin are now widespreadacross much of NSW.
Redfin perch (Perca fluviatilis) are listed as a Class 1noxious in NSW. Photo: I&I NSW 
Redfin live in a wide variety of habitats, but preferstill or slow-flowing waters such as lakes, dams,billabongs, swamps and slower moving streamsand rivers. They prefer areas with good sheltersuch as snags (submerged dead wood and trees),vegetation or rocks, but have also been caught inopen water.Some distinguishing features of redfin include adeep body and slightly forked tail, two distinctlyseparate dorsal fins, a pattern of five or morebroad black vertical bands across the back, andbright reddish-orange pelvic and anal fins and tail.In December 2010 redfin were listed as Class 1noxious fish as they are considered a serious pestin NSW. They are voracious predators of other fishand invertebrates, can destroy recreationalfisheries, and can devastate native fish populationsby carrying the viral disease epizootic
p 2 Freshwater pest fish in New South Wales
haematopoietic necrosis (EHN). A number ofnative species, including silver perch, Murray cod,mountain galaxias and particularly Macquarieperch, are highly susceptible to this disease, andEHN virus may be one factor responsible for thedecline in various native species over the last fewdecades.
Species of potential concern to NSW
Any species that establishes in an area where itdoes not naturally occur has the potential tobecome a pest and a serious threat to our nativespecies. Two species of concern that pose apotentially significant threat to NSW waterways aretilapia and didymo.
Tilapia are listed in the top 100 of the world’s worstintroduced fish species. Tilapia is the commonname given for fish from
spp. and
spp., all from the Cichlidae family. Thesevarieties of tilapia were previously traded in theaquarium industry. They are extremely hardy fishwith highly efficient breeding strategies (includingmouthbrooding), simple food requirements andflexible habitat preferences.While there are no existing populations of tilapia inNSW, three species of tilapia, Mozambiquemouthbrooder (
Oreochromis mossambicus)
, blackmangrove cichlid (
Tilapia mariae 
) and redbellytilapia (
Tilapia zilii 
) have established successfulbreeding populations in Queensland, Victoria andWestern Australia. These species would pose asignificant threat to NSW native fish species if theywere to spread to and establish in NSW.
Didymo (
Didymosphenia geminata 
), a freshwateralgae more commonly known as ‘rock snot’, is notknown to occur in Australia but has established inareas of the northern hemisphere and the SouthIsland of New Zealand. This highly invasivespecies can be easily spread by just one drop ofaffected water. It forms dense brown clumps andcan smother aquatic habitats.
Mozambique mouthbrooder (Oreochromis mossambicus) are listed as Class 1 noxious in NSW.Photo: Gunther Schmida Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata), a freshwater diatom, forms a thick brown slimy layer and is commonly referred to as ‘rock-snot’. Photo: Stuart Sutherland 
Didymo can attach to clothing and shoes, fishinggear or boating equipment. Eradication is virtuallyimpossible once it has become established within awaterbody. Fishers are at risk of accidentallyintroducing didymo in NSW waters by usingcontaminated fishing gear and equipment, such asfelt-soled waders. If you have visited an areaknown to contain didymo, please ensure youcheck, clean and dry fishing gear and equipmentbefore bringing your gear home.
Pest fish and recreational fishing
Recreational anglers are often the first to noticenew pest species in NSW waterways and canprovide valuable information on new incursions ofpest fish by reporting new sightings to I&I NSW.Pest fish, including carp and redfin, can be popularwith anglers; however it is recommended that pestfish be humanely dispatched and utilised, and notreturned to the water.
Anglers can provide valuable information by reporting sightings of pest fish. Photo: Glen Towler 
Anglers should note that it is illegal to use live baitin NSW freshwater systems and any fish or anypart of a fish not native to the waters of NSW(other than dead carp).
Freshwater pest fish in New South Wales p 3

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