ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Murray small-bodied threatened fish project. (2017-2018)


NSW Department of Primary Industries/Murray Local Land Services, $52,000


Dr Lee Baumgartner, Dr Luiz Silva, Dr Stacey Kopf, & Simone Mabon (Honours)

Research Theme(s)

Biodiversity Conservation


Southern Pygmy Perch and Flat Headed Galaxias are two threatened small bodied fish species with few known populations along the Murray River. Sampling done by Luke Pearce (NSW DPI Fisheries) for his Masters project (completed in 2015) identified a population of Pygmy Perch in Coppabella Creek in the Upper Murray catchment near Tumbarumba/Jingelic, NSW.

However a massive flooding event in 2010 caused disturbances to the creek with Pygmy Perch populations suffering severe decline since then.

For this project researchers re-sampled for Pygmy Perch at the 10 original sites in Coppabella Creek, plus at another five sites in the Coppabella Basin at the end of 2017. As well, habitat mapping was undertaken along the creek to correlate the presence/absence of Pygmy Perch with habitat features. One of the aims of the habitat mapping was to identify refuge pools critical to the Southern Pygmy Perch during drought.

The sampling done along Coppabella Creek found that the population of Pygmy Perch, while persisting, is restricted to upstream sites.

In February 2018 researchers sampled for both Pygmy Perch and Flat Headed Galaxias at 12 sites along the Murray from downstream Yarrawonga to Tintaldra to see if either species were present.

Flat headed Galaxias is suspected to be locally extinct in the NSW portion of the Murray with the last record of its presence at two sites in wetlands near Corowa in 2010.


Final report: Silva, L., Kopf, S., Mabon, S., Horta, A., Duffy, D., Ning, N. (2018)  Finding forgotten fishes, the search for two endangered species in the NSW Murray Catchment. ILWS Report 112


The expected outcome of this project is the identification of locations where these species are present (if any) with recommendations for future management by NSW DPI-Fisheries and Murray LLS to help conserve Pygmy Perch.


Dr Luiz Silva email

CSU Albury-Wodonga campus

May 2018