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Fish of the Murray–Darling Basin

Native fish in the Murray–Darling Basin

The native fish populations in the Basin have fallen significantly since Europeans arrived in Australia, and they are found in fewer places. This is largely due to loss of habitat, changes to habitat, barriers to fish being able to move through the waterways, and the impact of introduced species.

There are more than 50 species of native fish in the Murray–Darling Basin, and up to 20 that use the Estuary, ranging from tiny gudgeons and pygmy perch to the Murray cod, which can reach 1.8 metres and over 100 kilograms. These species include:

  • Australian smelt
  • black bream
  • bony herring
  • congolli
  • freshwater catfish
  • golden perch
  • Lamprey
  • Macquarie perch (threatened)
  • Murray cod (endangered)
  • Murray–Darling rainbowfish
  • Murray hardyhead
  • olive perchlet
  • silver perch (threatened)
  • spangled perch
  • purple-spotted gudgeon
  • trout cod (endangered).

Find out more about native fish in the Basin

Find out more about the Native Fish Recovery Strategy

Introduced fish in the Murray–Darling Basin

Introduced fish can have a negative impact on the river environment. For example, carp contribute to environmental degradation by reducing water quality, damaging river banks and possibly contributing to algal blooms. Introduced fish also harm native fish populations by competing for resources and habitat.

Eleven species of introduced fish have been identified in the Basin. Some of these species were introduced for angling, others have been released into the waterways after being kept in home aquariums.

Introduced fish species include:

  • brown trout
  • carp
  • eastern gambusia
  • goldfish
  • oriental weatherloach
  • rainbow trout
  • redfin perch
  • roach
  • tilapia.

Download our poster on native and introduced fish in the Basin

Understand more about fish deaths in the Basin

Healthy fish are needed for a healthy economy

Recreational fishing is a major pastime throughout the Basin and generates $1.3 billion annually. Healthy fish populations are needed so recreational fishers can keep fishing.

Updated: 26 Oct 2020