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Author Topic: Appetite for native fish makes the gambusia a nasty nuisance  (Read 2978 times)

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Appetite for native fish makes the gambusia a nasty nuisance
« on: March 22, 2011, 10:47:03 PM »
Appetite for native fish makes the gambusia a nasty nuisance

Local communities in the Central West of NSW are set to tackle the little known pest fish, Eastern gambusia, under a new program being launched by I&I NSW.
According to I&I NSW’s Dubbo-based senior conservation manager, Sam Davis, the Eastern gambusia can have detrimental impacts on native aquatic fauna.

“Under our ‘Spot the Gambusia’ project, people in the central western parts of NSW will learn how to accurately identify the pest fish and find out how they can play a role in containing it,” Ms Davis said.

“Known by many names including plague minnow, top minnow, mosquito fish and guppy, the Eastern gambusia is native to North America and can grow to approximately 60 mm long.

“Its upper body colour is dark brown to bluish-brown or greenish, sides are grey and the belly is white.

“It preys on native fish, frogs and insects, and also competes for the same food resources.

“Their aggressive nature and ability to breed rapidly has led to Eastern gambusia becoming a dominant species in many aquatic ecosystems in Eastern Australia.

“The Eastern gambusia is not well recognised in the community, with many believing it is actually native.

“These fish have some unique features and are easily distinguished from native species.

“It’s critical the community is on board with identifying Eastern gambusia populations and preventing unwanted translocation of this species to other areas.

“An easy-to-understand colour brochure is being developed to clearly point out the differences between Eastern gambusia and native species. The brochure will also bring together important information on how the community can assist in reducing the threat posed by this pest fish.

“Staff from I&I NSW will be holding workshops with community groups and schools in the lower Macquarie community to increase awareness.

“As part of the ‘Spot the Gambusia’ project, we are working with the lower Macquarie community to identify potential control sites and develop a community-based advisory and control program.”
Ms Davis said that the ‘Spot the Gambusia’ project is funded by the Central West Catchment Management Authority in an ongoing and successful partnership between the two departments.

“Anglers will also have the opportunity find out more about Eastern gambusia at the second annual Warren Carp Muster in April 2011. The Central West Catchment Management Authority has asked us to run another carp muster; so we can raise
community awareness about two pest fish at once.”

Information on the Eastern gambusia pest fish:
• The species is easily identified through an upturned mouth, a small dorsal (top) fin and a flattened body and head. In comparison, similar sized native fish have two dorsal fins, and a more rounded head.
• The pest fish spends most of their time around the waters edge and remain close to the surface unless disturbed. In contrast, native fish stay deeper in the water column, out of sight.
• Eastern gambusia are prolific breeders; they breed up to nine times in one season, producing 50-300 live offspring each time. Females can breed at two months old. Ten female fish have the ability to produce 5 million offspring in six months.
• The Eastern gambusia is listed as a Class 1 noxious species in all parts of NSW except the greater Sydney areas (where it is Class 3 noxious species).
• More information is available at:

NSW Fisheries

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