Salamanderfish - Lepidogalaxias salamandroides

This page was created in partnership with the Freshwater Fish Group and Fish Health Unit at Murdoch University

Identification

Salamanderfish - Lepidogalaxias salamandroides

A slender, cylindrical-bodied fish, which spends most of its time on the substrate - appearing to 'stand' on its pelvic and pectoral fins.

It has a greenish to greyish to light-brown body, usually with dark patches along the sides and back, and flecked with silver markings. The belly is silver to pinkish (see Gallery)

Males can be identified as having a larger anal fin sheathed with scales. Males (up to 50 mm) are typically smaller than females (up to 80 mm).

It is a unique species that possesses many characteristics not found in other fishes, including the ability to bend its neck to the sides at right-angels, compensating for eyes that aren't able to move independently.

It can be distinguished from the galaxids by the presence of scales.

Distribution

Common within its restricted range in near-coastal wetlands between Augusta and Albany, although the species has undergone a severe reduction in the extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) in the last two decades which has coincided with an extensive period of severe drying of the region.

It can occur in flowing streams within this range, however only generally in low abundance.

View map

Habitat

Primarily found in highly acidic, shallow, temporary (dry out in summer) pools and swamps in coastal heathland.

Biology

Fish survive drying through summer months by burrowing into the substrate where they aestivate (a state of dormancy similar to hibernation, characterized by inactivity and a lowered metabolic rate). They will remain in the damp sandy soils until rains re-submerge the habitat the following year.

Most fish reach sexual maturity in the second year of life, although around 25% mature at the end of their first year. Breeding takes place from May to August. Life span is 3-5 years.

Diet consists mainly of microcrustaceans and insect larvae.

Conservation status

Listed as: Lower Risk/Near Threatened (IUCN 1994), however it meets the criteria for Endangered.

(IUCN Red List Threatened Category) under A2(c), A4(c); based on the recent reductions in AOO and EOO. The species has been shown to have declined in range over the past ~40 years with the key factors being linked to reductions in aquatic habitat availability due to surface and groundwater reductions.

Further information

Contact the Departments River Science team, or the Murdoch Freshwater Fish Group via email: fish@murdoch.edu.au, or go to their website: www.freshwaterfishgroup.com

Freshwater Fish Group Murdoch University    Harry Butler Institute