Ozfish: Don’t forget the little guys

Ozfish: Don’t forget the little guys

by Sean P. Graham, Ozfish

Let’s chat about the little guys in the water, those small fish we often overlook. In Australia, when people go fishing, they’re usually focused on the big catches like Murray cod and trout cod. But what about the little ones? The ones we call “gudgeons,” “guppies,” or just “white bait”? These small fish might not be the stars of the fishing world, but they sure deserve some attention.


Most of the native fish in Australia are actually small. Take the Murray Darling Basin, for instance. Out of all the fish species there, only about six are big enough to get anglers excited. The rest? They’re these cool little creatures like rainbowfish, Hardyheads, Galaxias, Perchlets, Pygmy Perches, and Gudgeons.

What’s wild is that most of these fish are found only in Australia, but sadly, they’re close to extinction. More than half of them in the Basin are threatened or endangered.

To see how one of our Women in Landcare finalists – Janet Heffernan – is doing to reverse this trend visit:  Don’t Forget About The Little Guys | OzFish Unlimited

Ozfish: Driving fish habitat action

Driving fish habitat action

The Driving Fish Habitat Action Project has again provided opportunities for joint projects between Landcare NSW member groups and local OzFish chapters.

The partnership project was proven over year one, two and now year three, and has now been backed for year four and five with funding from NSW Fisheries – providing the template for one of the most powerful NGO partnerships in NSW.

In year 3, OzFish, with NSW Landcare groups, funded 30 projects across freshwater and saltwater, which had a total value of $977,000. In year 4, OzFish, alongside NSW Landcare groups, funded 20 projects across freshwater and saltwater environments, with a total value of over $400,000. Some of the great outcomes achieved were, over 60 woody and 200 tonnes of rocky habitats installed, over 5km of riparian fencing installed to protect vital ecosystems for native fish and over 7,000 native plants planted. eDNA sampling was undertaken across NSW waterways to look for threatened fish species and to confirm suspected native fish sightings and over 10km of riparian weeds were removed.

Gunning District Landcare (GDL) has partnered with OzFish since 2022 and was recently featured in an article on OzFish’s website. One of GDL’s committee members, Janet Heffernan, has been striving to protect and conserve the endangered Southern Pygmy Perch for 20 years.  She works closely with representatives from OzFish and fish scientists from the Department of Primary Industries and the University of Canberra.

GDL was proud to receive a Scientific Collection Permit at the end of 2023 that allows their citizen scientists to sample local creeks for the Perch, and Janet is in the midst of a big round of sampling.

Gunning LLC, Leah Samson volunteered with her recently putting out fish traps and testing the water quality in Oolong Creek. And the result? They recorded 22 native fish!

Stay tuned for our Conservation Chronicles where we showcase the Gunning District Landcare and OzFish partnership.

March 2024

Images: Introducing a new pygmy perch population to Oolong Creek.