South Australia's freshwater habitats are becoming increasingly restricted as drought conditions persist across the state, affecting all species reliant on freshwater systems for their survival.

Native fish depend on these freshwater ecosystems, the quality and quantity of their water, their plant habitats and healthy food chains. They are often indicators of waterway health as they play a vital role in ecosystem function.

Our 60 native freshwater fish species occupy a variety of habitats across South Australia including wetlands, creeks, mound springs, tributaries and the Murray River.

The threats and impacts to native fish habitats are ever growing as demand for freshwater increases across the state and flows are limited by lack of rain. Current threats include alterations in flow regimes, barriers to fish passage, habitat damage and pollution as well as introduced fish species such as Redfin, Trout and Mosquito Fish.

Many of our native freshwater fish are already considered extinct, endangered or seriously threatened. In our state, over 50% of our freshwater fish species are considered under threat. The department is actively managing a variety of threatened freshwater fish species and is currently working with a variety of stakeholders to ensure their long-term survival.

Science plays an important role in the conservation of native freshwater fish by:

  • identifying genetic diversity of threatened freshwater fish populations, helping to determine their uniqueness and relative conservation importance
  • identifying and assessing aquatic vegetation that provides food, shelter and enhances water quality for our freshwater fish species
  • monitoring important aquatic refuge sites across the state
  • understanding life history (breeding, spawning, life cycle) of threatened species to help ensure their survival
  • researching the breeding requirements of threatened species to assist in captive breeding programs
  • researching environmental thresholds for management of threatened species in their wild habitat.