NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is appealing for help in tracking down an elusive pest fish. Native fish populations could be at risk with the exotic fish species on the loose in a number of rivers in Northern New South Wales.
“NSW DPI has a slippery job on its hands, and is asking fishers and swimmers in the area around Murwillumbah and Uki to keep a lookout for the fish, known as the pearl cichlid or pearl eartheater, a native of South America,” said Jane Frances, NSW DPI’s aquatic biosecurity and risk management manager.
“Some of the cichlids were discovered in pools below Clarie Hall Dam, on a tributary of the Tweed River by a fisherman.
“The species is a popular aquarium fish, having an attractive pattern of pearly spots over a grey-green body with red or red-edged fins.
“They may look nice in an aquarium, but in the wild, these fish can become an established pest, impacting native fish populations,” said Frances.
NSW DPI was preparing an eradication attempt when it came to light that the same species of cichlid had also been seen in the Oxley River many kilometres upstream.
The Department is trying to determine exactly how widespread the fish have become. The Department’s job is made more difficult because the fish can be very elusive, often difficult to see and even harder to catch.
If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of this fish in northern NSW rivers, DPI wants you to call 1300 550 474.
“If you catch one while fishing, the best thing is to freeze it and record exactly where you caught it, then call the NSW DPI to arrange for the fish to be positively identified,” said Frances.