New Macca production trial

CHECK out these little Macquarie perch (Maccas). They may hold the key to being able to stock them in large numbers in Victoria…

Recently, Native Fish Australia (NFA) Vic has helped the Victorian Fisheries Authoroty (VFA) pioneer new Macca production techniques in their hatchery at La Trobe University that will make breeding them easier.

Maccas are difficult to breed in captivity and require live feed to keep them in condition for spawning. The new trial is investigating ways to wean them onto an artificial diet that will make it easier for us to give them the nutrition they need to become future broodfish.

As part of the trial, 500 Macquarie perch fry hatched at VFA’s Snobs Creek facility were sent to NFA in January. These little Maccas were fed a live food diet for around a month to acclimatise them to their new home.

To encourage them to feed, juvenile goldfish, crimson spotted rainbows and southern pygmy perch were stocked with the Maccas. Why we hear you say? Well, these companion fish are being used to ‘teach’ the Maccas how to feed on different types of food.

Once all the fish became friends, frozen blood worms were added to the tank and the goldfish, rainbows and southern pygmy perch started to feed…and so did the Maccas.

Tanks stocked with goldfish performed the best, with many Maccas following their friends and gobbling up their new food. Progress was a bit slower in tanks stocked with the rainbows and pygmy perch but some Maccas still ate.

Excitingly, the Maccas who are hanging out with the goldfish are now taking small pellets.

While it’s early days, this world first trial might provide a stepping stone to cracking the code of consistently breeding Macquarie perch.

As outlined in VFA’s Freshwater Fisheries Management plan, they’re expanding efforts to recover Macquarie perch through breeding, stocking and habitat restoration.

The VFA says it would like like to thank NFA Vic for their help and dedication. They have operated their endangered native fish hatchery at La Trobe Uni since the early 1990s and continue to work towards the breeding of Macquarie perch and many small bodied native fish. 

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