A popular aquarium fish continues to put native fish populations in Northern NSW at risk, according to Melissa Walker, a spokeswoman for Industry & Investment NSW.
The fish, known as the Pearl Cichlid or Pearl Eartheater (Geophagus braziliensis), was first reported around Murwillumbah and Uki in late 2008. The pest fish is believed to have been released into local waterways from a personal aquarium.
The species, which is a native of South America, has an attractive pattern of pearly spots over agrey-green body with red or red-edged fins. When breeding, a pair cleans a nesting site and guards the eggs, andmay be very aggressive to other fish which enter their territory.
“This is another example of a new potential pest entering our waterways and threatening the local aquatic life through the careless actions of one or two people,” Ms Walker said.
“In recent months we’ve received new reports of the pest fish being spotted near Dum Dum on the Tweed River and again at Doon Doon Creek, below Clarie Hall Dam, on a tributary of the Tweed River.
“These new reports, together with the repeated floods experienced over the last year, have raised fears the cichlid may have become more widespread.”
“The best we can do is to get rid of them opportunistically when we come across them. The more people we have helping, the more chance we have of keeping a lid on their numbers.”
For this reason I&I NSW is appealing to anglers to keep a look out for the cichlid, and not return any they catch to the water.
Anglers who catch one are advised to take a photo, freeze the fish and record exactly where it was caught, then call I&I NSW on 02 4916 3877.