The Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis is a small, silvery, freshwater fish that only occurs in the lower Murray–Darling River system in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. They range in colour from silver to dark gold, with a pale silvery belly and a silver mid-lateral stripe. The scales are almost circular. They grow to about 76 mm in length and feed on small crustaceans, aquatic insects and algae.
Sample of Murray Hardyhead taken at Koorlong Lakes in the Victorian Mallee. Photo: Mallee Catchment Management Authority
Murray Hardyhead have suffered a serious population decline and are now limited to a few sites in northern Victoria. Key threats to the survival of the Murray Hardyhead are habitat degradation, increased salinity, declining water levels and water quality, altered flow regimes, drying out of wetlands due to river flow modification and competition or predation from introduced fish species.
What's being done?
Efforts to save the species are being supported by a $50,000 grant through the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity On-Ground Action Icon Species Grants program, which funds targeted actions designed to protect and conserve Victoria’s threatened species.
This funding is going towards:
- Providing an updated status on the populations of the Murray Hardyhead at three wetlands in the Victorian Mallee
- Assessing the suitability to translocate Murray Hardyhead from the self-sustaining Lake Koorlong population to bolster populations at Brickworks Billabong and/or Lake Hawthorn.
Conserving Victoria's threatened species requires a collaborative approach. There are a number of organisations and groups working to protect the Murray Hardyhead, these include:
- Mallee Catchment Management Authority
- Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre (MDFRC)
- North Central Catchment Management Authority
- Murray-Darling Basin Authority
National Recovery Plan for the Murray Hardyhead (Craterocephalus fluviatilis)
Background and Implementation Information for the Murray Hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis
National Recovery Plan: https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/f52b3ccb-c409-4298-a620-a407d6d984a6/files/murray-hardyhead-background.pdf
Page last updated: 09/08/21