Frequently Asked Questions
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A. Given that for the majority of people purchase from an aquarium shop is the only practical alternative, there are only limited choices.
The crimson spotted rainbowfish Melanotaenia fluviatilius is a good choice for many areas of Australia and is often available through the aquarium trade. Of the many species of rainbowfish, this one has the best low water temperature tolerance and is actually found in the wild as far south as the Goulburn River in Victoria. In tropical areas, practically any species of rainbowfish would be suitable. Rainbowfish eat mosquitoes, ants and other small insects as well as algae and make an ideal pond fish. In an established pond they may not even need supplementary feeding if the stocking rate is kept low. In Melbourne I have kept one of these fish in a smallish pond (about 120 x 90 cm x 45 cm deep) that is protected from frost for over six years without any additional feeding and the pond has remained mosquito free the whole time. More recently (Dec 2005) I have set up a larger pond (5.5 x 3 m x 50 cm deep) and have stocked it with two male crimson spotted rainbowfish which have proven to be excellent at mosquito control (it was full of mozzies when I added the fish) and since then we have had successful breeding of eastern banjo frogs Limnodynastes dumerili in the pond and tadpole survival does not seem to have been effected.
Another fish commonly available through the aquarium trade that makes a good pond fish in warmer areas (e.g. Sydney and further north) is the Southern Blue-eye Pseudomugil signifer (also known as the Pacific blue-eye). These attractive little fish are recognised as voracious mosquito predators and are native to the east coast from North Queensland to as far south as Narooma.
Autralian smelt are an excellent choice for much of south eastern Australia for mosquito control and have the added advantage that they are very frog/tadpole friendly. These fish are now becoming available through the aquarium trade and will breed in most ponds providing sufficient suitable habitat is provided in the form of aquatic vegetation and other structure in the pond.
Other fish that are sometimes available from time to time are various species of pigmy perch and galaxias. The pigmy perch are more likely to be more of a predatory threat to tadpoles, but if you do not have frogs in your area they could be an excellent choice and will breed in most situations. Most salaxias species when they are available are suitable but these species are often "annual" fish and will not breed in a pond, but are a safe choice to keep with frogs/tadpoles.
If purchasing any of these fish, ask if they are cool water adapted, as some will have been kept in tropical aquaria for use in home tropical tanks. If the fish are not cool-water adapted, you can do this yourself (this is best done during the warmer months when your pond temperature is at its highest. First assess how much of a water temperature difference thee is between the fish you have purchased and the pond. If it is less than 2-3°C then simply float the bag containing the fish you have purchased on the pond, out of the sun, of course, for an hour or so until the water temperatures have equalised, then open the bag and let your fish swim free. If the temperature change is more than that you need to reduce the temperature of the fish more slowly to allow them time to adapt. A medium sized "esky" is ideal for this purpose, half fill the esky with water at the same temperature as you have brought the fish home in and use the correct amount of anti-chlorine chemical to make it safe (this can be purchased at any good aquarium shop). Release the fish into the esky and then allow the water to gradually cool over a day or so until it has reached the same as that of the pond. Once the temperature is correct you can release the fish.
A. Depending upon local regulations any of the following species will do well in a farm dam
Murray cod will do well in a dam, but you will not be able to stock them at as high a rate as with other species because not only do they grow to a prodigious size, but they are territorial and too high a stocking rate can cause trouble.
Other species may be available from time to time, discuss your needs with your supplier and he should set you on the right path.
A. NFA does not sell fish, crayfish, or yabbies. If you are looking to purchase stock for a dam, pond, or aquarium, check out the suppliers listed on the Suppliers of Native Fish page.
A. Australian native fish for aquarium use particularly rainbowfish are often available through the aquarium trade. There are many species of rainbowfish and they are very beautiful especially the males in breeding colour. Juveniles (which are what you will usually be buying) are usually quite plain, being mostly silver and are hard to tell apart between one species and the next, so do not be alarmed if the fish you purchase do not look like the ones the aquarium shop has in the display tank. Blue-eyes, particularly Southern blue-eye, and honey blue-eye are also quite common and they too make excellent aquarium fish.
As well, you will often see fingerlings of larger species such as Murray cod, golden perch, silver perch, Australian bass and Eel-tailed catfish in aquarium shops. If you purchase any of the latter species, remember that these fish grow to a large size and unless you have a suitably sized aquarium they may not be for you. A reputable aquarium shop should be able to advise you of the requirements of any fish you intend to purchase.
Also check out the suppliers listed on the Suppliers of Native Fish page.
A. As a good general rule for any fish, the feeding of live food is beneficial to your fish's health. However practicality and cost generally preclude the exclusive use of live food so alternatives are required. Depending upon the size of your fish it will have different requirements; the following is a general guide which should help in most circumstances. Remember that generally fish suffer more from over feeding than under feeding. If you feed too much it can lead to severe water quality problems and can even cause the death of your fish. When you are away, it is generally best to stop feeding your fish a few days before you go away and do not ask anyone else to feed them for you while you are away - most native fish can do quite well for a few weeks without any food if they are in good health.
Small aquarium fish such as rainbowfish and blue-eyes can generally be fed a good quality dried food without any trouble. A particularly good although not especially cheap commercial food is the Dupla range of granular foods from Germany. These foods are prepared at low temperature, include micro algae components, minerals, and vitamins, and give excellent results. The author has used Dupla Micro almost exclusively with rainbowfish and raised baby rainbowfish (once past the initial phase) on Dupla Nano. Other brands are available, look for foods that do not contain food colouring or preservatives and preferably of a fine granular texture. Suitable live food that can be purchased from an aquarium shop for supplementary feeding include brine shrimp, daphnia, blood worms, tubefex worms and mosquito larvae.
You can grow your own mosquito larvae (without growing mosquitoes) by using the following method:
Large aquarium fish can be fed live food such as feeder goldfish, gambusia, yabbies, freshwater shrimp, aquatic insects (such as mud-eyes or dragonfly larvae), grubs, and earthworms. Again cost and practicality may make this not an option for all your feeding so alternatives need to be sought. Most fish can be trained onto dead food with a little perseverance. The trick is to get the fish used to eating food as soon n as it is put in the tank, so that you can slip in a dead item and it will be eaten straight away. Once the fish has been trained this is not so much of an issue. A good food is fish fillets, if you are an angler, a carp will provide plenty of good quality food for your fish - just fillet and skin it, cut it into strips resembling a fish or fat worm in general shape (of a suitable size for your fish to eat). These can be frozen and kept for up to three months to be de-frosted as required.
Start off by cutting down on the amount of food you give. You want the fish to be hungry when you feed it. Over a few days train the fish by always feeding it in the same way once a day at the same time each day. For example, drop in just a single small feeder fish or large scrub worm in the top corner of the tank; do not feed more than this during this phase. After a few days the fish will recognise when you are about to feed it and will be waiting at the feeding corner so that it can gobble down the food as soon as it hits the water. Once you have reached this stage it is time to try to slip in something else. Take a fish strip and drop it in to the waiting fish just like you have been doing with the other food. If all goes well your fish will gobble this down without a second glance, but sometimes it will spit it out and have a look at it. If it eats it again all is well, if the fish refuses, remove the food and continue as before with the live food for a few more days. Eventually the fish will be trained onto the new food. Once the fish has taken the new food once, continue for a few days just using the new food, just feeding a little at the same time each day for a few more days until the fish is used to the dead food. Once you have achieved this you can resume a more normal feeding quantity and can re-introduce the occasional live food item as availability and budget allows.
Yabbies and Freshwater Crayfish are detritus feeders. They will do well on a diet of earthworms, the odd piece of carrot peel, lettuce leaves that have been frozen and thawed to destroy their cellular structure, and the occasional tiny piece of meat or liver. It is a good idea to have some old water-logged timber in with the animal; it will gnaw on it from time to time. This is especially useful for larger crayfish.
Trout are introduced predatory fish that have had a major negative impact on the aquatic eco-systems of the rivers, streams and lakes that they have colonised, primarily in the upland areas of the south eastern Australian mainland and Tasmania. Despite this, NFA recognises that trout have significant social value to the angling community and are responsible for a large amount of economic activity.
NFA does not believe that the total eradication of trout is warranted or necessary. However, NFA is strongly of the view that trout should be removed totally from areas where it has been shown that they represent a particular threat to one or more specific native species. For the most part this is likely to be in very small streams high in the catchment that are inaccessible and receive little if any angler attention.
Beyond that, NFA believes that within the upland regions of south eastern Australia, at least some areas should be returned to primarily native species and be set aside as permanent native fish only reserves. Efforts should be made to control trout in these areas and the liberation of live trout, whether new stockings or the release of captured fish, should be banned in those waters. Angling would be permitted in these reserves although, at least in the first few years, it may be necessary to impose catch and release restrictions on particular recovering native fish species.
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