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Exotic Fish In Sydney Waterways

Posted on 19th Jan 2018 @ 8:38 AM

I would like to bring to your attention theee recent cases that I have personally encountered. I have photos and videos to share with you of these surprising urban cases.

Before I continue I would like to reiterate that we as an industry need to be responsible and educate fish keepers (especially newcomers) and alike of the importance of not releasing aquarium fish into local waterways. Most of us have heard of cases of people releasing goldfish and koi into waterways around Australia as well as wild populations of livebearers such as platys, swords and mollies breeding in Queenland rivers. What interests me is the more unusual cases where you question "is this actually true?".

The following are some examples of documented cases and include;
- Wild populations of cichlids such as Braziliensis breeding in the Tweed River in northern NSW (https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/pests-diseases/freshwater-pests/species/pearl-cichlid)
- In Victoria at Hazelwood pondage we had an interesting situation where several American and African cichlid species were breeding in the warm waters provided from the cooling water from Hazelwood power plant (which has recently closed)(https://www.qldaf.com/topic/37825-wild-cichlids-in-hazelwood-pondage/). Barramundi had also been introduced to this waterway to control these foreign species but many have since died due to the colder water temps after the power plant was closed (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-17/sick-barramundi-from-hazelwood-pondage-disposed-of-in-cull/8714224)
- Several cases of the highy endangered alligator snapping turtles being found in sewers and drains around Sydney (just like ninja turtles!) (http://www.theherald.com.au/story/3185755/leonardo-australias-biggest-alligator-snapping-turtle/)(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/nov/29/patrickbarkham)
- Jack Dempsey cichlids breeding in an abandoned flooded quarry in northern NSW (https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/pests-diseases/freshwater-pests/species/jack-dempsey)
- White clouds breeding in a creek on the Central Coast (https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/pests-diseases/freshwater-pests/species/wcm-minnow)
- Weather loaches found in western Sydney and many other locations around Australia (https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/pests-diseases/freshwater-pests/species/oriental-weatherloach)

- Peacock Bass in Mackay being caught by fisherman ( https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1020384308103739&id=165670576908454)

The most recent case I have personally seen was a fully grown flowerhorn caught by my staff member who was fishing in the brackish upper reaches of the Georges River (picture attached). We have adopted this fish as our mascot and have named him "Terminator" due to his muscular nature and prime physical condition, similar to Arnie back in the day. There are several possible explanations but the most likely one would be someone dumping their pet fish. This fish seems to be quite tame and calm in aquarium and rises to the surface following your hand movements expecting food so most likely a recent release.

The second was a barramundi caught on a lure in an urban Sydney stormwater canal not too far from the CBD of Sydney. This fish was caught by my best friend and fellow angler. This amazing capture was fortunately caught on video (https://youtu.be/wCpYJqt7d-A). There are a couple of plausible explanations including escape or possible release from the Sydney fish markets. Alternatively possible release by Bhudists monks practicing rituals whereby they release fish according to their beliefs (https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/harbour-is-no-haven-for-barra/news-story/12c92b312edfdcfc7edf0e03cab57514?sv=4a62b3af00124a6b0a46132d6c142752). Although Barramundi are an Australian native fish, this fish is well out of its natural range and unlikely to survive Sydney Harbours cold winter temperatures. This urban legend that has always interested me has finally been proven and documented.

Thirdly was a recent find by myself whilst on an afternoon walk by my local waterway the Parramatta River near Meadowbank. It was a plate sized Murray Cod afixiated on the river bank. Once again an Australian native freshwater fish well out of its natural distribution and in a saltwater mangrove environment. Once again most likely a Bhudist release (picture attached).

This topic is of great interst to me and facinates me. If anyone has similar experiences or evidence of these kind of captures please post them up or contact me.

Other unconfirmed myths that I would like to confirm include;
- capture of an arowana by a bass fisherman on a lure near Liverpool weir Sydney.
- Convict cichlids breeding on a coral reef off the coast of Mexico
- The Lochness monster ;) (my childhood obsesssion)

Thanks for your time and happy (responsible) fish keeping!

Julian Wong B.Sc. Hons
JMW International Pty. Ltd. t/as Aquatic Solutions

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