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Around 90 million years ago a group of tiny fish called Galaxias lived almost side by side with the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are long gone now, but amazingly those little fish are still with us, in fact a population can be found less than 10 kilometres from the middle of Sydney.

Galaxias (Galaxias brevipinnis)

Also known as the Gondwanan climbing fish, the Galaxias is one of a small number of native fish that appears to have evolved entirely in fresh water, and it has ancient lineages that predate the splitting up of the great southern supercontinent of Gondwana. It is about 150-170mm long, greyish brown to dark olive in colour with chevron like markings and rows of dots on its flanks. It has a tubular body and downward facing pectoral fins so that it can climb rocks as it makes its way upstream in rivers and creeks to breed. It is also scaleless, and can take in oxygen through its skin.

Sydney population

The bushland in the headwaters of the Manly Dam catchment is currently being bulldozed for a medium density housing development. The only known population of Galaxias in the whole of the Sydney metropolitan area lives downstream from the site in Curl Curl Creek. Because Galaxias hunts insects and larvae by sight, it needs crystal clear water and could not tolerate the slightest muddying of the water caused by runoff from any development. Scientists like Dr Andrew Lo believe the Galaxias is an important indicator of the quality of our water, and they’re worried that the development will cause the disappearance of this rare and beautiful fish.

Further information

Andrew Lo
Secretary of the Australian & New Guinea Fish Association
Phone: (02) 9949 6334

For more information on saving the Galaxias at Manly Dam call the Save Manly Dam Committee, phone (02) 9949 6334 or (02) 9949 1241, or visit the Save Manly Dam Website at: