Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Queensland caught more than they bargained for this week with a pearl cichlid (fish) being discovered for the first time in the Condamine river.

This aggressive pest fish, approximately 15cm in length, was caught upstream of the Warwick township.

“Pearl cichlid or Geophagus braziliensis are a popular aquarium species and this fish is likely to have been dumped by someone who no longer wanted it,” said Kevin Graham, Manager – River, Condamine Alliance. “Native to South America, this fish when released in the wild, can potentially become a significant pest, based on their size, hardiness and aggressive behaviour. It is illegal to release a non-indigenous fish in Queensland waters and penalties up to $220,000 apply.”

DAFF QLD is currently conducting monitoring throughout the Condamine catchment on behalf of Condamine Alliance.

“Monitoring is a vital part of the work we do in rehabilitating our waterways,” said Mr Graham.

“Without monitoring we would have no understanding of what is in our waterways and pest fish numbers could potentially get out of control.”

“The monitoring program is primarily focused on tilapia as part of a broader Tilapia Exclusion Strategy project to help keep tilapia out of the Murray-Darling Basin. Whilst we are lucky that so far it is only one fish and it isn’t a tilapia, it does highlight that we do need to remain vigilant – our rivers are only for our native fish.”

Pearl cichlid have been found over the Great Dividing Range, but to date this is the first official sighting in the Murray Darling Basin.

The Condamine Alliance states that aquarium fish belong only at home in a fish tank. Give unwanted aquarium fish to friends or a pet shop, rather than letting them go in the wild.

A 57cm cod was also caught, and released, at the same time, living amongst the many cod holes that have been installed by the Warwick Fish Stocking Group, through support by Condamine Alliance.

This monitoring is taking place through support from the Murray Darling Basin Authority and Arrow Energy.

via Condamine Alliance