FRESHWATER FISH of NZ

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an old man is standing in the water with a fishing net and two other men are behind him
New whitebait season regulations cautiously welcomed in South Canterbury – STUFF June 2021
a fish that is swimming in some water
Zealandia reservoir to be drained to remove a tonne of pesky perch –STUFF March 2021
The lower reservoir at Zealandia is being drained this month to remove around a tonne of unwanted fish, which are eating native species and throwing the ecosystem off balance. Perch were introduced to Roto Kawau, the lower part of an existing man-made reservoir, more 140 years ago, by people wanting to create fishing opportunities. They preyed on native fish, and altered the food chain by consuming invertebrates (zooplankton), which normally eat algae (a phytoplankton called cyanobacteria),...
three people are sitting on rocks and looking at a lizard's tail in the water
Stuff
The return of tuna to the Manawatū awa has been a great success, but it’s only the beginning, organisers say. Eel, known as tuna in te reo, have grown significantly in numbers at the Urban Eels Sanctuary on the He Ara Kōtahi pathway. Rangitāne in partnership with the Palmerston North City Council released three tuna into the Turitea Stream in July last year.
a man holding a large red fish in front of a tree
New technology helps find koi carp
The HBRC is pleased that a new environmental DNA technology has helped confirm a suspected presence of the invasive koi carp in a farm pond in Hawke’s Bay. A tip off from a farm manager, followed by a eDNA sample has resulted in a process to remove two fish that had been in the pond for some time. Freshwater ecologist Daniel Fake says koi carp have wreaked havoc in the Waikato, Auckland and Northland where they have proliferated, and the council doesn’t want that to happen in Hawke’s Bay.
a woman sitting on the ground surrounded by children
Tuna | taupo4tomorrow
a group of people standing around each other in front of a building and one woman is holding a piece of paper
Students petition government to protect native fish
a duck is swimming in the water near some rocks and algae growing on the ground
Hauraki Plains' drains of death
A lethal combination of heat, silted-up floodgates and degraded waterways has led to a deadly outbreak of botulism and a suspected toxic algal bloom Parts of the Hauraki Plains have become killing fields for ducks and eels as summer heat exacerbates existing habitat problems. There’s been a triple whammy of death. Algal blooms have turned water into a “pea soup" and a hot summer has seen unshaded drains reach 29°C. Eels trying to escape the adverse conditions have been trapped ...
four different types of fish with captioning below the words, time to give it a rest?
Should we stop whitebaiting?
By Stella McQueen* A version of this story first appeared in Forest & Bird magazine in Spring 2016. Help whitebait You can make a submission to Department of Conservation supporting better whitebait rules before 2 March 2020. Whitebait season is again upon us, and many are wondering if it will be a bumper year or a fizzer. The size of the catch depends on a mysterious combination of the weather now, the weather a few months ago, ocean currents, and the lure of supply and demand.
a man sitting in a boat smiling at the camera
Bridge for Whitebait Spawning Habitat Restoration in Waikato
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three people are standing in the mud and looking at something on the ground that is under water
Scientists help lamprey to spread the love
Contraptions that resemble upside-down kitchen sinks have been placed in the Waikawa River in Southland to attract a notoriously elusive native fish species. NIWA scientists have dubbed these structures “lamprey love lofts” and the hope is that lamprey will use them for spawning. The pouched lamprey, also known as kanakana and piharau, is an important taonga species for Māori. Once prolific nationwide, there are still strong populations in the South Island but they are becoming rarer ...
a drawing of a fish with white spots on it's body and yellow tail
Closure on a fishy cold case
A PhD student has possibly cracked the case on one of New Zealand’s fish mysteries and his work could shed light on risks facing longfin eels. It’s been an enduring whodunnit. Who and what killed New Zealand’s grayling? The freshwater fish, about the size of a small trout was once so abundant its babies were shovelled onto market gardens as fertiliser. It also was said to make a fine meal. The widespread, and reportedly beautiful fish disappeared shortly after European settlement.
a woman holding an open book in front of a microscope
'Fish ear bones are like a diary'
'Fish ear bones are like a diary' - RNZ PODCAST NIWA freshwater ecologist Dr Eimear Egan describes herself as an “otolith nerd”, and she has been gleaning insights into past climates from historic collections of eel and flounder ear bones collected from around New Zealand.
a man holding a baseball bat standing next to a woman on a riverbank with grass
Straw bales as temporary inanga spawning habitat
Straw bales as temporary inanga spawning habitat - DOC DOWNLOADS IN TE REO MĀORI and ENGLISH Straw bales placed along the edge of a stream or river can show where inanga spawn and be useful as temporary spawning habitat.
the whitetail wriggle by amber mewan
The Whitebait Wriggle by Amber McEwan
The Whitebait Wriggle by Amber McEwan, illustrated by Stephanie Bowman Ian, Billy and Ginny, and Keri and Sheri have just set off on the journey of a lifetime. Tiny, little whitebait swimming all the way from the oceans around New Zealand to our rivers and streams.
a black and white photo of a dolphin in the water with it's mouth open
Three of four NZ freshwater fish 'staring extinction in the face'
Three of four NZ fish 'staring extinction in the face' - NZ HEARLD ARTICLE 10 Sept 2018. New Zealand's freshwater fish species are in peril - and especially in our pastoral countryside, researchers say. In a study published today, Victoria University's Dr Mike Joy and colleagues compared land use changes and more than 20,000 freshwater fish records since 1970.
a person standing on rocks next to a body of water with mountains in the background
'bait!
BAIT! - NZ GEO ARTICLE by KERI HULME On the West Coast, catching whitebait isn’t a hobby, or a sport, or even a business: it’s a religion. There’s something about these tiny, translucent slivers of life that transforms fishers into fanatics, and draws them each spring to where the rivers meet the sea.
a close up of a person's hand holding a small animal in it's palm
Stuff
This native fish may soon be extinct, scientists warn - STUFF ARTICLE Aug 2018
an animal with its mouth open and it's tongue out
Blood suckers
Blood suckers - NZ GEO ARTICLE Lampreys have done without bones—even jaws—for 360 million years, making do instead with a mouthful of rasps designed for shredding. But those teeth are no match for a new and invisible enemy. Are pesticides killing the lampreys? Scientists are scrambling to find out.
a table with several different types of words and numbers in red, white and black
Te noho mōrearea i ngā whakataunga tiaki taiao
Ngā ika taketake wai māori o Aotearoa — TEACHING RESOURCE Neke atu i te 54 ngā momo ika taketake kei ngā manga, ngā roto, ngā awa me ngā repo o Aotearoa – he ika ririki, he kōpūtea, he tuna, he piharau, he mohoao, he papangoko, he paraki me te kanae ētahi o ngā ika. Arā tōna 15 ngā momo ika ririki kātahi anō ka kitea i Te Waipounamu, engari kāore anō kia whakaingoatia.
an aerial view of healthy farms, healthy fish
Healthy farms, healthy fish
Healthy farms, healthy fish - INTERACTIVE Learn how farms can keep waterways healthy for those downstream and for our precious native freshwater fish, all while benefiting farm health and the farming operation’s bottom line.
an old black and white photo of a stream in the woods
Kaiwharawhara Stream, ca 1885
Planning for change — TEACHING RESOURCE New Zealand has 425,000 kilometres of rivers and streams to look after. Catchment groups are being formed around the country to look after our waterways from the mountains to the sea. These community and citizen science groups are a positive way for schools and students to get some hands-on learning while giving back to their own communities. In some cases, schools have also driven the formation of such groups.
there is a bear that is standing in the water by some rocks and grass on the bank
Freshwater stream
Freshwater ecosystem — STUDENT ACTIVITY New Zealand’s streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands support around 54 species of native fish including galaxiids, bullies, eels, lamprey, black flounder, torrentfish, smelt and mullet – and these are just the ones we know of that have been identified and classified! This ecosystem also provides a home for many other species, including ducks, insects and kōura. In this activity, students use resource materials to identify the features of a variety...
the water is very clear and there are plants in it
Tuna – longfin eel
Longfin eel – on a path to extinction? — ARTICLE In mid-April 2013, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) Dr Jan Wright launched a report On a pathway to extinction? An investigation into the status and management of the longfin eel. The report warns New Zealand that we need to stop commercial fishing of our native longfin eels (Anguilla dieffenbachia) or the species will face extinction.
a man with a hat and backpack is standing in the water next to a pipe
Perched culvert
Stream works for fish - TEACHING RESOURCE Riffles, pools, reaches, rapids, waterfalls, glides, eddies, meanders, overhangs and undercuts – there’s more to a stream than just water.
several people in yellow vests and hats are picking up plants near the water's edge
Caring for Lake Tūtira
Planting stream edges — TEACHING RESOURCE Our freshwater native fish like to keep their cool. They’re used to shaded waterways lined with dense vegetation because over 80% of New Zealand was once forested.
the water is running down the rocks in the stream that runs through the grass and trees
Novel pottery fish ladders
Give our native fish a hand! — TEACHING RESOURCE Fish-friendly streams provide diverse habitats for our native fish as well as supporting the insects and plants they need for food and shelter. Learn about the many different ways people can help their local stream environments, then jump in and give our native fish a hand!
a metal grate with a fish on it
Stormwater drain in Rotorua
Native fish in the city — TEACHING RESOURCE Our cities have a maze of often forgotten waterways tucked away beneath weedy banks or buried in concrete pipes under busy streets. Native freshwater fish, our hidden treasures, may still be surviving – but only just.
the new zealand native freshwater fish is displayed in this screenshot from an interactive video game
Native freshwater fish
NZ Freshwater fish - INTERACTIVE Meet some of our New Zealand native freshwater fish and learn more about them and their preferred habitats.
a table that has different types of words and numbers on it, with the names in red
Conservation threat status
Freshwater fish of New Zealand — TEACHING RESOURCE New Zealand’s streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands support around 54 species of native fish including galaxiids, bullies, eels, lamprey, black flounder, torrentfish, smelt and mullet – and these are just the ones we know of that have been identified and classified! There are potentially 15 new galaxiid species that have been recently found in the South Island, but they are yet to be named.
a river running through a lush green field
Rural stream
Freshwater and freshwater fish – KEY TERMS This resource provides explanations of the key terms encountered when exploring freshwater streams and rivers and native fish. This resource is intended to be used alongside other articles about our freshwater native fish to give a better understanding of some of the key scientific terms used.
a path in the woods with fallen trees
Freshwater fish of New Zealand quiz
Freshwater fish of New Zealand quiz — STUDENT ACTIVITY In this activity, students can test their knowledge of freshwater fish online or in a paper-based quiz. The quiz can be used as an introductory tool to gauge students’ prior knowledge, as a summative assessment or as an engaging treasure hunt to introduce students to some of the different adaptations, habitats and threats of New Zealand native freshwater fish. Questions 3 and 4 in the quiz are designed to engage and stimulate classroom...
a person holding something in their hand with some water on it's palm and fingers
Tuna – working with glass eels
TUNA, WORKING WITH GLASS EELS - TEACHING RESOURCE. While Erina Watene-Rawiri was working at NIWA, she was involved in the research of eels or tuna in the lower Waikato River. The two components to her research were:
three different types of pens sitting next to each other
Longfin eels
ARTICLE: Longfin eels
the face of a man is covered in ice
Longfin eels
New Zealand's longfin eels journey thousands of kilometres to a mystery site to spawn.
the water is so clear that you can see it's reflection
Longfin eels’ life cycle... Part of the creature’s vulnerability lies with the eel’s own ponderous life cycle. The longfin eel can live for decades (at seaward spawning migration, males are typically around 25 years old and females are older than 40) and only breeds once near the end of its life, travelling thousands of kilometres north into the Pacific to do so.
two children are holding up their drawings with trees and houses on them in the background
Ake Ake – forever and ever
Ake Ake – forever and ever - STUDENT ACTIVITY. In this activity, students learn about the Ake Ake model and how it was used with iwi on the Waikato River in the Huntly area. Students then explore changes in their local environment from a Māori perspective.
an image of a woman floating in the water
Book Review: Tuna and Hiriwa, by Ripeka Takotowai Goddard, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews
Book Review: Tuna and Hiriwa, by Ripeka Takotowai Goddard, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews Set on the banks of the Rangitikei River we meet Hiriwa, the sparkling dancing glow worm. In contrast we then discover Tuna, the eel. He watches and wants what she has.
a person holding something in their hand with some water on it's palm and fingers
The life cycle of eels
VIDEO: The life cycle of eels
a map shows the water cycle and how it works
Saving taonga
STUDENT ACTIVITY - Saving taonga - In this activity, students learn about eels and/or whitebait and how human activity has impacted on their lives.