Australia's Lake Eacham rainbow fish: lessons and outlook

R. Leggett, J. R. Merrick

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    Recent DNA comparisons confirm that the endangered Lake Eacham rainbow fish (Melanotaenia eachamensis Allen and Cross, 1982) is a separate species, distinct from other melanotaeniids in the area. Although the large population formerly in Lake Eacham has not been re-established, other small natural populations of M. eachamensis have been identified from Lake Euramoo and Dirran Creek. Commencing with 23 captive individuals (3 : 14 : 61), representing three original stocks, Project Eachamensis (initiated by the Australia New Guinea Fishes Association in July 1987) has stimulated and actively encouraged the establishment of new captive populations. Approximately 15 captive breeding populations are now reported in eastern Australia - numbers of individuals are estimated to exceed 1000; additional 'Bowman' and 'Tappin' populations are being maintained in North America and Europe. A recent review of this conservation programme (involving individual aquarists, hobbyist organizations and scientists as well as the aquarium industry and government) has now recommended: an alteration to the conservation status category from endangered to vulnerable; maintenance of existing captive populations; formulation of a comprehensive recovery plan with the long-term objective of re-establishing and increasing natural populations; and encouraging public education on the risks of translocation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)37-43
    Number of pages7
    JournalAquarium Sciences and Conservation
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


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