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New life for native fish at Tumbarumba school

Tumbarumba Public School welcomed some new members to the school community on 24th July when five Southern pygmy perch fish arrived to live in a tank in the classroom.  These tiny native fish are a threatened species, so they are very rare, but they are found in the Coppabella Creek west of Tumbarumba.

The live display of Southern Pygmy Perch is the result of a partnership of Murray Local Land Services, the school, NSW DPI Fisheries, the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme, and the Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre at Burrumbuttock. It is part of a larger project to improve the habitat for these tiny fish in some local creeks where they still occur naturally.

The school has been given a tank fitted out to suit these little fish with snags and aquatic plants, and supplied with the right food, so the children can feed and look after their new fishy friends. The fish have been bred in captivity so they are suitable for being in a tank. The students will have support from Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre who also have a tank of these fish and conduct the Creative Catchment Kids environmental education program at Tumbarumba Public School.

The fish were launched into their tank by native fish specialist, Luke Pearce who gave a talk about why these fish are special and how they fit into the local landscape around Tumbarumba. Then the students were presented with books written by students at Edward Public School in Deniliquin and Walla Walla Public School about Southern pygmy perch, as part of the Creative Catchment Kids program.

Tumbarumba Primary teacher, Jacqui De Abel said that the students had been looking forward to receiving their fish and the school was very pleased to now have them and learn about them from the scientists.

"It's a great way for the students to learn in a hands-on way about native fish and their role in the local environment. It captures their interest in a very practical way and helps them to realise that they too can play a part in looking after our local environment", she said.

Tara Pitman from Murray LLS said that this fish project follows on from a previous partnership involving Tumbarumba Public on Booroolong frogs and their continuing participation in Creative Catchment Kids.

"We are keen to work with the students at Tumbarumba as they are the next generation who will look after the landscape of the Upper Murray, she said.

The fish are already settling into their new home and being well looked after.

More information

Juliet Cullen, Murray LLS, p: 02 6051 2252, e: juliet.cullen@lls.nsw.gov.au

Tara Pitman, Murray LLS, p: 02 6051 2250, e: tara.pitman@lls.nsw.gov.au