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Rare fish makes classroom debut

Billabong High School students with NSW DPI and Murray Local Land Services representatives, and the fish tank containing southern pygmy perch.A lot of classrooms have fish tanks, but how many can boast a rare and threatened Australian native fish?

Billabong and Tumbarumba high schools this month joined a small group of eastern Murray schools to become home to the southern pygmy perch, a small fish that is only found in a few locations in NSW.

The schools have each been given five of the little fish, a tank fitted out with snags and aquatic plants to mimic its natural habitat, and a supply of the correct food to enable students to feed and care for their new classroom buddies.

The fish have been bred in captivity and so are suitable for life in a tank.

The live tank displays are the result of a partnership between Murray Local Land Services, the school, NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries, the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and the Petaurus Education Group.

They are part of a larger project to improve the habitat for the southern pygmy perch in the local creeks where they still occur naturally.

The students will be supported in caring for the fish by Petaurus staff, who also conduct the successful Murray Community Education Program, which includes Creative Catchment Kids, at the school.

The fish were introduced to the tanks by native fish specialist Luke Pearce, who explained how the southern pygmy perch fitted into the local landscape, and why it was important to protect its habitat.

Billabong High School teacher, Adam Preston, said the introduction of the fish to the classroom would have many benefits.

“It provides a real, live example of a threatened native creature that people and organisations are trying to save,” he said. “For the students, this gives them a connection with these animals and makes the idea of protecting habitats all the more real.”

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

Photo caption: (L-R): Blair Percy, Zac Machnig, Tara Pitman (Murray Local Land Services), Campbell Clancy, Jason Lilley, Luke Pearce (NSW DPI Fisheries), Molly Simmon, Josh Morris (Billabong High School).

Media enquires: Matt Lane, Communications, 02 6051 2252, 0427 459 755, matt.g.lane@lls.nsw.gov.au.