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Southern Pygmy Perch Nannoperca australis

Southern Pygmy Perch Nannoperca australis


Body moderately compressed, depth highly variable, usually more than 30% in standard length when small, but sometimes less in adults. Mouth is small just reaching below eye. Preorbital lower edge hidden by skin. Lateral line consisting of interrupted series of tubed scales. Body covered in ctenoid (having many projections) scales.

Colour is highly variable, geographically and between clear or turbid water. Base colour varies from pale creamish to green- brown, darkest on up and grading to almost white on belly. Spots or blotches on sides but extremely variable, from almost plain to dark blotches.

Largest size known is 85mm, but normally reaches about 65mm total length.


Southern Pygmy Perch

Common in southern Victoria and abundant in some tributaries of the Yarra River. Occurs in the Murray and Murrumbidgee River systems. It is also found widely in lakes and wetlands in Northern Tasmania in rivers draining north and on King and Flinders Islands.

Life Cycle

Commonly found in small slow – flowing systems and still, vegetated habitats in streams, lakes billabongs. Irrigation ditches and other types of wetlands. Prefers covers to open water habitats and is rarely found in fast flowing parts of streams unless displaced by floods. Juveniles and adult seem to form loose aggregations.

Most fish in populations aged 1 + or 2+, but can live for more than 5 years. Females grow larger than males, though males grow faster in first few years of life. Sex ratios are usually equal. Both sexes mature in their first year, males from about 30mm and females from about 33mm. Is a protracted or multiple spawner, breeding usually occurring between September and January, when temperatures are over 16oC. Males are territorial during breeding. Eggs transparent, spherical and non-adhesive, scattered over vegetation or in benthos 1.2mm-1.4mm in diameter when fertilised and fully hydrated. Fecundity (ability to produce abundance of offspring) is variable, with reports of less than 100 maturing oocytes in small 0+ fish of 37mm to over 600 in a 3+ fish 63mm long and there may be so many as 2000.

Diets carnivorous, consisting mainly of such crustaceans as amphipods, cladocerans, ostracods and copepods, insects such as larval chironomids, mayflies, adult hemipterans and other terrestrial insects. Diet changes with size and age.

Pygmy Perch in Ponds and Dams

Just like the Southern Smelt pygmy perch are excellent for small frog ponds. Since their mouth size is small, they are not able to eat the eggs of frog. This makes them well suited for pond owners that would like to have frogs but not fish.

In dams, they are good addition to the biodiversity of dams and they can also be use as feeder or forage fish. In ordered for them to breed, ponds and dams needs to have a reasonable amount of vegetation because eggs are lay right on the vegetation.