Zombie fish in Bendigo creek

March 30, 2024 BY

Dr Rose with sample of fish from Bendigo Creek. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A RECOVERY program to revive the populations of three native fish species has seen success.

The program is run collaboratively by North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA), Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, the Victorian Fisheries Authority, the Tri State Alliance which is comprised of seven natural resource bodies located along the Murray, and the CoGB.

To date there has been an increase in numbers of the olive perchlet, the southern pygmy perch, and the southern purple spotted gudgeon, otherwise known as the zombie fish.

The zombie fish and olive perchlet were thought to be extinct in Victoria, and the pygmy perch had been extinct in Bendigo creek since the 1860s.

North Central CMA Project Manager Peter Rose said they had been stocking Bendigo creek with the species over the past three years and have seen a good response.

“Our last survey recorded 123 olive perchlet, 124 southern pygmy perch, and 60 zombie fish, all different ages,” Mr Rose said. “Not only does that mean they’re breeding, but they’re breeding alongside each other, which is great news.



“Pygmy perch and zombie fish have also moved into Racecourse Creek out of the dog park wetlands, and are now breeding there, which is phenomenal.”

At the centre of the program is Harcourt Dog Park in Strathdale, which is home to a stretch of Bendigo Creek that has ideal conditions for the fish.

“The next step for these fish is to keep breeding them and helping them thrive in surrogate sites such as the dog park wetlands,” said Dr Rose.

“From there, we’ll introduce them back into the wild in wetlands in the Gunbower Forest and on the Loddon floodplain.”

The program is part of a larger conservation project managed by North Central CMA to restore populations of native fish species in the central Murray and lower Loddon waterways.