Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2005n) [Listing Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Galaxiidae 2006-2010 (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2006k) [Recovery Plan].
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened fish. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.4 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011i) [Admin Guideline].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (24/05/2005) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005e) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Galaxias auratus (Golden Galaxias): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014xq) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Rare (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): Rare species: September 2012 list)
Scientific name Galaxias auratus [77038]
Family Galaxiidae:Salmoniformes:Actinopterygii:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Johnston, 1883
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

The current conservation status of the Golden Galaxias, Galaxias auratus, under Australian and State Government legislation, is as follows:

National: Listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Tasmania: Listed as Rare under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995.

The species was identified as a Category 3 fauna species (whose conservation needs can be met by management prescriptions) under the Tasmanian comprehensive regional assessment process (TPLUC 1997). It was listed as a 'priority species requiring consideration' under the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement 1997, identified as requiring further research to determine its management requirements. The Tasmanian Inland Fisheries Act 1995 prohibits collecting this species without a permit (IFS 2000).

Scientific name: Galaxias auratus

Common name: Golden Galaxias

The Golden Galaxias is a medium to large galaxiid fish. It has a thickset body, a slender snout and a forked tail. The head is long and tapered. Typically, this species grows up to 140 mm in length, but may reach 240 mm. The colour of the upper body and sides is golden-amber with dark elliptical spots. The underside of the fish is silvery-grey and the fins are amber to light orange with black edges. As with all galaxias, the Golden Galaxias has no scales (Jackson 2004).

The Golden Galaxias is endemic to central Tasmania. Its natural distribution currently includes Lakes Sorrell and Crescent, and associated streams and wetlands on the central plateau (Jackson 2004).

The Golden Galaxias has a naturally very restricted range. The two naturally occurring populations of the species are estimated to have an extent of occurrence of approximately 76 km² (Hardie 2003).

Prior to 2001, the Sorrell and Crescent Lakes were connected and thus represented a single location for the species. However, Golden Galaxias populations have now been partly fragmented by the construction of carp environment screens on the canal through which Lake Sorell flows into Lake Crescent (Jackson 2004). Each lake is now considered to represent a single location for the species due to this artificial dispersal barrier. There is no evidence to suggest the species has previously naturally occurred in any other locations (Hardie 2003).

Two small translocated populations exist in isolated farm dams in the region. However, information on these locations is extremely limited (Hardie 2003).

There is no quantitative data on population numbers of mature individuals (Jackson 2004). The species is considered to be common in Lake Sorrell and Lake Crescent, but is much more abundant in Lake Crescent, at approximately ten times the density found in Lake Sorrell (Hardie 2003). In recent years two small refuge populations of translocated fish have been established in farm dams in the Clyde River catchment (Hardie 2003).

There is no evidence to suggest that the Golden Galaxias has undergone, or is likely to undergo in the immediate future, a substantial reduction in numbers (TSSC 2005n).

The Golden Galaxias is primarily a lake-bound species that prefers still or gently flowing waters. Adult fish prefer rocky lakeshore habitat (Hardie 2003) and, to a lesser degree, marsh habitat. Juvenile fish live in open water until four to five months old (40 mm in length) and then move to the inshore lake bottom habitat. Wetlands adjacent to the lakes are thought to provide an important nursery area for juvenile fish, but are available only when they contain water (Hardie 2003; Jackson 2004).

Male Golden Galaxias mature in their first year (at over 50 mm in length), and females in their second year (at over 70 mm in length) (Hardie 2003). Most individuals of the population live for three to four years, although some may live for more than six years (Jackson 2004).

In contrast to most other entirely freshwater or landlocked galaxias species which spawn in spring, Golden Galaxias spawn in late autumn to winter (Fulton 1990; Hardie 2003). The eggs are small (1.5 mm) and adhere to rocky surfaces or aquatic vegetation and appear scattered rather than laid in clumps. Between 1000 to 15 000 eggs can be produced, depending on the size and age of the female. Newly hatched larvae are 5 to 6 mm long and float in the water column (Hardie 2003; Jackson 2004).

Like other galaxiids, the Golden Galaxias is an opportunistic carnivore. Adults feed on a variety of aquatic insect larvae, terrestrial insects, molluscs and crustaceans (IFS 2000; Jackson 2004). Golden Galaxias larvae feed on plankton and small insect larvae in the water column (Jackson 2004).

Predation by trout (Salmo spp.) is thought to be a low, but potential, threat to the Golden Galaxias. The species currently remains abundant despite being a major food item for trout. In Lake Crescent, Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) feed almost exclusively on Golden Galaxias (IFS unpubl. data in Jackson 2004). However, the trout population in Lake Crescent is thought to be lower than in Lake Sorrell, leading to the overall higher density of Golden Galaxias in Lake Crescent (Hardie 2003). Lake Sorell has good trout recruitment producing a large population of medium-sized trout and thereby increasing the level of predation from adult trout, and competition from juvenile trout, on Golden Galaxias. In contrast, Lake Crescent has poor recruitment, resulting in fewer larger trout and therefore lower predation and competition (Jackson 2004).

Introduced European Carp (Cyprinus carpio) have been present in both lakes since at least the early 1990s. An eradication program has greatly reduced their numbers, and they are not believed to be currently affecting Golden Galaxias. However, if European Carp were to become abundant again then competition for space and food, and likely macrophyte (aquatic plant) destruction, could impact on Golden Galaxias (Jackson 2004).

The native Common Jollytail (Galaxias maculatus) also occurs in both lakes and was probably accidentally introduced. However, it does not appear to have yet established breeding populations (Hardie 2003; Jackson 2004). If established, the Common Jollytail could compete with the Golden Galaxias for food and habitat.

Lakes Crescent and Sorell are at risk of other undesirable species being introduced deliberately or accidentally. The fish-eating Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis) is a particular concern (Jackson 2004). There is an additional risk of unwanted introductions through stocking of the lakes with wild-caught elvers (young eel) for commercial eel fishing purposes, as these stocks have potential for being contaminated with other native or pest species (Jackson 2004).

Habitat destruction and modification
The lakes occupied by Golden Galaxias are managed for irrigation and town water supply as well as maintaining a trout fishery. Dry conditions for several years and low lake levels have caused deterioration in habitat quality and availability. Water quality has declined, particularly with increased cloudiness of lake water (Uytendaal 2003), which may damage fish gills (IFC 1994), affect feeding (Rowe et al. 2002) and decrease the abundance of aquatic plants (Jackson 2004). Large areas of Golden Galaxias habitat have been lost due to the drying out of shallow lakeside marshes and inflow streams, and exposure of rocky shore habitat. Draining and grazing of wetlands around the lakes also threatens the Golden Galaxias by damaging and reducing the availability of wetland habitat (Hardie 2003; Jackson 2004).

Carp containment screens
Golden Galaxias populations have recently been partly fragmented by the construction of carp containment screens on the canal through which Lake Sorell flows into Lake Crescent. The 5 mm mesh prevents movement of all but very small galaxias downstream, and fish are completely prevented from moving up-stream from Lake Crescent to Lake Sorell. The implications for species' genetic structure are not known, and the ability to recolonise if either population suffered a decline is greatly reduced. Carp containment screens on the outflow of Lake Crescent have also prevented galaxias utilising downstream habitats and recolonising rehabilitated downstream marshes (Jackson 2004).

The following actions are specified in the National Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Freshwater Galaxidae (DPIW 2006i):

  • Research on the species abundance, life history, diet and habitat requirements has been conducted as part of a Natural Heritage Trust-funded project on rehabilitation of lakes Sorell and Crescent (project no. NRC20851). The resulting management plan for the lakes has recommended measures required to protect the species, including water level management. The species is included in Forest Practices Board threatened fauna management systems.
  • Recommendations on levels and rates of change, which meet the needs of Golden Galaxias, have been incorporated into a Water Management Plan being prepared as part of the Natural Heritage Trust project. Implementation of these recommendations has been supported under the recovery plan.
  • The Inland Fisheries Service has implemented grading procedures to minimise the risk of elver stocks being contaminated with other species.
  • The need for regular monitoring of the health of all existing populations, and actions to reduce threats as necessary, has been recognised to increase chances of early detection of any undesirable species and thereby improve chances of successful eradication.
  • Genetic studies of Golden Galaxias have been recommended so that management can aim to maintain genetic diversity and structure within the species (e.g. by ensuring translocated populations are established using an adequate number of fish). Jackson (2004) suggests that all four populations (two natural and two translocated) should be included in any such studies, and that a small sample of tissue from non-lethal fin clips are probably most suitable.
  • The continuation of the carp eradication program has been supported by the National Recovery Plan.

Several other management actions are also underway or proposed:

  • Two translocated populations have been established in farm dams on private land in the Clyde River catchment. The larger of these has been protected by a Conservation Management Agreement and habitat improvement works are in progress (Jackson 2004).
  • Surveys of surrounding streams and wetlands in wet conditions have been recommended to determine whether they constitute important habitat. Many artificial water bodies in the Clyde catchment have already been surveyed to determine their suitability as potential translocation sites (Hardie 2003). Translocation proposals will be prepared for consideration by the recovery team and additional translocations conducted if approved (Jackson 2004).
  • The Golden Galaxias may benefit from being included in education and communication activities to increase public awareness of Tasmania's threatened galaxiids and their conservation requirements (Jackson 2004). Such programs have been initiated by the Tasmanian Inland Fisheries Service, and aim to reduce the risk of accidental or deliberate introduction of further introduced species. Signage has been placed at lake access points to inform visitors of the significance of the native fish present and of the impacts of introduced species. Elvers (young eels) stocked into the lakes for commercial fishery purposes will be graded using Inland Fisheries Service protocols to ensure that they are free of other species (Jackson 2004).
  • The Tasmanian Inland Fisheries Act 1995 prohibits collecting of this species without permit (IFS 2000).

A water manipulation strategy implemented by the Department of Primary Industries and Water and the Inland Fisheries Service to enhance spawning conditions for the golden galaxias commenced in winter-spring 2007 (DPIW 2007).

The strategy involves appropriately-timed releases of water from Lake Sorell into Lake Cresent with the purpose of raising water levels in Lake Cresent above the minimum level, and raising the level to provide appropriate depth over the spawning habitat. The purpose of this strategy was intended to inundate the existing natural spawning habitat of the Golden Galaxias and provide the physical/ biological stimuli that are thought to be associated with rising water levels (DPIW 2007).

Hardie, S.A. (2003). Current Status and Ecology of the Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus). Inland Fisheries Service. Hobart.

Hardie, S.A., J.E. Jackson, L.A. Barmuta & R.W.G. White (2006). Status of galaxiid fishes in Tasmania, Australia: conservation listings, threats and management issues. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, Vol. 16: 235-250.

The National Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Freshwater Galaxidae (DPIW 2006i) provides an outline of recommended threat abatement and recovery actions. In addition, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus) (2005ah) and Hardie and colleagues (2006) provide some general recommendations for galaxiid fishes conservation.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations Commonwealth Listing Advice on Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2005n) [Listing Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2005n) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Cyprinus carpio (European Carp, Common Carp) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2005n) [Listing Advice].

Department of Primary Industries and Water, Tasmania (DPIW) (2007). Water level manipulation in the Lakes Crescent-Sorell system to optimise spawning conditions of the golden galaxias (Galaxias auratus). DPIW, Hobart, Tasmania.

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) (2011i). Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened fish. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.4 . [Online]. EPBC Act policy statement. Canberra, ACT: DSEWPAC. Available from:

Fulton, W. (1990). Tasmanian Freshwater Fishes. Page(s) 80. Uni. Tasmania, Hobart.

Hardie, S.A. (2003). Current Status and Ecology of the Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus). Inland Fisheries Service, Hobart.

Hardie, S.A., J.E. Jackson, L.A. Barmuta & R.W.G. White (2006). Status of galaxiid fishes in Tasmania, Australia: conservation listings, threats and management issues. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 16:235-250.

Inland Fisheries Commission (IFC) (1994). Lake Sorell fish deaths. Inland Fisheries Commission Newsletter. 23:3.

Inland Fisheries Service (IFS) (2000). Freshwater Fish Facts: Golden Galaxias. [Online]. Available from:

Jackson, J.E. (2004). Tasmanian Galaxiidae Recovery Plan 2004-2008. Inland Fisheries Service, Hobart.

Rowe, D.K., J. Smith & E. Williams (2002). Effects of turbidity on the feeding of adult, riverine smelt (Retropinna retropinna) and inanga (Galaxias maculatus). New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. 36:143-15.

Tasmanian Public Land Use Commission (TPLUC) (1997). Tasmania-Commonwealth Regional Forest Agreement: Processes and guidelines for determining the conservation requirements for priority flora and fauna species in the Tasmanian comprehensive regional assessment. Supplement to Environment & Heritage Report Vol. VI. Tasmanian Public Land Use Commission.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2005ah). NON-APPROVED Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus). [Online]. Available from:

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2005n). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus). [Online]. Available from:

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006k). Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Galaxiidae 2006-2010. [Online]. DPIW. Department of Primary Industries, Water: Hobart, Tasmania. Available from:

Uytendaal, A. (2003). Water Quality in Lakes Sorell and Crescent: Underlying Processes and Management Options. Inland Fisheries Service, Tasmania.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Galaxias auratus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:51:31 +1000.