Biodiversity

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  
Reference  
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
http://www.ifc.tas.gov.au/fact_sheets/Golden_galaxias.html

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). Complex habitats, such as macrophytes and rocky substrates, are critical to the Golden Galaxias (DPIW 2008). This species prefers these habitats for feeding and refuge (Hardie 2003a; Hardie et al. 2006a; Stuart-Smith et al. 2006, 2007, 2007a, 2008), and most importantly, it spawns in these areas (Hardie 2003, 2007; Hardie et al. 2007). When available, the Golden Galaxias is likely to use aquatic vegetation in the wetlands and the main bodies of the lakes for spawning (Hardie et al. 2007).

The availability of structurally complex habitats (i.e. macrophytes and rocky substrates) is controlled by water levels of the lakes where the species occurs (DPIW 2008). In Lake Crescent, at a level of 802.70 m Australian Height Datum (AHD), extensive littoral wetland areas (accounting for 17% of the surface area of the lake at the full supply level) begin to be inundated (DPIW 2008; Heffer 2003). At levels below 802.20 m AHD, areas of rocky shore habitat (accounting for ~3% of the surface area of the lake at the full supply level) become de-watered (DPIW 2008; Hardie et al. 2007). Because of these relationships between water levels and the availability of littoral habitats, during periods of relatively low water levels (i.e. when adjacent wetlands are not inundated), the four defined areas of rocky shore habitat on the western and eastern margins of Lake Crescent are the only habitats that are available to the species for spawning (DPIW 2008).

In Lake Sorell, at a level of 803.60 m AHD, extensive littoral wetland areas (accounting for 8% of the surface area of the lake at the full supply level) begin to be inundated (DPIW 2008; Heffer 2003). However, in many areas in the lake, rocky substrates extend across the lake’s basin; therefore, access to this habitat is not as dependent on water levels in this lake (DPIW 2008). 

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). Whilst individuals may attain up to 10 years of age, most live for <3 years and many males live for only 1-2 years (DPIW 2008).

The Golden Galaxias has a non-diadromous (i.e. non-migratory) life history; thus, it completes its life cycle in lentic (still, fresh water) waters using littoral-benthic, epibenthic and pelagic habitats at different life stages (DPIW 2008). Spawning takes place in late autumn – early spring (peak activity in winter) on rocky shores and possibly in wetland habitat when available. Spawning mostly occurs at water temperatures <5° C and is triggered by rising water levels (DPIW 2008). Three key hydrological factors affect recruitment of this species: (1) water level-dependent availability of spawning habitats, (2) rising levels during spawning periods and (3) the magnitude of rises during spawning and the incubation of eggs (DPIW 2008).

Fertilised eggs, which are ~1.5 mm in diameter, transparent and adhesive, are scattered over littoral cobble substrata or aquatic vegetation at depths of 0.2-0.6 m (DPIW 2008). Between 1000-15 000 eggs can be produced, depending on the size and age of the female (Hardie 2003). Fertilised eggs are thought to incubate for 30-45 days in the wild. Larval hatching peaks during late winter – spring and newly hatched larvae are 6-7 mm in length and free swimming. Juveniles occupy pelagic habitats until mid-summer to autumn (when they are ~40 mm in length) after which they move into adult littoral habitats (DPIW 2008).

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 and competition with fish

Predation by the Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) is a low risk threat to the Golden Galaxias. Both species co-occur in the lakes and the species is a major food item for trout. In Lake Crescent, Brown Trout feed almost exclusively on the Golden Galaxias (IFS unpubl. data in TSS 2006k). The trout population in Lake Crescent is lower than in Lake Sorrell, probably because Lake Sorrell has good trout recruitment(TSS 2006k).

European Carp (Cyprinus carpio) have been present in both lakes since at least the early 1990s. Although an eradication program greatly reduced their numbers, 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 (TSS 2006k).

The native Common Galaxias (Galaxias maculatus) occurs in both lakes and was probably accidentally introduced. It has not established breeding populations (Hardie 2003; TSS 2006k) but, if established, the species could compete with the Golden Galaxias for food and habitat. Impacts could be devastating if the Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis) or wild-caught young eels (contaminated with undesirable fish) were to be released into the lakes (Jackson 2004).

Lake level fluctuations

As a littoral spawning species, the Golden Galaxias is at risk of changes in hydrology influencing population dynamics (Hardie 2013). Between the late 1990s and 2009, drought in central Tasmania caused water levels in the Crescent-Sorell system to fall, reducing the abundance of the species, particularly in Lake Crescent where recruitment was poor during several breeding seasons (Hardie 2013). These reductions in water levels have caused major alterations to habitats in the lakes including: long-term drying of extensive littoral wetlands (Heffer 2003), frequent dewatering of rocky shores (Hardie 2003; Hardie et al. 2007), disappearance of in-lake macrophytes (Uytendaal 2003, 2006) and poor water quality (i.e. elevated turbidity levels; Uytendaal, 2003, 2006). 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). Water levels in the system were manipulated in 2007 and 2009 to mitigate the impacts of these low water levels (Hardie 2013).

Carp containment screens

Golden Galaxias populations have 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).

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 (DPIW) (2008). Water level manipulation in lakes Crescent and Sorell, Tasmania to assist spawning of the threatened golden galaxias (Galaxias auratus): a strategy to mitigate impacts of drought-induced habitat alterations. Water Assessment Aquatic Ecology Report Series, Report No. WA 08/49. Water Resources Division, Department of Primary Industries and Water, Hobart, Tasmania.

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: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/threatened-fish.html.

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). Rehabilitation of Lakes Sorell and Crescent Report Series No. 7/1. Inland Fisheries Service, Hobart.

Hardie, S.A. (2013). Hydrological manipulation to assist spawning of a threatened galaxiid fish in a highland lake system. Marine & Freshwater Research. 64(9):887-89.

Hardie, S.A. (2007). Conservation Biology of the Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus Johnston) (Pisces: Galaxiidae). Ph.D. Thesis. University of Tasmania, 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.

Hardie, S.A., L.A. Barmuta & R.W.G. White (2006a). Comparison of day and night fyke netting, electro-fishing and snorkelling for monitoring a population of the threatened golden galaxias (Galaxias auratus). Hydrobiologia. 560:145-58.

Hardie, S.A., R.W.G. White & L.A. Barmuta (2007). Reproductive biology of the threatened golden galaxias Galaxias auratus Johnston and the influence of lake hydrology. Journal of Fish Biology. 71:1820-40.

Heffer, D.K. (2003). Wetlands of Lakes Sorell and Crescent: Conservation and Management. Rehabilitation of Lakes Sorell and Crescent Report Series No. 6/1. Inland Fisheries Service, Hobart.

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: http://www.ifs.tas.gov.au/fact_sheets/Golden_galaxias.html.

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.

Stuart-Smith, R.D., J.F. Stuart-Smith, R.W.G. White & L.A. Barmuta (2007). The effects of turbidity and complex habitats on the feeding of a galaxiid fish are clear and simple. Marine and Freshwater Research. 58:429-35.

Stuart-Smith, R.D., J.F. Stuart-Smith, R.W.G. White & L.A. Barmuta (2007a). The impact of an introduced predator on a threatened galaxiid fish is reduced by the availability of complex habitats. Freshwater Biology. 52:1555-63.

Stuart-Smith, R.D., L.A. Barmuta & R.W.G. White (2006). Nocturnal and diurnal feeding by Galaxias auratus, a lentic galaxiid fish. Ecology of Freshwater Fish. 15:521-31.

Stuart-Smith, R.D., R.W.G. White & L.A. Barmuta (2008). A shift in the habitat use pattern of a lentic galaxiid fish: an acute behavioural response to an introduced predator. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 82:93-100.

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: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/golden-galaxias.html#conservation.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2005n). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus). [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/golden-galaxias.html.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006k). Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Galaxiidae 2006-2010. [Online]. DPIW. Department of Primary Industries, Water: Hobart, Tasmania. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tasmanian-galaxiidae.html.

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

Uytendaal, A. (2006). Water Clarity in Two Shallow Lake Systems of the Central Plateau, Tasmania, Australia. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Tasmania, Hobart.

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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: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sat, 20 Sep 2014 06:09:39 +1000.