Rainbow of Hope For Freshwater Fish at SEA LIFE Melbourne

In a momentous stride for conservation, SEA LIFE Melbourne has released 61 Murray Darling rainbowfish (Melanotaenia fluviatilis), bred, and raised onsite at their Wetlands Recovery Nursery.

The rainbowfish hatched on 28 September 2023, starting life smaller than the end of a pin, and were released alongside 13 southern purple spotted gudgeon (Mogurnda adspersa), commonly referred to as Zombie fish, as part of an ongoing partnership with the North Central Catchment Management Authority (North Central CMA).

The team at SEA LIFE Melbourne provided meticulous care, comprising of three feeds a day, and ongoing water monitoring and maintenance ensuring optimal conditions for their development, ahead of release.

“We are committed to restoring a thriving population of Murray Darling rainbowfish have worked hard to replicate the perfect breeding conditions for success. This release is significant as it’s the first time the aquarium has successfully bred Murray Darling rainbowfish and marks the third species bred and released into Victorian waterways”

Katharine Needham, Aquarist, SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

The partnership with North Central CMA has been instrumental in ensuring its success, offering essential support such as providing brood stock, identifying suitable release locations, and safeguarding Australia's threatened and endangered freshwater species.

“As the name suggests, Murray Darling rainbowfish are usually found in the north of our catchment, but numbers have dwindled, and they are now listed as Threatened. Predator fish such as redfin and carp feed on their eggs and destroy their habitat. On top of that, climate change has had a significant impact on them. That’s why the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium breeding program is so important.” He continued, “Releasing them into wetlands such as this one at the Bendigo Botanic Gardens is a key step in their protection. It allows for further breeding and for them to develop the skills they need in the wild, without any predators. It’s a key step in re-introducing them into the wetlands and rivers they used to be prevalent in.”

Peter Rose, Project Manager, North Central CMA

SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium remains committed to breeding rainbowfish and continuing their efforts around other endangered species such as southern purple spotted gudgeon and olive perchlet. With continued support and collaboration, they aim to make a lasting impact on the conservation of Australia's precious aquatic ecosystems.

Guests can see conservation in action during their visit to SEA LIFE Melbourne’s Wetlands Recovery Nursery. For more information visit: www.visitsealife.com/melbourne/conservation