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Native Fish

New Zealand has unique native freshwater fish fauna. Most of our species belong to the galaxiids (whitebait family) or gobiomorphus (commonly known as bullies).  We also have eels, torrentfish, smelt, lamprey and several marine species that regularly visit our freshwaters. During the daytime, many native fish species hide under banks or beneath rocks and amongst woody debris. Most of our fish are quite small, except eels which can grow to 2 metres in length.

Many of our native fish species are also diadromous. They spend part of their lifecycle in the sea and part in freshwater streams. Whitebait species, such as inanga, lay their eggs amongst grass along the margins of estuaries in upper catchments. The newly hatched larvae swim out to sea where they feed and grow. These ‘whitebait’ swim back up the streams and grow into adults. It is important for some fish species (including longfinned eels and banded kokopu) to be able to migrate all the way up a stream without any barriers (like dams, pipes and pollution) so that they can breed and complete their life cycle. Most of our native fish species are found only in New Zealand with juvenile galaxiids (whitebait) and eels providing important fisheries. They are predators of aquatic invertebrates, including mosquitos and some even eat terrestrial insects that fly above the water’s surface. The larvae of freshwater mussels are dispersed by hitching rides on our native fish.  

Native Fish in the Auckland Region

  • Banded kokopu (Galaxias fasciatus)
  • Giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus)
  • Inanga (Galaxias maculatus)
  • Koaro (Galaxias brevipinnis)
  • Common bully (Gobiomorphus cotidianus)
  • Redfin bully (Gobiomorphus huttoni)
  • Cran’s bully (Gobiomorphus basalis)
  • Giant bully (Gobiomorphus gobioides)
  • Shortfin eel (Anguilla australis)
  • Longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii)
  • Common smelt (Retropinna retropinna)
  • Torrentfish (Cheimarrichthys fosteri)
  • Cockabully or tripplefin (Grahamina nigripenne)
  • Yelloweye mullet (Aldrichetta forsteri)