|A mountain galaxias from south-east Australia.|
G. Cuvier, 1816
Galaxias is the common name for a large group of smallish, highly successful freshwater fish in the Galaxias genus and Galaxiidae family.
Before European settlement, galaxias were the dominant group of native freshwater fish in New Zealand, and, along with the Percichthyidae, one of two dominant groups of native freshwater fish in south-eastern Australia. Only one of the species (G. zebratus) is found in Africa, and only three (G. globiceps, G. maculatus and G. platei) are found in South America.
Galaxias are cool water species, with many wholly freshwater species specialising in high altitude upland streams (including very small streams), rivers and lakes. Some galaxias species include a marine stage in their life cycle where larvae are washed out to sea where they develop and return to rivers as juveniles. These species are consequently also found in low altitude habitats, but frequently migrate to high altitude reaches of river systems in their adult stage.
Wholly freshwater galaxias species are gravely threatened by exotic salmonid species, particularly exotic trout species, which prey heavily upon galaxias and compete with them for food. This is a major concern as exotic trout species have been recklessly introduced to many different landmasses (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa), with no thought as to impacts on native fish such as galaxias, and no attempt to preserve some exotic-trout-free habitats for native fish.
In most situations, wholly freshwater galaxias species show a complete inability to survive in the presence of exotic trout species, and many wholly freshwater galaxias species now occur only in the rare trout-free habitats still available to them. Numerous localised extinctions of wholly freshwater galaxias species (i.e. mountain galaxias) have been caused by the introduction of exotic trout species (including ongoing illegal stockings) and a number of wholly freshwater galaxias species are threatened with overall extinction by exotic trout species and other exotic salmonids.
There are currently 32 recognized species in this genus:
- Galaxias anomalus Stokell, 1959 (Roundhead galaxias)
- Galaxias argenteus (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) (Giant kokopu)
- Galaxias auratus R. M. Johnston, 1883 (Golden galaxias)
- Galaxias brevipinnis Günther, 1866 (Climbing galaxias, Short-fin galaxias, Koaro (NZ))
- Galaxias cobitinis McDowall & Waters, 2002 (Lowland longjawed galaxias)
- Galaxias depressiceps McDowall & Wallis, 1996 (Flathead galaxias (New Zealand))
- Galaxias divergens Stokell, 1959 (Dwarf galaxias)
- Galaxias eldoni McDowall, 1997 (Eldons galaxias)
- Galaxias fasciatus J. E. Gray, 1842 (Banded kokopu)
- Galaxias fontanus Fulton, 1978 (Swan galaxias)
- Galaxias globiceps C. H. Eigenmann, 1928
- Galaxias gollumoides McDowall & Chadderton, 1999 (Gollum galaxias)
- Galaxias gracilis McDowall, 1967 (Dwarf inanga)
- Galaxias johnstoni E. O. G. Scott, 1936 (Clarence galaxias)
- Galaxias macronasus McDowall & Waters, 2003
- Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns, 1842) (Common galaxias, inanga, common jollytail, puyen)
- Galaxias neocaledonicus M. C. W. Weber & de Beaufort, 1913
- Galaxias niger Andrews, 1985 (Black galaxias)
- Galaxias occidentalis J. D. Ogilby, 1899 (Western galaxias)
- Galaxias olidus Günther, 1866
- Galaxias parvus Frankenberg, 1968 (Small pedder galaxias)
- Galaxias paucispondylus Stokell, 1938 (Alpine galaxias)
- Galaxias pedderensis Frankenberg, 1968 (Pedder galaxias)
- Galaxias platei Steindachner, 1898
- Galaxias postvectis F. E. Clarke, 1899 (Shortjaw kokopu)
- Galaxias prognathus Stokell, 1940 (Longjawed galaxias)
- Galaxias pullus McDowall, 1997 (Dusky galaxias)
- Galaxias rostratus Klunzinger, 1872 (Flathead galaxias (Australia), Murray jollytail)
- Galaxias tanycephalus Fulton, 1978 (Saddled galaxias)
- Galaxias truttaceus Valenciennes, 1846 (Spotted galaxias)
- Galaxias vulgaris Stokell, 1949 (Common river galaxias, Canterbury galaxias)
- Galaxias zebratus (Castelnau, 1861) (Cape galaxias)
- McDowall, R.M. (2006). Crying wolf, crying foul, or crying shame: alien salmonids and a biodiversity crisis in the southern cool-temperate galaxioid fishes? Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 16: 233–422.
- Biodiversity, Alien trout, and the "So what" attitude
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Galaxias in FishBase. February 2012 version.
- Precious: Gollum (the fish) risks extinction in New Zealand