Aquatic pests

Exotic aquatic animals and plants (particularly noxious species) can damage the natural balance of our environment. Aquatic pests threaten South Australia’s fisheries, aquaculture, recreation, navigation, and tourism industries.

Aquatic pests:

  • include fish and other aquatic plants and animals
  • compete with other species important to our economy and conservation
  • damage aquatic environments reducing attractiveness and social enjoyment of aquatic areas
  • foul aquaculture and industrial infrastructure
  • pose health risks
  • can be found in freshwater, estuaries and marine environments.
Search aquatic pests for:

Reporting suspected exotic species

Early detection is important to stop the establishment and spread of aquatic pests. If you see an unusual freshwater or marine creature report it straight away:

Aquatic pests of concern to South Australia

Alligator Gar

Alligator Gar (<i>Atractosteus spatula</i>)
Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula)

Freshwater species not currently found in South Australia.

Alligator Gar is a large freshwater species that can grow to more than 1.5m long. It has the potential to prey on most native fish species.

Asian black-spined toad

Asian black-spined toad (<i>Duttaphrynus melanostictus</i>)
Asian black-spined toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus)

Freshwater species not currently found in South Australia.

The Asian black-spined toad is not known to be established in Australia but is frequently intercepted at the border. It has greater tolerance to cold than cane toads.

Asian Green Mussel

Asian Green Mussel (<i>Perna viridis</i>)
Asian Green Mussel (Perna viridis)

Marine species not currently found in South Australia.

The Asian Green Mussel is a marine mollusc that:

  • forms dense colonies
  • competes for food and habitat with native species
  • clogs seawater intake pipes.

Cane toad

Cane toad (<i>Bufo marinus</i>)
Cane toad (Bufo marinus)

Freshwater species not currently found in South Australia.

The cane toad:

  • predates on native species
  • completes for food and habitat.

Poison glands on either side of the head can harm native predators.

Caulerpa cylindracea

<i>Caulerpa cylindracea</i>
Caulerpa cylindracea

Marine species found in South Australia.

Caulerpa cylindracea is a marine alga that can overgrow and outcompete native species. It has been detected in a number of areas within South Australia

Caulerpa taxifolia

<i>Caulerpa taxifolia</i>
Caulerpa taxifolia

Marine species found in South Australia. It is established in the Port River.

Caulerpa taxifolia is a marine alga that:

  • outcompetes native seaweeds and seagrasses by forming dense mats
  • spreads from fragments that are often detached by boating equipment.

Chinese Mitten Crab

Chinese Mitten Crab (<i>Eriocheir sinensis</i>)
Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis)

Marine species not currently found in South Australia.

The Chinese Mitten Crab:

  • poses risks to human health as a carrier of lung fluke
  • competes with native crustaceans.

Cichlid species

Cichlid species - Pearl Cichlid (<i>Geophagus brasiliensis</i>)
Cichlid species - Pearl Cichlid (Geophagus brasiliensis)
Cichlid species - Tilapia female (<i>Oreochromis mossambicus</i>)
Cichlid species - Tilapia female (Oreochromis mossambicus)
Cichlid species - Tilapia male (<i>Oreochromis mossambicus</i>)
Cichlid species - Tilapia male (Oreochromis mossambicus)

Freshwater species not currently found in South Australia.

There are a number of highly aggressive cichlid species including Tilapia species and Pearl Cichlids. During breeding season these species become highly aggressive in competing for food and habitat with native species.

European Carp (includes Koi Carp)

European Carp (<i>Cyprinus carpio</i>)
European Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

Freshwater species found in South Australia.

European Carp is an extremely common and invasive species which:

  • degrades waterways
  • competes with native species for food.

All Carp (including European, Koi and Miror) are introduced species and must not be returned to the water when caught.

European Fan Worm

European Fan Worm (<i>Sabella spallanzanii</i>)
European Fan Worm (Sabella spallanzanii)

Marine species found in South Australia.

The European Fan Worm:

  • competes for food and habitat with other marine species
  • colonises infrastructure and reefs
  • spreads by attaching to boats and equipment.

European Green Shore Crab

European Green Shore Crab (<i>Carcinus maenas</i>)
European Green Shore Crab (Carcinus maenas)

Marine species found in South Australia.

The European Green Shore Crab:

  • competes for food and shelter with native crustacean species
  • can carry parasites which can impact bird species
  • spreads naturally and via shipping.

Goldfish

Goldfish (<i>Carassius auratus</i>)
Goldfish (Carassius auratus)

Freshwater species found in South Australia.

Goldfish is a common aquarium species that competes with native fish. It must not to be returned to the water when caught.

Japanese seaweed

Japanese seaweed (<i>Undaria pinnatifida</i>)
Japanese seaweed (Undaria pinnatifida)

Marine species not currently found in South Australia.

Japanese seaweed forms dense forests that exclude and shade out other native species.

Marron

Marron (<i>Cherax cainii</i>)
Marron (Cherax cainii)
Top view of Marron (<i>Cherax cainii</i>)
Top view of Marron (Cherax cainii)
Underside view of Marron (<i>Cherax cainii</i>)
Underside view of Marron (Cherax cainii)

Freshwater species found in South Australia.

Marron is a crustacean native to Western Australia which competes with native species for food and shelter. It must not to be returned to the water when caught.

Mosquito fish

Mosquito fish (<i>Gambusia holbrooki</i>) and (<i>Gambusia affinis</i>)
Mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki) and (Gambusia affinis)

Freshwater species found in South Australia.

Mosquito fish are small bodied fish. Usually found in large numbers they:

  • compete with native fish
  • attack the fins of native species.

Mosquito fish must not be returned to the water when caught.

New Zealand Screwshell

New Zealand Screwshell (<i>Moaricolpus roseus</i>)
New Zealand Screwshell (Moaricolpus roseus)

Marine species not currently found in South Australia.

The New Zealand Screwshell is a marine mollusc which competes for food and habitat with native species.

Northern Pacific Seastar

Northern Pacific Seastar (<i>Asterias amurensis</i>)
Northern Pacific Seastar (Asterias amurensis)

Marine species not currently found in South Australia.

The Northern Pacific Seastar is widely established in Tasmania and also Port Phillip Bay (Melbourne) in Victoria. Population densities can reach tens of millions. The Northern Pacific Seastar predates on native species, particularly shellfish.

Oriental Weatherloach

Oriental  Weatherloach (<i>Misgurnus anfuillicaudatus</i>)
Oriental Weatherloach (Misgurnus anfuillicaudatus)

Freshwater species found in South Australia. Detected along the full extent of the River Murray, it must not be returned to the water when caught.

The Oriental Weatherloach is a medium sized fish that can:

  • compete with native fish for food
  • tolerate a wide range of conditions.

Pearl Oyster

Pearl Oyster (<i>Pinctada albina sugillata</i>)
Pearl Oyster (Pinctada albina sugillata)

Marine species found in South Australia. It is established in the upper Spencer Gulf.

The Pearl Oyster is a tropical Australian native oyster.

Red Claw Crayfish

Red Claw Crayfish (<i>Cherax quadricarinatus</i>)
Red Claw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus)

Freshwater species not currently found in South Australia.

Red Claw Crayfish is a native to Queensland that can compete with native species for food and habitat.

Red eared slider turtle

Red eared slider turtle (<i>Trachemys scripta elegans</i>)
Red eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans)

Freshwater species not currently found in South Australia.

The red eared slider turtle is a very aggressive hunter that:

  • competes with native turtles for food and habitat.
  • preys on native species of fish.

Redfin Perch

Redfin Perch (<i>Perca fluviatilis</i>)
Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis)

Freshwater species found in South Australia.

Redfin Perch is an aggressive species of perch that preys on native, small bodied fish and invertebrates. It must not be returned to the water when caught.

Roach

Roach (<i>Rutilus rutilus</i>)
Roach (Rutilus rutilus)

Freshwater species found in South Australia.

Roach is a medium sized species that competes with native species for food.

Smooth newt

Smooth newt (<i>Lissotriton vulgaris</i>)
Smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

Freshwater species not currently found in South Australia.

The smooth newt competes for food and habitat with native species.

Snakehead

Snakehead - family <i>Channidae</i>
Snakehead - family Channidae

Freshwater species not currently found in South Australia.

Some species of snakeheads grow very large. They have the potential to become top tier predators of native species.

Speckled Livebearer

Speckled Livebearer (<i>Phalloceros caudimaculatus</i>)
Speckled Livebearer (Phalloceros caudimaculatus)

Freshwater species found in South Australia.

Speckled Livebearer is a small exotic aquarium fish that can:

  • degrade water quality
  • displace native species.

Tench

Tench (<i>Tinca tinca</i>)
Tench (Tinca tinca)

Freshwater species found in South Australia.

Tench is a medium sized species that competes with native species for food. It must not to be returned to the water when caught.

Vase Tunicate

Vase tunicate (<i>Ciona intestinalis</i>)
Vase tunicate (Ciona intestinalis)

Marine species found in South Australia.

Vase Tunicate is an ascidian (sea squirt) that:

  • colonises infrastructure
  • fouls aquaculture equipment
  • increases equipment maintenance and cleaning requirements.

Wild Pacific Oyster

Wild Pacific Oyster (<i>Crassostrea gigas</i>)
Wild Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Marine species found in South Australia.

Wild Pacific Oysters:

  • establish on intertidal rocky reefs
  • compete for food with farmed oysters and native molluscs
  • cause injuries due to their sharp shells.

Wild Pacific Oysters pose a risk to the oyster aquaculture industry through competition and their potential for hosting disease.

Page Last Reviewed: 30 May 2017
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