Southern Pygmy Perch

Scientific name

Nannoperca australis

Status in NSW

Endangered.How to identify a Southern Pygmy Perch


The Southern Pygmy Perch is distinguished by:

  1. Small mouth reaching to just below the eye
  2. Colour is variable but base colour ranges from pale-cream to green-brown, paler on the belly with dark blotches along the body
  3. Breeding males display brighter colours with dorsal and anal fins becoming bright red with black edges
  4. A single, deeply notched dorsal fin
  5. Squarish to slighly-rounded tail


The Southern Pygmy Perch is a small fish, growing to approximately 65-85 mm in length.

Species similar in appearance



Southern Pygmy Perch were formerly found in the Murray and lower Murrumbidgee River systems. There have been large-scale reductions in their range since European settlement, particularly inland. Populations of Southern Pygmy Perch have recently been discovered in tributaries of the upper Lachlan and upper Murray River catchments.


They are often found in small systems with a low flow rate and quiet vegetated areas in streams, billabongs, lakes. They prefer covered habitats and are not usually found in open water.

Southern Pygmy Perch habitat in the Murray River

Why is the Southern Pygmy Perch threatened?

  • Habitat degradation including the loss of riverbank vegetation
  • Removal or modification of floodplain wetland habitat due to flood mitigation works such as levees and wetland drainage
  • Dams alter natural river flow and temperature which leads to the drying and fragmentation of wetland habitat.
  • Competition with and predation by introduced fish, particularly Redfin Perch and Eastern Gambusia

Southern Pygmy Perch males in spawning colours (Photo: L. Pearce)

More information

Watch a video on the Southern Pygmy Perch in the Lachlan River catchment (5:17 mins)

Watch a YouTube video on Southern Pygmy Perch (2:45 mins)