Chordates •

Climbing galaxias

(Galaxias brevipinnis)



The climbing galaxias or kōaro (Galaxias brevipinnis) is a fish of the family Galaxiidae found in Australia, New Zealand, and nearby islands. The name climbing galaxias is used in Australia, and koaro or kōaro in New Zealand. Further vernacular names include short-finned galaxias, broad-finned galaxias, Cox's mountain galaxias, and Pieman galaxias. The climbing galaxias is unlikely to be confused with the other diadromous whitebait species because of its shape. It is elongated and slender, shaped almost like a tube. The sides and back are covered in a variable pattern of golden blotches and bands that gleam and glitter in the sun, making the climbing galaxias an attractive fish. Their maximum size is around 29 cm, but they commonly reach 16–18 cm. These fish live a basically benthic lifestyle and in most respects behave like the common galaxias, a closely related galaxiid. They inhabit mainly clear streams, often deeply shaded and relatively fast-flowing, although they sometimes occur in lakes, particularly in Tasmania. Climbing galaxias also have the ability to penetrate well inland in many river systems, thus have a more widespread distribution than the other whitebait species. A major distinguishing feature of this species is its ability to climb up very steep surfaces such as waterfalls, wet rocks, and the sluices of dams using its broad and downward facing pectoral and pelvic fins. Even juveniles of the species are capable of climbing up and over the sides of buckets after being trapped in whitebait nets. Climbing ability is not unique among galaxias species, but it reaches its greatest expression in the climbing galaxias, which have special features that enhance their climbing abilities. The downward orientation of their fins and the strong, backward-facing ridges on the front part of their fins possibly contribute to this ability. Their distribution extends to coastal streams in southeastern Australia from Adelaide and Kangaroo Island in South Australia, through coastal Victoria including Wilsons Promontory, Tasmania, Flinders and King Islands, and north along the New South Wales coast to around Sydney, as well as New Zealand including the Chatham, Auckland and Campbell Islands. Their climbing ability enables them to inhabit headwaters of streams that introduced species, such as trout, cannot reach.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Actinopterygii
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