Community efforts to support Murray hardyhead

Murray hardyhead are a small fish, native to the southern Murray–Darling Basin. They can grow up to 9cm long and live at the edges of wetlands and in slow-flowing lowland rivers.

An endangered species, Murray hardyhead live in only a handful of places around the world.

They can tolerate very salty water and survive where their predators can't. Yet, their eggs can't tolerate the same level of salt.

Murray hardyhead rely on fresh water in spring to survive. By adding water for the environment to lagoons and waterways, it lowers salt levels which gives eggs the best chance of survival.

Murray Hardyhead. Photo: CEWO

Community efforts to support Murray hardyhead survival

We deliver water for the environment to areas where hardyhead need it most. We do this with the help of others in the community to make sure the fish get the water they need when they need it.

An example of community efforts is seen at Lyrup Lagoon in South Australia. Locals identified Murray hardyhead as a priority for water delivery, with input from:

  • local landholders and farmers
  • First Nations peoples
  • community groups such as Men's Sheds
  • local government.

Farmers are making changes to their irrigation systems to save water. This includes converting overhead sprinklers to drip irrigation and using modern moisture monitoring.

Surveys at Lyrup Lagoon in Oct 2019 showed Murray Hardyhead to be successfully breeding. Photo: CEWO

Water savings are transferred to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and delivered in partnership with Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board to help the Murray hardyhead eggs to survive.

Local fish experts provide specialist advice on how much water to deliver and when. Local groups also monitor water and salt levels daily to ensure the conditions are right.