Pest fish ‘Tilapia’ threaten Murray-Darling

Male and female TilapiaCompiled by Dominic Geiger

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is currently conducting a program to help educate communities in the Murray-Darling Basin about the potential threat of the invasive pest fish species, the Tilapia.

Though not yet established in NSW, the fish has been found in many waterways surrounding the northern part of the basin in south east Queensland.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Aquatic Biosecurity Officer, Debra Ballagh, said if the Tilapia was to establish itself in the Murray Darling Basin, it could become a major problem in the Lachlan River.

“Once established in a flowing river or creek, these fish are almost impossible to eradicate so it is important to stop the spread of Tilapia now before it’s too late,” she said.

“Tilapia impact on native fish numbers by competing for habitat and food, behaving aggressively, disturbing aquatic vegetation and could potentially introduce disease and parasites.

“The Murray-Darling Basin is already infested with pest fish including European carp, and if Tilapia were to establish in the river system the additional pest species may significantly impact native species populations.”

Debra said she encourages anyone living in the Murray-Darling Basin who suspects they have seen a Tilapia to contact the aquatic biosecurity hotline on 4916 3877 or send an e-mail to


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