Using underwater cameras to describe the reproductive behaviour of the endangered eastern freshwater cod Maccullochella ikei


G. L. Butler, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Grafton Aquaculture Centre, PMB 2, Grafton, NSW 2460, Australia; e-mail:


Abstract –  Underwater cameras were used to observe the breeding behaviour of the endangered eastern freshwater cod, Maccullochella ikei, over 3 years and across three areas in the Mann and Nymboida rivers, Australia. The annual breeding season for M. ikei was short and succinct, lasting only 8–10 weeks. Spawning commenced each year in the lowest altitude area during the first week of spring, and approximately 1 week later in the closest upstream area. Day-length is the primary spawning cue for M. ikei, but increasing water temperature may also be of importance. Nesting sites were located in slow-flowing pools, under cover such as large boulders and bedrock shelves, at depths of 0.9–4.0 m, and with one or two entrances only. The nesting site was vigorously cleaned by the male up to 1 week prior to spawning and was only entered by the female for spawning. Paternal care of eggs and larvae was undertaken for up to 24 days, after which larvae dispersed. Greater protection of breeding M. ikei must be a management priority to ensure long-term conservation of the species.