December 2013 Contact

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December 2013

Contact Biosecurity SA on (08) 8207 7900

Speckled Livebearer (Phalloceros caudimaculatus)

The Speckled Livebearer (Phalloceros caudimaculatus) is a freshwater fish native to eastern South America. This species was imported into Australia for the aquarium trade and is thought to have been introduced into natural waterways as a result of improper disposal of aquarium fish.

Populations of Speckled Livebearers have existed in Western Australia, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, and Lake Eyre Region for some time.

Speckled Livebearer in South Australia

In 2008 the species was found in Willunga Creek, South Australia (SA).

Due to this being the first record of Speckled Livebearers in South Australia, a significant eradication program using an organic chemical, rotenone, has been conducted.

The eradication program has been highly effective and this pest fish is not considered established in the wild in South Australia.

The species is highly adaptive and presents a significant risk for infestation of waterways.


Speckled Livebearers have the potential to degrade water quality and displace native species. They have similar preferences to many native fish (eg. latitude, elevation and water conditions) and their wide temperature tolerance and prolonged breeding season enable rapid colonization.

They may impact native species through aggressive behavior and competition for resources. They also have the potential to cause a decline in native fish species as a result of disease.

What does it look like?

Speckled Livebearers:

What it is not!

Mosquito Fish (Gambusia holdbrooki) are also a pest fish species however, Gambusia are a well established and wide spread species in South Australia. They can be found it most waterways and it is important that people do not assume that Speckled Livebearers are Gambusia!

Speckled Livebearers and Mosquito Fish are often confused due to their similar size and appearance. But Gambusia does not have mottled patches and these ‘speckles’ are a key difference.

State Government agencies are working to prevent the further spread of the Speckled Livebearer. It is important that people know and understand what this pest fish is so that it is not transferred to other waterways or returned to the water.

What do I do if I find one?

Speckled Livebearers are an exotic species. If you find this fish, you are not permitted to return it to the water or leave it on the bank; bag it, freeze it, bin it.

Biosecurity SA is monitoring the spread of this species and is asking that all individuals found be reported. You can report your sighting too:

FISHWATCH on 1800 065 522 (free call) or

Further Information

For further information please visit the Biosecurity South Australia website at or contact Biosecurity SA on (08) 8207 7900

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