Western Pygmy Perch (Nannoperca vittata)
Western pygmy perch are small fish, with a maximum length of 80 mm, and perch-like in shape (although they are not closely related to the perches of Europe and North America), with a small mouth.
They have a mottled, golden-brown coloration. During the breeding season (July to November) males become brilliantly coloured, with a mottled golden pattern on the sides, red-orange on the belly and dark fins, while females develop a blueish tinge.
Pygmy perch can tolerate a range of water conditions, both flowing and static and are reasonably tolerant of saline conditions. They are typically found in aquatic vegetation on the margins of streams or lakes. They have a varied diet of benthic crustaceans and terrestrial insects, and are especially voracious consumers of mosquito larvae. Studies have found that pygmy perch are in fact much better at controlling mosquito larvae than are gambusia, which were originally introduced for that purpose.
Western pygmy perch are one of the most common and widespread native fishes in south-western Australia, although they have declined in upper catchment areas where water is very saline. Because of their hardy nature, ease of breeding and ability to control mosquito larvae, they are often sold in aquarium shops for stocking in outdoor ponds.