The island nation of Papua New Guinea houses a great diversity of both freshwater and marine fish species. The country’s coastlines, reefs, lakes, and rivers are teeming with exceptional fish species such as rainbow fish, gudgeons, and the iconic black bass. With its many fish, Papua New Guinea is a popular destination for sports fishing as well as aquatic fauna research.
Ridged Catfish (Amissidens hainesi)
The Ridged Catfish is a species in the Ariidae Family that is native to Papua New Guinea. The catfish inhabits marine and brackish waters along the country’s southern coast. The species has distinct large eyes and it grows to about 30.2 centimeters. Its mouth is small and nearly quadrangular with thin fleshy lips and a truncated lower jaw. The catfish has short and thin barbels with the maxillary barbel only reaching just beyond the eye. The fin species are slender and long and the ventral fin pads of females that have reached sexual maturity are scalloped and tapered. The species’ conservation status is yet to be evaluated.
Kokoda Mogurnda (Mogurnda lineata)
The Kokoda Mogurnda is a sleeper goby species in the Eleotridae Family. The species is native to Papua New Guinea, where it inhabits clear streams in the rainforests of foothills with an altitude of between 280 and 350 meters. The Kokoda Mogurnda has only been sighted in the Oivi, Kali, and Ejava creeks, nearly 12 to 15 kilometers east of Kokoda in the country. The Kokoda Mogurnda has a maximum length of 8.5 centimeters with 8 to 9 dorsal spines, 11 to 12 anal soft rays, and one anal spine. The species is listed as least concern.
White Sardine (Escualosa thoracata)
The White Sardine is an amphidromous sardine species in the Clupeidae Family found off the Pacific Ocean coastlines of Papua New Guinea. The species has a maximum length of 10 centimeters and a typical length of 8 centimeters. The white sardine has a bright silver band along the flank. Its broader silver stripe and a deeper body differentiate it from the Escualosa elongate which inhabits the Gulf of Thailand. The fish establishes schools in shallow waters, with the juveniles apparently going into the lower regions of rivers and eventually returning to the sea. Its diet consists of various phytoplankton and zooplankton species. The fish is commercially marketed both fresh and dried salted and its environmental status is not yet evaluated.
Lake Wanam Rainbow Fish (Glossolepis wanamensis)
The Lake Wanam Rainbow Fish is a species in the Melanotaeniidae Family endemic to Lake Wanam in Papua New Guinea. Its body is green-colored with a rosy flush on its breast. The upper body appears metallic green. The male sports a large anal fin, nearly 3 centimeters long and it reaches a maximum length of 10 centimeters, larger than the 8 centimeter lengths typical for females. The species prefers shallow, clear, and sunlit waters that feature dense growths of aquatic vegetation. The Lake Wanam Rainbowfish is listed as critically endangered due to the introduction of non-native species in the lake such as tilapia and carp. A captive breeding program has attempted to ensure its sustainability.
Other Notable Fish Species of Papua New Guinea
Other native fish species found in the country are the New Ireland Stingaree (Urolophus armatus), the Bulolo Rainbow Fish (Chilatherina bulolo), Robert’s River Catfish (Zenarchopterus robertsi), the Empire Gudgeon (Hypseleotris compressa), the Little-Fin Anchovy (Papuengraulis micropinna), and the Roman Nose Goby (Awaous acritosus). Destructive fishing practices, the introduction of alien fish species, oil spills and pollution in general, and climate change are the major threats to the fish species of Papua New Guinea.