The īnanga is one of five galaxiid species whose juveniles are commonly known as whitebait. Of the five, only the īnanga’s life cycle is well understood.
Adults move downstream in autumn and the females lay eggs among submerged vegetation at estuaries on a spring tide. When the tide recedes the eggs are exposed to the humid air until the next spring tide (two to four weeks later), when they hatch.
The larvae go to sea and feed for around five months, returning in spring to fresh water as whitebait. They find suitable habitats upstream. They remain there as adults, and then return to the estuaries to spawn.
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Artwork by Bruce Mahalski
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