This black mudfish was found in damp mud in a Waikato farm drain. While many galaxiid species can live out of water for short periods, mudfish can survive for months by a process called aestivation. They must find an environment that provides air, so that they can breathe, and moisture, so they don’t dry out. Burrows in damp mud, under vegetation, or in bits of wood and litter are common spots. If an aestivating mudfish is returned to water it swims straight away. This adaptation allows them to live in environments that are marginal for many other fish.
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Photograph by Nicholas Ling
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