Rampant sex-mad zombie fish released to wild after too many spawned in captivity

Sex-mad zombie fish have been released into the wild after they were found to have produced too many offspring in captivity.

The rare and previously extinct southern purple spotted gudgeon – also known as the zombie fish – was being captive-bred by experts in Bendigo, Australia.

But the breeding programme proved so successful that more than 3,000 babies were made.

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This was far more than the team from Middle Creek Aquaculture had anticipated, so they released them into the nearby Riley Street Recreation Reserve wetland.

The small fish – which looks like a goldfish mixed with a kipper – was previously ruled as extinct around 24 years ago.

They can grow up to around 12cm long.

Lead researcher of the southern purple spotted gudgeon programme at the north central catchment management authority, Peter Rose said: “That captive breeding program has been really successful with over 3,000 fingerlings produced from there, and now these fish have been released into other wetlands around Bendigo, as far as Deniliquin and Mildura, as well.

“If they're like other sites where we've released them, they'll grow quite quickly.”

And colleague Chris Lamin, from the Middle Creek Aquaculture breeding facility, detailed how the programme was spawned through the rampant actions of just one mature male and five mature females.

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She said: “It was a case of slowly increasing the water temperatures and the daylight hours in a controlled environment and then watching for signs of the females getting big fat tummies with lots of eggs in them.

“And then, of course, the normal territorial display of the males.”

In recent years, the 3,000 offspring were produced by eight females and just three males.

The fish have now been released into an area that has “no natural competitors” for space or food, so they can be left to breed in their new natural habitat in peace.

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