Environmental group spends 1.5 million to protect rare fish

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An Australian environmental organisation has paid 1.

5 million to help protect an endangered native fish.

According to ABC, the land conservation group Bush Heritage Australia, paid around 1.5 million ($3.5 million Australian dollars) for a property in western Queensland which is home to Australia's most endangered freshwater fish.

The Red-finned blue-eye, Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis, which was only described in 1991, is Australia's smallest freshwater fish and is classed as Endangered in Australia, and is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Restricted habitatThe species, which reaches just 3cm in length, is known only from five small, shallow freshwater springs in the Edgbaston Springs area of the Aramac district on central western Queensland.

The springs that form its home range in size from just a few square metres to around a hectare in area, and the entire geographic range of the species is believed to span just 3000 square metres.

Several of the springs that were previously home to the Red-finned blue-eye are no longer active, and two have had bore holes sunk on them, threatening the remaining natural habitat of the species.

Some of the springs have also become home to the invasive non-native fish Gambusia holbrooki and Red-finned blue-eye numbers are declining in the springs in which the fish is present.

Cattle, sheep and pigs have trampled some of the habitats, the water levels have been dropping, and over-collection of the species for captive-breeding projects are believed to have led to further decline.

A 2007 study on the species estimated that just 3000 of the fish remained in the wild.

Long-term managementAccording to ABC, the owners of Edgbaston Station, near Longreach, where the pools are located, will stay at the property.

Chief executive office Doug Humann told ABC: "That's very important for us because we will have the local knowledge and indeed the generational knowledge that the owners have of the property who have protected this fish for almost 80 years.

"It is important that we have that guidance as we go about our long-term management."

The species tolerates wide swings in temperature. Pools are exposed to full sun for most of the day and daytime temperatures can hit 51 degrees Celsius in summer and fall as low as 3 degrees Celsius in winter.