Torrentfish (Māori: Panoko)
Author: Darren Stevens
Excerpt from Bluecod and Torrentfish first published in Aquarium World May 2014
As their European name suggests, torrentfish (Cheimarrichthys fosteri) often live in swift flowing rapids. They are superbly adapted to life in fast water with a flattened head and very large pectoral fins, which help to keep them on to the bottom, and a powerful square tail to enable them to dart from stone to stone. Torrentfish are a relatively small (commonly to 100-125mm) typically grey to grey-brown fish with a dark band through the eyes, three diagonal dark bands on the body, and a fourth just in front of the tail. Their cryptic colouration and fast water habitat means they are seldom seen but they are widely distributed, and at times common, in low elevation stony rivers and streams throughout mainland New Zealand. Torrentfish eat mainly aquatic insects and they are thought to move to quieter waters at night to feed. Their life history is not well understood but adult female torrentfish tend to live further upstream than males so they must migrate to spawn. They are thought to spawn in freshwater near the coast and the resulting larvae carried out to sea by the current. Over spring and summer small juvenile torrentfish (20-25 mm) move into river mouths where they are sometimes captured by whitebaiters.
Torrentfish x 2 (Photo credit Charles Fryett)
These delightful fish can be kept in freshwater native aquaria providing a strong current is provided. There is excellent information on how to keep torrentfish in ‘The New Zealand Native Freshwater Aquarium’ by Stella McQueen.
McDowall, R.M. (2011). Ikawai. Freshwater Fishes in Maori Culture and Economy. Canterbury University Press.
McQueen, S. (2010). The New Zealand Freshwater Aquarium. Wet Sock Publications.
McQueen, S., Morris, R. (2013). A photographic guide to the freshwater fishes of New Zealand. New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd.
NIWA Atlas of NZ Freshwater Fishes (https://www.niwa.co.nz/freshwater-and-estuaries/nzffd/NIWA-fish-atlas)
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