band2Kokopu are small native freshwater fish. Their numbers have dwindled greatly in recent decades. Three species are highlighted here, the banded, giant and shortjaw kokopu.

Banded Kokopu

What do they look like?
• Banded kokopu are decorated with thin, pale bands on the back of the fish.
• Banded kokopu commonly grow to over 200 mm.

Where do they live?
• Banded kokopu usually live in very small streams with thick overhead vegetation.
• This vegetation does not have to be native bush, however, and banded kokopu happily live in urban streams and exotic pine plantations where shade is present.
• Banded kokopu are common around cities such as Auckland and Wellington.
• Juvenile banded kokopu are very sensitive to suspended sediments and are rare in areas with intensive land development such as along the east coast.
• Although juvenile banded kokopu are good climbers, they do not penetrate very far inland and are primarily a coastal species

Giant Kokopu
What do they look like?
• As its name implies, the giant kokopu is the largest member of the Galaxiidae fish.
• Giant kokopu longer than 450 mm have been reported, but most are 200–300 mm.
• The giant kokopu has very distinctive yellow markings like Egyptian hieroglyphics
– golden lines, spots, crescents, and rings.
• These fish also have large fleshy lips.
• Giant kokopu are aggressive and territorial and are not found in schools.

Where do they live?
• All kokopu are unique to New Zealand.
• Giant kokopu are mainly found by the coast and are rare in inland areas.
• Giant kokopu prefer slow flowing or still waters such as lakes, wetlands, and streams with overhanging vegetation, undercut banks, logs, or debris clusters.

What do they eat?
• Giant kokopu are fast swimmers which lurk quietly behind vegetation waiting for their prey to swim passed or fall into the water before ambushing them.
• Kokopu eat a range of animals from koura to insects such as spiders and cicadas.

Who can it be now?
• Kokopu fish are mostly nocturnal but can be observed feeding at night with a red cellophane covered torch.
• Many people are surprised to learn that giant kokopu are one of the whitebait species. However, they are uncommon in the whitebait catch.

Shortjaw Kokopu
What do they look like?
• As its name implies, the shortjaw kokopu has an undercut jaw, with the lower jaw being shorter than the upper jaw as in the koaro.
• However, shortjaw kokopu are rather drab in colour unlike the sparkly koaro.
• Sometimes the fins of the shortjaw kokopu appear reddish but the body is generally coloured brown with faint bands and blotches and a dark patch behind the gills.


Where do they live?
• The shortjaw kokopu is the rarest of the galaxiids, although recent discoveries of several new populations suggest it is more common than previously thought.
• Shortjaw are usually found in streams with large boulders, making it difficult to catch.
• Although they penetrate well inland in many catchments, shortjaw appear to be restricted to streams with native forest vegetation.