Murray Cod

From Academic Kids

Murray Cod
Scientific classification
Species:M. peelii
Binomial name
Maccullochella peelii''

The Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii) is the largest freshwater fish in Australia. Despite its name, it is not a member of the cod family, but belongs to one of the families of Perciformes. There are a number of closely related species to Murray cod, the taxonomy of which has been somewhat confused. Originally only one species was recognised - Murray cod then named scientifically Maccullochella macquariensis. In the 1970s the trout cod (AKA bluenosed cod) was recognised as a separate species and re-examination of the original specimen showed that the original "Murray cod" specimen was in fact a trout cod. Following scietnific convention, M. Macquariensis remaind with the original specimen now known as trout cod and a new name M. peelii was coined for Murray cod. Subsequently two further cod were identified, Eastern freshwater cod (M. ikei) and Mary river cod (M. peeli mariensis) the later causing Murray cod to be re-named M. peelii peelii). The latest research has now moved Mary river cod into M. ikei as M. ikei mariensis.

The Murray Cod is named after the river in which it is found. Murray Cod are widespread throughout the Murray-Darling basin in Eastern Australia, particularly in lowland areas of the basin, but reaching the higher waters to 900m elevation and up to 1300m in the northern part of the basin. They have declined in abundance over the past 50 years because of overfishing and environmental factors.

Many Aboriginal myths describe the creation of the river system (or indeed all river systems of Australia) by a gigantic murray cod ploughing through the earth to escape from a hunter, or hunters. In some stories the cod is caught and chopped up to create all the fishes of the river. Its head is kept intact, and it is decreed no Murray Cod may outgrow that size.

Murray cod possess a cream to olive green colour with dark grey to greenish blotches over the head and body. Adult fish are commonly 60cm in length, but can grow up to 180cm may weigh up to 118kg. They have a preference for slow moving, murky water and are very territorial. They are prized as a game fish.

The Murray Cod is a predator that eats almost anything smaller than itself including crustaceans such as yabbies, shrimp and spiny freshwater crayfish, freshwater mussels and finned fishes such as carp, goldfish, redfin, eel-tailed catfish, golden perch, western carp gudgeon, Australian smelt and even other cod. It has also been known to eat ducks, cormorants, freshwater tortoises, water dragons, snakes, mice and frogs.

Murray Cod spawn in shallow waters, reaching sexual maturity at 4 or 5 years of age. They may live for 50-60 years.

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