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Source: Department of Conservation

By Carisse Enderwick, Community Ranger

Waikaka: The cunning ones. Galaxiidae: The fish that wear the stars.

It’s early morning and a small team of rangers is heading out to three Waikato peat lakes to check on the minnow traps set the day before.

They’re hoping to find waikaka/black mudfish, Neochanna diversus, a native fish with a clever little trick up its proverbial sleeve. Adapting to the ebb and flow of a wetland habitat, this 9 – 15 centimetre scale-free fish has found a way to do what most fish cannot: survive out of water.