Cape Galaxias (Galaxias zebratus): What does it look like?
  • The Cape Galaxias is a small, cylindrical fish without scales. Its pale brown colour helps it to hide from predators in the brown water streams of the Cape.
  • These fish live in streams and rivers from the Olifants River on the west coast to the Keurbooms River on the south coast. They feed on small invertebrates.
  • The Cape Galaxias is related to freshwater fish in South America, Australia and New Zealand. Scientists think that this family of fish was separated when the continents drifted apart.

Did you know?








Cape Galaxias (Galaxias zebratus): Why is it threatened?
  • The Cape Galaxias is endemic to the Cape Floristic Region.
  • It was once extremely common in the region, from mountain streams to lowland rivers and wetlands, but its numbers have declined in the city.
  • Most rivers and wetlands in Cape Town have been degraded by agricultural and urban development, canalisation and pollution.
  • Invasive alien plants and animals have also degraded rivers. Fish like trout and bass are hungry  predators. In many of the rivers and wetlands where they have been introduced, they have wiped out all the small indigenous fish.









Cape Galaxias (Galaxias zebratus): What can we do?

Die Oog


  • Follow the example of communities that are cleaning up their local rivers, wetlands and dams and re-introducing indigenous species. At Die Oog, a historical dam in Bergvliet, conservation organisations helped residents to remove alien fish from the dam and restock it with Cape Galaxias. They also replaced Mallard Ducks with indigenous ducks.
  • Do not release alien fish (goldfish, bass, trout, etc.) into drains, rivers, wetlands or dams. If you want to keep alien fish like goldfish, make sure that you keep them in a fish tank or in a pond that has no outlet to a stream or wetland. If they grow too big for your tank or pond, return them to the pet shop.
  • If you want to keep indigenous freshwater fish, you must get a permit from CapeNature






Cape Galaxias (Galaxias zebratus): Other threatened fish!
  • A small Critically Endangered fish called the Berg River Redfin (Pseudobarbus burgi) used to live in the Eerste River. It is now Extinct in Cape Town because Rainbow Trout were introduced into the river about 100 years ago and ate all the Redfins.
  • The Cape Kurper (Sandelia capensis) is an indigenous tilapia. It grows larger than the Cape Galaxias and Berg River Redfin, and is more common in lowland rivers and wetlands than in mountain streams. It is also threatened by rivers becoming degraded and invaded by alien species.


Cape Kurper (Sandelia capensis) Berg River Redfin (Pseudobarbus burgi)







Click the buttons to find out more about threatened animals in Cape Town:
Cape Galaxias (Galaxias zebratus)
Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus)
Leopard Toad (Amietophrynus pantherinus)
Micro Frog (Microbatrachella capensis)
Common Opal Butterfly (Chrysoritis thysbe)