The Fynbos Fish Trust

Conserving freshwater fishes

and their habitats in South Africa’s Cape Fold Ecoregion Biodiversity Hotspot.

 

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FYNBOS FISH

RIVER SYSTEMS

 

Four river systems dominate the Cape Fold Ecoregion

– but there are a number of smaller river systems that are equally valuable for our Fynbos Fish. The three major river systems, the Olifants-Doring, Gouritz, and the Breede and Berg combined cover these percentages of the Cape Fold Ecoregion.

  • Olifants-Doring river system 37% 37%
  • Gouritz river system 34% 34%
  • Breede and Berg river systems (combined) 16% 16%
Bokkeveld | Cederberg | Koue Bokkeveld

Olifants-Doring River system

The system is formed by two major tributaries, the Olifants and the Doring Rivers. The western Olifants tributary is perennial and is located in an area of higher rainfall than the seanonally-flowing Doring tributary, which lies in the rain shadow of the Cederberg mountains. The Olifants-Doring system is a hotspot of fish biodiversity and endemism in the Western Cape. It is also the most important area for fish conservation.

This pristine headwater tributory of the Twee River is characterised by rocky outcrops and a sandy substrate.

Fish you’ll find here

  • Cape galaxias (three undescribed species)
  • Clanwilliam rock catfish
  • Spotted rock catfish
  • Clanwilliam sandfish
  • Clanwilliam yellowfish
  • Clanwilliam sawfin
  • Clanwilliam redfin
  • Twee River redfin
  • Fiery redfin
  • Doring fiery redfin
  • Chubbyhead barb
PIKETBERG

Verlorenvlei River systeM

This river is adjacent to the Berg River and is believed to have been the mouth of the Berg during the Cenozoic Period (which started 65 million years ago). Almost 50% of the catchment has been transformed and 83% of the river length is considered endangered or critically endangered.

The Krom Antonies River in the Moutonshoek valley is an important tributary of the Verlorensvlei River.

Fish you’ll find here

The Verlorenvlei is home to a unique assemblage of fish including the:

  • Verlorenvlei redfin
  • An undescribed Cape kurper
  • And two undescribed galaxias species
    Piketberg | Paarl

    Berg River system

    The Berg River drains the western slopes of the Cape Fold Mountains towards the Atlantic Ocean. There is evidence that the Berg was connected to the Olifants-Doring system during the Cenozoic Era, although the two systems do not share any characteristic fish species. Almost 65% of the catchment has been transformed and 85% of the river length is considered endangered or critically endangered.

    Leeu river, a tributary of the Berg near Saron

    Fish you’ll find here

     

    • Berg River redfin
    • Cape kurper
    • Cape galaxias
    • (Berg-Breede whitefish used to occur in this system but have since been extirpated.)
    CAPE TOWN | STELLENBOSCH | MALMESBURY

    Diep, Liesbeek and Eerste Rivers

    The Diep, Liesbeek and Eerste rivers drain a landscape severely transformed by agricultural and urban development. More than 90% of their river length is considered endangered or critically endangered, the Diep having 98% of its length considered endangered or critically endangered.

    Diep river near Malmesbury

    Fish you’ll find here

    The Diep and Liesbeek rivers contain populations of Cape kurper and Cape galaxias. The Eerste River also contains these species but previously held a population of redfin that has since been extirpated. This redfin is now considered a separate species from the Berg River redfin.

    BETTY’s BAY | KLEINMOND

    Palmiet River

    The Palmiet River drains a highly transformed landscape (about 50% natural) with more than 40% of the river length considered endangered or critically endangered.

    Fish you’ll find here

    • Cape kurper
    • Cape galaxias
    • Longfin eels
    • Freshwater mullet
    OVERBERG

    Overberg and Agulhas Plain

    The distribution of Pseudobarbus redfin in this region suggests that the small independent streams lying east of Cape Agulhas were connected to the Breede River during periods of low sea levels. More than 55% of the region has been transformed and more than 75% of the river length is considered endangered or critically endangered.

    Fish you’ll find here

    • Cape kurper
    • Cape galaxias
    • Heuningnes redfin
    • Longfin eels
    • Freshwater mullet
    Hexriver | Worcester | Riviersonderend

    Breede River system

    The Breede River system is well watered and perennial with clear acidic water. The two major tributaries are the Breede and Riviersonderend Rivers. About 40% of the catchment has been transformed and 46% of the river length is considered endangered or critically endangered.

    Fish you’ll find here

    • Cape kurper
    • Cape galaxias (more than three undescribed species)
    • Breede River redfin
    • Barrydale redfin
    • Berg-Breede whitefish
    • Longfin eel
    • Freshwater mullet
    Grootvadersbosch | Riversdale

    Duiwenhoks and Goukou River system

    The Duiwenhoks and Goukou are two independent rivers east of the Breede River that were connected to the Breede during periods of lower sea levels. Almost 45% of the catchments have been transformed and more than 90% of the river length is considered endangered or critically endangered.

    Fish you’ll find here

    • Breede River redfin
    • Cape kurper
    • Cape galaxias
    • Longfin eel
    • Freshwater mullet
    langeberg | Klein swartberg | Groot swartberg | Outeniqua

    Gouritz River system

    The Gouritz is a complex system with three major tributaries: the Touws-Buffels, the Dwyka- Gamka and the Olifants. Each main tributary is fed by smaller tributaries. Less than 10% of the catchment has been transformed and 25% of the river length is considered endangered or critically endangered.

    Fish you’ll find here

    • Cape galaxias
    • Cape kurper
    • Slender redfin
    • Small-scale redfin
    • Chubbyhead barb
    • Moggel
    • Longfin eel
    • Shortfin eel
    • Mottled eel
    • Freshwater mullet
    Mosselbaai | George | Knysna

    Southern Cape River systems

    The rivers of the Southern Cape are perennial without much seasonal variation in flow and have deep-brown-stained, low pH (4.5–5.5) water with little particulate matter. Almost 45% of the catchments have been transformed and less than 11% of the river length is considered endangered or critically endangered.

    Fish you’ll find here

    • Cape kurper
    • Cape galaxias
    • Forest redfin
    • Longfin eel
    • Shortfin eel
    • Mottled eel
    • Freshwater mullet
    • Freshwater gobies
    Plettenberg Bay

    Keurbooms River system

    The Keurbooms is perennial without seasonal variation in flow and has a deeply peat-stained, clear, low pH (4.5–5.5) water with little particulate matter. Less than 12% of the catchment has been transformed and 12% of the river length is considered endangered or critically endangered.

    Fish you’ll find here

    • Cape kurper
    • Cape galaxias
    • Forest redfin
    • Keurbooms slender redfin
    • Longfin eel
    • Shortfin eel
    • Mottled eel
    • Freshwater mullet
    ST FRANCIS BAY

    KROM RIVER SYSTEM

    The Krom River upper reaches are between the towns of Kareedouw and Joubertina in the Langkloof and it enters the Indian Ocean at St Francis Bay. it is heavily invaded by non-native fish and the native species mostly survive in a few uninvaded tributaries.

    Fish you’ll find here

     

    The Krom River has one endemic redfin species, namely the Krom River redfin, Pseudobarbus senticeps.

    PATENSIE | HANKEY | JEFFREYS BAY

    GAMTOOS RIVER SYSTEM

    The Gamtoos River has a very large catchment in the Eastern Cape that includes the well-known Baviaanskloof. It enters the Indian Ocean near Jeffreys Bay.

    Klein river, a tributary of the Gamtoos

    Fish you’ll find here

     

    The Gamtoos River has one endemic redfin, the Gamtoos River redfin, Pseudobarbus swartzi.

    NIEU-BETHESDA | GRAAFF-REINET | ADDO NATIONAL PARK

    SUNDAYS RIVER SYSTEM

    The source of the Sundays River is in the Sneeuberge near Nieu-Bethesda. The river then flows in a southerly direction, passing the town of Graaff-Reinet in the Karoo before winding its way through the Zuurberg Mountains and then past Kirkwood and the Addo National Park in the fertile Sundays River Valley. It empties into the Indian Ocean at Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth.

    Fish you’ll find here

     

    It is home to one endemic redfin, the Eastern Cape redfin (Pseudobarbus afer s.s.).

    UITENHAGE | PORT ELIZABETH

    Swartkop River System

    The headwaters of the Swartkop River are located on the Groendal Nature Reserve, north east of Uitenhage. The river enters the Indian Ocean near Port Elizabeth. It is one of two rivers that contain the Endangered Eastern Cape redfins.

    Blindekloof, a tributary of the Swartkops near Uitenhage

    Fish you’ll find here

     

    You’ll find the Eastern Cape redfin (Pseudobarbus afer) here.

    Help us protect these ancient species…

    many of which are swimming on the edge of extinction.

    CONTACT US: INFO@FYNBOSFISHTRUST.ORG