Found only in a single lake, the kiwifish is a species of tilapia descended from a founding population cut off when a river changed course and isolated its freshwater acquire. Named for their round shape and usual covering of “furry” brownish-green algae, the kiwifish eats small insects while its quasi-symbiotic relationship with the algae helps to keep its skin free from parasites.

Critically endangered, and confined to only one small lake and a few tributary streams, kiwifish have been repeatedly threatened with extinction by development projects that would have drained their marshy lake, dammed one of the feeder streams, or dredged and stocked the waters to increase tourism. Each of these schemes failed due to the intervention of activists, but attempts to capture kiwifish to form a reserve population or breed them in captivity in 1999, 2007, and 2018 all met with failure, as the fish all died shortly after capture. Current efforts focus on protecting the habitat and encouraging ecotourism but have met with mixed success.

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