Katfish Reach is a floodplain habitat of the River Murray that includes a range of habitats from permanent flowing creeks, freshwater water complexes, saline wetlands and floodplains.
Permanent Flowing Creeks
There are two main sections of the Katfish Reach which are permanent flowing creeks. They are Katarapko, and the Eckert, Splash and Sawmill Creek complex. Katarapko Creek is approximately 20 – 150 metres wide, ranging in depth <1 – 6 metres and has diverse instream habitat. This habitat consists of abundant larvae and small woody debris ad a diverse range of aquatic plants. from The fish community is diverse and includes both large and small bodied native species. Dominant species are Golden perch, Bony herring, Unspecked hardyhead, and Carp. A wide variety of other aquatic fauna is also found throughout this section including frogs, waterbirds, yabbies, shrimps and turtles. The Eckert, Splash and Sawmill Creek complex consists of seven distinct aquatic habitats ranging from narrow fast flowing creeks to wide, shallow backwaters. Riparian habitat type and health vary greatly within this region, with areas of healthy, diverse and dense habitat to unhealthy and sparse, generally depending on saline groundwater intrusion and amount of flow through the system. A wide range of aquatic fauna is found throughout this section including fish, frogs, waterbirds, yabbies and shrimps, turtles, and Carpet pythons.
There are 25 temporary wetlands across the Katfish Reach ranging in size from 0.1 to 41.2 hectares. The majority of wetlands have significant death of River red gum due to lack of flooding since the 2000 high river event and salinity. However, wetlands which have received water in the past three years through either being a managed wetland site, or part of the River red gum rescue project, still have healthy riparian vegetation. A number of wetlands have structures, or embankments, as a result of present or past management practices for the site.
Eckert Wide Waters is the major wetland with diverse aquatic vegetation and an average depth of 0.8 metres. These permanent wetlands are important during times of drought as they provide a refuge for aquatic plants and animals. The permanent source of water is also important for other animals such as birds, bats and kangaroos.
The saline wetlands are shallow and completely or partially isolated from the main river channel, with scant woody debris and few macrophyte species. The dominant aquatic vegetation is Common reed with areas of Three-cornered bulrush, Cumbungi, and filamentous algae. Murray hardyhead are presently only found within the outlet creek of the Berri Saline Water Disposal Basin which is approximately 1.4km long.