Description of field of research:

Instream barriers such as weirs and dams have contributed to the decline in fish populations worldwide. In Australia, many native fish species are threatened. For weirs, suitable fishways exist, but these are expensive and do not work for dams. The UNSW Tube Fishway, developed by a cross-disciplinary team of hydraulic engineers and fish biologists, provides an innovative approach that has been successfully tested at the Water Research Laboratory. In the next stage of the Tube Fishway development, an automated model is being tested for the first time. The model cyclically attracts and lifts groups of native Australian fish between two reservoirs in a controlled laboratory setting.

Using this automated model, this research project will systematically investigate the safe lifting of fish across different elevations and will investigate potential optimisation options of fish attraction and lifting. Weather permitting, this project may also involve the deployment of the automated Tube Fishway model at a local weir where the attraction and lifting of wild fish will be tested for the first time.In this research, numerical simulation of rubberized concrete noise walls will be done to analyse the optimum noise wall parameters to mitigate and absorb noise. Prior laboratory data will be used for the initial calibration of the model.

Research Area

Civil Engineering

This research project will take place at the UNSW Water Research Laboratory in Manly Vale. The Water Research Laboratory is a vibrant part of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and is home to diverse water engineering experts that pursue applied and fundamental research with real world implications.

The experiments of this ToR project will be conducted in in the Tube Fishway research facility, a dedicated research space which comprises a temperature-controlled fish keeping facility that houses native Australian fish species including Australian bass and silver perch, as well as a large laboratory that houses several Tube Fishway research installations. This research facility is used by the cross-disciplinary Tube Fishway team including 4 PhD students providing a critical mass of research personnel and a friendly research environment. One of the PhD students will be closely involved in this ToR project and will co-supervise the student.

This project will systematically investigate the performance of the automated Tube Fishway models under variations in attraction flow conditions and lifting heights for groups of typical Australian native fish species. This experimental study will provide important guidance for the safe operation of the automated Tube Fishway model. Specifically, this study will look at how well groups of fish can be attracted into the Tube Fishway by varying the attraction flow conditions and once attracted if these fish can be safely lifted across a range of heights. These results will pave the way for the field deployment of the automated Tube Fishway model. The student may also be involved in the world-first deployment of a Tube Fishway model at a real-world weir site which will be an important milestone for the Tube Fishway project.

Online background resources:


Relevant publications:

Felder S; Peirson W; Harris J; Farzadkhoo M; Suthers I; Kingsford R, 2022, 'Lifting fish across barriers with the Tube Fishway: lessons from the laboratory', Granada, presented at 39th IAHR World Congress, Granada, 19 June 2022 - 24 June 2022,

Farzadkhoo M; Kingsford RT; Suthers IM; Geelan-Small P; Harris JH; Peirson W; Felder S, 2022, 'Attracting juvenile fish into Tube Fishways – roles of transfer chamber diameter and flow velocity', Ecological Engineering, 176,

Peirson WL; Harris JH; Suthers IM; Farzadkhoo M; Kingsford RT; Felder S, 2022, 'Impacts on fish transported in tube fishways', Journal of Hydro-Environment Research, vol. 42, pp. 1 - 11,

Peirson WL; Harris JH; Kingsford RT; Mao X; Felder S, 2021, 'Piping fish over dams', Journal of Hydro-Environment Research, vol. 39, pp. 71 - 80,

Harris JH; Peirson WL; Mefford B; Kingsford RT; Felder S, 2019, 'Laboratory testing of an innovative tube fishway concept', Journal of Ecohydraulics, pp. 1 - 10,