30 years IGL

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30 years IGL
DER
MAKROPODE
ISSN 0937-177X
31. Jahrgang – April 2009
Zeitschrift der IGL
Internationale Gemeinschaft für Labyrinthfische
– 30 years IGL –
2/09
Jubilee edition – 30 years IGL –
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
37
Nandus nandus – female
(Photo: A. Kandler)
Sandelia capensis-pair, on
the left the male, on the right
the female. The genders
can easily be observed by
the differences in head
shapes.
(Photo: H. Hensel/J.
Schmidt, Weißwasser)
38
Channa melasoma-pair Der Makropode
– Volume
31 – 2 / 2009
(Foto:
C. Kanele)
Contents
Auke de Jong (NL)
Editorial
40
Thomas Seehaus (D)
Macropodus in garden ponds
41
M. Hallmann & M. Scharfenberg
Species differentiation of the stocky, bubble nest building fighting
fish (Betta splendens-Group)
47
Karl-Heinz Roßmann Simple identification key for stocky, bubble nest building Betta – wild forms (only males in magnificent coloration to be deter-
mined), without breeding forms and hybrids.
53
Karl-Heinz Roßmann (D) fishes?
Gouramis of the genus Trichogaster – the new problematic
54
Peter Finke (D)
Licorice gourami in tanks: Basic facts and recommendations
Anke Binzenhöfer (D) Sphaerichthys vaillanti – the red chocolate gourami
Jürgen Schmidt Observations regarding sexual characteristics of dwarf
ctenopoma, bush fish and cape kurper
Christian Kanele (CH)
Channa melasoma – breeding, exotics and the IGL
Karl-Heinz Roßmann (D) They are called Badis badis – the “blue“fish of the genus of Badis 77
and Dario
83
Nandus nandus (Hamilton, 1822)
87
Polypterus senegalus Cuvier, 1829 – the bichir from Senegal
93
The literature team
94
The taxonomic research of the labyrinth fishes from 1758–2008
97
59
63
Rudolf Rucks (D)
Hugues Van Besien (F)
Bruno Urbanski (D)
Ingo Schindler (D) Cover picture:
66
72
Betta imbellis, Pontian, West-Malaysia (Foto: M. Hallmann)
Macropodus opercularis – der Paradiesfisch (Foto: T. Seehaus)
Dario dario (Foto: G. Ott)
Sphaerichthys vaillanti (Foto: F. Schäfer)
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
39
Dear members of the IGL,
After the publication of our journal 3/4 as special edition in 1994,
we now have a second anniversary issue of our magazine
“Der Makropode” available. The
reason for the first issue was
the 15th anniversary of the IGL
and it was the first issue of “Der
Makropode” with a colour cover.
Today, on the occasion of the 30th
anniversary of the IGL, we can
proudly present the second special edition. This issue is double
the size of a normal one and contains only colour photos. Especially for this issue, the many
different articles were written
by the members of the IGL. So
they reflect the whole diversity
of the thematic work within the
IGL. The fact alone that so many
members agreed to write an article for this special edition shows
us the potential inside the IGL.
In my opinion, this is used far too
little and it will be a challenge for
the future steering committee to
use these potentials slumbering
within the IGL in an even better
way. However we should always
bear in mind that it is a voluntary
work and that it remains as such
as Peter Finke wrote.
One should really assume that
a community dealing with labyrinth fishes represents a strongly
specialized organization so that
further specializations hardly
seem to be possible. But that’s
not the way it is. The teams
working within the IGL concentrate on particular species which
require special methods of keeping and breeding. Let’s think
of the keepers and breeders of
Editorial
the several species of Channa.
Nobody would come up with the
idea of co-housing snakeheads
and licorice gouramis, to quote
only one example. So there are 12
different teams working within
the IGL and of all these teams
you can read articles in this issue.
At this point I would like to thank
all authors making it possible to
publicize such a special edition.
That’s the way voluntary work is
fun. The last two and a half years
of my term as chairman showed
me anyhow that voluntary work
can cause a lot of pleasure as a
matter of fact. Particularly when
you are successful you wish this
would be our profession.
The IGL has changed during the
last years and it could prove that
it is really a modern working
international association. The non
profit making and cosmopolitan
nature shape our image more and
more. At the moment the internationality is especially reflected
by the two teams Parosphromenus and Channa. As already
announced the Channa team
and the Snakeheads UK (Great
Britain) are organizing a Channa
meeting in Meppel, Netherlands.
Participants from England, Scotland, Belgium, France, the Neth-
40
erlands, Switzerland, Sweden
and Germany will attend this
meeting. The English language
as the lingua franca of our team
enables the exchange of experiences and a Study Group Channidae was found which enjoys
great popularity. Interested parties of one of the most important
channa habitat in India applied
for their participation.
A program is the basis for the
work of all teams: “What is the
purpose of maintaining our tank
stocks?” How can we contribute
to the protection of the environment and what can we do to
protect the natural habitats of
our fishes are going to be exterminated at an incredible speed?
And how can we multiply the
species in order to sustain stable
populations in the long run?
Should we possibly even try to
simulate a kind of natural (artificial selection? 200 years after the
birth of Charles Darwinthese are
the questions which we should
concentrate on.
Finally here is important information in the matter of planning
the conference in spring 2010. In
the last issue of our journal “Der
Makropode” 4/08 you could read
that the conference should take
place from May 23rd – 25th, 2010.
This date is not correct!!! The correct date is April 23rd – 25th, 2010!
However Altena as the place of
the conference is right.
I wish you a lot of fun when you
read this journal!
Yours chairman,
Auke de Jong
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Team Macropodus
Macropodus in garden ponds
By Thomas Seehaus
More that 130 years ago the paradise fishes (Macropodus opercularis Linnaeus, 1758) were
imported from Ningbo in China to
Europe for the first time. On the
one hand they were very robust
but on the other hand also nicely
coloured and furthermore they
showed an interesting behaviour.
Therefore it is no wonder that
they became the pioneers of the
warm-water-aquarists in Europe.
The fact that these fishes are so
robust is – without any doubt –
due to the enormous distribution
area. From the south of Vietnam
to the river Amur in the north of
China they inhabit an area covering tropical, subtropical as well
as temperate climatic zones. The
fishes have to cope with hard
winters and frosted waters in
their northern distribution area.
Therefore the different kinds
of macropodus are excellently
suited for the outdoors, whether
in the garden pond of in a tank
on the balcony or in an outdoor
tank. Before going into the outdoor keeping more precisely I
would like to shortly present the
distribution area of the currently
known species and variants.
south of China to the river Amur
in the moderately cool north of
China as well as in Korea and
on some Japanese islands. The
requirements on the keeping of
tanks are very different when
fishes live in such varying climatic zones. Whilst paradise
fishes from the south of China
are only rarely confronted with
temperatures below 10 degrees
C, the most northern stocks have
to get by with severe frost up to
minus 20 degrees of air temperature. They can only survive these
temperatures in waters being
deep enough so that a frostfree water zone can be formed.
In summer there are only rarely
temperatures of more than 20
degrees in the north whereas 30
degrees and more can be reached
in the south.
Fishes from Korea can permanently be kept outdoors without
any problem as long as the water
does not freeze completely. Fishes
from regions further to the south
are more sensitive and have to
over winter in cold (~ 10 degrees)
but frost-free waters. Unfortunately we usually don’t know
where the fishes which occasionally turn up on the market come
from. The exporters fro the Far
East only rarely quote the exact
places where the fishes were
found, and if so it is a matter of
luck if the retailer really knows
the actual locations. Therefore
you should carefully deal with
fishes of uncertain origin and you
The round tail paradise fish –
Macropodus ocellatus Cantor,
1842
Paradise fishes inhabit the most
northern parts of the distribution
area of all macropodus. You also
find them from the subtropical
Macropodus ocellatus - male
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
(Photo: H.-J. Richter)
41
Spawning couple, typically the light female
(Photo: A. Hartl)
male in case of danger. The fishes
also cope with the attendance of
snails. Nevertheless the keeper
should take care that they do not
spread out of control in case he
wants to breed the fishes successfully. Once the larvae swim
free there isn’t any danger by the
adult fishes. However the larvae
of damselflies can take a considerable toll from the swarm of the
young fishes. Normally there are
however enough larvae which
grow up during the summer in
order to save the stock especially
since the grown-up macropodus
greedily polish off smaller insect
larvae.
The paradise fish – Macropodus
opercularis (Linnaeus, 1758)
(Photo: Dr. J. Schmidt)
M. opercularis should not over winter them outdoors.
Fishes imported from Hangzhou
(China) in the 80s could repeatedly over winter under ice. The
stock from the middle Yangtze
area shows comparable climatic
needs. Since several years paradise fishes from Korea have continuously been kept in garden
ponds where they willingly multiply, too.
Paradise fishes are very peaceful labyrinth fishes showing only
little aggression against each
other. However they are often
very shy so that you cannot see
much of them when there are too
few floating leaves which protect
them from being seen from above.
Floating leaves also prevent that
the water is too strongly heated
by direct solar radiation.
In the 90 litres mortar tubs which
I use, you can absolutely keep two
males together with two to four
females. As soon as the water
temperatures reach 15 degrees
the males start to to put on
their magnificent summer dress.
But between themselves they
remain peaceful. Females ready
for spawning begin to change
color, too. However they show a
bright creamy spawning colour.
The males become very territorial after spawning, because they
now have to protect the bubble
nest with their eggs or larvae.
Often the nest only consists of
one cluster of spawn which, if
necessary, can be moved by the
42
Considerably further south is the
distribution area of the paradise
fish. The most north borderline is
approximately in the latitude of
the city of Nan king (Nanjing) at
the Jangtsekiang (Chiang Jiang).
There the average temperatures
vary between 0 degree in December/January and 27 degrees
in July which is comparable to
regions in Germany with moderate climate. The most southern
distribution area that is known is
situated in the highlands of Dalat
in South Vietnam where there is
a moderate climate, too. As paradise fishes are very adaptable it
might be possible that wild populations exist still further in the
south. If these South Vietnamese populations are quite naturally there or if they are wild or
exposed tank fishes, is only very
difficultly or even not to be proved
nowadays. Today you even find
paradise fishes at places where
it is for sure that they do not live
there naturally, for example in
Florida or in Madagascar.
As already mentioned in the introduction, the first paradise fishes
were imported to Europe from
the city of Ningbo near Shanghai. Nan king in its turn is only
100km away from Ningbo. Therefore the paradise fishes from Nan
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
king should correspond to a large
extent to the first macropodus
kept in tanks. It was probably a
fortunate coincidence that these
fishes were imported even from
there and therefore they could
very well cope with the conditions in the first European tanks.
Fishes from the Nan king stock
are excellently suitable for being
kept in ponds. In regions with
relatively milder winter seasons
it is even possible to over winter
under ice, as long as the period
of frost spans only a few days
or weeks. I over wintered these
fishes together with round tail
paradise fishes at water temperatures below 10 degrees. They
can stay outdoors from March
until late autumn.
Macropodus from North Vietnam
can be kept in the garden until
autumn, too, because the climate
there absolutely knows cool temperatures which however rarely
fall below 15 degrees.
The middle and South Vietnamese stocks are clearly more thermophillic. You should not expect
them to tolerate cold snaps
with air temperatures below 15
degrees. I keep these stocks in
mortar tubs on the balcony only
from May to the end of September where you can easily observe
the mating. It is interesting to see
that the females of all wild forms
of paradise fishes which I know,
show a similar change of colour
as the females of the round tail
macropodus.
The last mentioned stocks are
not suitable for the garden pond;
because they need to be fished
out in autumn and so you always
have to expect losses. However
for keeping in tubs which can
easily be surveyed or outdoor
tanks they are absolutely to be
recommended.
The Hong Kong paradise fish –
Macropodus hongkongensis
Herder & Freyhof, 2002
A few years ago the Hong Kong
paradise fish was found in a
Macropodus hongkongensis
quite small area in the environs of
Hong Kong. In the meantime the
species has also been detected
at other places in Guangdong
(Canton) in south China. This
species of macropodus was considered as a variant of the black
macropodus at first. But in the
meantime it has turned out that
the fishes are much closer to
the paradise fish. Since further
imports of this species to Europe
are not to be expected, we should
intensively try to preserve it by
breeding. If this species will permanently survive in our tanks
we will see. It is said to be very
aggressive and less attractive.
The latter I don’t want to leave
as it is. Even though they do
not show loud colours, they are
attractively coloured in a tank.
In a harshly lighted basin at the
retailer’s they certainly do not
show to advantage and should
most likely become non-sellers.
Another problem is the extreme
sensibility against bacterial fin
rot. Several breeders reported
about heavy losses caused by
this disease.
They are supposed to be very
aggressive, but this is relative.
Against other fishes they are
even very friendly. Over a longer
period I had co-housed two couples of Hong Kong paradise fishes
and two couples of Macropodus
sp. ”rotrucken” without any
problems even if all four couples
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
(Photo: Dr. J. Schmidt)
spawned at the same time. However among each other they can
get very spiteful. Sometimes we
have losses, especially with halfgrown fishes when they begin to
fight out their hierarchy. Then the
keeper must carefully observe
the fishes and separate them,
if necessary. But as soon as the
couples find each other there are
almost no losses anymore.
During spawning, there may be
some fights between the partners
from time to time. Really serious
injuries can be avoided by putting two couples into directly
neighbouring tanks at the same
time soo they can concentrate
their aggression or better their
willingness to protect their nest
and the larvae against each
other fish, upon their neighbours
without hurting each other. With
regard to the possible keeping
outdoors, the same rules should
apply as for the paradise fishes
from North Vietnam.
Macropodus sp. “rotrucken” –
Macropodus spechti var. erythropterus, Herder & Freyhof, 2002
Herder & Freyhof described the
Macropodus sp. „rotrucken“ as a
second new species of the genus
of macropodus, certainly one
of the most attractive kinds of
these fishes. The natural distribution area is near to the city of
43
to purchase relatively young
fishes which grow up together.
Then grown-up macropodus will
be less aggressive, because they
know one another. The eponymous red colour on the back is
very much intensified when you
feed the fishes with frozen krill.
A cold hibernation also seems to
intensify the blaze of colours.
The black Macropodus –
Macro­podus spechti
Schreitmüller, 1936
Macropodus spechti var. erytroptherus
(Photo: T. Seehaus)
M. opercularis „albino “isn’t as robust as wild ones.
(Photo: Dr. J. Schmidt)
Dong Hoi in North Vietnam. This
species make similar demands
on being kept outdoors like the
other North Vietnamese paradise
fishes.
The Macropodus sp. „rotrucken“
is supposed to be very aggressive, too, what I cannot confirm
without restriction. The behaviour of these fishes is strongly
dependent on the conditions in
the tank. Permanently high temperatures often cause aggressive
behaviour. A cool phase below
15 degrees during the winter
months does the fishes good and
prevents conflicts reliably. In
spring, when the temperatures
rise again, the fishes get in the
mood fpr mating and the quarrels increase. Now it is time to
separate them, if necessary, in
order to avoid severe injuries.
When the tank is well structured
and offers enough possibilities to
hide, it is possible to keep two
pairs in an 80 cm tank. It’s ideal
44
This species has already been
known for a long time. For ages
it has been assumed that the
black macropodus come from the
environs of the old imperial town
Hue in Vietnam. However since
it is possible to visit Vietnam
again, wild macropodus have
been imported, too, which clearly
differ from the tank stock known
by now. These fishes are absolutely not colourless as the name
lets us assume. The body shows
a more or less strong blue glimmer when lit it up at the sides.
The back is dark reddish brown.
All in all, this form from the environs of Hue appears as a darker
copy of the Macropodus sp.
“rotrucken”. It is interesting to
see that the wild form from Hue
has primarily got a tail as a fork
with elongated outward fin rays
whereas the rays of the fishes
living in tanks are also elongated
but situated more in the middle
of the back.
Further in the south, but still
northern of the Sea Cloud Pass in
central Vietnam, you find another
kind of the black Macropodus.
Normally these fishes cannot be
differentiated from the one from
Hue. However they show a very
interesting change of colour when
mating. Both sexes get black and
light grey vertical binders so that
they almost look like black and
white paradise fishes! That was
the reason why they have been
called “Black Tiger” for a long
time. Jens Kühne and Dietrich
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Schaller were able to identify
more precisely the place where
the “Black Tiger” was found. It is
in a valley in the north of the Sea
Cloud Pass near the village Noi
Tron. Even though it has been
doubted for a long time, it could
be proved that the black macropodus was also found in the areas
in the south of the Sea Cloud
Pass from where they were then
brought to Europe (Jörg Töpfer,
Jens Kühne). Offspring of two
location variants has been distributed to members of the IGL
in the meantime, Lam Co (Sea
Cloud Pass) and Nam O (in the
south of the Sea Cloud Pass). It is
exciting to realize that the males
of these two variants have got
the same fin forms as the old tank
stocks! These points very much
to the theory of Schaller that the
first imports to Europe came from
the environs of Da Nang and not
from the environs of Hue area.
The black macropodus are quite
thermophillic and should not
be kept below 15 degrees for a
longer time.
M. spechti from Hue.
(Photo: T. Seehaus)
Keeping outdoors
Aquarists especially like garden
ponds and tubs or tanks on the
balcony, as they offer the possibility to arrange the garden
or the balcony in an attractive
manner and to set special effects.
Since we, the aquarists, tend to
populate each vessel which can
be filled with aquatic life-forms,
it is not astonishing that these
waters are often populated by
tank fishes resistant to cold.
We have to distinguish between
all-year and seasonal outdoor
keeping only during the summer
months. As aforementioned, the
stocks from the most northerly
distribution area in the north and
the middle of China also cope
with longer frozen waters. The
decisive factor for the success of
a planned outdoor hibernation
is on the one hand the length of
the frost period and on the other
hand the depth of the water.
Macropodus spechti from the botanical garden in Halle.
(Photo: Dr. J. Schmidt)
Garden ponds which reach at
least at one point the depth of
approx. one metre do normally
not freeze up during German winters. The water is deep enough
so that a zone with a temperature of 4 degrees can develop at
the deepest point in the water.
The fishes are capable of hibernating in this zone without any
problem. Normally macropodus
meet their need of oxygen by
breathing atmospheric air like
the most of the other labyrinth
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
fishes. In fact this is impossible
in a frozen pond, but usually that
is not a problem at all, because
the metabolism of the fishes at 4
degrees is in such a way reduced
that the gill breathing is sufficient.
If you over winter macropodus in
the cellar at temperatures well
below 10 degrees you observe
that the fishes only rarely take a
breath at the surface. In case that
the pond is not very large you
should remove the leaves and
the rotten plants before the frost
45
period starts in order to reduce
oxygen consuming processes. If
the mentioned needs are fulfilled
you can keep the Korean round
tail macropodus outdoors all year
round for example. As far as they
do not have any competitors with
regard to other fish species, e. g.
sticklebacks, they will continuously reproduce themselves. If
one can forego the feeding is to
be decided individually. In case
that the pond is large enough
and the stocking rate is not that
high, the macropodus will find
sufficient food. Of course the
pond should be well planted,
ideally with water lily and other
water plants with floating leaves.
It should also be equipped with
a marsh zone with a low water
level which can be planted with
fontinalis and other closely growing marsh plants. Now you have
the ideal whereabouts for young
fishes. Many infusorians and
crustaceans grow in fontinalis
which serve as food for them.
Scavengers with a minimum
length of approx. 3 cm are good
companions over a longer period. I
co-housed macropodus and cloud
mountain minnows (Tanichthys
albonubes and T. micagemmae)
without any noticeable losses
among the barbs.
Additionally to the ponds, tubs
are a good solution as a summer
domicile for other less temperature sensitive tank fishes being.
Mortar tubs are available in different sizes and for less money
in the building centres. They
should be placed where they are
not exposed to the solar radiation the whole day. If necessary,
they can be enclosed by plant
tubs, providing shadow during
the hottest hours in the summer
as well as avoid that the water
will be overheated. Moreover
the less attractive tubs can be
hidden a little by plants. Clever
do-it-yourself men can coat them
with various materials like reed
matting or planks. Little plastic ponds which are placed into
bigger wooden boxes filled with
sand are very nice too. They can
be covered by plants, too. The
plants covering the tubs serve
as decoration as well as practical
purposes. On the one hand they
reduce the danger that the fishes
jump out and on the other hand
they attract a lot of vermin, some
of which will fall into the water
and serve as a welcome delicacy
for the macropodus.
more spawn than the females
which hibernated in the cellar.
So it did not even hurt them.
Most other macropodus should
not survive such handling, but
the fishes from Korea must also
get through hard winters in their
country. In case that fishes shall
hibernate outdoors, one can try
to keep a part of the tank free of
ice by means of a small heating
rod.
As substrate one can fill in some
gravel into the tubs. Small water
lilies and water marginals are
suitable for being planted. Rigid
hornwort, pondweed or other
aquatic plants fill out the body of
the water and give the fishes the
possibility of shelter. Water cabbages, water hyacinths, water
chestnuts and floating water
mosses are more adequate plants
for the tubs of course for a tank
which is placed in the shadow on
the balcony.
But please notice the following!
As nice and interesting Macropodus are they are not part of our
local fauna and don’t belong
into water outside of our control. Please take care that your
Macropodus do not get from your
garden pond into natural waters.
It is not very probable that they
can settle here in the long run,
but it is not to be excluded, too.
Our remaining nature has enough
to fight against adulterations of
fauna.
When the plants are grown, the
summer visitors can be put in.
Macropodus continuously spawn
in tubs, too. Since the young
fishes do not find so many opportunities to retreat as in a pond
one has to be more attentive. In
general macropodus do not hunt
their own young. It is more or
less the elder young that decimate their younger brothers and
sisters.
The big advantage of tubs over
garden ponds is that they can
easily be fished out in autumn.
The pure water plants can over
winter in tubs. As tubs mostly
stand free, they totally freeze up
during longer and stronger frost
periods. This would be fatal for
the fishes. However it also happened to me two times that I
overlooked a female of the Korean
round tail macropodus. Once
there was a long period of permafrost even at the Bergstraße.
It lasted several weeks so that I
really thought that the tubs contained massive ice. But the fishes
survived and started with much
46
Literature
Freyhof J. & Herder F. 2002.
Review of the paradise fishes of
the genus Macropodus in Vietnam, with description of two
new species from Vietnam and
southern China (Perciformes:
Osphronemidae).
Ichthyol.
Explor. Freshwaters, vol. 13(2):
147-167.
Paepke H.-J. 1994. Die Paradiesfische. Die neue Brehm-Bücherei
Bd. 616, Magdeburg.
Chan B.P.L. & Töpfer J. 2000.
Bemerkungen zu einem neuen
Fundort des Schwarzen Makropoden,
Macropodus
concolor Ahl, 1937. Der Makropode,
22(9/10):115-117.
Seehaus T. & Schmidt J., 2002. Ihr
Hobby Makropoden – Paradiesfische. Ruhmannsfelden.
Seehaus, T. 2005. Makropoden
Fische nicht nur für das Aquarium. Aquaristik, 12(6): 60-65.
Seehaus, T. 2006. Makropoden
Teil 2: Die Haltung im Freiland.
Aquaristik, 13(1): 54-58.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Team Betta
Species determination
in the group of the stocky, bubble nest building fighting fish
(group of Betta splendens)
By Martin Hallmann & Michael Scharfenberg
We would like to ignore all
human cultivated forms and
populations originating from
those, even though it is almost
impossible in practice. We
cannot always notice, if a human
hand is involved or not. In obvious cases one should not judge
the appearance because this
would only lead to further falsification and confusion when
comparing them with wild ones.
Thus, highly glittering, rudimentary veil tailed and pit-bull like
fighting fishes are pets and creatures created by human hand
even though, they were caught
in the field. In the course of
time you have an eye for it. The
natural distribution area plays
only partly a role regarding this
species complex, since it has
mostly been adulterated. While
Betta imbellis is a type spread
to the tropics (southern race),
B. smaragdina/B. striktos is a
northern race from the subtropical areas with strongly varying
daytime and seasonal climate
fluctuations. Betta “splendens”
is not to be defined anymore due
to cross breeding with B. imbellis and B. smaragdina as well as
due to selective breeding. The
influence of pets looking like
splendens, on the wild forms
by transport and by exposure
is obvious. We are only able to
guess the look of the wild form
of Betta splendens. In fact this
as species description is confused by types developed from a
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
mixture of Betta imbellis, selective breeding and wild forms, no
clean definition has been done
by now.
At first confusion!
Betta imbellis and Betta splendens hybridise,and there are
from the left
Betta imbellis, Khao Lak, Thailand
© Martin Hallmann
Betta imbellis Koh Samui, Thailand © Michael Scharfenberg
Betta „splendensimbellis“, Taling
Ngam, Koh Samui, Thailand
© Martin Hallmann
47
from the left
Betta imbellis, 3 km from Don,
Phuket, Thailand
© Michael Scharfenberg
Betta imbellis, Klong Kala,
Phuket, Thailand
© Michael Scharfenberg
Betta imbellis, Bang Tao, Phuket,
Thailand
© Martin Hallmann
of the years and we have also
caught many of them ourselves.
There is no other wild form with
a comparable variation ( apart
from the reintroduced B. splendens). There were 5 or 6 distinguishable forms of B. imbellis
from Ko Samui within the IGL.
Both authors caught at least
three clearly different forms on
Phuket Island partly in the same
habitat.
transitional populations which
are stable with regard to their
genetic constitution. In the
meantime we have obtained
a number of location variants
of Betta imbellis in the course
Differently
varying
types
attracted our attention in Khaolak, Ko Samui and Phuket.
We would like to call them an
interim form from Betta imbellis to B. splendens. While there
were fishes clearly corresponding to the”standard“Betta imbellis, we also caught strong males
with saddle-shaped mouth. The
colour of the body was dark grey,
relatively poor in shining scales
and the red band of the caudal
fin was indistinctly bordered
towards the middle of the caudal
fin like the body of B. splendens.
The females showed a magnificent light brown colour without
any shades of red in the caudal
from the left
Betta „splendensimbellis“, Khao
Lak, Thailand
© Martin Hallmann
Betta „splendensimbellis“, Bang
Tao, Phuket, Thailand
© Martin Hallmann
Betta „splendensimbellis“, Bang
Tao, Phuket, Thailand
© Martin Hallmann
48
fin. In contrast, it is interesting
to see the Betta imbellis which
we caught in the west of Malaysia appear absolutely homogeneous per location (Kemaman,
Cherating and in the south of
Kuantan).
These fishes varied minimally,
but the single individuals only
differed within the scope we
know for example from the slim
red Betta. And what can we now
deduce from this?
Still nothing! There is only the
fact that it is not easy to describe
the species of Betta imbellis. At
first you have to comment on
the similarities of the forms classified as Betta imbellis, then to
exclude more strongly deviating
ones and finally to define ”imbellis” herewith:
Magnificent coloration of
Betta imbellis
The magnificent coloration of
the male Betta imbellis shows a
nearly dark grey to black basic
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
colour for body and fins with
lines of shining scales, red ventral fins with white and black
point, a red anal fin point and a
bordered bright red half-moon
in the caudal fin. The fin membranes of the anal as well as
caudal fins are patina coloured
(Horst Linke uses this term in
his book Labyrinthfische – Farbe
im Aquarium for a good reason).
These rays can partly overlay
respectively supersede the red
colour in the caudal fin fringe.
The dorsal fin is patina coloured,
too and it shows the pattern of a
ladder. A slightly reddish touch
can appear outer part of the
dorsal fin. Most of the caudal fin,
and sometimes the anal fin, too,
is bordered in black. The patina
colour of the shine scales intensifies to a partly flat shimmering
colour at the pectoral fins. The
operculum are also coloured in
that way.
With the definition of patina we
now come to talk about inner
specific differences! Although
Horst Linke certainly herewith
thought of the turquoise colour
of corroded old copper surfaces
(verdigris), Betta imbellis can
show shimmering colours from
light green over turquoise and
clearly blue. There are also differences in the form of the red
moon in the caudal fin. I did find a
location form which didn’t show
a touch of red in the caudal fin
anymore. The B. imbellis “Kuantan” (location MK 316) as well
as a location form from Phuket
(see photo 5) show the red halfmoon which is strongly overlaid by radial rays. The same
applies in principle to the red
spot in the caudal fin which can
be very small or which can take
over almost the whole caudal fin
as for the location type (Flora
Bay) from Phuket. So there is a
significant variation. Even the
“safest” and assumed clearest
distinctive mark – the colour of
the operculum – is not uniform.
I had fishes from Laos (commercial importation) with red oper-
cula. Apart from this, they were
typical B. imbellis and consistently coloured in their filial generations. There are all kinds of
transitions of the habitus, from
the typically slim, small stubheaded type to the high respectively saddle-dorsal type with
big head. There are also certain
stocks besides the short fin types
which tend to long fins like Betta
smaragdina. The maximal size
of 4 – 5 cm (Ko Samui) is a little
smaller than the southern species presumptions (B. imbellis)
Before it is becoming more confusing we ask the question of
the evenness.
At first Betta imbellis seems to
be a variable species. A “standard” form of Betta imbellis is
defined by certain similarities.
Differing from this some forms
tend against Betta splendens.
Infrequently we also find types
showing only very few parts of
red and tending to B. smaragdina
(e. g. a type from KhaoLak).
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
from the left
Betta imbellis, Kuantan, WestMalaysia
© Martin Hallmann
Betta smaragdina, Nong Bua
Lam Phu, Issan, Thailand
© Michael Scharfenberg
Magnificent coloration of
Betta smaragdina
In contrast to B. imbellis and B.
splendens, B. smaragdina generally shows a very homogenous
form, pattering and coloration.
The magnificent coloration is
to be seen in the photos. The
complete head and body of the
forms of Betta smaragdina that
we know appear flatly green (i.e.
there are no individual spots on
from the left
Betta smaragdina, Khong, Laos
© Martin Hallmann
Betta stiktos, Stung Treng, NordOst-Kambodscha
© Michael Scharfenberg
49
common characteristics of populations far away from settlements)
from the left
Betta splendens, Nonthamburi,
Thailand
© Michael Scharfenberg
Betta splendens, Rayong, Thailand
© Michael Scharfenberg
the operculum). The metallic
lustre of the whole body is typical for B. smaragdina. You only
see the grey to reddish brown
body colour on the forehead and
in the scales framing which is
reduced to a small net structure.
The rays of the dorsal, anal and
caudal fins are wine red, the
membranes of the fins shine in
green, and the anal fin shows
steel blue colours on the base.
The dorsal fin shows a ladder
marking, the caudal fin and the
anal fins show lines with dots.
The ventral fins are dark salmon
with a white point. The first ray
of the ventral fin is black. Betta
smaragdina is often very slim
and long finned. Some location
forms (Yasothon) reach a length
up to 7 cm.
Magnificent coloration of
Betta stiktos
Betta stiktos was only described
in 2005 (Tan & Ng), because
there obviously is a demarcated
occurrence in Cambodia (Stung
Treng, North- East Cambodia).
At the first view you realize
an astonishing similarity with
regard to Betta smaragdina. The
coloration of the fins leans con-
siderably to the blue. This species is smaller and stockier. The
profile of the head of Betta stiktos is flat compared to that of of
B. smaragdina and it does not
seem to tend to long fins as B.
smaragdina. Since we know this
form in the hobby only for a very
short time, it remains to wait
for how far “stiktos“ will adapt
to Betta smaragdina within the
next generations. Therefore we
rather consider B. stiktos as a
local variant respectively as a
colour variety of Betta smaragdina. A definition in the meaning of a species position seems
to be rather questionable.
Now the problem
The species of Betta splendens
is actually even more difficult to
define as B. imbellis. Firstly this
results from the influence and
the “mixture” of breeding forms
(which can be hybrids themselves) with wild forms. In face
of it we do not know how much
influence exposed fishes have
on the natural occurrence and
how the wild “splendens” once
looked like. Secondly the already
mentioned transitions to “imbellis” confuse things as well.
Besides the (short fin) breeding
forms we however know a set
of location forms (wild forms or
exposed renaturalised forms?) of
Betta splendens which you can
describe as follows:
Magnificent
coloration
of
Betta splendens (construed by
50
Male Betta splendens show a
magnificent coloration of an
almost reddish brown to brownish grey regarding the colour of
body and fins with none or few
shimmering scales, red ventral
fins, a lacklustre red anal fin and
caudal fin. The membranes of
the caudal fin now reallyshimmer with turquoise; the caudal
fin shows a turquoise to true
blue hem. The dorsal fin is turquoise and shows the pattern of
a ladder, the point of the dorsal
fin can be clearly red. Sometimes
the caudal fin is bordered in
black. The opercula are coloured
in brownish black like the colour
of the body. Sometimes there is a
red dot respectively band on the
operculum The characteristic of
blue and red colours strongly
varies according to the locations.
Mostly the body is relatively
not very high (photo 15) in the
remote location forms (not very
much influenced by exposed
fighters), but not in to all of them.
Betta splendens reaches a total
length of 7 cm. Their body mass
is mostly clearly higher than
that of of Betta imbellis. We also
know extremely slim and longish forms which do not differ
from the forms of B. imbellis or
B. smaragdina. The, mostly very
bull-like forms, which show a
flat shimmer on the back are not
considered here, because they
can be explained by to exposure to splendens. Effectively
the species name “splendens =
shiny” is only correct for breeding forms which indicates that
the describer did not find really
wild Betta splendens. These are
not very coloured and absolutely
not shiny. All in all you can recognize a (constant) influence of
the “wild forms” by exposed
tank stocks. It is to assume that –
in the course of the generations
– they will re-develop towards
the archetype. But certain characteristics of the breeding forms
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
will obviously survive over many
generations.
Definition of species and
mixture
Due to the variation of B. splendens, this “species” is most difficultly to define. Morphological
characteristics are not sufficient
in order to clearly define the
forms of B. imbellis, B. splendens
and B. smaragdina. We assume
that the types that we name B.
splendens often bear genes of
pets which were reintroduced
into the wild. The breeding of
fighters has a centuries-old tradition in Thailand and Betta
imbellis are certainly affected
by this in the south of Thailand,
too, where the line from Khaolak (west coast, in the north of
Phuket) to Ko Samui (border in
the east) describes the northern distribution border of Betta
imbellis. These fishes live here
in a clear and white water and
they consequently share the
biotopes of Betta splendens. Further in the south, in the west of
Malaysia, Betta imbellis typically
populate slowly flowing black
water streams and flood areas
i. e. the typical Betta imbellis is
actually a fish living in tropical
areas. You find it in black water
whereas Betta splendens and
Betta smaragdina inhabit the
subtropics. In the border area,
the climatic conditions may be
excellent for both species. This
fact would explain a transitional
zone where both species can
live and form a hybrid. You find
an untypical hybrid zone in the
(subtropical) area of Siem Reap
in Cambodia where B. splendens and Betta imbellis form
hybrids and generate a varying
transitional type. In contrast to
the Malaysians, who are rather
uninterested with regard to this
item, the Thais and obviously the
Khmers, too, are great breeders
of fighting fishes and they surely
do not ignore the local fishes.
Pla Kat exists all over Thai-
land, on the markets as well as
“wild” fishes in the fields. Norbert Neugebauer reported that
B. imbellis from Ko Samui were
found/availableon Phuket! The
same certainly happens to the B.
splendens with short fins which
you can buy on the markets of
Ko Samui or Phuket. The hybridization of the fauna due to unintentional or deliberate exposure
leads to genetically inhomogeneous types and to the types
which deviate from the standards. Although the species of
B. imbellis, B. smaragdina and B.
splendens can still be crossbred,
the existing crossing barrier and
accommodation to the current
climates as well as water types
prevent the complete mixture.
The standard types differ clearer
from each other as many other
fishes which are differentiated
as species, for example Betta
brownorum and Betta rutilans.
It is just impossible to definitely
differentiate the distribution
areas because of the transition
zone.
All this should not spoil our fun.
It shall make clear how difficult
it is on the one hand to establish
clear criteria for “species” and
on the other hand how important it is to separate the local
forms. Nowadays we do not find
B. imbellis anymore ? n captivity with this slim black form and
blue (not turquoise) fins which
we all know from many pictures.
They were lost in the mass of
different colours.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
from the left
Betta splendens, Siem Reap,
Kambodscha
© Jens Kühne
Betta „splendensimbellis“, Siem
Reap, Kambodscha
© Michael Scharfenberg
Exemplary examples of
unclear forms:
1. Betta sp. „Mahachai“
Fishes which are not fully
coloured resemble Betta imbellis
in their (normally) striped coloration, in the length of their fins
as well in their stature. The coloration of their head shows two
clear blue operculum bars like
B. imbellis. Males and females
have 1 -3 rows of shining spots
on their back and three faded
vertical stripes in their normal
coloration. In flagrant contrast
to B. imbellis there are not any
pure shades of red in the fins.
The patterning of the dissimilar
fins reminds of Betta smaragdina, even though the coloration
looks less green than blue. However the magnificent coloration
is only superficially similar to the
one of Betta smaragdina. On the
brown almost black body colour
(like B. imbellis) you see vertical
stripes of shining spots and not
a flat coloration. Furthermore
B. sp. “Mahachai” show a light
green first fin ray in the ventral
fins. When you take a closer look
they also show clear deviations
from Betta smaragdina. We do
not know anything for certain
51
from the left
Betta sp. „Mahachai“
(Photo: T. Kemeter)
Betta imbellis, gelbe Variante,
Bildsimulation
© Martin Hallmann
Betta imbellis, Koh Samui,
Thailand
© Martin Hallmann
yet, we can only guess. Scientists rack their brains over this
form with the relatively isolated
distribution area in the south of
Bangkok. In the simplest case it
is a hereditary solid breeding
form of the Thais making them
independent. Influences of B.
imbellis and B. smaragdina are to
be recognized from our point of
view, because Betta sp. “Mahachai” resemble the types of B.
splendens at first sight. Nevertheless I know pictures of breeding forms (B. splendens possibly
crossbred with B. smaragdina)
which show fishes with similar structure of the patterning
respectively coloration.
2. Betta sp. „Siem Reap“
Fishes from this group were
independently caught by Linke/
Hermann and Kühne in the surroundings of Ankor Wat/Cambodia. It is difficult to describe them
as they vary from “splendens” to
“imbellis” in all facets. Therefore
we find here the rather reliable
evidence that Betta splendens
and Betta imbellis generate
hybrids and that variable intermediate forms arise. Please compare the two photos concerning
Betta sp. “Siem Reap”. It is not
possible to reconstruct anymore
which form originally existed or
if both were created by human
hand.
Parallel there are still some peculiarities.
We have two peculiar forms
whose coloration we could not
explain at first: a colour form
of Betta imbellis from Penang
which was caught by Bernd
Keiler in the 80s. Some of the
offspring showed yellow spots
instead of the red colouring. At
that time we assumed that this
would be a mutant with a colour
deficiency or the influence of
exposed Pla Kats. The second
peculiarity is a Betta “imbellis” from Ko Samui (compare the
photos) whose appearance in
the youth indeed corresponded
to the attached photo 1. When
the fish grew older it completely
lost its red coloration and today
it shows flat turquoise fins. The
fighting fishes which we found
in the near of settlements are
neverheless obviously often
hybrids.
Summary
It is only sometimes unambiguous to compare definitively the
forms that we know. It mostly
becomes more difficult when
you take a closer look. Everybody knows how easy you may
52
go into a skid when you want
to differentiate the “species” of
Betta splendens, Betta imbellis
and Betta smaragdina/striktos.
You would have to define the criteria of the described species.
This is not easy, since the species occur in geographic breeds
with different forms of fins, coloration and habit. (Varying colorations depend on the mood
and the influence of light can of
course mislead).
There are obviously intermediate
forms in neighbouring distribution areas. Here you particularly
find aggravating individual distinctions. They scatter between
the extremes or they approach
another species in many points
(Phuket).
We have to start from the fact
that there is a potential and
unintended hybridization in the
inhabited areas (which are not
concerned here?) of the “wild
forms” with former “pets”. The
Thais are great breeders of fish
and enthusiasts of Pla Kat! They
have already inserted active or
passive gene material of all three
species. While the appearance of
Betta imbellis and B. smaragdina
is plainly to be defined at a large
extent, it is very unclear with
regard to Betta splendens. Here
we have many colour races and
breeding forms that can again
be caught after being exposed.
We can only guess which form
of Betta splendens is said to be
the original one. Because of the
global popularity of Pla Kat (the
fighter B. splendens) and pot
fishes (pets) – also in the distri-
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
bution areas of B. imbellis and B.
smaragdina – it is certainly usual
to crossbreed different forms for
embellishment or enhancement
of the aggressiveness. Think of
our small animal breeders.
Even though one can suppose that a species is formed
and determined by its habitat
(climate, water body …) and
therefore – in terms of evolution – most of the genes of the
breeding forms get lost, we have
to consider the following: it is
difficult to look the genetic history of a Betta which was caught
by oneself or even bought on
the market. If the fishes remain
somewhat homozygous (in the
meaning of the visible characteristics of the corresponding
species), they are listed in our
stock list. Nevertheless we get
surprised again and again.
Of course all these examinations
are dependent on systematic definitions. The moment from when
a status of species is justified or
when you talk about a subspecies, is a question of adequacy
and in the eye of the beholder
and in practice of course in the
dimension of the analysed collection of material (are there
any intermediate forms or not)
and in the used differentiation
raster. Our “term” of species
is a model that functions only
roughly. Taking a closer look you
recognize that our fighting fishes
do not always stick to the rules.
The Thai call all fighting fishes
Pla Kat.
Simple identification key for stocky, bubble
nest building Betta – wild forms (only males in
magnificent coloration to be determined), without
breeding forms and hybrids
By Karl-Heinz Roßmann
Betta splendens
1
Head without shining scales, no black or red opercula spot
1* Head with shining scales
3
3
Shining scales flat on the whole operculum and on side of the head
5
3* Shining scales on the operculum in two clearly separated fields
4
Anal fin with red point, caudal fin with bordered red half-moon
And black hem
Betta imbellis
Anal fin and caudal fin without red sections with turquoise iridescent
fin membranes. Fin rays wine red to grey.
Betta sp. „Mahachai“
5
Fish with a length of 5 -7 cm, rather straight front line
Betta smaragdina
5*
Fish smaller with round front
Betta stiktos
4*
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
4
53
Team Trichogaster/Trichopodus/Trichopsis
Gouramis of the genus Trichogaster –
the new problematic fishes?
By Karl-Heinz Roßmann
Meanwhile the scene is a classical one: someone buys a pair of
dwarf gouramis in the pet shop,
beautiful big fishes. He still
thinks: “Anyway, why are they
called dwarf gouramis?” He puts
them into a properly prepared
tank and enjoys them almost
for four weeks. Then the disaster takes its course, the fishes
get big stomachs, goggle-eyes,
ulcers and die a few days later.
The poor aquarist thinks of a
mistake in keeping these fishes.
He tries it once again – with the
same effect. Since our aquarist
has done everything correct by
now, it was probably the fault
of the fishes. In future he well
keeps his fingers off the gouramis. Unfortunately not only off
the dwarf gouramis, no, he gives
from the left
Trichogaster chuna-male
(Photo: H.-J. Richter)
Trichogaster chuna-female
(Photo: K.-H. Roßmann)
Trichogaster chuna a mating pair
(Photo: J. Vierke)
a wide berth to all species of
Trichogaster.
The elder aquarists surely
remember that the small western gouramis were not difficult
at all in order to be kept in former
times. You could buy Trichogaster lalius as small German
offspring in each good pet shop
and on many fish exchanges you
could find T. labiosa as well as T.
chuna after their late first import,
whereas T. fasciata has never
been offered often in pet shops.
I can remember that T. labiosa
was the first labyrinth fish which
I bred and that was easy going
in the 60s.
Now we have two possibilities
to explain: either the fishes have
altered or the aquarists have.
Maybe both are true and maybe
this is also different with regard
to the four species. Let’s go
through the species according to
their level of difficulty:
At first the one which is the
easiest to be kept: Trichogaster
chuna (Hamilton, 1822), honey
gourami.
54
Despite contrary fears and legends this fish is available in good
and healthy quality in the most
respectable pet shops which
means of course that everybody
who has not been successful
with T. chuna has bungled it
by oneself. After a hot and try
period from February to May the
monsoon follows with extreme
rainfalls and then a cool and dry
period from October to January.
Therefore the honey gourami has
to bear differences in temperature between 10 and 30 degrees
C and it easily bears even more.
So the maxim for keeping honey
gouramis has to be: rough but
heartily.
This applies to all Trichogaster
except for T. labiosa. T. chuna tolerates nothing worse than evenly
“optimal” conditions. Therefore
T. chuna was more stable with
unreliable heaters and the feeding with dried daphnia in the
past than today with a best-balanced feeding and heaters holding the temperature at exactly
half a degree. As all Bengalis
honey gourami survive the best
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
in unheated tanks with distinct
difference between winter and
summer. In case that T. chuna are
kept in heated tanks, the heater
should at least be switched off at
night. The food should be highfibre; the best are daphnia and
Cyclops. Concerning the water
value nothing worries the honey
gourami less. They are the best
adapted to variations of the
water values in habitats with
very rainy and very dry periods. One of the worst enemies
of T. chuna is perfectly working
reverse osmosis.
T. chuna, T. lalius and T. fasciata
feel most comfortable in garden
ponds.
With regard to breeding, the
honey gourami is the easiest
of all, quite simple, because it
has the biggest offspring of all
Trichogaster. But they are still
tiny compared to young Bettas
for example which means of
course that they cannot immediately be fed with fresh artemia
nauplii. In the first days it must
be nothing else but infusorians
or rotifers.
First of all you need a bubble nest
in order to get offspring. The one
of T. chuna is very big, coarsepearl-shaped and in one layer,
i.e. the male only builds one big
foam carpet, large enough to be
seen by the females even from a
distance. Additionally the female
will be courted to the nest by the
male with vertical body and distinct leading swimming. Attacks
upon the female and wild hunting which you can watch with
other gouramis, do not happen
with T. chuna, mainly because
the male is considerably smaller
the female. After mating, the
eggs are collected into a small
clump that is kept floating by
some fine bubbles. The original
bubble nest crumbles. Now the
male intensively cares for the
clump whereas the female cooperates in defending the area,
however primarily against other
females of honey gouramis.
Trichogaster chuna are quite able
to defend their territory. They can
harry their associates in small
tanks, but – and now comes the
positive aspect – if you keep the
modest T. chuna properly, they
will thank it double and threefold with their cheeky charm of
a poison dwarf and their brilliant
colours.
The next difficultis the Trichogaster labiosa Day, 1878, the
thick lipped gourami from Burma,
where it occupies the lowlands
at the coast near Rangoon up to
the plateau of the lake Inle. This
area is considerably further in the
south than the distribution area
of the Indian gouramis. Therefore T. labiosa prefer it a little and
more constantly warmer. After
the honey gourami, T. labiosa is
the most suited for tanks: longliving, resistant to stress and
even in community tanks hardly
to be stopped from spawning. If
there only would not be the horrible oodinium! I think only chocolate gouramis are even more
sensitive to it than T. labiosa.
Fortunately (and unfortunately
for keepers of chocolates) oodin-
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Trichogaster chuna „Gold“
(Photo: Dr. J. Schmidt)
ium only occurs in soft water. T.
labiosa which often live in relative hard water in their wild life
– in the lake Inle for example – is
therefore best kept at a water
temperature of about 15 degrees
(15°GH). But it may also be 20
degrees (20°GH). Thus: Please
keep away from this expensive
osmosis system!
If everything suits it fine, T.
labiosa soon start to build their
bubble nest without any problems in community tanks, too.
These fishes are similarly as
assertive as T. chuna, but due to
their size of up to 8 cm, they have
clearly more drive. The males of
T. labiosa which defend their
from the left
Trichogaster labiosa
(Photo: E. Sänger)
Trichogaster labiosa
(Photo: Dr. J. Schmidt)
Trichogaster labiosa
(Photo: Dr. J. Schmidt)
55
Trichogaster lalius (Photo: H. Linke)
territory can even make dwarf
cichlids’ life hard. So, even in
the time of nano-aquaristics: big
tanks! For two pairs of T. labiosa
it should really be a tank of one
meter. It cannot do any harm if
the tank has got a reasonable
water level so that the females
can take shelter near the substrate. The thick-lipped gourami
builds a simple, flat, coarse
pearl-shaped bubble nest with
bubbles blown some distance
to the nest and then brought to
the nest. Floating plants which
grow directly near the nest are
pushed to the nest with the
mouth. You cannot observe any
courtship display; perhaps this
is only because the fishes cannot
from the left
Trichogaster lalius „blue“
(Photo: Dr. J. Schmidt)
Trichogaster lalius
(Photo: K.-H. Roßmann)
Trichogaster lalius „red“
(Photo: H.-J. Richter)
live outside the big space they
require in normal tanks. In case
that the female which is in the
vaccinity of the male anyway,
she cannot be mated outside and
then led to his territory. After
many observations I have the
impression the courtship display
of Trichogaster labiosa and the
nearly related T. fasciata is that
the female approaches the territory of the displaying male until
she has been noticed. Thereupon
the female is “welcomed” with
raised fins and then very heavily chased away. This behaviour
does not keep the female from
returning a few minutes later and
this can last several days before
spawning. It has nothing to do
with the fact that the bubble nest
has not been finished yet. In case
of emergency, this procedure
could take half an hour. What is
more, the conflict of encounter
will hereby be moderated and
the maturity of the spawn will
be synchronised. The spawning
can only take place when the
female responds to the male’s
display behaviour in the right
way. She has rapidly to swim in
the male’s flank and to show her
intentions with some bites. The
female only behaves that way
when the time for spawning has
arrived. Each hesitation means
the time for spawning has not
come yet and will be answered
by an immediate attack. Just like
in real life, the gourami which
raises the children wants to be
asked a little. In contrast to Betta,
Macropodus and the most other
labyrinth fishes the female has
to leave the nest after spawn-
56
ing in a hurry. After a successful
spawning, the female disappears
from the territory of the male. It
has nothing to do with the further care of the spawn and she is
well advised to hide in the tank
until it is ready for spawning
again and to get in touch with
the male “to be driven away”
again. Young T. labiosa are very
small, like all gouramis and they
have to be fed with infusorians
or rotifers for a few days until
they begin to take artemia nauplii. The biggest problem with
the young is their proneness to
oodinium. There is no oodinium
in hard water. If you want to
breed T. labiosa in soft water,
you should add one teaspoon of
common salt per 5 litres of water
to the breeding tank. Then the
Artemia live longer, too.
If you have engaged yourself
with aquaristics for a while, you
know: the more tropical the fish,
the easier it is to keep. And the
further north the native land of a
fish, the more difficult it can be.
Nothing is easier than to keep
the conditions constantly at an
optimum by the corresponding technical equipment. It will
be difficult, if an optimum does
not mean constantly. This is the
problem we have with the two
most northern gouramis Trichogaster lalius (Hamilton, 1822)
and Trichogaster fasciata Bloch
& Schneider, 1801. Their common
distribution area is in the north
of India, the south of Nepal and
in Bangladesh. Occurrences in
Pakistan are probable, alleged
locations in Burma, Thailand and
Malaysia - as mentioned in Mak-
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
ropode 3/08, page 77 – are based
on mistakes.
The most northern habitats of
both species in the Indian and
Pakistani Panjab are approximately in the latitude of south
Turkey, where the continental
climate in India still intensifies
the differences between winter
and summer. In Delhi ,the Indian
capital, there are such night
frosts in January every few
decades so that even homeless
persons freeze to death on the
streets, whereas in summer the
temperatures regularly rise up to
more than 40 degrees C.
Fortunately the imported T.
lalius and T. fasciata do not come
out of this hell, but from such a
comfortable place like Calcutta
where the winters are at least
not so cold.
This means that the aquarium
temperatures for T. lalius and T.
fasciata have to be managed in
the same way as for T. chuna,
but here we are not yet out of the
wood. It is difficult to purchase
striped gouramis, Trichogaster
fasciata; in good health (I am
going to ignore the discussion
regarding T. bejeus this time).
We find offspring from Southeast
Asia on the market. I will report
about the problem with these
fishes later in connection with
T. lalius. Most commonly, wild
gouramis are casually imported
from the area of Calcutta. They
are mostly not very attractive,
very shy, very sensitive to stress
and very aggressive against
females. I was only once successful in breeding such fishes
and this happened in a garden
pond. The wild ones looked like
the T. bejeus which we know
from pictures, but the offspring
could hardly be distinguished
from those you can find on the
market. I failed to continue to
breed them mainly because they
were all males. You must take a
very close look at the offspring
of T. fasciata you acquire on the
market. You are on the safe side
when you persuade your personal pet merchant to receive
the fishes from the wholesaler
and to pick them up without
being unpacked before. Nothing
is worse for T. fasciata than the
barrage of germs in the tanks of
the pet shops.
The breeding of T. fasciata is not
that easy, too. You can very well
consider these gouramis as the
most sensitive to stress. Newly
bought adult fishes mostly need
a longer time until they trustingly
come out of their covering. They
often remain invisible for days
after you have worked on the
tank or even altered the equipment. It mostly helps to add a
little swarm of fishes which like
to swim a lot without being too
hectic. White cloud mountain
minnows or other small cyprinids are well suited. While other
gouramis define a territory and
spawn in a correspondingly
equipped and occupied community tank, T. fasciata must
stay alone. It is very stressful for
them to be moved into another
tank and to settle there again.
The breeding tank has to stand
calm; otherwise you only notice
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
the ugly noise of your T. fasciata
when they swim in fright against
the rear window. Above all they
are extremely rough against
females.. It seems that wild
hunting of male to female belong
to the normal courtship display
of T. fasciata and T. labiosa. The
females actively expose themselves to this situation again and
again. They probably test the fitness and the willingness of the
males in order to defend their
territory in this way. Sometimes
it ends fatally for the female in
tanks without enough space to
escape which means that you
should never keep the very vivacious T. fasciata in tanks which
are too small for the breeding. A
length of 50 cm is the minimum,
60 cm are better.
Trichogaster fasciata build the
“sloppiest” bubble nest of all
gouramis, but they use a ridiculous amount of effort. They
form rough bubbles with their
mouth and expel small ones out
of the gills, only to find that they
decompose half an hour later.
Finally, they probably spawn
somewhere completely different.
Just as for Trichogaster chuna, it
seems that T. fasciata build the
bubble nest more for courtship
than for brood care purposes. We
also know this from some chifrom the left
Trichogaster fasciata
(Photo: H. Linke)
Two T. fasciata-males
(Photo: K.-H. Roßmann
Trichogaster fasciata-male
(Photo: K.-H. Roßmann)
57
clids whose males dig gigantic
spawn holes although the care
of the brood takes place in the
female’s mouth.
Young T. fasciata are very small,
like all young of Trichogaster.
They must be fed with rotifers
or infusorians a whole week
long before they begin to accept
artemia. Then you have won,
they grow very quickly. After
the first phase of development,
when the young start to look like
their parents and to breathe with
their labyrinth, it is advised to
keep themcolder, 22 degrees C is
enough. The same applies for all
other species of Trichogaster. We
remember that a colder period
begins in India after the monsoon
when the fishes start to spawn.
According the old literature and
to my experiences we herewith
avoid the high death rate which
threatens the fishes during the
development of their labyrinths,
but which has in fact absolutely
nothing to do with the development of the labyrinths. Kept
like this the fishes are sexually
mature after six months.
The dwarf gourami Trichogaster
lalius (Hamilton, 1822) is a special one. Without any doubt they
are the most beautiful ambassadors of their species. Francis Day
called them “the most beautiful
little fish I’ve ever seen”. There
is nothing to be added. But they
are the most problematical ones,
too. Despite every pet shop
offering them, even in different
breeding forms whose aesthetical value is much disputed. How
can it be? The magic word is
free-range husbandry which is
of course possible without any
difficulty in Bangkok, Hong Kong
or Singapore all year round. The
fishes are separated according to
their sex as soon as possible and
raised in big and bleak concrete
tanks. Since all impulsion for a
courtship behaviour is missing,
the fishes grow up to a size that
wild fishes and also tank offspring
would never reach. When these
double-sized fishes are offered
on the markets, they are only 9
months old and have already
lived most of their life, since T.
lalius is a short-lived fish. More
than one year is normally not
possible, unless you keep these
fishes in an environment which
is free of stress and without “sex
and drugs and Rock’n Roll”. But
who wants to live like that?
Kept as pairs in an equipped
tank, the fishes are hardly to be
prevented from spawning. Most
of the time they begin to spawn
immediately the next day or the
day after tomorrow and then
again and again in the interval of
a few days. After four weeks the
fishes are burnt out and become
victim of the several infections
that they have brought from
Asia or from the European pet
shops. If there is now a clever
aquarist who seizes the opportunity with both hands and tries to
rear this offspring, he will mostly
suffer an unpleasant surprise.
The young which developed
well initially start to get ulcers.
They have saucer eyes and big
bellies. Not only one fish reaches
the sexual maturity. It seems
that the commercial stocks have
been kept under very clean conditions lasting for decades with
plenty of antibiotics so that they
are unable to resist the normal
stress in the tanks.
The only possibility to get healthy
breeding stocks is either to start
with wild ones which are actually imported from time to time,
or to try to keep fishes from old
tank stocks. Some time ago you
could more and more find very
nice and healthy animals on the
markets which came from Poland
or the Czech Republic. They had
the advantage over the wild ones
from India that they are not so
shy. You see them very rarely in
the tank and this shyness eases
up only slowly despite several
generations of offspring. At the
moment dwarf gouramis from
Bangladesh are bred within the
IGL which are oddly enough
58
absolutely not shy, not even the
wild ones.
The small size of the wild fishes
and their European offspring
is remarkable. When looking at
these fishes you can understand
why the old aquarists called
them dwarf gouramis.
Trichogaster lalius are hard to
prevent from spawning under
good conditions. As fishes
which spawn during the Monsoon, within hours, they quit
the standby mode in which they
await the rainy season under
natural conditions. When you
start with healthy fishes you normally have the first clutch within
48 hours and others will very
quickly follow.
Dwarf gouramis are masters
of building bubble nests. They
build a nest approximately 5 cm
in diameter by means of a few
bubbles of using alga filaments,
moostwines, roots of floating
plants and all other possible
materials which they sometimes
gather from far distances. This
creation is so solid that you can
take it out of the water with
your fingers without damaging
it. Females that are ready for
spawning are lured by the male’s
impressive behaviour. In order to
lure her under the nest the male
– swimming sideward - spreads
its fins so that his “girl” can see
the whole brilliance.
Newly-hatched dwarf gouramis
really are the smallest existing labyrinth fishes. They need
powder food during the first ten
days until they greedily accept
the first artemia nauplii. From
then it is easy. All gouramis do
not make heavy demands on
food. It should only be high-fibre. Gouramis devour a lot and
they are good doers. It is recommended to feed them with “the
handbrake on”. This is the only
way how you get small, “wellformed” and colourful fishes.
Alas - Yep! Dwarf gouramis do
not think much of reverse osmosis systems.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Team Prachtguramis – Parosphromenus and Malpulutta
Licorice gourami in tanks:
Basic facts and recommendations
By Peter Finke
1. Requirements
The team of licorice gourami primarily works on labyrinth fishes
of the genus of Parosphromenus,
a relatively unified group of small
fishes (the maximum size of most
species is 4 cm). In the courtship
dress of the males they are exceptionally gorgeous fishes coming
from virgin forest streams in
Malaysia and Indonesia. A lot of
aquarists do not know this species, because you rarely find them
in pet shops. They are even not
mentioned in most books about
aquaristics. Moreover these are
fantastic fishes which are ideal for
being kept in tanks in a way. However they are almost all threatened
in their existence. So we have to
pay them special attention. The
monotype Malpulutta was added
to the team of licorice gourami
only for pragmatic reasons. This
genus is not closely related to
Parosphromenus, but demands
similar keeping conditions. Since
you need a certain effort for this,
it is likely to entrust Malpulutta
kretseri to this team.
At the beginning of the engagement with “Paros” you should
get straight one thing in your
mind: Licorice gouramis demand
a partial change in thinking. Our
other aquarist customs are not
necessarily suitable for these fan-
tastic fishes. The model of the
brightly illuminated community
tank which contains many kinds
of plants and large-scale technical
equipment, fails here. Even the
wish only to keep these rare and
threatened fishes is not a good
idea at all. They are life-forms
for small, even very small tanks
of their own where they multiply
nearly without our assistance and
only then they show their interesting behaviour.
2. The species
At present 18 species of Parosphromenus
are
scientifically
described, but we still know quite
a number of further species/forms
which have not been described
yet. How many of them are real
species, is actually hard to say. In
the last Paro census from autumn
2008 we distinguished 64 forms
from which we found 49 in the
team; in the meantime we have
got 50 forms in the tank stock.
(For the general systematology of
licorice gourami cp. M. Hallmann,
3/2008, p. 95-99; tbc). You can
roughly distinguish two groups.
On the one hand the two small
species with very slim bodies – P.
parvulus and P. ornaticauda – and
on the other hand all others. In
some ways P. sumatranus mediates between both groups. In the
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
big remaining group you find the
largest species which is known
by now P. quindecim (the males
can reach a length up to 6 cm)),
species with drawn-out caudal
filaments (et al. P. paludicola, P.
filamentous, P. deissneri), with
monochrome fins (P. anjunganensis) and with spotted unpaired fins
which also show dots on the side
of the body (P. linkei, P. pahuensis), as well as the large group of
animals with round caudal whose
ribbon like pattern takes up the
one of the unpaired fins. Particularly one subgroup of this group
strikes here as very homogeneous,
the so-called group of P. harvey
(among others with P. harveyi, P.
tweedei, P. bintan, P. rubrimontis,
P. alfredi) whose species classification is partly especially difficult
and controversial. Almost every
year variations are discovered
whose classification cannot be
determined (e. g. only in 2008 the
forms from Sumatra: spec. Dabo,
spec. Danau Rasau, spec. Langgam, spec. Sungaibertam, spec.
Danau Calak, spec. Pematunglumut; all these were caught for the
first time and imported by Horst
Linke).
All species may die out, because
of their binding to shadowy, acid
streams of the tropical rain forest
which quickly collapse by the
demolition of the virgin forest
through fire or for the building
59
4. Where can I get licorice
gouramis?
from the left
Malpulutta kretseri
(Photo J. Schmidt)
Malpulutta kretseri
(Photo H. Linke)
of plantations. Unfortunately it is
probable that some species have
already disappeared which we
have not known by now and it
is to fear that this will happen to
other unknown forms because of
the bad exploration of many areas
– especially in the east parts of
Borneo. Dependent on the Rains
and the accessibility of the known
habitats which have not been
destroyed yet, Paros are caught in
quantities and exported particularly to Japan and Europe whereas
the characterization of the species
is often not sufficient and also
deliveries of mixed species occur
under only one name. Mistakes as
will as mixings (the females are
often only hard to distinguish) are
frequent. All in all the commerce
with Paros makes up an infinitely
small part of the international
business with ornamental fishes
whereas Bangkok and Singapore
accommodate the most important
stations of export.
3. Two important factors: the
right water and food
Two elementary factors have to be
cleared once and for all before you
start to keep licorice gouramis:
you need very soft and acid water
as well as varied life-food. Before
these two problems have basically
not been solved, you shouldn’t go
ahead. There are good solutions
for both nowadays; however you
have to put in a certain effort for
this purpose.
Water with a carbonate hardness
over 1 -2 is not suited; the conductibility should not exceed approximately 60 micro siemens/cm. It is
not important how you achieve
this. The pH value should be in an
acid or strong acid range (approximately 4 – 6.5, the last one is often
sufficient, but not with regard
to a few species such as e. g. P.
parvulus). Acidification by peat is
good, but other methods are successful, too. The use of some alder
pinecones is recommended, a leaf
of the sea almond tree helps to
reduce the germs. (see below).
Cyclops, black and white glass
worms, moina and artemia serve
as a good food for Paros; the last
two ones can easily be bred at
home. Please avoid one-sidedness. Frozen food is not always
accepted. You should do it without
it anyway, because you herewith
may risk stretching the water of
the small Paro tanks. From time to
time you can feed grindal worms
or small daphnia. Flying food is
normally not accepted, since Paros
do not swim on the surface. They
despise every dry food.
Both factors are not only pre-conditions for a successful aquaristic
of licorice gouramis; they are connected in the matter, too. As Paros
are well to be kept and to be bred
in very small tanks (see below), it
is important to show discipline in
feeding in order to not overstrain
these small water bodies in the
tanks. How to feed them in an economic and adapted manner should
be learnt in any case; it helps the
fishes to preserve their health.
60
First of all: all species are interesting. You should not insist on one
definite species which then is not
available for a longer time, but you
should be open for those which
are currently offered in good condition. At present most species/
forms are basically available from
the experts of the “Paro team”
(see below) in Europe (mainly in
Germany, Denmark, England, the
Netherlands, France and Japan).
The usual source for buying ornamental fishes is the pet shop. However pet shops are tailored to the
general request and only rarely
offer such fishes for special interests; the offer them anyway; they
are almost exclusively wild ones
that are rarely in good condition.
In case that the fishes are weakened by exhausting fishing and
keeping conditions, an effective
oodinium quarantine with 2-amino-5-nitrothiazol is recommended
(the preparation for the treatment
of the so-called “Lochkrankheit”
is sold under trade names like
“Hexa-Ex” or “Spirohexol”. It is
also an extremely effective medicine against oodinium).
The best is when you purchase
your fishes directly from a breeder
in Europe. Experienced breeders
of licorice gouramis are the optimal address for good fishes. Here
you normally get young, healthy
and vigorous animals. Sometimes
you have to pick them up by yourself, because the shipment of
sensitive living fishes is always a
risk. On the other hand especially
licorice gouramis hold out well the
transport in small boxes. The most
dangerous factor is the cold.
Most breeders of licorice gouramis
joined the “team licorice gourami”
which the author founded with
the active assistance of Martin
Hallmann about three years ago.
Their major task is to play a part
in maintaining the stocks of these
fantastic fishes in the long term
(see below “affix: information
about the team licorice gourami
(team Paro)”. If you are registered
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
here, you generally do not have
any difficulties to get the Paros you
would like to keep sooner or later.
Since the team Paro features some
nice successes. Before its foundation almost all licorice gouramis
were again extinct within a few
years, in spite of some considerable offspring. Now this is an
absolute exception by means of a
coordinated agreement on distribution, offspring and passing on.
5. The tank of licorice gouramis
The ideal tank for licorice gouramis
is smaller than one hundred litres.
Tanks of 25 and 40 litres with a
slightly streamed mat filter which
take one to two pairs each are
well appropriate. You only need a
substrate as settlement for bacteria, a very thin layer is sufficient.
Layers of leaves (washed autumn
foliage, in particular leaves of
oaks or beeches) are good as suppliers of humic substance, as cave
labyrinth and as hidings for the
young. One leaf of a sea almond
tree per tank seems to be hygienically advantageous.
In any case one small cave per pair
is the centre of the tank. Material,
colour and position seem to be less
important. They willingly accept
very small film tins which swim on
the surface, but most of the caves
are on the bottom: small caves
of wood, stone or clay in different forms and colours. The caves
should be placed well visible;
for this purpose you should hold
ready a torch. The fishes spawn in
these caves; both partners try to
collect the eggs which are heavier
than water and fix them to the
ceiling. They often gather a few
bubbles in order to partially build
a rudimentary bubble nest.
Paros are fishes of the riparian
undergrowth, they are in need of
company and do not like any big
light. Therefore it makes sense
to structure the free water space
with branches of moorkien wood
and water plants. Shady floating
plants (very good: Ceratopteris,
but also others) are recommended
as well as to darken the side
panes.
Another selection of plants is very
limited because of the extreme
water values and the lack of light.
Above all Java moss and Java fern
are suited but also single stalk
plants and Cryptocoryne. Plant
fertiliser and carbonic acid are out
of place. Some small and calm companion fishes (e. g. species of Boraras) or prawns can convey safety
to the Paros, but they also prevent
the raising of young fishes. If you
want to make this experience, you
have to do without accompanying
fauna.
6. The breeding of the young
During the courtship, which is
well worth seeing, the males
shine resplendent in really magnificent colours; the females
mostly
become
monochrome
bright pale. They are chased away
after spawning, but in the surroundings of the cave they are tolerated as guard outside the cave.
The male looks after the eggs and
the freshly hatched larvae during
the first seven to ten days. The
ceiling of the cave may not be so
sloping that the attached clutch
could slip out of the orifice. After
becoming free swimming, which
may sometimes take ten days, the
tiny young Paros swarm out. Some
adults have to learn in the course
of some spawns that it is not a new
kind of food; others seem to know
it from the first time and so they
let their offspring unmolested.
Therefore hiding places are very
important, namely on the bottom
(e. g. layers of leaves) and on the
water surface (floating plants).
So, in a calm, strongly structured
tank, offering many hiding places
a few or even many young fishes
have the possibility to grow up
together. After one or two weeks
of feeding with rotifers the young
can get the smallest artemia nauplii.
The small tanks basically constrain to discipline the feeding,
also when feeding the adult fishes.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
A good maxim is to feed rather
scarcely than a lot what helps to
keep the water quality and – as it
seems – the health of the fishes,
too. This applies all the more
when the young also grow up in
the tank. Strong floating plants
such as Ceratopteris are of a big
hygienic value now. This plant
helps to clearly reduce the danger
of an overloading of the water
by traces of food and products of
metabolism. At these times it is
proved to use filters and to regularly exchange parts of the water.
Otherwise Paros are well to be
kept in tanks without any filters.
If larger groups of young fishes
grow up (one clutch can contain
between 15 and 60 (or more!)
eggs) they later need a bigger
tank. Paros need a long time until
they reach their sexual maturity,
mostly approximately 9 months.
The males are often to be distinguished beforehand according
to the colourful pattern of the
unpaired fins. The dorsal fins of
the females are often flatter and
not so long on the tail; you see
this difference relative early, too.
There are always some young in
the groups of young Paros which
grow faster than others. They are
not necessarily livelier or healthier.
It is a question of natural spreading combining the advantages of
the fast growth with the advantages of the slow growth.
7. Summary
If you develop a routine in order to
fulfil their needs, you get to know
a new, very attractive form of the
aquaristics with small tanks. They
can also be arranged in a nice and
different manner, too. They can
easily be maintained, if you have
solved the problems you have
with the water and the food by
yourself. In a certain way licorice
gouramis are the ideal fishes for
tanks, because they do not necessitate any technically large-scale
constructions with a high consumption of water and energy.
Their petiteness, their peace61
the stock of Malpulutta has been
taken “by the way”; it seems not
to be endangered at the moment.
At the medium term it would certainly be meaningful to encounter
more appropriate classifications
from the systematic point of view.
Most of the breeders can be contacted via the address of the
group “Parosphromenus”; for this
purpose please write an email to
the author of this text who is the
leader of this team: [email protected]
from the left
Paroshromenus anjunganensis
(Photo H. Linke)
Paroshromenus tweediei
(Photo G. Kopic)
ful character, their interesting
behaviour and their rich colouring
emphasise the aesthetics of small
and nice tanks with biological
focus which are not dominated by
a big display of equipment. The
fact that they do not accept tap
water and that they force us to
feed them with live food will limit
their large distribution. But they
reward the necessary efforts with
the special charm of the particular. It is worth to play a part in protecting their population.
Many aquarists are learning today
that small tanks can also be most
attractive, after a phase of bigger
and bigger tanks which are more
ingenious from the technical point
of view. In the meantime the one
or other prefers to occupy various
small tanks which are very differently arranged and without too
much technical equipment, with
several kinds of Paros instead of
keeping a very big tank with a
mixed population of medium-scale
or big fishes and an immense technical display.
Affix: Information about the team
licorice gourami (“team Paro“)
The aforementioned “team Paro”
acts as team licorice gourami
within the IGL as well. But the
members also work closely
together with other associations
(e. g. the team labyrinth fishes/
European Anabantoid Club, the
French CIL, or the Anabantoid
Society of Great Britain), because
there aren’t so many friends of licorice gouramis so that you could
afford a split-up. Everybody who
is interested can join this group
free of charge notwithstanding his
membership to other associations
and so receive the information
about Paros at irregular intervals.
Since most breeders live in Germany, the “Paro Info” has been
published in German by now,
however with a short abstract of
the topics in English. The group
collects the stock according to
species, variations and location
forms in a very detailed way twice
a year (in spring and in autumn,
before the respective conference
of the IGL); the evaluation will be
distributed to the addresses of the
group members by the “Paro Info”.
Recently the hitherto last and
especially extensive stock evaluation (in anonymous form) has been
published to the first time: cf. P.
Finke, The stock of licorice gouramis in our tanks in autumn 2008,
in: Der Makropode 4/2008, p. 119
–128). On the exchanges at the
conferences you can always buy
some species of licorice gouramis,
among them rare ones, too. The
same applies to the meetings of
the friendly associations. Aquarists who cannot get Paros somewhere else are well advised to
participate in a conference of the
IGL where he will find what he is
looking for. As already mentioned
62
If you only would like to be added
to the mail group of the “Paro
info”, this is also recommended.
Most members of the Paro team
keep Paros themselves and most
of them breed already the next
generation, however the friends of
Paros are welcome, too, if you do
not have the possibility (interim,
presently, currently) to keep these
fishes, but if you want to take part
in this communication network.
In either case the group would
very much appreciate it, if further
friends of licorice gouramis joined
them due to this publication.
By now the work of the team has
been extraordinarily successful:
no species in our tanks has become
extinct since their establishment,
all described but missing species
by now could be found and bred,
most of the existing stocks of the
different species can/could survive by offspring. Many unknown
forms could be newly brought
in and bred. But for the future it
remains uncertain, if this good
balance can really be held out at
the long term. Also in future we
are dependent on imports. Nearly
one hundred active friends of licorice gouramis are still too few in
either case to assure the preservation of the stocks which have been
very much differentiated in the
meantime in the long run; for this
we need triple this number, then
we will have a realistic chance.
But there is a chance! Well: Let’s
tackle it together! Everybody can
help to preserve these nice little
fishes!
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Team Ctenops/Spaerichthys/Parasphaerichthys/Luciocephalus
Sphaerichthys vaillanti –
the red chocolate gourami
By Anke Binzenhöfer
My first labyrinth fishes were
chocolate gouramis and as it is
with your first love…, they are still
the fishes “of my dreams”.
bling very much Sphaerichthys
osphromenoides. Sometimes this
species is considered as a subspecies of S. osphromenoides.
Actually four species belong to
the genus of Sphaerichthys in
general:
Sphaerichthys osphromenoides
Canestrini, 1860, the most famous
one of the chocolate gouramis.
This species is full-sized with
almost 6 cm. The animals which
you find most frequently on the
markets are brown like chocolate
with beige bars. The borders of
the fins are also inscribed with
this light beige. The males most
distinctly the dominate male, have
longer caudal fins which can show
a light reddish colour, too. It is possible that you may find numerous
local variations which differ very
much in detail with regard to their
coloration.
Sphaerichthys acrostoma Vierke,
1979 with a total length of more
than 6 cm.
The species is the biggest of this
genus. The colour of their body
is a very light brown. Dorsal,
caudal and anal fin are bordered
in a slightly light blue. The form
of their head and body resembles
Spaerichthys vaillanti. An aquarist
who is a friend of mine described
it as follows: “Actually it looks
like a vaillanti whose colour has
been forgotten”. It came from the
black water areas in the southeast
of Borneo.
Sphaerichthys
selatanensis
Vierke, 1979 with nearly 5 cm, the
smallest one of the genus resem-
Sphaerichthys vaillanti Pellegrin,
1930, Oliver Perrin brought some
photos of his journey to West Kalimantan for the first time in 1996.
The fishes can also reach a size of
almost 6 cm. They do not have a
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
back which is as high as the one of
S. osphromenoides. Therefore they
seem to have a body form which
is a bit more long-drawn out. The
coloration of the males is slightly
brown, in the middle of the body
appears a beige coloured stripe,
the hollow is beige, too. You could
also call it gold coloured. Dorsal
and anal fins are spotted in beige
brown and bordered with a light
stripe. The caudal fins are nearly
transparent. There is a dark line
which runs from the peaky mouth
through the eye to the operculum.
However the real eye-catchers
are the females. The black eyes
are bordered by a red ring. The
cross stripes on the body sparkle
in purple red and emerald green,
from the left
Sphaerichthys acrostoma-male
(Photo: F. Schäfer)
Sphaerichthys acrostoma-female
(Photo: F. Schäfer)
Sphaerichthys acrostoma
(Photo: O.M. Nann)
63
from the left
Sphaerichthys selatanensis
(Photo: F. Schäfer)
Sphaerichthys selatanensis
(Photo: H. Linke)
Sphaerichthys osphromenoides
(Photo: F. Schäfer)
especially during the courtship
display. The fins are also coloured
through and bordered by a white
line.
The animals live in black water
and in their waters of origin you
find a pH value below 5 and a conductance far below one hundred
micro siemens.
By using a reverse osmosis system
you extract the hardness from the
tap water. Another option would
be to use rain water. Since the
pH value lies in the neutral range
from the left
Sphaerichthys osphromenoides
from Jambi (Photo: F. Schäfer)
Sphaerichthys osphromenoides
from Malaysia (Photo: F. Schäfer)
Sphaerichthys vaillanti
(Photo: A. Binzenhöfer)
with these methods, the pH of the
water should still be reduced, for
example by means of appropriate
peat. A further possibility would
be to use a demineraliser changing cat ions against hydrogen ions
and anions against sodium ions.
Then you have water with a conductance below 10 micro siemens
and a pH value around 4.3.
About four years ago I discovered
some photos of chocolate gouramis in the internet and I knew at
once: I must have them! Then I
got hold of a special edition about
labyrinth fishes with an article
by Klaus Weißenberg “Chocolate
gouramis … nice and difficult?”
the name of the author did not tell
me anything in those days, but
the article confirmed my wish to
possess these special fishes.
In May 2006 the time had come.
After endless enquiries, telephone
calls and emails six Spharerichthys
vaillanti moved into my house. The
animals were six months old at
that time and they had the typical
coloration of young fishes, beige
brown patterned with light cross
stripes. It had not yet been possible to differentiate their sexes.
64
The small vaillantis moved into
a tank measuring 1.20 x 0.40 x
0.35 m which had expressly been
constructed for them. Light sand
served as substrate. Herewith I
made good experiences in other
tanks, particularly in order to protect the substrate from rotting.
This is the same reason why I
always put some Malaysian livebearing snails into my tanks.
The tank was well structured by
a big filigree root provided with
anubias and java moss forming
shelter and hiding places at the
same time. A vallisneria and java
fern have survived until today, in
spite of the soft acid water values.
Floating plants offer security
to the chocolate gouramis from
above, but complicate the feeding
with drosophila, a species of fruit
fly with stumped wings.
Since Sphaerichtys vaillanti need
soft and acid black water for their
well-being and their reproduction
I use an ionic exchanger system. I
utilize the water that I then obtain
to change the water without
blending it. In order to give the
water the dark brown colour, you
can use leaves of native beeches
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
or oaks, alder cones or the leaves
of exotic sea almond trees. The
temperature in the tank is 25
degrees C.
At the beginning the six small
vaillantis were very shy. They hid
in the rear corner of the tank - pale
and in shock coloration (the front
side of the body in light beige,
the backside of the body in dark
brown). However this behaviour
quickly abated and then they
curiously swam across their new
kingdom always looking for food.
Their eyes were always moving in
order to not miss anything and as
soon as they had found something
to eat they picked it with their
pointed tubular mouth. I fed them
once or twice a dayas they clearly
preferred live food. They especially loved artemia nauplii, grindal worms, black and glass worms
as well as drosophila, but they also
did not despise granules. Initially
I was surprised at the quantity
these seemingly quite slim and
delicate animals could demolish.
After a while it turned out that I
had one male and five females
swimming in my tank which worried me in some respect, since I
had heard about the aggression
within the species, most notably
among the females. To my surprise the fishes amazingly came
to a very good arrangement with
each other. A pair was quickly
found which stayed together from
then onwards. As far as I know
the male spawned only with “its”
female. Even when I could never
observe the spawning by myself,
because it seems that it always
took place in the late evening or in
the early morning, the pair formed
a solid unity. The other females
were on their way in a loose combined system. They were not
allowed to come too close to the
male and quarrelled among each
other again and again, mutually
picking and pushing against the
middle of their bodies, which however never led to any injuries.
In January 2007, thus one year
old, one morning I detected the
male with a thick throat sac under
dense leaves under the water
surface – strongly guarded by its
female.
Within the following days it stayed
somewhere in the plant thicket
most of the time, it did not eat
anything and moved the offspring
in its mouth with constantly
repeating chewing movements.
The female was mostly at its side
and emerged only shortly for food
whereas it ate quite a little.
I admit that I quite scantly fed at
that time in order to not lead the
carrying male into temptation. It
bravely held out to the end and
after 20 exciting days, I seized the
opportunity to take it out when it
showed itself in the front part of
the tank.
In a 30s tank without any substrate with some leaves of sea
almond trees and water of the
big tank it started to spit out bit
by bit its young on the 21st day of
the mouth breeding. This dragged
on for two days, at the end there
were 42 young fishes with a size of
nearly 3 - 4 mm in my tank. Immediately they took fresh artemia
nauplii. I put the father back into
the big tank after it let out the last
young, because I did not want to
risk that it looked upon them as
a prey. Concerning a later brood
I was not quick enough and so I
had to observe how fast it was
after its young when it had let out
the last one – Not a chance to prohibit feeding!
The small vaillantis are divided in
two colours during the first weeks,
similarly to the shock coloration,
front light, back dark and the fins
completely transparent.
I kept them in small 10 litre breed-
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
from the left
Sphaerichthys vaillanti-pair
(Photo: O. Perrin)
Jungfische von S. vaillanti
(Photo: A. Binzenhöfer)
ing tanks without substrate, filtered by air lifters. One or two small
Malaysian trumpet snails recycled
the remaining food. However the
bottom should daily be aspirated
by a thin tub. Every day I changed
the water of the tank. I took half of
the water of the parents’ tank and
filled it up with fresh water.
From the beginning the young
fishes took artemia nauplii, micro
worms and very small moina or
Cyclops. Small black worms (if
available) are a very good food for
the young, too. If you regularly pay
attention to a good feeding and a
consequently good water quality,
the breeding does not cause any
problems.
Meanwhile Sphaerichtys vaillanti
swim in all stages of life and sizes
in my tanks. I could give many
young fishes to fanciers of these
wonderful, fascinating fishes
and my conclusions after almost
three years with my “strawberry
chocos”…, a labyrinth fish which
is not that unpretentious but marvellous and interesting!
Acknowledgements
I would like to thank so much
Frank Schäfer for the photos.
65
The young of S. vaillanti (all photos: A. Binzenhöfer)
Literature
Schäfer, F. 2008. Farbvarianten
beim Schokoladengurami. Aquaristik Fachmagazin Nr.199, 40(1):
38-41.
Weissenberg, K. 2005. Schokoladenguramis - schön und schwierig? Aquaristik aktuell Sonderheft:
48-55.
Translated by
Carmen Scharschmidt
Jacqueline Faust
www.weichwasserfische.de
Workgroup Anabas/Ctenopoma/Microctenopoma/Sandelia
Observations regarding gender characteristics
of Dwarf Bushfish, Bushfish and Kurper bushfish
By Jürgen Schmidt (Weißwasser)
I‘ve been tied to the aquariumhobby since I was 7. At that time
I was given my first tank by my
father, who himself has kept fish
since his childhood years. Naturally pretty soon gouramies were
also swimming in this tank, and
ever since that time Labyrint fish
have always been part of my permanent fish stock.
About 30 years ago I was able
to admire the first Bush fish I
ever saw at an aquarium friend‘s
house. He got them through mediation by the former Central Group
(ZAG) labyrinth fish of the GDR.
One year later I was able to take
care of the first Ctenopoma in my
own tanks, but sadly attempts to
breed them remained futile in the
first years. Still I was fascinated
by the somewhat different behaviour of this group of fish, and this
has never changed to the present
66
day. After the German reunification I had better options to obtain
species that were new to me from
the family of Climbing fishes. But
because there were always difficulties with importing specific
African ornamental fishes, and
Bush fish only came to Europe
as by-catch fish, it remained difficult to obtain these species and
that probably won‘t change in
the fture. Through years of effort
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
however meanwhile my small
fishroom in the basement is populated with very different Ctenopoma, Microctenopoma and by
Sandelia.
Sadly in literature and on the internet one can hardly find any information on this group of fishes. Only
pathes of information on the keeping and breeding of these species
is described, and in my experience
the information is highly dubious.
With these conditions, especially
the determination of the gender,
particularly in Ctenopoma, is still
a „closed book“. So at this point I
will elaborate on the gender characteristics of bush fish that I have
made through years of observation.
Let us first turn to the , with a
maximum of 8 cm body length
relatively small, bubblenesting
Microctenopoma Here are a few
gender-specific references to the
best-known species of this group
of fish:
Microctenopoma
ansorgii:
Already in juveniles with a body
length of less than 2 cm one can
already observe juvenile males
displaying with very intense
colors. In adult M. ansorgii it is in
general really easy to determine
the gender. Males have elongated
dorsal and anal fins and are more
intensely colored while displaying and courting. Females on the
other hand can almost always be
identified by their swollen abdomen. Still even experienced Bush
fish keepers have problems to
determine the gender , even in
fully grown fish. This is caused by
the fact that in every spawn males
with shorter fins and less color
occur. On top of that very colorful
females also occur.
Approximately two years ago “
Microctenopoma ansorgii was
imported by Aquariu Glaser, who
differed from the fish known until
now, by a few different characteristics. The overall appearance
of these fish was bigger and
stronger when compared to the
slim fish known until then. Also
there are differences in the coloration. Especially in the males
the following can be observed: in
the normal coloration the transverse bars are clearly visible and
ordened, meaning that they do
not branch like in the ansorgii we
know. When the fish display their
mating colors, they completely
loose the bands on their body and
instead of that display a uniform
orange/brown. Only the fins are
still clearly banded similar to the
form we already know. Overall
this concerns a coloration that is
very unusual to Bush fish experts.
Microctenopoma
fasciolatum: Regarding the gender
determination this is more a
„classical“Labyrint fish. Males
are a little bit bigger, with elongated dorsal and anal fins, and are
more colorful.Fully grown females
on the other hand are recognizable by their continuously swollen abdomen. Based on the above
mentioned characteristics it is
easy to determine the early precocious males in a group of juveniles. However, other males do
not show any of these characteristics prior to reaching the almost
adult stage. This makes it hard to
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
balance when purchasing juvenile
fish, only when the animals are
fully grown it‘s often seen that far
more males were purchased than
females.
In female Mct. fasciolatum frequently a light gray longitudinal
band can be observed, which
extends over the middle of the
body from the head to the caudal
fin. Especially females that are
ready to mate show this characteristic very clearly. Still this cannot
be used as a distinctive feature for
the gender, as males sometimes
also show this longitudinal stripe
during normal coloration.
Sometimes very colorful females
can be seen, especially in half
grown fish, who rival amongst
eachother and are easily mistaken
for males when only examining
the fish superficially. Depending
on the mood now and then one
can see beautifully light-blue colored males, but I won‘t discuss
that further at this point.
Microctenopoma damasi: These
animals are difficult to distinguish
as juveniles, and also in adult fish
one has to look closely to be able
to recognize the gender characteristics. Females have a more pointy
head, and a more developed stom-
from the left
Microctenopoma fasciolatumfemale
Microctenopoma fasciolatum-male
(Both pictures: J. Schmidt,
Weißwasser)
Microctenopoma damasi-male
(Picture: H. Hensel/J. Schmidt,
Weißwasser)
67
Ctenopoma petherici during spawning (Picture: J. Schmidt, Weißwasser)
Ctenopoma ocellatum-pair
(Picture: H. Hensel/J. Schmidt, Weißwasser)
ach. Males are a bit larger, leaner
and when they are in the mood
display intense bright/darkblue
colors. Besides that in elder males
the frontal regions appear remarkablt round. Weibchen sind hier
spitzköpfiger, mit stärkerer Bauchgegend. Männchen sind etwas
größer, wirken schlanker und
sind in Stimmung intensiver hell-/
dunkelblau gefärbt. Außerdem
erscheint bei zahlreichen älteren
Männchen die Stirngegend auffallend rund.
Some Bushfish loving friends
pointed out to me that there are
some different color forms of
Microctenopoma damasi from different regions.
Microctenopoma nanum: These
fish too can only be distinguished
from one another when almost
fully grown. Males have somewhat elongated fins and displat
brighter colors especially when
breeding or displaying, females
on the other hand are a little bit
smaller with a more developed
stomach..
As discussed at M. fasciolatum
female M. nanum can also display,
depending on mood, a longitudinal stripe. Supposedly there are
68
many different forms of M. nanum
which sometimes strongly differ
from other forms, from different
origins. To discuss these fish in
more detail would require more
comparative data and personal
experience, which at the moment
is unavailable.
Other Microctenopoma-species
like M. congicum, M. intermedium
etc.. (provided these are separate
species) are comparable in gender
characteristics to M. fasciolatum
or M. nanum.
Let us now look at the Ctenopoma-species, a group of bushfish,
where there is even less knowledge on the keeping and breeding
as in Microctenopoma.
Ctenopoma are fish, which lay
eggs in open water and with a
body length of twelve to 20 cm are
significantly larger than the species from the previously described
group of fish. If one has the possibility to purchase such fish at the
dealer (which is very rarely the
case), the desire to obtain a gender
parity is immediately disposed of
as completely impossible. Even
aquarists that worked with the
genus Ctenopoma for prolonged
periods give mostly only body
fullness as information, if any, on
gender differences in fully grown
adults.
Basically, I can confirm this, but I
must point out that this requires,
of course, the proper care and
feeding over a long period of time.
Even if these conditions are met,
gender determination is only possible in a few individual animals
and also fraught with many question marks.
In addition to this rather vague
method to determining the gender
in Ctenopoma species there is
another that seems more promising. The available literature in this
context repeatedly mentions the
so-called spike fields in the area of
the eyes and tail. For some years
I have used these spike fields successfully to determine sex in large
Ctenopoma species.
The spike fileds, which are in a
dense crescent shape under the
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
eyes of male animals, can be felt
easily with fingertips. To do so it
is of course necessary to remove
the respective fish from the
aquarium for sex determination.
When this is done with sufficient
caution this does in general not
result in damage to these rather
robust Ctenopomas. Now slowly
go with your fingertips from the
gills towards the eye. If it‘s a male
one clearly notices that the fingers
stick to these thorny spike fields.
Females have usually no, or sometimes very much smaller thorns
as compared to males. They can
hardly be felt.
This method of determining the
gender can be used in fish that
are 8 cm or longer. The older and
the bigger the fish are, the more
clearly these secondary gender
characteristics become apparent.
Frequently Ctenopoma-Males get
entangled into the net with their
spike fields when catching them.
In some species (for example. C.
acutirostre or C. ocellatum) the
spike fields behind the eye can
easily be seen when looking carefully, so the fish can be spared
the unnecesary stress. Using the
„feeling-method“ one can certainly identify C. kingsleyae and
C. petherici (also C. argentoventer
and C. breviventrale, if these are
valid species). A little bit more difficult, butwith a little practise also
do-able is the gender detrmination in Ctenopoma weeksii. The
prevalence of spike fields in the
caudal fin base I was unable to
Easily recognizable spike fields
in a male Ctenopoma kingsleyae.
The arrow shows the direction
in which one should feel when
checking the sexes..
In female Ctenopoma kingsleyae
the spike fileds are mostly much
more unnoticeable as compared
to males, or completely non existent.
In this male of Ctenopoma ocellatum the spike field can clearly
be recognized as a half crescent
behind the the eye.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
69
Here I place for example C. multispinis, C. pellegrinii or t. nigropannosum.
Of this group sadly I only keep C.
pellegrinii . In this fish it is really
hard to distinguish the genders,
even in fully gron specimens,
since it is only possible to determine that based on the larger
bellies in females. Ofcourse this
requires optimal feeding of the
entire group of fish.
Male Ctenopoma acutirostre with clearly visible spike fields. The
arrow shows the direction in which one should feel when checking the
sexes..
The in the literature frequently
referenced occurence of spike
fields in male animals behind the
eyes and in this group especially
in the base of the caudal fin I
cannot confirm. Despite detailed
examinations I could never establish the existence of spike fileds in
C. pellegrinii.
Still I did manage to make another
very interesting observation.
During dispay between male
specimens the fish extend their
throat sacks significantly. When
this occurs it appears as if one is
looking at mouthbreeders(like for
example mouthbreeding Betta).
A few final observations on the
free-spawning species Busch,
which will not help in sex determination, but which I still would
like to raise.
In this female Ctenopoma acutirostre the spike field is minimal and can
hardly be observed with the bare eye.
establish in all of the before discussed Ctenopoma-species.
Being the smallest of the Ctenopoma species, C. muriei is somewhat special. In these bushfish I
was unable to detect spike fields
uptill now. But despite that determining the sex is really easy in
adult C. muriei, since females are
much rounder and with 12 cm
become significantly bigger as the
males with a maximum size of 8
cm.
A
Ctenopoma-Group,
which
strongly resmbles Anabas, is
the elongated group( sometimes
referred to as the cigar group).
70
A very interesting color scheme
can be observed frequently in
adult
Ctenopoma
kingsleyae
during courtship and display.
The whole body turns remarkably bright gray. All scales seem
strongly black-rimmed - an interesting overall appearance, which
appears more intense in older
and larger fish. According to my
observations both sexes so recolor
when in the mood.
After a water change, but also
when the fish are in “mood for
love” one can frequently observe
in large bush fish clearly scarlet
colored points at the base of the
pectoral fins. This phenomenon
is known also from commercial
freshwater fishing. The Siberian
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) also
colors ,in stressful situations, to
blood-red.
For some years I have made in
different species of Ctenopoma
males which are ready to mate
an interesting observation. They
show a clearly visible point / spot
right at the foot tip of the mandible. This is reminiscent of a newly
healing injury. But why does this
occurs in this phase and why only
in male animals?
These and some other questions can possibly only, if ever, be
addressed in the next few years,
only by continuously observing
these, rather complicated and difficult to spawn fish.
A pair of the species Sandelia capensis: male (Foto: J. Schmidt; Weißwasser)
Finally, some information about
the third group of bush fish, on
the genus Sandelia (Cape curpers: I have been working for some
time with fish of the species Sandelia capensis. Some of the fish I
obtained at the autumn meeting
of the IGL in 2007 in Hamburg.
These are probably the remnants
of a population that has been
passed on for several years within
Europe, from fish friend to fish
friend friend. In January 2008 I
managed to breed them. Since
then, I had ample opportunity to
occupy myself with the sex determination in these fish.
In Cape curpers the males are
more slender, with a stronger and
larger head part. Females on the
other hand are more full-bodied
and resemble a little bit livebearer
females when they are about to
give. The males are also slightly
larger than the females. These
differences are already easily
observed in adolescent animals.
Male Sandelia capensis frequently
show during display or when
ready to mate a deep black or
black stripes in the head and body
regions. Females simply observe
the behavior from a distance and
as bystanders almost always
show a brighter color scheme.
Sandelia capensis female
Only during actual spawning the
female also shows this strong
dark color. These are observations
that I could make in half-grown
animals when kept in entirely different keeping conditions.
Due to the conservation policy
export of Cape curpers from South
Africa is strictly prohibited. It
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
(Foto: J. Schmidt, Weißwasser)
is therfore up to us aquarists, to
maintain a population of Sandelia capensis outside it‘s natural
range.
I hope in the future still a few more
labyrint fish friends will occupy
themselves with this highly interesting family of fish the climbing
perches.
71
Working group Snakeheads – Channa
Channa melasoma –
Breeding, Exotics and the IGL
By Christian Kanele
You are now reading the first
existing written report on the
breeding of the snakehead
Channa melasoma. Ah, ok, you
might think. And why is this in
the special issue of 2009? Well,
in connection with the publication of this article I’m also thinking about the role played by the
co-operation within the IGL,
which enabled in the end a successful breeding. Read the report
and tell me if you also know the
passion they have with their fish
and also with the IGL.
„Channa melasoma? –
No idea, never seen“
Channa melasoma is a snakehead, which is rarely to never
found in aquaria. The only specimens, which I heard existed
prior to my own possession of
these fishes were a pair of Frank
Schäfer – for which I presume, he
didn‘t obtain them from the local
fish store at the corner, but had
to go to some more trouble. The
previous images, which I gathered over the years, amounted
to a lot of images of Channa striata.
The IGL and her crazy people
The IGL was never a mainstream
aqaurist community. This is certainly caused by the fact that
labyrinth fish, apart from a very
few exceptions, are no mainstream aquarium fish. The exiting part of this marginality of the
aquarium scene is in my opinion,
that there are many „Exotics“ ,
who will muster the energy for
Channa melasoma after Bleeker
72
new things and bring about even
more like minded exotics. So far
my view on the IGL, now back to
the fishes.
When in 2006 my highly
esteemed association collegue
and Channaholic Exotic Pascal
Antler had the possibility to
obtain C. melasoma from Thailand, another wave of the above
described excitement occurred
within the Channa-WG .
„Palle“ also managed to find a
pair out of the 6 fish received
and to breed C. melasoma for
the very first time. I contend
that „Palle“ is the all time best
Channa breeder in the whole
world. That‘s the second thing I
love about the IGL, although she
ekes out a marginal existence, it
has gathered a lot of high-profile
exponents of the labyrinth fish
guild. Unfortunately, the couple
died some time after spawning,
so that only a few observations
could be made by him. The few
observations and experiences,
which he shared with us by word
of mouth (at that time without
the films produced by him for
that purpose) at a Channa-WG
meeting. This article would not
have been possible without the
unselfish cooperation within the
Channa-WG or the IGL. Since
I am better at writing than at
making photos, “Palle” contributed his photos to my words for
your reading pleasure.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Channa melasoma-breeding:
Episode one
Since this type of fish reach a size
of 30–35 cm, they require considerably more space than eg dwarf
snakeheads, such as C. gachua.
The first problem in the breeding
of snakehead fish is to recognize
the gender differences and the
creation (or rather, the “coming
together”) of a pair. “Palle” gave
me at two different IGL meetings
(Autumn 2006 and Spring Meeting 2007) one of the C. melasoma-animals he obtained to take
to Switzerland.
The requirements of the animals regarding tank size, and
the sooner or later occurring
rivalry, for example during a
“coming together” of a couple,
who afterwards claim appropriate space make the Channakeeping a hobby that requires a
certain environment of Channaholics. The Channa-workgroup
provides just such an environment. Within the group, as well
as within the IGL, the animals
are exchanged or transferred,
usually even without monetary
compensation, because it concerns primarily the animals and
the progress in breeding.
First one fish occupied (themale,
which I received at the second
meeting and from which no-one
knew the sex) the 450-liter tank
(1,5 m long) and after a few weeks
started to calculate, that the tank
was actually large enough and
offered enough hiding places to
house two C. melasoma . Tubes,
giant roots, large plants were
present. I thought I could dare to
place the two animals together.
Well, (the tank novice, as it later
turned out, the female) disappeared after a brief exchange
of blows in one of the many
hiding places. Today we claim
that the sexual differentiation
in C. melasoma in adult animals
is visible looking at the different head shape. The male has a
much broader head, even if not
wider between the eyes and gill
covers, such as in for example C
gachua and also others. In addition to that, the male shows a
marbled black and white throat
coloration, especially during the
spawning season – was it always
visible. Yes, but genuine joy did
not occur, because there was
neither the typical consequence
of a notpair: Channa-rescue of
an animal after a fight, nor was
there a rapprochement between
the two. Pair or notpair, that was
the question.
Should I call it a disappointment that I took the opportunity
to adopt three beautiful adult
Trichopodus microlepis into
asylum, since they fit beautifully
in the great quiet tank without
fear of being attacked by the
Channa. In fact, it remained after
the deployment of the three new
residents as quiet as before. The
T. microlepis generated even
more action and so the whole
tank unopposed by the uncertain
much larger Channa-male, who
at the time was a length of about
25 cm. That was summer 2007.
In the following months I was
busy with my new job in Bern,
which added 3 hours daily commuting. The room under the
roof, where the tank stood, was
now occupied by an au-pair girl
, so I could spend very little time
observing the fish, when I got
home at night. Only when passing by it was easy to see the
light T. microlepis swimming.
This was more difficult with the
C. melasoma.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
from the left
Mandible muster in Channa
melasoma
During transfer – size comparison (both pictures: C. Kanele)
Peacefully September 2007 came
to an end. As I walked past
the tank one weekend I was
startled, when I saw three very
battered T. microlepis, which
previously had not even had a
crooked scale. For one of them
it was already too late: „Oh no,
what happened here“! I became
suspicious (or hopeful) that this
was somehow related to the
C. melasoma. And indeed. In a
corner, well separated by a root,
as planned when I designed the
tank, stood a C. melasoma under
a school of newly hatched fish (in
hindsight they must have been
2-3 days old). I was dumbstruck
and electrified at the same time
(For this you need to know,
that breeding free spawning
Channa, as opposed to mouthbreeding ones, only in recent
years has shown better results).
But the first failures presented
themselves. Caring for the fry
appeared to be a problem for me.
On the one hand this was caused
by time on the other hand by a
lack of experience. This and
three other spawns (September
2007 – December 2007) starved
to death shortly after using up
their yolk sac.
73
Channa melasoma fry (both pictures: C. Kanele)
Channa melasoma-breeding:
Episode two
I will report on the now following
successful breeding attempts in
diary form.
Oh, yes, before I forget, just a
few comments on water values.
In general labyrinth fish and
especially snakeheads do not
require specific waterconditions.
Which is also what I do. I use our
medium hard tap water and the
water temperature ranged from
25 °C to 28 °C, depending on
the season. Water changes were
carried out infrequently. So that
is all I can say on this subject. In
other words, this isn‘t the important part for breeding Channa‘s.
The diary begins with the second
successful breeding. At this time
the first brood is two weeks old.
Since the first brood in September, I have improved the Artemia
supply, and found a source for
live Cyclops, and as such ensured
a proper food supply. The au pair
girl I have introduced to the suction and feeding of brine shrimp,
so that the feeding was guaranteed 2 to 3 times per day. Artemia
/ Cyclops can be fed directly after
the the yolk sac is used up.
Week: 17.03.08 – 22.03.08
Saturday or Sunday: During
the feeding of the fry I saw that
the pair had spawned a second
time. This occurred like all previous times in the usual place
(behind the large roots) in the
corner. A rough estimate of the
total number of eggs is 300.. M.
guards the eggs, i.e. is below
the raft. F. is in the other half of
the tank. She is never involved
in the guarding of the brood,
which means that C. melasoma
is no exception, it is a Father
family. The fry is also located
in the other half of the tank and
is either hidden between floating plants or located just above
the bottom looking for food.
They stay in a loose group, but
becomes a really tight group for
example during feeding in the
vicinity of „the place to be“.
The female has been swimming
approximately 3 to 4 weeks
now with a torn caudal, dorsal
and anal fins and she‘s always
hungry.
Sometimes some of the larger
fry „make a mistake“ in which
spawn they belong, and the
father makes an almost endearing attempt to drive them away,
biting in the water and by expelling air from the labyrinth creating loud „threats“. He doesn‘t
really succeed in driving away
these juveniles from the eggs,
and they eat away the eggs.
Monday: The brood starts to
hatch. One can see little tails
dangling from the eggs.
Tuesday: The fry have hatched
completely and are hanging from
the surface, belly up. Size ca. 2-3
mm.
Wednesday: fish have turned
74
over and are currently lying
like a raft on the surface. Color:
black. Start with feeding. There
are no juveniles on the hunt for
younger siblings. F. leaves the
brood in peace.
Thursday: Fish are free swimming in a school at the same
location as always. Daily feeding. No more hunting parties are
observed. Prior to feeding the
fry, the others, F. and the older
siblings, are fed. Based on the
experience from the first breeding attempt, the Cyclops are no
longer placed with a net in the
tank, but given with a syringe
along the glass. The M feels
threatened or perceives threat to
his brood by the net and “bites”
at the surface in a way that a
loud noise is generated (This
repeated
observation
made
the author believe that this is a
defensive strategy).
Friday: The juvenile fish of the
2nd spawn go to the bottom of
the tank (water depth 50 cm) to
search for food.
Week: 24.03.08 – 30.03.08
The young develop in the beginning of the second week bright
points in the two upper parts of
the eyes. By the end of the week,
they lightly show a longitudinal
youth coloration: black on the
top and bottom, beige, yellow
gold along both sides of the body
between the two black bands. M.
“guards” the brood. W. stays in
the distance, always interested
in food.
I removed for fear of predatory
behavior the first brood for the
most part. There remain approximately 10 to 20 animals in the
tank, because they had hidden
themselves very well and the
effort involved in catching them,
would have been tremendous
(e.g.. dense floating vegetation).
Week: 31.03.08 – 06.04.08
The fry develop the luminous dot
between the eyes on the head.
All fry now have the youth coloration. It is incredibly beautiful
to see the dark colored fish with
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
only the luminous dot swim in
the tank. Size of the fry is now
approxiately 5 mm.
The M. keeps „guarding“ the
fry. The F. remains at a distance,
always hungry. No hunting parties occur. The fry occupy the
same corner as before at the
other end of the tank. I feed the
first brood and the female at
the one end of the tank, and the
male and the second brood on
the other with chpped shrimp.
The female and elder siblings
no longer hunt the fry from the
second brood (anymore). The M.
doesn‘t react negatively towards
his wife. When the male comes
looking for food in the other
corner, there are no conflicts or
persecutions.
Week: 07.04.08 – 13.04.08
Due to climatic changes, there
are no more Cyclops, but only
water fleas, which are much
larger. The juveniles also eat the
water fleas. Some of the water
fleas are so large that the baby
fish (from approximately 5 to 7
mm) that catches such a water
flea is moved or „shaken“ by the
flight attempts from the latter.
The surface is covered with airbubbles from the fry. They are
caused by the breathing of the
young fish and appear to be very
stable.
Week: 14.04.08 – 18.04.08
A small proportion of juveniles
(first and second brood) is twice
as large as their siblings.
The remaining juvenile fish of
the first brood in the tank have
smuggled themselves in between
the fry of the second during feeding to grab the fed water fleas,
but not to eat the much smaller
siblings.
The M is still the same place,
as is F. As soon as I give a glass
with water fleas or brine shrimp
(in the rear corner), the M. is
aroused by the movement of
water, and patrols the spawn to
looks after things. “ The M. has a
permanently dark throat - in contrast to the female, which has a
much lighter throat. I think I recognize a egg tube from W. too. I
think the distance between the
two jaws for F. is larger than in
M.
Week: 19.04.08 – 26.04.08
The gap in size has increased as
compared to last week. The largest of the spawn is surely many
times the length and size of the
others. The largest fry is surely
1,25 – 1,5 cm , whereas a lot of
the smaller ones are no larger
than 0,5-0,7 cm. I think the basis
for the huge difference (taking
the first brood as a comparison)
is the change in food. Caused by
the extremely large water fleas,
the availability of food for the fry
will be scarce, and for the few
larger fish it is an Eldorado.
The group of fry (second spawn),
who occupied up until now a
single spot, temporarily dissolves
and they swim in the entire tank,
near the surface as well as in the
vicinity of the bottom. The fry of
the first and the second spawn
mingle in the middle of the tank.
After many observations and
based on the constant number of
small fish of the second brood, I
can say now that there were no
cannibalistic attacks by the older
fish on the younger. I repeatedly
observed the older fish attack
and swallow water fleas and not
the smaller siblings. The oldest
fry show „Respect“ for the parents, where also the parents
do not regard the bigger fry as
food.
The M. swims around this week
with a very intense (darker)
colored throat. I see a correlation with the tattered unpaired
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
from the left
Juveniles with luminous dot
Juveniles
(both pictures: C.
Kanele)
fins of the female. During the
first spawn, I could observe this
already, and I would not be surprised if pretty soon again a new
spawn would occur.
Week: 27.04.08 – 04.05.08
I was away from home from
Friday till Sunday. Early Friday
afternoon I fed the fish extremely
well again, to prevent notorious
hunger outages. When I returned
Sunday evening and looked
inside the tank, I found the fry
of the second spawn in the usual
corner near the surface – all with
stuffed bellies. I was surpised.
But when looking more closely it
was replaced by an even bigger
surprise. The juveniles remained
at te surface attrackted by the
eggs of a new spawn that were
just hatching. The seventh since
September! The tail movement
occurs two days after spawning.
Die Bewegung des Schwanzes
zeigt sich zwei Tage nach dem
Ablaichen. The brood besieged
the spawn site. With that my suspicions that I had a week before
in relation to a new spawn were
confirmed. That the fish always
spawn on Fridays is an observation that I would like to state
here, but I do not want to indulge
in further speculation here.
On Monday the fish had hatched.
All of them were on teir backs
in the raft. They still had a yolk
sac, which could clearly be seen.
75
torn fins is found in a corner of
the tank. Her waist circumference is significantly decreased.
The M. is in the other corner, but
no longer in the corner where
the spawns occurred, he still has
a dark throat. I can change the
filter nozzle in the tank without
the danger of attack. The fry of
both spawns swim together,
without any harm done, despite
the big differences in size.
Week: 02.06.08 – 08.06 .08
The larger animals of the second
brood lose their juvenile plumage, the longitudinal strips. They
are uniformly brown, and now
show an ocellus in the dorsal,
which at a size of about 10 to 12
cm disappears again. It is not the
age but the size that determines
the color. I was able to observe
this due to the parallel breeds.
And how is everything today?
Where the tail was still transparent at the moment of hatching,
now they were dark grey.
Tuesday the fish turned from
their backs to their bellies and
were swimming in a group. The
first Artemia addition was not
disdained. .
Wednesday the new brood was
swimming top to bottom. The
second brood I fed really well
to prevent them from eating the
new fry. In fact, I could see no
more attacks. But the oldest fry
from the first spawn, who were
attrackted by the fed water fleas
were strongly driven away by the
father. On closer inspection, the
first signs of the lighter longitudinal stripes could be detected.
On Friday, the picture changed
again abruptly. Both the father
and the second and third brood
had disappeared from the traditional corner. I found the brood
scattered in the tank. The father
was suddenly no longer interested in his paternity. This
meant that the third brood disappeared Saturday. The older
brood had fat bellies on a Saturday night, so that the suspicion
fell on them. On Saturday evening, the second brood, as well
as the father, arrived back in the
usual area. I have the impression
that the younger ones have not
found the road back.
Week: 04.05.08 – 11.05.08
There are very distinct differences in size among the fry. The
largest is 3 times as large as the
smallest. White mosquito larvae
were fed.
Week: 12.05.08 – 19.05.08
No events.
Week: 20.05.08 – 26.05.08
The fry of the first batch show a
dark edge on the unpaired fins,
so now the fish have four dark
logitudinal bands and in the
middle a red-golden stripe. Both
generations of fry form a single
group. The M. has given up on
his paternal duties, but still sows
a mottled throat. F. is pretty
trashed.
Week: 27.05.08 – 01.06 .08
The constellation of the family
has changed. The F. with her
76
Actually, there is not much more
to report since then . The rearing
was very easy, the fish are always
greedy, and everything else did
not bother them. Today (January 2009) the situation is that
there are still some fry together
with the father in the tank. The
female I had removed after some
time, because se always looked
disheveled, and I was afraid that,
as happened in “Palle”‘s case, it
would end with the death of the
female. “Palle” told me recently
that his male paired with one
of his daughters, and founded a
new family.
I still do not know when I will
re-unite the two again. On that,
I will write another time, but I
hope it will be before the next
special issue of the Makropode.
And what do the “channaholischen” exotics of the IGL do?
They will meet for one weekend
in November 2009 in Meppel,
guest at our now-still President
Auke de Jong. Let’s see which
wave of excitement of this European meeting will bring.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Workgroup Badis – Badis/Dario
They are called Badis badis –
the „blue“fish
of the genus of Badis and Dario
By Karl-Heinz Roßmann
Strictly speaking they are still
called Badis badis and they are
also really nice blue, some forms
anyway. Since the revision of
the genus by Kullander and
Britz, however, no stone was left
unturned in the genus Badis.
From a species with some subspecies, now there are fifteen
(new) described species and
several forms have not yet been
described yet, of which some are
surely also valid species.
Here I will attempt an inventory of species and undescribed
forms that are reasonably available to aquarists. That is, I will
limit myself to the forms that I’ve
cared for and bred myself. For
further reading I recommend the
article by Stephan van der Voort
in the Amazonas and of course
the revision of Kullander and
Britz.
Lets start with the Genus Badis.
The fish can, with the exception of two or three eccentics,
from an aquarist point of view
be treated equally. With tem it
is a bit like Malawi cichlids, they
all look very different, but they
all behave the same and can
ofcourse be treated similar in
aquariums. Contrary to Malawi
Cichlids they are not boring.
The requirements, posed by
Badis-species, are not high.
Watervalues are not important. Watertemperature can be
between 22 and 26 °C, where the
northern species such as B. badis
and B. corycaeus can also be
kept cooler, without demanding
a really cold period. For breeding
these species the tempearture
sould be above 22 °C.
What really makes the care and
breeding of Badis stand or fall,
is the feeding. The fish will not
accept dry food and can also
not be kept in a good condition
when fed solely on frozen food.
Food, which does not move, is
not taken in sufficient quantity
because of insufficient feeding motivation, and can only be
used to overcome periods when
no live food is available. Luckily freshly hatched artemia and
older artemia are eaten avidly by
all Badis, including the largest,
and well tolerated.
Badis can be kept together with
other fish. Because of their feeding requirements and their feeding habits, they are slow and
picky, this should be done with
caution. Voracious eaters such as
Poeciliids or barbs that inhabit te
lower regions, will not leave the
Badis any food to eat.
Fishes that occupy the bottom of
the tank with territorial behaviour are not suitable as sidefish,
since the Badis will be snowed
under by them. The best experience I have is with surface
oriented Killies, for example
the pikes that inhabit the same
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
natuaral habitat of te genus
Aplocheilus or the livebearing
Halfbeaks of the genus Dermogenys. They will not interfere with
the bottom oriented Badis. So is
there always something to see
in the aquarium whenever the
Badis play “empty aquarium.”
again. A frequently asked question from people looking at my
Badis tanks is: „Nice tank, but
why don‘t you keep some fish in
it“?
Badis need places to hide, the
females not so much but especially the males. These extreme
cavespawners cannot be bred
without dark and narrow shelters and the males will not display, without the posession of a
cave, it‘s most beautiful colors.
The genders are easily distinguisable in fully grown fish which
show colors. The males show different splendid colors depending
on the species. The females are
brownish with dark transverse
bands and are usually only half
as large.
More problematic is gender distinction in juveniles. Here the
larger fish, even in groups that
are still small, are the males.
The most reliable difference is
the body shape, when well-fed
females have round bellies, while
male bellies are sligtly concave,
even when well fed.
Badis are relatively easy to
breed. They have no specific
77
from the left
Badis badis – Fighting Male
(Picture: K.-H. Roßmann)
B. badis-male in the spawning
cave (Picture: D. Murdoch)
Badis badis-Male in normal coloration (Picture: F. Schäfer)
water requirements, extremes
should still be avoided, and the
water should- naturally- be clean.
Badis will also spawn in community tanks, as long as they are
not disturbed in their breeding
tubes. The male defends a small
area around the cave, predominantly against females not ready
to breed and other males looking
for a territorium. Fish from other
species are ignored, as long as
they do not try to enter the cave.
The courtship, when one can
call it that, is very strange. The
male occupies a cave, shows it‘s
most radiant colors and is hardly
ever visible. Especially the females are completely ignored, and
only if they try to approach the
cave, vigorously chased away.
The only thing which remotely
resembles courtship, is, that the
male starts, long before an actual
spawn occurs, to handle the
breeding location as if a spawn
had already occurred.
Still at that moment there seems
to be nothing of interest for the
girls, as such a newly minted
homeowner‘s only reaktion to
any approach is to appear as a
jack-out-of-a-box and to chase
them away. Despite of that the
females stand in line for as long
as necessary, until the first is
graciously allowed to spawn in
the cave, and then the second
and the third, or even all at once.
That naturally results in fighting
and therefore it is recommended
to keep Badis in a group with
more males than females. During
the actual spawning the female
is embraced by the male similar
to Labyrinth fishes, and the eggs
are glued to the wall of the cave,
while the entwined pair slides
along. After the laying of the
eggs the female leaves the cave,
but returns for as many times as
necessary, to lay all of her eggs.
After that she is not involved any
more in the parental care. The
male can spawn with several
females, so that the eggs on the
cave wall may contain spawns of
different levels of development.
The fry hatch in three days and
remain anchored to the cave wall
for three more days with their
sticky heads, guarded and intensively fanned by the male. After
that they enter the free swimming stage and leave the cave
and then the adults stop looking
after them.
Because adult Badis, albeit some
exceptions (more on that later),
do not eat the fry, the rearing
of the young can be done in
the aquarium with the parents.
Young Badis can eat freshly
atched artemia naupli, so raising
the young does not pose a problem. For a labor intensive, lowloss spawn I rinse the eggs or the
not yet free swimming fry using a
laboratory spray bottle to remove
them from the cave and transfer
them to a breeding tank. Eggs
not yet developed I transfer into
78
a plastic tray to hatch. That can
be done in two to three centimeters of water without aeration.
Badis eggs are very resistant to
fungal attacks. When rearing the
fry, only cleanliness should be
cared for. Because young Badis
always reside on a substrate,
and only leave the subtrate using
small jumps to feed, the bottom
of the tank needs to be kept extremely clean and the fish should
have the possibility to leave the
bottom. For that purpose I use a
handful of Javamos. Badis-Breed
is very vulnerable to nitrite and
nitrate. But this is no reason to
run around with measuring sets
all the time. Whenever young
Badis start to turn dark, it‘s
time for a waterchange, otherwise deaths will occur. Before
I start with the description of
the Badis species, the question
arises where to obtain these
fish at all. In the normal aquarium store Badis badis is offered
only infrequently. Most of these
fishes come from private breeders or from commercial farms
from the Czech Republic. Sometimes wildcaught fish from the
vicinity of Calcutta are sold, but
the aquarium strains from the
Czech Republic are more colorfull and less prone to hiding.
Here the decades of domestication become apparent. All other
species can only be obtained via
an importer or cannot be obtained at all. Which of course means
that rarities like B. siamensis or
B. khwae should be preserved at
all cost if they are ever available
in aquaria.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
The family Badis
The genus Badis is widely
spread, from Pakistan in the
west through Northern India,
Nepal, Bangladesh and Birma up
to Southern Thailand. The most
western species and the most
widely spread, is Badis badis
(Hamilton, 1822), the classic and
at the same time the only true
blue in the family of the so-called
blue badis.
It inhabits the basin of the
great rivers of North India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh,
so the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Mahanadi river. It
does not occur in South India,.
Here it is a very common fish
that lives in all sorts of standing
or slowly flowing waters, and
is even found in the city center
of Calcutta. It is the predominant species of the Badis badis
group in the genus, and possibly the only real species. Other
species have been described as
B. kanabos and B. chittagongis
whose species description in
the revision by Kullander and
Britz to me is not good enough
to be valid species. Another form
that is not completely blue, it
has many red-brown tones, is
labelled sp. “Wahumiam river”. I
think this form is also one of the
many color morphs of B.badis.
(Sorry, Stephan!). This Badisgroup is also recognizable from
the females by the following
characteristics: the second and
third rays of the dorsal fin have a
dark stain. Behind the gill cover is
a black dot and the tail spot seen
in all Badis, is exactly located
on the center of the tail base. It
can be hidden when in spawning coloration or in intensely colored fish by the last transverse
dark band. Fully colored male
B. badis are colored very dark or
even black. Superimposed is a
more or less intense blue gleam,
although individuals of the old
aquarium strain and fish from
West Bengal and Bangladesh
appear bright blue when in good
condition. There are also strains
with a slightly duller, blue to
violet color, and also strains, as
for example in Orissa, which look
completely black.
Badis kanabos Kullander &
Britz, 2002 has been described
from western Assam. According to the first description it differs from Badis badis by a more
streamlined shape, always distinctly visible cross bands and
a very conspicuous dorsal spot
between the third and fifth
dorsal fin ray. In the fish that I
take currently take care of all of
this applies. Even the females
are easily distinguished from B.
badis-female. Therefore I would
like to call them with some reservations, at least
Badis cf.
kanabos . In the live coloration,
the fish are always very clearly
barred, even displaying males do
not lose the stripes, in contrast
to B. badis which then show an
uniformly uniformly black base
color. These fish most closely
resemble B. badis from all species of this genus. Whether the
separation is justified, I do not
want to judge, a species is only
a species, if a competent systematist pronounces them as such,
and such I am not.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
from the left
Badis corycaeus-female
(Picture: K.-H. Roßmann)
Badis cf. kanabos-female
(Picture: K.-H. Roßmann)
Badis ruber „Pathain“
(Picture: K.-H. Roßmann)
Badis corycaeus Kullander &
Britz, 2002 together with B. kyar,
B. ferrarisi and B. sp. „Buxar“
forms the Badis corycaeusgroup, indicated by the following features. Dark first dorsal fin
ray and post-opercular spot as
in the Badis badis group, caudal
spot centered, not obscured by
the last crossbands, instead
enclosed by a semicircle.
B. corycaeus occurs in the north
of Burma, where it, according to
aquarium enthusiasts occurs far
to the north and also high up in
the mountains. Reports that in
Putao, the “classic” type locality of the species, it sometimes
even snows, should be regarded
with caution. At least my B. corycaeus, which are definitely from
Putao, prefer to be kept warm.
At least under 23 ° C they do
not show any spawning activity
and a cold winter period, neither
they nor their grandparents have
required over the years. Badis
corycaeus in both sexes is yellowish- to reddish-brown with
darker transverse bands. Males
in their mating colors become
dark reddish brown to burgundy
with very striking bright white
ventral fin leading edges and an
equally bright white dorsal fin
seam.
79
from the left
Badis siamensis „Phuket“
Fry/Juvenile Badis blosyrus
(both pictures: K.-H. Roßmann)
Badis ferrarisi Kullander & Britz,
2002, which I myself have not
kept, comes from the Myitkina
district in northern Burma. It
differs from all other Badis by
the fact that the crossbands on
the body do not extend over the
whole body , but cover only barcode like the middle of the body.
Its basic color is a muddy reddish
brown with intense brown fin
seams. Badis ruber, B Khwae.
and B. siamensis form the Badis
ruber group. It is distinguished
by the following characteristics:
no dark anterior dorsal fin rays,
no post opercular spot, caudal
spot not exactly on the tail base,
but moved forward a little, in
B. ruber and B. siamensis also
moved upward.
Badis ruber Schreitmüller, 1923,
which was formerly falsely
known as burmanicus, lives in
southern and central Burma,
where as its congeners, inhabits standing and slowly flowing
small bodies of water. It is reddish brown in both sexes, with
the usual badis-cross lines which
can be covered by longitudinal
rows of dots. Males in breeding
colors are dark burgundy, and
the longitudinal rows of dots
appear to be black with a green
shine.
Badis khwae Kullander & Britz,
2002 inhabits western Thailand
at the originof the Menam Khwae
Noi, in the tourist jargon better
known as River Quai. B. khwae
females are reddish brown with
a caudal spot located, although
in the middle, a little before
the final cross bow . The males
during courtship and parental
care are colored dark burgundy
with a striking bright seam on
the dorsal fin, which also has a
red base.
Badis siamensis Klausewitz,
1957, comes from the west
coast of southern Thailand and
the offshore islands. Known
localities are Khao Lak and the
island Phuket. The fish are ocher
brown in color with darker longitudinally oriented rows. The
caudal spot is located at an
angle slightly before the base
and slightly above the center of
the tail, but is much smaller than
in B. ruber. Breeding males are
stained dark chocolate brown
with whiteseamed dorsal fins.
We’ll continue now with the two
“dissidents” who display a very
different way of life and therefore also differ significantly in
the aquarium maintenance from
the other Badis. First Badis assamensis Ahl, 1937, and B. blosyrus
Kullander & Britz, 2002. These
fish are occasionally imported
from India., where B. blosyrus
has been described from from
North Bengal and B. assamensis, as the name suggests, has
been reported from Assam. The
distinction between B. blosyrus
and B. assamensis is not so easy,
mainly because one species was
described from adult fish and the
80
other from very small juveniles.
Anyway there are two different
forms available in the stores,
which have differently pointed
mouths. And that leads us immediately to the main characteristic
of these type (s), their predatory
lifestyle. The fish have a deeply
divided, big mouth and are able
to eat huge chunks. Earthworms,
equally long as the fish, are not
a problem. Co-inhabitation with
these fish is therefore a problem.
Badis assamensis / blosyrus prey
on smaller fish at night. Fish that
have been ignored completely
during the day are gone the next
morning. Hence these fish do
are not just similar in appearance to their cousins, the Nandidae. Regarding the size, both
forms dominate considerably the
other Badis species, adult males
can easily reach 9 cm Regarding
color the fish cannot be confused
with any other Badis, the animals are light ocher, with irregular rows of dark spots, which on
the pebble bottom of a stream
bed makes them perfectly camouflaged. The fish have as all
members of the Badis group a
dorsal spot and a central caudal
spot, but the black spot, which in
all representatives of the Badis
group lies behind the gill cover
is in B. assamensis / blosyrus
located on the gill cover. Males
ready to breed change their color
from stone-red to dark burgundy,
to almost black, with a thin bright
blue seam at the edge of the fins.
Badis assamensis / blosyrus are
also “sand fish” in their behavior, who appreciate a flat-lying
stone where under they will dig
a hole on their own. A continuous breeding setup, which is in
all other Badis no problem, does
not succeed in B. assamensis
/ blosyrus. Apparently the fish
effectively hunt their own offspring.
Badis sp. „Buxar“,named after
the Buxar Tiger Reserve in north
Bengal, from where the first
imports have arrived, differs in
several respects from all other
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
representatives of the Badidae.
The fish is undoubtedly to be
regarded as a separate undescribed species. It is because of
it’s pattern considered a member
of the corycaeus group, but in
addition to their pattern have a
dumbbell-shaped mark, which is
formed by one dark spot in the
soft part of dorsal and anal fins
and connecting horizontal stripes
between the two spots. Fully colored the fish are wine red with
a turquoise seam on the edge of
the dorsal fin. The ventral fins of
B. sp. “Buxar are” in contrast to
those of the other Badis pointed
and curved backwards. The fish
rests on these fins similar like
a sled on it’s runners for example, since Badis sp. “Buxar is
a belly sliders with a goby-like
reduced air-bladder function
and the corresponding swimming behaviour. The fish live in
fast-flowing streams and therefore need flowing oxygen-rich
water. If their demands are met,
sp. “Buxar” are very appealing
aquarium fish. They are a maximum of 4.5 cm in size and are
much more lively than the other
Badis. Even if their territoria are
quite small, they are vigorously
defended, making the fish lovely
little poison dwarfs. Breeding is
similar to other Badis, where B.
sp. “Buxar is” in my experience
the Badis with the largest eggs.
The genus Dario was separated
from the genus Badis by Kullander and Britz in their article.
To anyone who saw the first
imported Dario, it had to be clear
that these belonged in a separate
genus. Despite that a notoriously
fast writer already described
them as a new kind of Badis,
although he knew that Kullander
& Britz were working on their
article. Britz and Kullander then
found out this “new” species
had already been described. Our
man had on top of that not done
his homework. The species of
the genus Dario are smaller than
those of the genus Badis. The
largest known species of Dario is
only 3.5 cm long. Dario have very
elongated ventral fins, they can
extend to the end of the anal fin
when pressed against the body.
Of the typical Badis traits, only,
and only in some species, the
dorsal spot can be seen. All Dario
species are colored predominantly red, and some are downright bright red. The females
are inconspicuously yellow-gray
with dark cross bands, more or
less pronounced. The currently
known distribution area ranges
from North Bengal via Assam and
Bangladesh to northern Burma.
One species, Dario dayingensis,
even exceeds the border into
China. The Dario species are fundamentally different from Badis
in their reproductive behavior.
All Badis are all obligatory cave
spawners, Dario spawns in moss
or algae pads, where the laid
eggs until the free swimming
stage are guarded by the parents. The females are lured to the
spawning site with a very lively,
almost butterfly-like courtship.
The eggs, which are not so protected by the surroundings like
in Badis species, must therefore
be defended intensely. Dario are
for their size amazingly assertive
and their territoria are also much
bigger than we would give these
little guys credit for. The fry are
significantly smaller than that of
the Badis species and feeding
cannot under any circumstances
be done at once with artemia
nauplii. For intensive high-yield
breeding rotifers or infusoria
must be provided. The continuous breeding setup, where in
densely planted aquaria fry are
raised with their parents, is a
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
from the left
Dario dario-male
(Picture: K.-H. Roßmann)
Dario sp. „Tiger“
(Picture: K.-H. Roßmann)
highly recommended method,
but works only really well if we
feed additional infusoria or at
least micro worms. This is also
very good for the adults, because
they eat, the same as Badis, only
live food. And that should be
according to the size of the fish,
so very small. Another downside, Dario cannot be fed on a
permanent basis with Artemia,
though, or perhaps because they
like them very much. Exclusive
or predominant feeding with
Artemia, sooner or later leads
to a fatty liver. For the rest is
keeping Dario fairly simple. The
water values do not matter and
because of the northern distribution area a heater in the aquarium is unnecessary.
Dario dario (Hamilton, 1822) is
the first imported, and the smallest known species. Its natural
habitat is in north Bengal, where
they can live with Badis badis
and Badis blosyrus in the same
waters. The fish were first introduced with the trade name Badis
„scarlet“ “, a name which is even
now still seen occasionally. After
a hasty first description, they
then sailed under the flag “Badis
bengalensis” Tomey, 1999, until
Kullander and Britz realized that
the fish had first been described
a hundred and eighty years ago
and took the logical step, and
81
from the left
Dario hyshinon and Dario sp.
Dario sp.-female
Dario sp.-male
(pictures: K.-H. Roßmann
established a new genus Dario
dario. Dario dario is almost 2cm
long, and is considered the
smallest known perch-like fish.
The caudal fin is straightly truncated at the end and the ventral
fins of males are very long. There
are no dark markings, only the
females bear more or less distinct dark cross bands on a light
gray background. The males are
spectacularly colorful, bright
red with turquoise blue stripes,
especially the blue rimmed elongated pelvic fins, and when in
breeding mood, the whole fish
looks like its illuminated from
within.
Dario hysginon Kullander &
Britz, 2002, also known under the
trade name “Flame Red“, lives in
northern Burma. At 2.5 cm it is
slightly larger as D. dario and is
colored monochromatic red and
marked only with a black dorsal
spot. The females are a light
rusty brown color. They too show
the dorsal spot occasionally.
Dario sp. „Black Tiger“ is a yet
undescribed species of which
not even the natural origin is
known, because the importers
keep silent on the subject. It is
suspected to occur in northern
Bangladesh. Black Tiger is next
to Dario dayingensis the largest
known Dario, it is about 3 cm
long. For Dario ratios it is also
very high. The main attraction in
this species is the tail fin, which
like any other Dario is truncated
but at the edges has elongated
fin tips. The ventral fins are very
long, they can in fully grown
males reach the tail fin and are
very conspicuous because of
their black color. The fish go
through a distinct color change
in their life. After the light-brown
juvenile color, young males first
show a red-brown color with dark
stripes. When the fish get larger,
the dark stripes at the front are
widening and the stripes ate the
rear are narrowing until the fish
front is black and from the middle
it is bright red.
In addition to the here pre-
82
sented, for the most part already
bred Badidae, there are quite a
few already described, but not
yet imported species, and also
some already imported, but not
yet described forms. The fishtrade tends, as is well-known,
to care little or not at all about
valid names. The fish are named
in a way so they sell well. Many
new or rarely imported Badidae are sold under flase names.
For Badis sp. „Buxar“ and B. cf.
kanabos that was also the case.
So if Badis badis are offered in
large numbers in the trade and if
they are declared as Wildcaught,
it’s worth it to take a closer look.
Even if it turns out to be “only”
normal Badis badis.
Literature
Kullander, S. & Britz, R. 2002.
Revision of the family Badidae
(Teleostei: Perciformes), with
description of a genus and ten
new
species.
Ichthyological
Exploration of Freshwaters, Vol.
13(4): 295-372.
Voort, S. vd. 2008. Einige ausgefallene Blaubarsche. Amazonas,
4, Nr. 20: 45-50.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Working group nandids and related fish
Nandus nandus (Hamilton, 1822) –
the Gangetic Leaffish
By Rudolf Rucks
With the following article I would
like to contribute to the overall picture of this fish species. For more
than 50 years I have, apart from
short breaks, exclusively tended
to the care and breeding of Nandidae. So I have kept, and even
bred: Polycentrus, Polycentropsis,
Monocirrhus, Nandus nebulosus
and N. nandus. The last one only
I have now kept and bred for the
past 10 years. I have collected
information from the literature
and included it within this essay
in order to be complete.
On Systematics
Kullander & Britz (2002) restricted
the family of Nandidae to the
genus Nandus with the species
N. nandus, N. nebulosus, N. oxyrhynchus and newly added, N.
andrewi *. The genera Polycentrus,
Polycentropsis and Monocirrhus
have been placed in the family of
Polycentridae. As for Afronandus I
tend to believe they are Nandidae.
But to my knowledge there is still
not sufficient aquarium evidence
on the reproductive biology. The
* In 2006, Nandus prolixus
Chakrabarty, Oldfield & Ng, 2006
and in 2008 by Ng also Nandus
mergatus Ng, 2008 from the
Musi River, Sumatra, were newly
described(Editor note).
genera Polycentrus, Polycentropsis and Monocirrhus also differ
a lot from the Nandus species
according to my observations so
that separation is only logical.
Anatomy and appearance
The fin formula is: D XII/XIV/11-13,
A III/7-9. The soft rays portion of
the dorsal and anal fins are sharply
divided as in the Polycentridae and
rounded. The fish have ctenoid
scales, scales with a thorny free
edge. The total length according
to literature data reaches 15 cm
(females), an indication that I can
confirm in, for example, six-year
old fish. The elongated body has a
typical perch-like form, the muzzle
is pointed, as in the Polycentridae
far protrudable. Numerous sharp
teeth in the jaws, palate and on
the tongue ensure the retention of
the prey, especially fish. The animals in my posession vary in color
from dark olive to bright-yellow
metallic, especially in the twilight.
The sides are marked with dark
spots, which coalesce to cross
lines. The spiny dorsal and anal
fin and the rounded tail fin have
a mottled appearance forming
lines. The typical blaze in Polycentridae is also frequently visible in
Nandus. The intestine, characteristic of a faunivore, piscivore
fish, shows only a few turns, the
stomach is sac shaped and very
expandable. Nandus is a visually
oriented predator. The lateral line
is interrupted, and in my experience plays only a minor role in
the acquisition of prey. In water
with sufficient oxygen, breathing
Locations of Nandus nandus (Map: Internet)
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
83
from the left
Nandus nandus (Picture: F. Schäfer)
Gangetic Leaffish after Cuvier
Nandus andrewi (Picture: Internet)
is hardly detectable, the pectoral
fin movements are relatively slow.
The swimming method is rapid,
with brief interruptions, at dusk
the fish are extremely active.
Occurrence and Locations
N. nandus occupies the entire
Indian subcontinent as far as
Myanmar. Typical habitats are
quiet stretches of rivers, lake-like
extensions of the rivers, flooded
rice fields, overgrown ditches and
also carp breeding ponds.
some phytoplankton. Juveniles in
sizes from 21 mm - 35 mm feed
on Notonecta (probably larvae),
aquatic insects and a lower proportion of zooplankton. Interesting are the studies of the stomach
and intestinal content of 40 mm
- 138 mm long Nandus. Most of
the stomachs were empty, in rare
cases they were very full. It was
found that Carp fry, but also Oxygaster sp., Puntius sp. Amblypharyngodon mola, Ambassis nama
and Ambassis ranga were eaten.
The feeding on fish is clearly dominant. Aquatic insects and shrimp
serve as a supplement a distinctly
smaller proportion. For me as a
passionate live food catcher the
challenging task to obtain similar
food is apparent from these data.
Diet in the wild
Behavior in the aquarium, care
and breeding
From the excellent work by P.
Parameswaran et al. (1970) observations and results of stomach
examinations of various sizes and
ages are available to me. In postlarval stage, 3.5 mm - 7 mm, the
animals primarily feed on zooplankton, namely Branchionus,
Conochilus, Keratella, Polyarthra,
cladocerans such as Moina, Bosmina, Simocephalus, Ceriodaphnia,
and copepods such as Diaptomus,
Cyclops and their nauplii. This
is very interesting, since these
species also occur here. Small
amounts of phytoplankton are
also included, such as blue-green
and green algae. The larger postlarval stadia, 8 mm - 20 mm, consume cladocerans, copepods and
Several year old females reach a
length of about 15 cm, the males
remain significantly smaller, up
to 10 cm. With me the animals
reached an age of about 8 years,
but subsequently showed definite
signs of aging such as lying on the
bottom etc. Tanks with measurements 1 mx 0.50 mx 0.50 m (standard store size) are suitable for 4
adult specimens. As already mentioned, the fish are mostly active
at dusk, then they are especially
lively and even capable of jumping
out of the tank. My Nandus-tank
looks like this: A single large Echinodorus bleheri in a pot filled with
garden soil fills the tank. Its bushy
growth serves as a shelter to the
fish during the day. In addition,
84
inverted cups must be available
to the fish as an additional shelter,
since during the day Nandus are
relatively shy and timid, although
there are individual differences.
No other decoration items are
used. Differences in temperature
from winter to summer range from
24-30 ° C. Filtration is unnecessary,
a airpump and internal spongefilter provide sufficient water movement. RO water at about 120 micro
Siemens / cm, a neutral pH , and a
nitrate level of about 30 mg per liter
or less, are proper values. Every 3
weeks a water change of 30 liter is
carried out, and the bottom of the
tank, which is covered only with
a thin layer of gravel, is siphoned
off completely. In the bucket the
gravel is then stirred and the dirty
water is subsequently disposed.
Then the gravel is returned to the
tank again. This is very effective to
keep the tank clean and is in line
with a relocation of the fish in the
wild. Because the Nandus remain
in their shelters during the day it
is possible to fully illuminate the
tank. I place great value on added
sunlight. After ten-hours of lighting, at 18:00 o’clock, a dusk light is
switched on. The fish shortly afterwards leave their hiding places and
move freely in the tank. Nandus
species are next to teir general
faunivorous behaviour very piscivorous and require in my experience feederfish in the form of wild
fish, if possible from waters that
are not or rarely frequented by fisheating birds (otherwise, chances
of a worm infection are, according to the literature, quite large).
I catch in private waters carp and
Moderlieschen (with permission of
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
course), Amphipods from fish-free
water, Notonecta, Caddis larvae,
white and black mosquito larvae
supplement the diet. Analogous to
the natural situation, I try to feed
moderate amounts of food, the fish
should always be hungry and only
seldom be allowed to gorge themselves.
Reproduction and breeding
aspects
According to Parameswaran et
al. (1970) the spawning period of
Nandus nandus in Assam extends
from late March till the the middle
of July. I can confirm this from my
aquarium experiences, which are
similar. From August till March no
spawning activity will take place,
the females also do not show any
corpulence. At the start of spawning the females become very restless, swim through the entire tank
and swim up and down against the
glass. One or more males follow
her and an actual hunt takes place.
Males try to force themselves into
a parallel position to the female,
and then wraps himself around her
and presses, after which ovulation
occurs in several episodes where
around 50 eggs are fertilized each
time. The entire spawning takes
up to one h. Te number of eggs
can be thousands. According to
my observations spawning occurs
only at dusk or dawn. The eggs
are scattered on the plant leaves
and on the ground, are clear and
transparent, and slightly yellow.
The diameter of the eggs is 0.7 0.8 mm and they are contain oilglobules. Interesting that one can
also find oil-globules in the eggs of
Anabas testudineus and Channa
sp., which in their case are pelagic,
whereas they sink in Nandus. All
eggs are laid in one spawn. Electon
microscopic scans by Britz (1997)
have shown that the animal pole of
the egg attaches to the substrate
with the microphylls, by means of
many carpet-like sticky threads.
This confirms my observations on
the adhesive capacity of the eggs.
The microphyll, the inlet opening
A second species of the Genus Nandus: Nandus nebulosus in normal
coloration (above) and in fright coloration (below).
(both pictures: Msc. J. Schmidt)
for sperm at the animal pole of the
egg is in the Polycentridae on the
other end of the substrate, ie the
exact opposite. The adults will not
take care of the eggs, so there is
no paternal care. This is also true
for N. nebulosus, which I bred
for many years. Significant differences in the reproductive biology
of these two species I could not
establishl.
At temperatures of around 27 ° C,
120 micro Siemens / cm and a pH
6.9 the eggs hatch after approximately 30 hours and are then
hanging with their ventral side on
the glass and on the sword plant
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
leaves. Corresponding glands
allow for attachment. There is no
head gland with mucous threads
as found in the Polycentridae. The
incubation period is also much
shorter than the previously mentioned species. The oil-globules
in the yolk sac are visible. The
function is not clear to me, since
neither the eggs nor embryos are
able to float. The size of the larva
is about 2 mm. The swim bladder
filling must occur under water,
which in the Polycentridae is done
by swallowing air at the surface.
After another 48 hours, the larvae
start to swim free, at a length of
approximately 3.5 mm. After sepa85
A freshly hatched emryo with oil globules
ration of a number of the postlarvalen stage fry into a 60-cm tank,
planted with Hygrophila, the first
feeding with Cylops naupliae,
mixed with among other rotifers,
takes place. This zooplankton is
caught with a net of bolting with
a mesh of 50/1000 mm.
Abstract
In summary the following can be
stated after a number of spawns:
Soft water with similar values as
in the parent tank should be used.
The growth is rapid, so that after
4 to 5 days already small Cyclops
and Diaptomus are accepted.
After 11 days, the fry are already
reached a size of about 1 cm and
the fins are fully present. Now
small mayfly larvae of the genus
Cloeon are accepted. A separation will follow, ten of the largest
specimens are selected and raised
in a larger tank, during the last
spawn a 1.20 m tank was used.
The fry color is light beige with
no marbling. The pointed shape of
the head is fully formed. There are
cannibalistic attempts, which in
similar sized fish are not successful. After 18 days, a size of about
1.8 cm is reached, after 3 weeks
about 2.5 cm and large Cloeon
larvae and Chaoborus pupae are
now accepted. After a month, at
about 3 cm in length,te juveniles
have assumed the coloration of the
adult animals. Unlike the adults
the young fish are extremely active
during the day up until then. They
eat among other damselfly larvae
(from a private pond), which have
a length of 2 cm, so that the sacshaped stomach is full to the point
of bursting. At a size of about 4
cm, at 5 weeks, large amphipods
were taken. At a length of about
5 cm at 2 months I start to feed
chopped-up pieces of carp, which
are eagerly taken after some initial hesitation. At 3 months, with a
length of about 6 cm, live Moderlieschen of 4 cm are eaten already.
Concluding remarks
Nandus nandus are very interesting fish for aquarium enthusi-
86
(Foto: S. Inselmann)
asts, wo regard also the biological
aspect of aquarium keeping.There
is still some research to be done.
Possibly within the IGL there are
some interested parties, who
would like to keep these fish. That
would really make me happy.
Literature
Parameswaran, S. et al. 1970. Some
observations on the biology and
life-history of Nandus nandus.
Pond Culture Unit of Central Inland
Fisheries Research Institute, Yaysagar, Assam, Communicated bei
Dr. BS Bhimachar: 143-145.
Britz, R. 1997. Egg Surface Structure and Larvale Clement Glands
in Nandid and Badid Fishes. American Museum Novitates. Published
by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, Nr. 3195: 17
pp.
Heok He eng & Zeehan Jaffar 2008.
A new species of leaf fish, Nandus
andrewi. Zootaxa 1731: 24.
Holly, M. o. J. Nandus nandus. In:
Die Aquarienfische in Wort und
Bild: 26-27. Stuttgart.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Working group Bichir’s/Reedfish/Lungfish
Polypterus senegalus Cuvier, 1829 –
the bichir from Senegal
By Hugues Van Besien (F)
Etymology
Polypterus derives from the Greek;
Poly = more, Pterus = wing, which
originates from the fin on the back
of the fish.
senegalus from Latin = found in
the Senegal-River.
Synonyms: Polypterus senegalensis is a typographical error.
Polypterus arnaudii Dumeril, 1870
invalid junior synonym.
Englisch: Gray Bichir,
Deutsch : Senegal-Flösselhecht
Original description
of reedfish) belong. Many different names are still common in the
literature. One often reads that
they can be directly assigned to
the Chondrostei. After Geoffroy
Saint-Hilaire, a zoologist, who as
one of many scientists accompanied Napoleon Bonaparte on the
expedition to Egypt, discovered
the first Polypterus and described
it as Polyptère bichir [Polypterus
bichir (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire,
1802)] (Töpfer 1998) it became
clear how strange these creatures
were.
They have fascinated biologists
ever since. One of them, Samuel
Budgett (1872-1904), even lost
his life during the exploration of
the reproduction of these animals
(Budgett, JS 1901, Hall, 2001). The
Polypteridae have paired lungs,
which are used for breathing
atmospheric oxygen. They have as
juveniles external gills and have
on top of that many other anatomical oddities, some very special, like old-fashioned scales, the
so-called Ganoid scales , only four
gill arches and many more. Those
are ancient features of a very old
family. Today, all representatives
of this family are found exclusively
in Africa. But fossils show that
they once were very wide spread,
that they lived on the ancient
This was done by Georges Cuvier
in Le règne animal distribué
d’après son organisation, 2nd edition (1829).
Systematik
The systematics of Polypterus
was highly controversial during
the last two hundred years. Now
they have been placed within the
bony fish (Osteichthyes) of the
ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygii). As members of a separate
subclass Cladistia they occupy
a rather isolated position. They
form a separate order Bichirs Polypteriformes with a single
family Bichir - Polypteridae to
which two genera Polypterus (14
species) and Erpetoichtys: (a sort
Polypterus bichir, the first known Bichir originates from Cuvier (Cuvier
1829)
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
87
scales. New genetic research provide insight on the question of the
phylogenetic position of Polypteridae as an ancient and special
group within the natural history
of fish (Noack, Zardoya & Meyer
1996).
The first picture of Polypterus senegalus Discovered and first described
by E . Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (after Guichenot 1839).
continent of Gondwana, perhaps
survived for 120 million years
and for at least 60 million years
show little change. Fossils have
been found for example in South
America (Gayet & Meunier, 1991,
Werner & Gayet, 1997, Dutheil,
1999, Gayet, Meunier & Werner
2002). Unfortunately usually only
small pieces are found, such as
In his book on the Polypteridae
Frank Schäfer proposes to split
the various species into several
groups (Schaefer 2004). Polypterus
senegalus was relatively isolated,
the three other groups were: the
P. bichir group, the P. delhezi
group and the P. palmas group.
As indicators of Polypterus senegalus the following features were
named: The dorsal fin begins
before the middle of the body,
but not as early as in the other
groups, the upper jaw is longer
than the under jaw, and the species is both diurnal and nocturnal.
All living Polypterus species have
an elongated body, tubular nostrils and the so-called “Finlets”
- anatomically complex fin structures on the back. The finlets consist of spines, from which several
soft rays originate
Meristics (after Schafer): 53 - 61
lateral line scales, 34 - 40 scales
around body,, 15 to 21 predorsal
scales ; Number of dorsal finlets 8
to 11, usually 9 or 10
Description
Image 3: Classification of Cladistia
88
(after Hoegg et al. 2004)
In the literature and on many websites frequently a length of up to
50 cm or even 70 cm is described
for P.senegalus. This information
is not correct. Schaefer, who measured hundreds of fish from different origin at ‘Glaser’(international
fish importer in Germany, note
translator) and in the collections
of museums, never found an
animal, which was longer than
35 cm. Of 169 fish caught in the
river Chari, none was longer than
32 cm (Daget 1965). Of 110 fish
from the River Pru in Ghana the
largest specimen was 35 cm long
(Dankwa, 2003). In it’s first year P.
senegalus grows to a size of 10 to
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
12cm. Under good conditions, P.
senegalus needs 4 to 5 years to
reach it’s maximum size (Daget
1965). They can get very old.
One has survived for 34 years in
the aquarium (Brown, 1957). The
Senegal-bichir has the most elongated shape of all living Polypteridae. Seen from above the head
is heavily emphasized, the fish
are widest at the gills. They do
not swim eel-like since the scale
armor is relatively stiff.
On the back the animal is uniformly gray-brown in color, slightly
grayish-white below, without any
markings, except for a white line
that marks the lower jaw, and a
“tear line” behind the eyes to the
throat. All other species of the
genus show marbled appearances
or deviations thereof. P. senegalus only has a regular series of
discreet dots on both sides of the
back. The color never changes, neither because of mood, nor wen in
the spawning season. The young
have three dark stripes along the
body, which are disappearing at a
length of 5 cm. They also have salamander-like external gills, which
disappear in the course of growth.
However, they can be present for
a long time. 10-12 cm long animals have been observed wich
still had exterior gills. “Albinos”
are commercially farmed in Asia,
both black-eyed with a yellow
body and red-eyed with a white
body. The membrane of the finlets
is gray. The ventral fins are small
and are close to the anal fin. The
anal fin is located directly in front
of the tail fin. The tail fin is elliptical, asymmetrical and joins seamlessly into the dorsal fin. The tail
makes up 20 percent of the length
of the juveniles, but only 10 percent in adult fish.
Sexual dimorphism
P. senegalus is sexually mature
more quickly than most other species, which need 6 years or even
longer. Both sexes can be distinguished very well even at a length
of 15 cm. The male has a larger,
Polypterus senegalus, the black dots in the last finlets only occur in the
dwarf form
(both pictures : F. Schäfer)
wider anal fin than the female.
One often reads that the animals
are already sexually mature after
1 to 2 years. When animals are of
the same age during the growth
phase, the females are usually
slightly larger than the males.
P. senegalus, one of the smaller
members of the genus Polypterus,
is equally long-lived as it’s larger
family members.
Habitat and behaviour
P. senegalus is widespread in Africa
and is locally fairly common. It is
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
present in all river basins where
water drains into the Atlantic
Ocean and in the Nile Basin, from
the edge of the Sahel to the forest
zones on both sides of the equator.
It lives in the quietest parts of the
rivers, which are often connected
to wetlands. At the start of the
rainy season, it wanders into the
flood zones of the papyrus or reed
marshes (Cyprus papyrus, Typha
sp.) or flood plains (floodplains
with Oryza longistaminata, Eragrostis barteri). There, the water
is often low in oxygen. Among the
species that migrate there as well,
are catfish (Clarias species, Heter89
P. senegalus, the normal form shows no black dots in the rear finlets.
obranchus, Synodontis), bush fish
(C. kingsleyae) Parachanna who
also have the ability to breathe air,
and robust bass and the African
Osteoglossus Heterotis niloticus
(Hickley & Bailey 1987
So our Polypterus lives both in
clear and in turbid waters. Here
and there we can even read that
it can even walk short distances
on land. The Ganoid scales would
offer protection against the elements. Young fish often hide in the
dense root network of Eichornia
crassipes, which was introduced
into Africa and which causes the
water at night to be very low
in oxygen. Research has shown
that the species P. senegalus is
not endangered. In some areas,
their numbers declined dramatically because of hydraulic structures (dams) and by the reduction
in flood areas since the species
reproduces slowly (Howell 1983,
Lae, 1995).
The analysis of stomach contents
shows that the Senegal bichir
feeds mainly on invertebrates,
including freshwater crabs and
dragonfly larvae, food which
requires strong jaws. Indeed, its
widespread occurence, it’s seasonal life and the behavior in the
aquarium, lead to the assumption
that it is above all an opportunist
with a taste for dead flesh. Once
even a bird’s bone was found in
the stomach.
That is what explains in today’s
world the success of Polypteridae.
These animals are not top predators. They do not swim as fast
and are not very maneuverable,
do not have eagle eyes, but only
it’s sense of smell leads them to
their feed. If you see them eating
in the aquarium, you must start to
90
(Picture: F. Schäfer)
wonder, if you see how clumsily
they grab the food. Only if they
have the nose directly on the food,
they bite. During the day they
remain calm at the surface or on
the ground and only move when
hungry or upset. In the aquarium
a few crumbs of food to set the
fish in motion. During the night
they are much more active and
swim around.
Keeping
This long-lived, relatively large
but peaceful fish does not need
an oversized tank. It is enough to
have an about a 1 m long aquarium.
The difficulty lies more in keeping the water clean in tanks that
are too small , as predators, and
to this group belong the Senegal
bichirs, have much waste materials. The size of the water surface
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
is more important than the water
level. Many hiding places, but
also enough free swimming space
should be available. The water
parameters are relatively unimportant, the temperature is best
kept between 18 to 28 ° C . The
species is very resistant, but can
carry skin parasites of the genus
Macrogyrodactylus, which must be
combated. P. senegalus is known
as a jumper. During the spawning
season, it jumps frequently and
violently. As a precautionary measure against jumping out glass
covers must be used and also the
space between the surface and
light tubes should be covered. One
must be careful to ensure that all
animals of a group get food, otherwise it may happen that always
the same, larger animals eat, and
the smaller fish get too little.
Therefore, it is better to feed until
saturation of all fish, in combination with fasting days. Most foods,
including frozen, is accepted, as
long as they can smell it. Mussels, fish pieces, etc., even animal
meat is eaten eagerly. I could not
bring myself to feed the latter, out
of fear for gastrointestinal problems, especially at relatively low
temperatures. The assessment of
the behavior of the animals of this
type is very different according to
the authors. Maybe it depends on
age. Perhaps it may also change
during the spawning period. The
coexistence with other species
can be problematic. Large, active
neighbors can be problematic
with regard too enough food left,
and too small a fish will be killed
and eaten. That usually happens
at night, even if it is believed that
the clumsy Polypterus cannot
have been responsible. Jo Gallo
reported that he kept Polypterus
senegalus together with Congo
tetras (Phenacogrammus interruptus), cichlids (Pelvicachromis)
Ctenopoma and knife fish (Xenomystus) (Gallo 2004). The riskyest is the insertion of new fish in
an aquarium, which is already a
Polypterus home.
P. senegalus – The normal form.
Breeding
Some websites claim that breeding in the aquarium has not yet
occurred. That is not true. Captive
animals have been constantly bred
since the sixties in aquariums. P.
senegalus seems also to be the
only Polypterus-species, which is
commercially farmed, even if many
fish offered in shops in Europe are
wild fish cought in Nigeria. The
key to breeding is in the imitation
of the conditions that prevail at
the beginning of the rainy season.
Much information I learned from
the book by Frank Schafer (Schafer 2004). It has enabled me to
finally realize my long time inter-
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
(both pictures: F. Schäfer)
est in Polypterus, and I hope that
my animals will be reproducing
shortly. The conductivity of the
keeping tanks should be relatively
high (1700 microsiemens at 18 to
22 ° C). In a span of 5 to 6 weeks,
the conductivity should then be
reduced to 500 microseconds, combined with a temperature raise to
26 - 28 degrees Celsius. Alternatively, one transfers the animals
to a different tank, especially if
the female is ready. In nature, the
spawning season is from May to
June.
The male begins courtship display
in which the female is followed for
a long time and prods her in the
side. He swims up, jumps out of
91
the water, spreads finlets and fins,
and then swims under the female.
The female selects the spawning site (usually in a dense tuft of
plants) and emits 100 to 300 eggs
(in the early morning?), which
easily stick to plants. It takes a
few days for the larvae to hatch.
In contrast to the large species P.
senegalus has the reputation of
eating their own eggs. The eggs
measure 2 to 3 mm in diameter. 7
to 10 days, the larvae remain virtually motionless and consume
the yolk sac. Then you can start
to feed artemia nauplii and microworms that need to be spread in
the aquarium using some current.
Please note, larger juveniles eat
their smaller siblings.
Literature
BROWN, M.E. 1957. Experimental
studies on growth. In Brown M.E.
(ed.). The physiology of fishes.
Vol. I.
Metabolism, p. 361-400.
New York.
BUDGETT, J.S. 1901. On the
breeding-habits of some WestAfrican fishes, with an account of
the external features in development of Protopterus annectens,
and a description of the larva of
Polypterus lapradei. Transaction of the Zoological Society of
London, 16: 115-136.
CUVIER, G. 1829. Le Règne animal
distribué d’après son organisation,
pour servir de base à l’histoire naturelle des animaux, et d’introduction à l’anatomie comparée. Paris.
DAGET, J., Bauchot M.L. &
ARNOULT, J. 1965. Etude de la
croissance chez Polypterus senegalus (Cuvier). Acta zoologica,
n°46: 297-309.
Auch
online:
http://horizon.
documentation.ird.fr/exl-doc/
pleins_textes/pleins_textes_5/b_
fdi_08-09/10507.pdf.
DANKWA, H. 2003. Biology of
Polypterus senegalensis in Pru
River, Ghana. ACP-EU Fisheries
research Report, (14): 23-24.
DUTHEIL, D. 1999. The first articulated fossil cladistian: Serenoichtys kemkemensis gen. et sp. nov
from the cretaceous of Morocco.
Journal of vertebrate Paleontology 19(2): 243-246.
GALLO, J. 2004. Senegal (Cuvier’s) Bichir.
Auch
online:
http://www.
aquariumadvice.com/articles/
articles/70/1/Senegal-CuviersBichir---Polypterus-senegalus-Cuvier/Page1.html
GAYET, M., MEUNIER, J.-F. &
WERNER, C. 2002. Diversification
in Polypteriformes and Special
Comparison with the Lepisosteiformes. Palaontology, 45(2): 361376.
GAYET, M., MEUNIER, J.-F. &
SIRE, J.-Y. 1995. Approche phylogénétiques des polyptériformes
(Pisces, cladistia) = Phylogentic
approach of the polypteriformes.
GEOBIOS, n°19: 193-196.
GAYET, M. & MEUNIER, J.-F.
1991. First discovery of Polypteridae (Pisces, Cladistia, Polypteriformes) outside of Africa. Geobios,
24, Issue 4: 463-466.
GUICHENOT, A. 1839. Monographie de deux genres de poissons,
les Lepisostees et les Polypteres.
In: GUERIN-MENEVILLE, F.E.
1839. Magasin de zoologie, d’anatomie comparée et de paléontologie. Arthus-Bertrand.
HALL, B.K. 2001. John Samuel
Budgett (1872-1904): In Pursuit
of Polypterus. BioScience, 51(5):
399-407.
92
HICKLEY, P. & BAILEY, R.G. 1987.
Fish communities in the eastern,
seasonal-floodplain of the Sudd,
Southern Sudan. Hydrobiologia,
144(3): 243-250.
HOEGG, S., BRINKMANN, H.,
TAYLOR, J.S. & MEYER, A. 2004.
Phylogenetic timing of the fishspecific genome duplication correlates with the diversification of
teleosts fish. Journal of molecular
evolution 59: 190-203.
Auch
online:
http://www.
ub.uni-konstanz.de/kops/
volltexte/2007/3297/
HOWELL, P.P. 1983. The impact
of the jonglei Canal in the Sudan.
The geographical Journal, 149(3):
286-300.
LAË, R. 1995. Climatic and anthropogenic effects on fish diversity
and fish yields in the central delta
of the river Niger. Aquatic Living
Resources, n° 8: 43-58.
NOACK, K. , ZARDOYA, R. &
MEYER, A. 1996. The complete
mitochondrial DNA sequence
of the Bichir (polypterus ornatipinnis), a basal Ray-finned fish:
ancient establishment of the
consensus Vetebrate gene order.
Genetics, 144(3): 1165–1180.
Schäfer, F. 2004. Polypterus Flösselhechte Bichirs. Rodgau.
Töpfer, J. 1998. Étienne Geoffroy
Saint-Hilaire und die Entdeckung
der Polypteriden. Der Makropode,
20(5/6): 62-71.
WERNER C. & Gayet, M. 1997.
New fossil Polypteridae from
the Cenomanian of Sudan. An
evidence of their high diversity
in the early Late Cretaceous.
Cybium, 21(1): 67-81.
Dazu noch eine Website: http://
www.polypterus.info/
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
The literature team
The newest working group
Literature would like to
introduce themselves
By Bruno Urbanski
Serious and responsible care of
aquarium fish without proper
knowledge is impossible. There
are several ways to acquire the
necessary knowledge. Discussions with other aquarists or
competent specialist dealers
are an opportunity to gather
information. In aquaria associations and communities such as
the IGL you meet like-minded
people who gladly provide information. Essential is however the
study of applicable literature,
this is equal for the beginner,
advanced or old hands. There is
an incomprehensable number of
books, journals and publications,
dissertations, theses and studies which deal partly or solely
with fish which are maintained
in the IGL. Some members of the
IGL have created extensive literature collections, or libraries,
and maintain files containing
literature - a wealth of material.
These files have been created
in Access, Word, Excel or other
programs, each structured differently, all with very different
search options.
The Literature Working Group
has set itself the goal to summarize the various files, to unify,
to capture new and yet unno-
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
ticed old literature, evaluate and
ultimately create a database in
which very specific searches for
fish and related information are
possible. Another focus is the
scanning of literature. These
PDF files can then be requested
by members. Of course, this will
take time to complete and we will
need help. Articles in different
languages need to be evaluated,
wantlists have to be processed, a
lot of scanning needs to be done
and…. To get an impression of
of the quantities of material that
needs to be processed. my personal database now contains
round 9,000 references, and I
estimate that at least another
4,000 - to 7000 will be added.
We hope to be able to present a
first version at the autumn meeting 2009, which should by then
contain approximately 2,000
records. This will provide us with
a solid basis to demonstrate the
various application possibilities.
To the WG Literature currently
belong:
Hans-Jürgen
Ende,
Stefan Inselmann, Gerhard Ott,
Dr. Jürgen Schmidt, Dr. Thomas
Seehaus, Jörg Töpfer, Bruno
Urbanski. People that are interested in joining are very welcome!
93
The taxonomic research of the labyrinth fishes from 1758–2008
By Ingo Schindler
Starting with the 10th Edition
of Linneaus‘ Systema Naturae (1758), animal species are
described using a Latin or Latinized binomial (genus and species). Even though Linnaeus
was not the first person to use
this system, he was the one who
consistently implemented this
for the whole of nature. The year
1758 is therefore in the „International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, “ defined as the starting
point of zoological nomenclature.
It was also Linneaus (1758) who
described the first Labyrinth
fish as Labrus opercularis (Now
Macropodus opercularis). Since
then 250 years have passed and
240 species taxa have been added
(Counted early 2008). Not all of
these Nomina necessarily repre-
sent a separate species, a little
over 70 of the nominal taxa are
currently considered synonyms.
Nevertheless, the steady increase
shows on the one hand, that over
time previously uncharted territories were opened up ichthyologically, and on the other hand
a change in species concept,
which especially took place in
recent decades. The article will
describe the various mechanisms
which impact the number of species descriptions since the beginning of the nomenclatural era.
Identifying and calculating
the data
As a basis for the statistical calculations in the article
data is used from the „Catalog
of Fishes“ (Eschmeyer 2008).
Reviewed were all species taxa
listed in the directory by early
2008 of the respective families.
Despite testing the program written for the evaluation I cannot
state that all entries have been
counted correctly. Mistakes in
the „Catalog of Fishes“ (Missing
entries, incorrect spelling) could
also lead to variations of the
actual numbers. However, this
only concerns – if any – a few
cases. To get a clearer impression of the changes over time in
the ά-taxonomical (alpha-Taxonomie = „The elementary level of
taxonomy, which focuses on the
identification and designation
of the species“ Mayr 1975: 339)
activities, for the presentation of
the species descriptions (Image
2 a, b) combined values of eight
years were used, and only the
mean values are shown. The line
connecting the individual data
points was, in order to clarify the
amplitudes, redesigned by using
smooting methods.
Number of Taxa
Figure 1: First descriptions curve of all labyrinthfish taxa. Solid line =
total number of described species, dotted line = number of ,currently
considered, valid taxa, dashed line = number of synonyms.
94
Figure 1 shows the total number
of labyrinthfish species taxa.
Within the last 20 years it shows
a steep rise. The curve of valid
species follows the same angle,
because the number of taxa considered a synonym has barely
increased in the past 50 years.
Without any further infomation
you might assume that the taxonomists of earlier times were
not attentive enough. But this
is only partly true, because it
must be borne in mind that past
authors had for one no general
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Figure 2a: Taxonomic study of the Gourami family.
x-axis = year, y-) axis = relative number (relative to
the total number) of species descriptions, squares
= number of authors. The arrows indicate changes
that are discussed in more detail in the text.
knowledge on biological relationships (for example, males
and females have been considered to be members of different
species). Moreover, the descriptions from the earliest phase
of the taxonomic study were
short and not very informative
and were rarely accompanied
by meaningful, life-like drawings. These authors could therefore not always properly assess
which species had already been
described. This resulted in
the fact that during the period
from 1800 to about 1860, the
number of synonyms almost
equals the number of valid taxa
(in retrospect)l. In the “modern
era” ( past 20 years) the curve
increases (almost) exponentially,
yet the line of synonyms remains
the same. Does this mean that
today there are no more conflicts
between the views of different authors, or that the current
taxonomists simply are better?
Certainly not. It is rather the
“modern” trimmed “pragmatic
species concept”, which contributes to the recognition of any
different population as a separate species (see also Schindler
2008).
Figure 2b: Taxonomic study of the family Anabantidae.
x-axis = year, y-) axis = relative number (relative to the
total number) of species descriptions, squares = number
of authors.
Frequency of species
descriptions in relationship
to world events
In Figure 2a, the relative number
of first descriptions in conjunction with the number of authors
(square size) is set against the
time axis for the taxa of the
Gourami family. The variations
can be attributed, in some cases
(marked with arrows) to historical events. In other cases it is
likely that several incidents coincided. Therefore, other interpretations are certainly possible.
The dark, upward arrows indicate increases and the downward arrows on the decreases.
From left to right these could
be attributed to the following,
parallel occurring events. First
ascent from the writings of
Bloch and Lacepède. Thereafter,
a decrease, which is possibly
due to the Napoleonic wars. The
following increase is explained
by the starting colonization and
exploration of Southeast Asia
(Hamilton, etc.). The subsequent
down arrow indicates a decrease
in authors active at this time,
which may also partly be linked
to the Euro-Asian effects of the
Crimean War could. At the beginning of the 20th Century, again
a significant increase, which is
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
largely caused by the extensive
publication of Regan. The First
World War, the Great Depression
and the 2nd World War are likely
to be the causes for the following
decreases, marked by the light
arrows. The last upward arrow
indicates an extremely increasing number. This increase is the
result of the extensive development of completely new and
hitherto barely explored areas,
of better travel opportunities for
taxonomic researchers, and of
the changed concept of species
and the increase of taxonomists
involved in research. Perhaps
while looking at the diagram
you may relate tis to very different historical events or authors,
who had an influence on the
number of species descriptions.
Figure 2b represents the same
for the species of the family Anabantidae. Because of the relatively few taxa, the influences of
historical events are not always
clear. Still, it is interesting to
see that the appearance of the
curves of both Osphronemidae
and Anabantidae show some
similarities. I have been able to
show similar correlations when
analysing other fish families, so
that at least some of the aforementioned historical events
95
have had a significant impact
on the taxonomic study of living
nature.
The, in the last two decades drastically increased, number of taxa
related to an increase in active
authors (observable from the size
of the squares) can also be seen
in other animal groups (for other
fish families this is also the case)
. This could lead to the hereticalsounding question whether the
“description” of a new Asian
labyrinth fish, is caused solely
by the growing number of active
taxonomists, rather than - as one
would normally assume – by the
“discovery” of new forms (see
for more on this relation the discussion in Benton 2008 on the
correlation between the number
of authors and the number of
dinosaur genera). Certainly, this
is not applicable here. Because
the increase of the number of
authors (represented by larger
squares in the graph) also shows
the increased willingness to
cooperate between parties. On
the other hand, we must not lose
sight of that, with the assigned
exploration of the biodiversity,
there is an obligation to produce results. This and the variable interpretation of the species
concept are two of the reasons,
that lead to the worldwide and
in all systematic groups of living
nature observed rapid accumulation of scientific names
(Agapov et a. 2004). The (artificial) increase, labelled as “taxonomical inflation”, in the number
of species by processes that are
not based on classic “discovery”
can negatively impact the study
of macroecological relationships,
and hence also on Nature and
species preservation (Isaac et al.
2004). From an aquarium point
of view the scientific names are
first of all an advantage. With
these, it is possible to identify the
fish we keep, and to name them
internationally in a clear and consistent way. Subsequently, however, in the context of species
preservation we are faced with
the dilemma that more and more
“sponsors” must be available, to
maintain the rising number of taxonomically differentiated forms
in aquaria.(see Finke 2008).
The Authors
Taxonomists that are responsible for at least four species taxa,
are summarized in Figure 3. It
should however be noted that
the authorship of the publications by Cuvier & Valenciennes
is not entirely clear to me. I therefore recorded both of them under
a single name. In addition to that,
it should be noted that the Vietnamese scientist Nguyen, who
described four Macropodus-taxa
(see Schindler, 2009), has not
been included since the data was
only included in later versions of
the “Catalog of Fishes.”
The name that appears most frequently in the species descriptions list is Ng (Singapore),
followed by the Swiss Kottelat.
At a distance the Dutch Bleeker
is the first, already dead, historical author. Vierke is well known
to many labyrinth fish friends as
an author of aquarium related
essays and writer in the Makropode. The list of the most active
describers also includes Dr.
Jürgen Schmidt (longtime editor
and author of The Makropode),
one of the internationally best
known members of the IGL.
The white column indicates the
total number of species taxa published by the author and the colored column the amount thereof
known to be synonyms. Neither
from the height of the column,
nor from the number of synonyms
can any conclusions regarding
the taxonomic skills of the people
involved be drawn. There are
definitely very good taxonomists,
who have not submitted any, or
relatively few, species descriptions. They often follow a conservative approach (different
species concept) and focus more
on complementary descriptions
of not well researched species.
Ernst Mayr, the “Darwin of the
20th Century “, pointed out in
his recommendations on the zoological classification that (Mayr
1975: 247)” ... the re-description
of poorly known representatives,
is much more important, than the
description of other new forms “.
Outlook
Fig. 3: The authors with the highest number of species descriptions.
96
The taxonomic study of the labyrinth fish is far from complete. We
need to consider future species
descriptions. The large number
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
of already available forms of different Betta’s (Linke 2007), Licorice gouramis (Finke 2008) and
gouramis (Schafer 2008) illustrate
this. Also from the study of the
African “air breathers” “discoveries are expected shortly. The
detailed analysis of the variation
of various African species could,
if the modern species concept is
applied, result in the growth of
the number of taxa. In addition,
the ichthyological exploration
of the Congo Basin has only in
recent years been intensified. But
also the renaming (see Trichogaster versus Colisa; Töpfer
2008) and synonymising (as has
happened in M. erythropterus =
M. spechti, see Schindler, 2009)
will retain it’s influence on the scientific names of our Labyrinths.
Literature
Agapow, P.M. et al. 2004. The
impact of species concept on bio-
diversity studies. Quar. Rev. Biol.,
79: 161–179.
Benton, M. J. 2008. How to find
a dinosaur, and the role of synonymy in biodiversity studies.
Paleobiol., 34: 516–533.
Eschmeyer, W.N. 2008. Catalog
of fishes. California Academy of
Sciences – Ichthyology. OnlineVersion February 2008.
Finke, P. 2008. Der Prachtguramibestand in unseren Aquarien
im Herbst 2008. Der Makropode,
30(4): 119–128.
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Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
Macropodus hongkongensis
P. senegalus, the normal form shows no black dots in the rear finlets.
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009
(Photo: Dr. J. Schmidt)
(Photo: F. Schäfer)
99
Betta smaragdina, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Issan, Thailand Badis ruber 100
(Photo: M. Scharfenberg)
(Photo: H. Linke)
Der Makropode – Volume 31 – 2 / 2009

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