Männchen im typischen Prachtkleid (Foto: H. Linke)

Kot­te­lat 1991

First descrip­tion: Notes on the tax­on­omy and dis­tri­b­u­tion of some West­ern Indone­sian fresh­wa­ter fishes, with diag­noses of a new genus and six new species (Pisces: Cyprinidae, Belon­ti­idae, and Chaud­huri­idae). Ichthy­olog­i­cal Explo­ration of Fresh­wa­ters, 2: 273287.

Char­ac­ter­is­tics: total length max. 3.5 cm. Dor­sal struc­ture: IX-​XI, 67, total 1617, anal fin: VII-​IX, 1013, total 1821. Much leaner, with a less high back com­pared to the other species, with the excep­tion of P.parvulus. Adults appear to have a wide oval cross-​section, seen from the front. It dif­fers also in behav­iour and col­oration. The ♂ shows char­ac­ter­is­tic, nagyi–like body col­oration in breed­ing colours: lower half of the body very dark to black, upper half red-​brown. The pat­terns of the unpaired fins dif­fer from the typ­i­cal ones in this species: dor­sal and anal fin are black with white spots and rel­a­tively broad and very lumi­nous white iri­des­cent edges. The ven­tral fins are trans­par­ent, the cau­dal fins have a char­ac­ter­is­tic, pecu­liar red flame pat­tern. It is strik­ing that this coloura­tion is vis­i­ble almost at any time; the species-​typical striped pat­terns can be seen rarely in sex­u­ally mature males (only dur­ing extreme stress). The female shows the striped pat­terns nor­mally , but dur­ing courtship the dress is almost iden­ti­cal with that of the male, includ­ing the red flames of the cau­dal fin. In this sit­u­a­tion it is pos­si­ble – con­sid­er­ing only the colours – to con­fuse the sexes, but the behav­iour (see below) allows clear iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of gender.

Sim­i­lar species: There is no risk of con­fu­sion between males of other species. The struc­turally sim­i­lar species parvu­lus can be dis­tin­guished clearly by col­oration and pat­tern. Only the females can eas­ily be con­fused with parvu­lus in nor­mal coloura­tion and small fry of both species are almost indistinguishable.

Occur­rence /​Dis­tri­b­u­tion: West­ern Bor­neo, Kali­man­tan Barat, Catch­ment of the Kapuas river, between Sun­gai Pen­juh and Anjun­gan, north west of the city of Pon­tianak. Linke describes a habi­tat (pH 4.5, con­duc­tiv­ity 39 micro-​Siemens, tem­per­a­ture 27.6 degrees C), in which this species co-​exists (in dif­fer­ent eco­log­i­cal niches) with another licorice gourami species, P. anjun­ga­nen­sis. Only very few cases of syn­topic occur­rence of licorice gouramis are known and – very obvi­ous in this case – the dif­fer­ence of both sym­bionts plays an impor­tant role. H. Kishi (Team Bor­neo, pri­vate mes­sage 2011) con­firms this use of a com­mon habi­tat for the Sun­gai Kepayang close to Anjun­gan and adds the infor­ma­tion that the species exists ca. 200 km away in the south­ern part of West­ern Kali­man­tan in the Sun­gai Pawan (area near Keta­pang), too and shares its habi­tat with P. quincedim there. But in both cases, how­ever it is not a true sym­bio­sis, but the use of dif­fer­ent niches in a com­mon habitat.

Threat: although P. ornat­i­cauda appears today occa­sion­ally in high num­bers in the inter­na­tional trade, and although sig­nif­i­cantly more loca­tions are known com­pared to the time of its dis­cov­ery, it has to be accepted that the species is highly endan­gered. Part of the orig­i­nal habi­tat is already destroyed and has been trans­formed to palm oil plan­ta­tions. Many of the still exist­ing P.ornaticauda–biotopes have been badly dam­aged by con­t­a­m­i­na­tion with pes­ti­cides. Mainly these habi­tats are more or less affected rem­nants of swamps, still hold­ing black water, but these refuges are get­ting smaller and smaller.

Discovery/​First import:found by Kot­te­lat in 1990. Because of its unique­ness, the first descrip­tion was quickly made one year later. In 1990 the species was brought to Europe by Bauer, Neuge­bauer and Linke.

Trade: To start with, the species was sel­dom traded; now sev­eral thou­sands of each year´s juve­niles are brought to the inter­na­tional orna­men­tal fish trade, where they usu­ally die in large num­bers due to their low resis­tance to bac­te­ria. Because this species belongs to the more dif­fi­cult forms of licorice gouramis, most of the fish lead a short life as an “exotic aquar­ium spe­cial­ity”. Many of the fish seem to be already harmed by toxic emis­sions in their nat­ural habi­tats as juve­niles so that they are already ill when they reach the traders. In this case they quickly die from get­ting weak­en­ing par­a­sites like vel­vet (ood­inum), either in the tank, or earlier,in one of the var­i­ous trad­ing stations.

Care /​Breed­ing: regard­ing care and main­te­nance, this species dif­fers lit­tle from other licorice gouramis, but it might live even more secretly than oth­ers and stay hid­den. It is not a beginner´s fish. P. ornat­i­cauda still poses many prob­lems regard­ing breed­ing. There are only few cases in which breed­ing was easy and suc­cess­ful; many more cases are exactly the oppo­site. The clutches are usu­ally small (10 to 20 eggs, rarely more) and they are often “rearranged” (from one cave to another) or “dis­ap­pear” com­pletely over night. The courtship dance of the male (see below) needs a lot of space, so small tanks (around 10l) are less suited then tanks with 20l or more. The con­duc­tiv­ity of the water should not be above 40 micro-​Siemens. The sen­si­tiv­ity of the eggs towards harm­ful bac­te­ria is high, so it is advis­able to have a low pH value (between 3 and 4) and a high con­tent of humic acids. How­ever, suc­cess­ful breed­ing has been recorded at pH 6.5 in clear water. Still, suc­cess­ful ornat­i­cauda breed­ing is regarded as the “high school” of licorice gourami hobby.

Behav­iour /​Par­tic­u­lar­i­ties: Head-​up courtship. Stan­dard cave breeder with high adapt­abil­ity of the pre­ferred breed­ing sites (rang­ing from fully closed caves to broods under leaves or under open float­ing spawn­ing rafts). Many of the fish pre­fer very nar­row spawn­ing caves (diam­e­ter of the entrance 1.5cm) in dif­fer­ent posi­tions within their area of activ­ity. This area is larger com­pared to other licorice gouramis, because the male – sim­i­lar to parvu­lus – car­ries out a spec­tac­u­lar courtship dance, in which it first presents its strik­ingly iri­des­cent fin edges and then jumps around the female in very fast zig-​zag move­ments. Another par­tic­u­lar­ity – dif­fer­ing from parvu­lus this time – is that the females take on a colour­ing dur­ing courtship that resem­bles the nup­tial pat­tern of the male, even includ­ing the red flames in the cau­dal fin. This colour change is unique among all mem­bers of Parosphromenus . This behav­ioural char­ac­ter­is­tics jus­tify a spe­cial posi­tion of the two lean forms through­out the genus, which have not suf­fi­ciently been con­sid­ered in the recent sys­tem­atic – a sys­tem­atic which does not con­sider etho­log­i­cal aspects. Even­tu­ally these par­tic­u­lar­i­ties might jus­tify the estab­lish­ment of a new sub-​genus.




Parosphromenus ornaticauda male Copyright Horst LinkeParosphromenus ornaticauda couple Copyright Horst LinkeParosphromenus ornaticauda male Copyright KishiParosphromenus ornaticauda  Copyright KishiParosphromenus ornaticauda male Copyright Kishi

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