palu­di­cola

Parosphromenus paludicola Copyright Dr. J. Schmidt

Tweedie 1952

First descrip­tion: M.W.F. Tweedei 1952: Notes on Malayan fresh-​water fishes.3. The anan­ban­toid fishes.4. Some new and inter­est­ing records. 5. Malay names. Bul­letin of the Raf­fles Museum, 24:6395.

Char­ac­ter­is­tics: unusual species of the Parosphromenus genus, but the dif­fer­ences still do not jus­tify a split. It has basi­cally a safe species sta­tus because of the par­tic­u­lar struc­tural char­ac­ter­is­tics. At least one well-​known local form (“Wakaf Tapei”) exists, which is prob­a­bly a sub­species, or at least a sub-​species; even­tu­ally may even be con­sid­ered a sep­a­rate species (see below).

The fish appear to be more elon­gated than most other Parosphromenus, which is also con­firmed in the fin struc­ture: dor­sal XVIIXIX, 57, total 2225, anal XIII-​XVI, 69, total 2123. This dif­fer­en­ti­ates it from all other known licorice gouramis, even from those with a long dor­sal fin (espe­cially P.quindecim, but also P.deissneri and P.filamentosus). Fur­ther­more, the almost com­plete absence of flu­o­res­cent col­ors in the unpaired fins is a unique char­ac­ter­is­tic. Only in some forms does the anal fin show flu­o­res­cent pat­terns, but never light bands, as in many other species. Because of the dif­fer­ent body and fin struc­ture, females are eas­ily dis­tin­guished from the females of other licorice gouramis, a unique fea­ture in this group. In some pop­u­la­tions all or many ani­mals dis­play a black­ish lat­eral body spot that has been men­tioned in the orig­i­nal descrip­tion, too. But often the spot is miss­ing. The courtship colour of the female is not so extremely pale beige-​yellow in most of the local forms, as it is the case for many other species. The form of Wakaf Tapei shows the unique fea­ture that the female in courtship is rather dark, some will even become black­ish. This could be at least be a sub-​species indi­ca­tor, per­haps even (as J. Vierke says) an indi­ca­tor for an own species sta­tus. I sus­pect that this might be an ongo­ing species form­ing process.

Sim­i­lar species: because of the dif­fer­ent coloura­tion, the more stream­lined body shape and the unique fin struc­ture, com­pared to all other licorice gourami species, the risk of con­fu­sion is low, prac­ti­cally the low­est of the whole genus. Within the struc­tural band­width of char­ac­ter­is­tics, this species is very vari­able, espe­cially the males. Most of the fish show pas­tel colours in vary­ing degrees, but also fish occur , with beige-​brown, bluish-​pink, or brown-​red or almost entirely red colour. Fur­ther­more fish of most pop­u­la­tions are elon­gated and thin, while oth­ers appear com­pact with higher backs. The ven­tral fins of all males have very long fil­a­ments. The cau­dal fins of some males are also oval or tri­an­gu­lar elon­gated with sev­eral fil­a­ments, while oth­ers are more rounded with just one mid­dle fil­a­ment ray (e.g. Wakaf Tapei).

Occur­rence /​Dis­tri­b­u­tion: very large extended dis­tri­b­u­tion in the north-​east of the Malaysian penin­sula (province Tereng­ganu), occur­ing even in south­ern Thai­land as the only licorice gourami species. Within this dis­tri­b­u­tion area today many more or less iso­lated dif­fer­ently coloured sub pop­u­la­tions occur, some of them have already been imported pri­vately or com­mer­cially (e.g. from Tereng­ganu, Mer­chang, Kota Bharu, Wakaf Tapei, “south­ern Thai­land”, and oth­ers). They should not be mixed. The almost total absence of light colours in this unusual species shows that its cen­tre of dis­tri­b­u­tion is not sit­u­ated in black water. Like other Parosphromenus some of their local vari­ants inhabit black water habi­tats as well, but oppo­site to almost all other Parosphromenus forms, they live in clear water, too (but mainly in tran­si­tional areas). They pre­fer lighter biotopes, com­pared to other species of the genus: their adapt­abil­ity to man-​made water bod­ies (road­side chan­nels, reser­voirs, pond-​like struc­tures) is much higher. For a col­lec­tion by D. Armitage Den­nis Young men­tioned they mainly came from Paper Bark (melaleuca) swamps.

Threat: lower, com­pared to other licorice gouramis, due to their dif­fer­ent habi­tat require­ments, but still sig­nif­i­cant, because of the gen­eral ongo­ing destruc­tion of nat­ural waters. For some colour vari­ants or local forms the threat is high, because of the lim­ited range of dis­tri­b­u­tion. Large areas of the orig­i­nal biotopes are no longer hab­it­able for the species with fur­ther decreas­ing trend for avail­able habi­tats. D. Young states that the orig­i­nal Wakaf Tapei local­ity has been destroyed in the meantime.

Discovery/​First import: P. palu­di­cola was the sec­ond form after ‘deiss­neri’ recog­nised clearly as a dis­tinct species due to its struc­tural pecu­liar­i­ties. It was dis­cov­ered only around 1950 in Tereng­ganu by the cura­tor of the Raf­fles Museum, M.W.F. Tweedei and got its first descrip­tion in 1952. The fish then remained unno­ticed for many years and was not caught again, so that the for­mer aquar­ium lit­er­a­ture did not men­tion it or included only rough draw­ings and con­clu­sions. In 1977 it was imported by Peter Nagyi de Felsö Gör (Salzburg) to Europe for the first time. The species was also bred for the first time then.<

Trade: before the nineties, the species had obvi­ously never been traded com­mer­cially. Since then sev­eral imports to Cen­tral or West­ern Europe have taken place, but in most of the cases under the wrong name “deiss­neri”. P. palu­di­cola is very rarely traded. The sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent (from the nom­i­nate form) local vari­ant Wakaf Tapei has been caught pri­vately by B. and A. Brown in the early 80s and again by Young, Pinto and Arnitage in 1996, where it has been bred suc­cess­fully by Brown. In the com­mer­cial trade it has not appeared. The whole cur­rent aquar­ium stock goes back to the breed­ing pop­u­la­tion of the Browns.

Care /​Breed­ing: Usu­ally one of the least demand­ing licorice gouramis, because it is not nec­es­sar­ily depen­dent on the sim­u­la­tion of pure black water con­di­tions. The species is there­fore (together with P. fil­a­men­to­sus or P. linkei) par­tic­u­larly well suited for begin­ners in the licorice gourami aquar­ium hobby. The con­duc­tiv­ity of the water should be less than 100 micro Siemens /​cm, a value between 30 and 50 is con­sid­ered ideal. The pH value can range between 4.0 and 6.5, the height of the value is not cru­cial, but a low value can be use­ful for its antibi­otic effect. The addi­tion of humic sub­stances or humic acid-​emerging mate­r­ial is also help­ful. That the species is not found in pure black water, does not mean that humic sub­stances can be dis­pensed entirely. P. palu­di­cola clutches may be among the largest in the genus (up to 100 eggs). A bub­ble nest is built, but often it remains rudi­men­tary. The vari­ant form of Wakaf Tapei is less pro­duc­tive and appar­ently some­what more del­i­cate than the other forms.

Behav­iour /​Par­tic­u­lar­i­ties: hor­i­zon­tal courtship. The dif­fer­ences between nup­tial and ordi­nary colour are less dis­tinct then in any other licorice gourami species but nev­er­the­less exists: the hor­i­zon­tal bands of the ordi­nary colour­ing dis­ap­pear almost com­pletely dur­ing courtship. The “sexy-​eyes” of the females are par­tic­u­larly pro­nounced. Caves on the floor, halfway up or at the water sur­face are accepted, if they are not too small or too spa­cious. Film con­tain­ers are already suf­fi­cient. P. Finke once observed a rudi­men­tary brood care by the female after the death of the male, but it was not com­pleted. To keep this species together with other fish is more eas­ily pos­si­ble, than with other Parosphromenus, due to its less spe­cialised demands. Even a com­mu­nity with other licorice gourami species is not prob­lem­atic, because even males in non breed­ing con­di­tion and females can eas­ily be dis­tin­guished due to their struc­tural char­ac­ter­is­tics. Addi­tion­ally the less extreme water val­ues do not con­spire against this. How­ever, only small and peace­ful other fish can be con­sid­ered for com­pan­ion­ship and suc­cess­ful rais­ing of fry can not be expected.

Lit­er­a­ture (selection):

P.Finke 2005: Erfahrun­gen mit Parosphromenus palu­di­cola. Der Makropode 56 (2006): 101104

H.-J. May­land 1980: Labyrinth­fis­che. Min­den (Philler) 1980, darin S. 109110

P. Nagy 1979 : Ein aquar­is­tis­ches Loch — Parosphromenus palu­di­cola

Aquar­ien­magazin 13: 567571

P. Nagy 1980: Erste Zuchter­folge mit dem Labyrinthfisch Parosphromenus palu­di­cola. Das Aquar­ium 135: 459463

H. Pin­ter 1984: Labyrinth­fis­che, Hechtköpfe und Schlangenkopff­is­che. Stuttgart (Ulmer) 1984, darin S. 128.

H.-J. Richter 1979: Das Buch der Labyrinth­fis­che. Berlin-​Basel-​Wien (Neumann-​Neudamm) 1979, darin S. 82.

J. Vierke 1978: Labyrinth­fis­che und ver­wandte Arten. Wup­per­tal (Pfriem) 1978, darin S. 84.

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