P sumatranus 'TCE 2018' photo by David Jones1

Klause­witz 1955

First descrip­tion: See– und Süßwasser­fis­che von Suma­tra und Java. Senck­en­ber­giana Bio­log­ica, 36: 309323

Char­ac­ter­is­tics: one of the most enig­matic Parosphromenus species, because it seems to occur in two struc­turally dif­fer­ent vari­ants, a form with a rather high back (nor­mal type of licorice gourami) and a sig­nif­i­cantly leaner form with a rel­a­tively lower back (type lean licorice gourami, like ornaticauda/​parvulus). It is unclear if these types rep­re­sent the end­point of a con­tin­uum or sep­a­rate forms or varieties.

Total length max. 3.5 cm. Fin for­mula: Dor­sal: XI-​XII, 67, total 1719, anal fin: X-​XII, 810, total 2022. The male shows in both fins, light red colour bands and in the rear part of the dor­sal fin a species-​typical round black dot, which can some­times be found in the females as well, but here it appears to be less dis­tinct. A nar­row dark band, which runs along the bor­der between body and anal fin is also typ­i­cal for this species. This band is not present in other licorice gouramis, in this form. The cau­dal fin is mono­chrome pale red to black-​red. The male also shows some­times a very short (usu­ally only 1 mm), sin­gle cau­dal fil­a­ment – this occurs occa­sion­ally although less dis­tinctly in females, too.

Sim­i­lar species: Until its recog­ni­tion as a sep­a­rate species by Kot­te­lat in 2005, suma­tranus was regarded as a sup­species of the wide­spread P. deiss­neri. This species was sub­se­quently mis-​labelled repeat­edly. In fact there is no risk of con­fu­sion, espe­cially if the behav­iour is con­sid­ered. Head-​up courtship appears apart from this species, only in P.ornaticauda and P.parvulus. P.sumatranus can not be con­fused with these two species, due to its fin and body coloura­tion, which con­forms to the main licorice gourami type. But even in pure phe­no­typic con­sid­er­a­tion, the risk of con­fu­sion is low, because the species shows char­ac­ter­is­tic par­tic­u­lar­i­ties in its coloura­tion (see above).

Occur­rence /​Dis­tri­b­u­tion: endemic on Suma­tra, Jambi dis­trict, e.g. near Lei­bong Sep­baju and in the river basins of Sun­gai Ayer Merah, Sun­gai Pijoan, Sun­gai Siak Kecil and Sun­gai Sen­tang. H. Kishi (Team Bor­neo) found the species also near Rengat/​Riau. He detected the fol­low­ing water val­ues: pH 4.8, 30 micro Siemens/​cm, gen­eral hard­ness hardly mea­sur­able (01), car­bon­ate hard­ness hardly mea­sur­able (01), tem­per­a­ture 28 °C.

Threat: Not known in detail, but surely given due to their endemic occur­rence. Destruc­tion of the licorice gourami habi­tats is a major threat also in Suma­tra and thus suma­tranus has to be regarded as endan­gered, too — like the other licorice gouramis.

Discovery/​First import: the first describer, the ichthy­ol­o­gist Wolf­gang Klause­witz from Frank­furt, described the species as a sup­posed sub­species of “deiss­neri”, based on fish that he found in an import.

Trade: both vari­ants, with high and low back, occa­sion­ally have appeared in inter­na­tional trade, in recent years. Often they are not recog­nised as such, but receive partly mis­lead­ing trade names for mar­ket­ing rea­sons (“deiss­neri”, “red line”, fire red”, etc.).

Care /​Breed­ing: just like other licorice gouramis. The species is very shy and needs hid­ing places. The tank set up has to con­sider this need. In suit­able larger tanks simul­ta­ne­ous courtship and breed­ing of sev­eral cou­ples can take place – this indi­cates a syn­chro­ni­sa­tion in cohab­it­ing groups. K. Koomans reported that 5 breed­ing pairs had courtship at the same time.

Behav­iour /​Par­tic­u­lar­i­ties:Head-​up courtship. Even a “tipped over” posi­tion is pos­si­ble. This is the most strik­ing fea­ture of this species, together with the remark­able shy­ness, which is reported by many experts. The phe­nom­e­non of the pres­ence two struc­turally dif­fer­ent types (see above) is still com­pletely unclear. Peter Finke has linked a par­tic­u­lar hypoth­e­sis to this species con­cern­ing the evo­lu­tion of the genus. It is the only Parosphromenus species, which com­bines fea­tures of the two large struc­ture and behav­iour types of licorice gouramis (“com­mon type” vs. “ornaticauda/​parvulus group”): from the first type the gen­eral body coloura­tion (hor­i­zon­tal bands), as well as (prin­cip­i­ally) the coloura­tion of dor­sal and anal fin with bands, but from the lat­ter it shows the slen­der body shape and the char­ac­ter­is­tic head-​up courtship. This could be inter­preted in a way that the two main groups have emerged from a sumatranus-​like species, from which one group took the first named fea­tures, whereas the sec­ond devel­oped the sec­ond group of char­ac­ter­is­tics. In some plant and ani­mal groups sev­eral exam­ples for such a evo­lu­tion­ary split have been recog­nised. If the same is the case for suma­tranus, then this is indeed a par­tic­u­larly inter­est­ing species: the descen­dant of a pri­mal licorice gourami.


W. Klause­witz 1955: Parosphromenus deiss­neri – zum ersten Mal in Deutsch­land. DATZ 10: 257 f.




sumatranus_Kishi_1a.jpgParosphromenus sumatranus Photo Christian HinzParosphromenus sumatranus biotop Rengat in Staat Riau (Sumatra) Photo KishiParosphromenus sumatranus Photo Christian Hinz

Users online


Right Click is Disabled

Please respect our image usage rights and do not copy the images found on this web­site with­out prior per­mis­sion. Thank You — The Parosphromenus Project Staff