The Genus Parosphromenus Bleeker 1877

The fish that Pieter Bleeker described sci­en­tif­i­cally for the first time in 1859, dif­fered sig­nif­i­cantly from the already known mem­bers of the genus Osphrone­mus, which he had estab­lished ear­lier. This dif­fer­ence made him think. After he had ini­tially clas­si­fied the fish as a mem­ber of this genus, 18 years later he defined another genus for this species: Parosphromenus (”false or abnor­mal Osphrone­mus”), but he made the mis­take to swap ”n” and ”m” in the name. Accord­ing to the rules of nomen­cla­ture, this error had to be retained.

All licorice gouramis breed in caves. In their nat­ural habi­tats prob­a­bly all types of small caves are used, which can be found in for­est swamps or rivers: small cav­i­ties in sub­mersed dead wood, cave-​like spaces in thick­ets, empty mus­sel or snail shells and cer­tainly, very often, small hid­ing places below old leaves or lay­ers of leaves, which cover the sub­strate in many habi­tats. Licorice gouramis can often be found at greater water depths than other labyrinth fish; it is not uncom­mon to find them one to two meters below the sur­face. This is with­out ques­tion also related to the fol­low­ing point.

P.harveyi 'tanjung malim' (photo M.Kloster)

In fact, a pec­u­lar­ity of this genus is that these fish have a fully func­tional labyrinth – the addi­tional breath­ing organ of this group of fish – but hardly ever use it. In prin­ci­ple they are foam nest builders, like the rest of the labyrinth fish, but most of their species only build rudi­men­tary, small foam nests in their caves. P. fil­a­men­to­sus col­lects a rel­a­tively large num­ber of air bub­bles from the sur­face, while P. parvu­lus uses only very few, if any. For this pur­pose the labyrinth comes into action. It will be used imme­di­ately, if a sud­den, dras­tic dete­ri­o­ra­tion of the envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions takes place, which can be observed in the aquar­ium dur­ing water changes and cor­re­spond­ing sig­nif­i­cant changes of pH . Nor­mally, how­ever, the labyrinth is rarely used at all. Wal­ter Foer­sch recog­nised early on that he never saw his fish breath­ing. He even installed nets just below the sur­face to pur­posely pre­vent the fish from breath­ing, but they did not show any sign of discomfort.

Any­one, who com­pares dif­fer­ent licorice gouramis, will recog­nise that there is a lot of sim­i­lar­ity among species and vari­eties. Apart from the appear­ance of the fish, their require­ments towards the envi­ron­ment are sim­i­lar. With the excep­tion of P. palu­di­cola, which shows, through its more pastel-​like over­all colour and the lack of clear lumi­nous pat­terns in its fins, that it lives in clear­erer waters and not in these extreme black water habi­tats, most of the other species are typ­i­cal inhab­i­tants of shaded, flow­ing swampy for­est waters. There­fore it is not really nec­es­sary to describe indi­vid­ual main­te­nance and breed­ing con­di­tions for each of the forms, it is suf­fi­cient to do so for the whole genus.



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