What you need to know about the nat­ural envi­ron­ment of Licorice Gourami

The orig­i­nal habi­tats of Parosphromenus are flow­ing streams within peat swamps, where fresh spring and rain water runs over lat­erite and sandy ground, which is com­pletely free of lime. Some­times, Parosphromenus fish

Bintan biotop Bangka (photo H.Kishi)

are found in stag­nant, dry stream beds in the dry sea­son or on the flooded for­est floor in the rainy season.

Deissneri habitat Bangka (photo H.Kishi)

Fur­ther­more, very old lay­ers of dead leaves, wood and thorny thick­ets char­ac­terise this type of habi­tat. There is lit­tle light; thus for the sur­vival of the inhab­i­tants of such an envi­ron­ment, it is essen­tial to show lumi­nous colours. Only min­i­mal salt con­tent of these water bod­ies is detectable and they show very low pH val­ues, as do peat swamps in other areas in the world. These val­ues go down to pH 4 or pH 3, actu­ally a hos­tile envi­ron­ment, but Parosphromenus and the accom­pa­ny­ing fauna have adapted to this. This envi­ron­ment guar­an­tees the least pos­si­ble con­t­a­m­i­na­tion by harm­ful bac­te­ria which can­not develop in large quan­ti­ties. Only this enables the devel­op­ment of the vul­ner­a­ble eggs of these fish.

These habi­tats are partly over­grown with weeds, less so by under­wa­ter plants, but rather by marsh and ter­res­trial plants on the water’s edge. On many river banks, large amounts of grasses and other plants reach into the water and form a weed zone, which is very dif­fi­cult to pen­e­trate. Because Parosphromenus favour this zone and often stay at a depth of 1 to 2 meters, it is very hard work to catch them. The dense grass bunches have to be scooped with a strong-​framednet. Fish­ing in the open water might bring dif­fer­ent types of fish, but no licorice gouramis.

It is nec­es­sary to know all this, if we want to keep these fish alive and healthy in the tank, espe­cially if we want to breed them. It is not pos­si­ble to try to “toughen” them. They have adapted to their envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions over thou­sands of gen­er­a­tions and can­not be recon­di­tioned in a tank. How­ever we can observe a cer­tain adapt­abil­ity of healthy adult fish, as well as in their areas of ori­gin. Here too we find sur­viv­ing pop­u­la­tions in rem­nant streams, which are more or less affected by human cul­ti­va­tion. How­ever the vital­ity of these fish is often reduced.

Read an arti­cle on the van­ish­ing bio­di­ver­sity of the peat swamps here.



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