conscious that new members, especially juniors, may find some of the
articles in 'Labyrinth' over-technical. The Latin names and the
plethora of newly-discovered fish must be confusing to someone who was
attracted to the family of labyrinthfish by the community examples
commonly available through the aquarium trade. I hope the New Member's
pack will resolve most initial questions but in future will try to
devote at least one page per issue to the basics. Let me know what
you'd like to see but this month, we kick off by choosing the fish.
most popular and widely-available anabantoids are probably Gouramis,
Siamese fighting fish or Paradise fish. These groups contain some of
the most but also the least suitable species for beginners. If your
initial experiences with the fish are unfavourable, it is unlikely that
you will persevere with the family, so it is crucial to get your
initial choice of fish, right first time.
start with gouramis. You're likely to be faced with a choice of Blue
gouramis (or Cosby, Gold, 3 spot, platinum - all the same species),
maybe Pearl gouramis and also Dwarf and Honey gouramis. These bigTrichogaster gouramis
from Malaysia are aggressive and disruptive in a small tank. They are
as territorial as cichlids and I would not recommend these as your
first choice. The Colisas from India are more peaceful and there can be no more beautiful fish in the hobby than the Dwarf gourami,C.lalia.
However, perhaps he best choice would be the 2" Honey gourami which has
the additional advantage of having relatively large fry which are
easier to raise than many labyrinth fry. A little harder to find, but
still manageable in the community tank, are the croaking gouramis, Trichopsis, particularly the miniature sparkling gourami,T.pumilla.
I could not recommend the Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens for
beginners. The cost of carrying the splendid ornamental fins is a short
life for the males and their hyper-aggression makes them a pain in your
first aquarium. The real 'splendens enthusiasts keep rows of males in
individual jars, uniting them with females for a few short hours for
spawning- surely not an attractive proposition for your first
experience as an aquarist. Unfortunately, the most peaceful
alternatives to 'splendens, the small bubblenesters from Malaysia, such
as Betta imbellis, the Crescent Betta, are rarely available outside AAGB.
Equally unsuitable, in my opinion, is the Paradise fish, Macropodus opercularis It
is quite large and aggressive and, although colourful and easy to
spawn, males make life very hard for females in a community aquarium. A
beautiful alternative, sometimes available, is the dwarf spike-tailed
paradisefish, Pseudosphromenus dayi, which is usually barely 2" and makes a better parent.
there you are, my initial recommendation is that you chose between the
Dwarf gourami and the Honey gourami, with the additional options of the
croaking or sparkling gourami and the dwarf, spike-tailed Paradise
fish. Next time I will suggest how to set up a community, based around
your first choice of labyrinth fish.