Yet another novelty from Kalimantan

by Norbert Neugebauer

In the report of our last holiday trip on which we also happened to catch some fish (Labyrinth 72), I introduced a picture of a juvenile fighting fish and posed the question,' Could this be B.taeniata?'. Unfortunately we only brought one of them, which now appears fully-grown, back with us.

It has bright turquoise gill-lids with an ink-blue outside edge and a blue-green inside edge to the dorsal, caudal and anal fins. The strong body with a longish, pointed tail fin does not seem to belong to the banded fighting fish as last discovered and defined by Dr Vierke.

None of the people who are knowledgeable about Bettas had seen this fish before. Our much-esteemed, chief 'looker-over' of Bettas, Juergen Schmidt was also of the opinion that it might be a new species after looking over the transparencies. However, with only one fish one cannot do a great deal, particularly as it was very healthy and was not going to be butchered before its time in the name of science.

But the story does not end here. In January 1994, an adventurous friend of ours, who live near Juergen, went off to Kalimantan, which is full of wild animals and disease organisms, armed with our information to look for fish. he also went to the Kapuuas stream where we found this new fish. He arrived home safely with a sackful of fish from the island of blood-thirsty head-hunters and pirates whose descendants are now taxi drivers who try to rob perfectly harmless foreigners!

Quite by chance, I came to that part of the country and we were asked to view the happy adventurers captures in his cellar after allowing ourselves to be pressed into partaking of coffee and cakes which we consumed merely to save the feelings of our host! Among the many interesting Bettas, mostly young fish which were very difficult to identify, we were very pleased to see 5 specimens of the 'new' fish.

A real scientific investigation should soon be possible, probably Juergen will report about it, so I shall not say any more about it just now.


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