Experiences with Malpulutta kretseri

by Knut Bieler, IGL

The monotypical, Malpulutta was described in 1937 by the Sinhalese ichthyologist, Deriniyagala. The naturalist, Rodney, Jonklaas was probably the first to report on the breeding of this 4-6 cm long labyrinthfish in TFH March 1969. It occurs only on the island of Sri Lanka where it was reported to live in small shallow pools which are shaded by trees by Linke (1990). Here in habitats such as the Kottawa forest, the pH was 6.6., 4DGH, 2KH and 35 mu S/cc at 27.5C.

I first came across this fish in a pet shop in Bayreuth which gets its stock from Mimbon in Cologne. Unfortunately, as I was only a schoolboy, I couldn't afford any as the price was pretty high. I had to swap 20Cynolebius for a pair of these dwarf paradisefish. At home, I put the rather frightened, wild-caught fish (so the shop said and at that time, as far as I know, export was not forbidden) in a 40x25x25 cm aquarium. The furnishings consisted of the obligatory bundle of Java moss on the base and 3 small film boxes which I stick to some small pieces of slate. The water was cleaned through and air lift filter containing peat which made the pH 5.5. at 24C.

After I put them into the aquarium, the male disappeared straight away into the Java moss and was not seen again for some time. After I had already given up hope that the animal was still alive, it appeared again after 6 weeks. I fed my M.kretseri with only live food such as Daphnia and mosquito larvae (except red), Cyclops and Artemianaupilii. After a good feed of mosquito larvae, the male started to build a bubble nest in one of the film boxes which seemed bigger and sturdier than those of mostParosphromenus. Unfortunately, I was not able to observe the courtship and spawning because every time that I tried to look at them with my flashlight, they interrupted their loveplay. Juergen Schmidt reported that their seemed to be something special during the pairing process, some 'kissing' rather like one sees with kissing gouramis (Helostoma teminckii). I hope Juergen will say more about that in a future article. After my pair had spawned, their appeared to be about 100 eggs and after about 5 days, the 2mm larvae had hatched.

For the further raising of the brood, 2 methods seem to have been useful. In the first, I leave the young ones with their parents for about 3 days after they hatch. Then I catch them, one by one, with a spoon with an L-shaped handle and place them in a 35 l rearing aquarium with the same water as the breeding tank.

In the second method, I suck out the larvae from the nest, using a small hose or pipette. This method has been particularly successful when the male has finished his nursing of the brood for a short time and one can raise more fish more purposefully by this method. The eggs should always stay in the nest with the male. I had a lot of fungi with artificial raising, in spite of adding 'Cilex'. The eggs and larvae which are sucked out are put in a plastic box of 14x7x5.5cm which is hung in the breeding aquarium for better control. This way it is also easier to change half the water from the 'parent' aquarium.

After the young fish swim free, I put them in a raising aquarium with 15l water and some snails on the bottom as scavengers (4-5 days after hatching at 24C). The young fish start to feed immediately on freshly-hatched Artemia. As a precaution, one can also feed 'Protgen' or small vinegar eels. Only by very close inspection, can one discover the young fish. Usually you can only count them after they have been fed on Artemia, because they then have bright red stomachs. After 3 months, they are big enough to sex.

Malpulutta kretseri is an interesting and rewarding fish because of the fine colours of the male which appear even outside the breeding season. As a last word, I want to mention a query of an aquarist friend of mine who asked me if my fish were as 'jump happy' as his. I have never noticed this characteristic with my fish so maybe it would be interesting to hear other aquarists' experiences. (I have heard of them disappearing from their tank only to appear in the tank below, after many months. They are also capable of vanishing in the tank because of their supreme ability to hide. Maybe this is why they are so difficult to catch in the wild! - Ed.)


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