Unusual finds of Paradisefish in Russia

by George Mamanov (Ukraine)

The paradisefish genus, Macropodus is known in China and Korea toward the north of the labyrinthfish distribution but this fish has not been described in the fauna of Russia before. However, new records were described by aquarists from the Amur river in the Russian far east, near Chinese territory and these were reported in the Russian literature.:- A.M.Kochetov, 'Decorative fish breeding' Moscow 1991 and 'Akvariumist' Moscow, 1993 No. 6- 'Unusual find - from near Habarovsk'.

The climate of this territory is continental, with a cold winter and a short summer. The water temperature in the Amur basin varies widely in the different seasons, unlike those usually associated with anabantoid habitats. The rivers are under ice-cover in winter in this territory which should cause an air-breather serious problems in maintaining respiration. The air temperature can be -22 to -30 C while summer air temperatures vary between 21-22C.

The paradisefish were described as M.chinensis. Normally they are very hard, adaptable specimens. Some can live in very cold water with ice-cover for about 3h with gradual reduction in water temperatures to 3-5C and air temperatures of -10C. However many fish died under these conditions and only a few could survive for more than a few hours at temperatures below -10C. Sharp temperature changes caused disease such as Saprolegnia fungus with a lethal end result.

In this case, the long winter of the Russian far east makes it difficult to imagine the long-term survival of the paradisefish. Its appearance may be due to occasional escapes from the aquarium or the occasional migratory introduction from China and Korea, biotopes which communicate with the Amur basin. The fish has been observed in open ponds at 10C in summer but has not been observed in the cold winter seasons. It more easily adapts to cold conditions in old, slightly acid water, achieved using peat extract. Colisa lalia can also live at low temperatures (15C) in old, unchanged water but quickly diseased in fresh, 'clean' water at temperatures at 18C.

Many of the ponds and everglades in the far Russian east are covered with ice from top to bottom and only the well-adapted goby,Percottus, can live under these conditions. The continuance of populations of Macropodus is therefore doubtful under these conditions.

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