In December 2012, three new species of labyrinth fishes (Anabantoids) were described: Parosphromenus phoenicurus and Parosphromenus gunawani from eastern Sumatra and Betta siamorientalis from eastern Thailand. We now recognize 20 Parosphromenus and 27 Betta species.
Horst Linke discovered Parosphromenus phoenicurus Schindler & Linke, 2012 in 2008, and introduced it to the aquarium hobby under the name Parosphromenus sp. “Langgam.” The new species of licorice gourami differs from all other Parosphromenus in the rhombic shape of the caudal fin (as opposed to rounded or filamentary extended tail fins in the other species). The scientific name derives from the Greek “phoenix” (dark red) and “urus” (tail).
As far as is known, the species lives only in the drainage of the Sungai Kampar near the village of Langgam, about 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Pekanbaru in the Riau province of central Sumatra, Indonesia. The type locality is a blackwater swamp near Kota Kerincikiri. Linke collected there in January 2008 and found the following water parameters: pH 5.25, 80.2°F (26.8°C).
Like all the Parosphromenus species, P. phoenicurus does best in a 24-inch (60-cm) single species aquarium. The water parameters should be as close as possible to those in the natural habitat. The type thrives best at a very low current, which can be easily generated with a sponge filter. The tank should be planted densely in places to offer shelter to the animals.
P. phoenicurus is a bubble nest builder. The male builds a nest under a floating piece of cork bark or a leaf, where he will care for the eggs. After spawning, the female can be removed inorder to prevent her from preying on the hatching brood.
As with the above species, Parosphromenus gunawani Schindler & Linke, 2012 was also discovered by licorice gourami expert Horst Linke in 2008 and introduced to the hobby under the name Parosphromenus sp. “Danau Rasau.”
P. gunawani has a rounded tail fin with a shiny blue vertical band.
The species lacks a black spot on the dorsal fin, which is a common trait for the genus. Typical is a reddish-brown banding in the dorsal and anal fins. The species was named in honor of Mr. Gunawan “Thomas” Kasim, a well-known aquarium fish exporter, who supported the discoverer on his travels in Sumatra.The species lives in the northwestern part of the province of Jambi on Sumatra. The type locality is a swamp with a water depth of 1-3 feet (30-100 cm). The surface is partially overgrown with floating plants, and the water is shaded by nearby trees. Linke measured the following water parameters in May 2008: pH 4.1, 84°F (29°C). Due to strong rains, a slight current was observed. The care and breeding of these animals in the aquarium does not differ from that of P. phoenicurus.
Betta siamorientalis Kowasupat, Panijpan, Ruenwongsa, & Sriwattanarothai, 2012 has been known to aquarists for some time under various trade names, such as Betta cf. imbellis or “Black Imbellis.” The Thai locals have considered it a form of Betta splendens because of the two red bars on the gill cover; they also call it Betta sp. “Kabinburi.” The describers assigned B. siamorientalis to the Betta splendens group, along with B. splendens, B. smaragdina, B. imbellis, B. stiktos, and the recently described B. mahachaiensis.
B. siamorientalis has a black-brown body color, a black operculum with the aforementioned red twin bars, a red spot pattern on the gill membrane, and a red outlined caudal fin with a thin black margin. The rear half of the anal fin is red and the red-black ventral fins have white tips.
The species name refers to its origin. Siam is the old name for Thailand and the Latin name “orientalis” means “east,” a reference to eastern Thailand, the area of origin of the species.
B. siamorientalis inhabits various habitats in Thailand, such as flooded savanna planes, rice fields, the densely planted edges of ponds, lagoons, canals, and similar habitats. The species prefers dense vegetation in order to be protected from predators and to build a foam nest. They share their habitat with many other fish species: Trichopsis vittata, T. schalleri, T. pumila, Trichopodus trichopterus, Anabas testudineus, Lepidocephalichthys hasselti, Pangio anguillaris, Macrognathus siamensis, and Monopterus albus.
Betta species are actually not suitable for community aquariums. B. siamorientalis is no exception, and is best maintained in a densely planted species aquarium. A 24-inch (60-cm) tank is completely sufficient. Slight water movement from the filtration, slightly acidic and soft water, and an average water temperature of 77-81°F (25-27°C) fully satisfy the requirements. Live and frozen foods of all kinds are accepted, but fatty foods such as Tubifex should be fed sparingly.
Floating plants facilitate the building of a foam nest. Usually, keeping several males together in an aquarium does not work out. The species is quite aggressive and a dominant male will vigorously fight with all competitors. On the other hand, several females can be kept together. After spawning, I remove the female so as not to jeopardize the hatching fry later.
I thank Horst Linke for the pictures and Matt Ford of Seriously Fish (www. seriouslyfish.com) for the information on Betta sp. “Kabinburi.”