Croaking gourami Trichopsis vittata, male.
shore and were meaning to use them as bait. I saw at once that they
were croaking gouramis and asked “pla kat?” They then pointed
eagerly to the west and mentioned the name of a city. At the same
time a motorbike driver stopped and asked politely if he could be of
any help. He told me that the Siamese fighting fish could be found
further west but added that the fish in the bottle was also called
pla kat in his home village. I did not understand if he meant that
the common fighting fish was for sale in a marketplace or if there
were wild specimens in the fields; there was complete confusion.
However, I did later learn that both Betta splendens and Betta
imbellis are native to the island.
A biotope for the pearl danio at Na Muang, Koh Samui.
Purchase and Analysis
I ended up buying the fish in the bottle—transporting them
overseas was no problem, as they are an air-breathing species like
other gouramis and bettas. The croaking gourami reaches about
2¾ inches, and when mating, the male often produces a loud
croaking sound, hence the common English name. Being a rather
shy species, it should be kept in a tank of its own or kept together
with related species. Even though the pearl danio and the croaking
gourami can be found on the same island, they do not share the
same habitats. I found the danio below a waterfall, which is clearly
not a suitable place to build a bubblenest.
This gourami is not overly sensitive to water conditions, as long
as the temperature does not drop below 25°C ( 77°F). It seems to
prefer mosquito larvae and other similar foods. Many bettas build
bubblenests every now and then, but the croaking gourami seems
to be induced to breed with little difficulty. The recipe involves a
sunny position, thick plants such as Riccia fluitans at the surface,
and temperatures of 28° to 30°C ( 82° to 86°F). It breeds in typical
betta fashion, with the male embracing the female under the
bubblenest. The young hatch after about 24 to 36 hours, and being
very minute and delicate, they must be provided with the very finest
grades of food. The young are very sensitive to low temperatures
at the time of the formation of the labyrinth organ (the breathing
organ), at about two to three weeks after hatching.
Croaking gourami Trichopsis vittata, female.
Although I searched in mountain brooks, I did not see Betta
taeniata. Aplocheilus panchax also escaped my eyes, even though the
species is easily recognized by the white spot on the head. According
to Smith, it was very abundant in the 1930s in the lowlands of the
island. However, many areas have been drained since then for the
building of hotels and for other reasons. If you are looking for native
species in Thailand, do not hesitate to ask the local people—they
are typically friendly and willing to help. Of course, you cannot use
the scientific or the English names. The common vernacular name
of the croaking gourami is “pla krim.” If you want to find danios
or rasboras, ask for “pla siew.” You won’t get very far without the
general vernacular names for these kinds of fishes.
Smith, H. M. 1945. The Fresh-Water Fishes of Siam, or Thailand.
Bulletin - United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution
(USA), no. 188. D
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