On the way back to Pontianak City,
Yuping stopped his car at the roadside
near a peat swamp not far from the
small town of Anjungan. We could see
some people were busy loading the
hardwoods onto a truck. These people
were chopping down the trees in this
peat swamp forest illegally.
Before entering the disturbed peat
swamp forest, I spotted a species of
Sphagnum moss growing in the black
water. I used to find this kind of moss in
the mountain area, but this was my first
time finding it in the lowland area.
To go into the peat swamp, we had
to walk along a trail built by illegal
loggers. There were wooden planks
along the trail, so it wasn’t too difficult
to continue walking, although the peat
soil was extremely soft and smelly.
There were no big trees left in this
forest, only shrubs and very short trees.
The forest floor was flooded, and the
water level was about 4 inches deep. In
a shady area, I used my small fish net to
scoop up a layer of submerged leaf litter.
A black-colored Betta was jumping in
my net—it was Betta mandor I was
pretty excited at that moment because
I never expected to find this species in
the peat swamp.
After photographing the fish and
putting it inside a small container, we
continued to walk to the deeper part
of the forest. I saw a shallow pool near
the trail where the water level was only
around 2 inches deep. I had a strong
feeling that this would be the prefect
spot to find Betta rutilans, one of the
smallest fighting fish and a member of
the Betta coccina complex. With just
a single scoop, I caught an adult Betta
rutilans, 2½ cm ( 1 inch) long. I walked
deeper into the bushes near the trail
and found even more Betta rutilans.
Most of them were found living in the
shallow areas where the water level was
1 to 2 inches deep. The black water in
the swamp was very acidic, with a pH
of about 4. 1. Other fishes caught in the
shallow pool were Rasbora kalochroma,
Kottelatlimia pristes, Channa bankanensis,
and Luciocephalus pulcher.
At 5 p.m. the forest became very dark,
as it was about to rain. We turned back
and walked slowly to the starting point.
On the way back, I noticed a 2-inch long
Betta near a wooden plank was looking
Red-stripe rasbora Rasbora pauciperforata.