Day 8: The Iron Bridge Since it was a Sunday, things moved really slowly on the east coast. It was suggested that we explore a habitat we visited in 1996 that provided lots of B. imbellis and even a few Nandus, but no P. paludicola. We nicknamed the site “Iron Bridge” due to the proximity of an iron bridge that was being built above the fishing habitat in 1996. This time, however, it was completed, and we parked above the bridge and ventured into the habitat. We saw some movement in the water from the bridge and suspected that Channa were in the water. We were not sure if we would find much. Initially we caught mostly croaking ouramis, but later I found B. imbellis, Aplocheilus panchax, and even a small Channa sp. A lot of the imbellis males were very dark, nearly black, and I was certain they were breeding. After we had collected enough fish, we proceeded back to the chalets to have breakfast at the motorway cafe that we had patronized the previous night. As we ate, we watched the antics of the cats and kittens that were under the tables. We then packed our belongings from the chalets and took off for the waterfalls where B. stigmosa was rumored to be found in Kuala Terengganu. Since Dennis warned us that it was a difficult site and that there were very few fish to be found in it, only David was brave enough to venture into the site and its steep bank. I found lots of mosquitoes and interesting ferns in the area surrounding the site. In about 45 minutes, David emerged from the swamp with a few B. stigmosa. One of the males was stunning, with its beautiful blue throat and gorgeous ladder markings in the caudal. We then headed out to Kelantan, where we were hoping to collect a new betta, B. kuehnei, which had only been described a year or two ago. We stopped at a small place for afternoon soup and then found a nice hotel near Pasir Puteh. Once we had arranged for our rooms and unloaded our suitcases, we went off in search of fish at a location that Dennis knew. The habitat consisted of a relatively fast- flowing stream with a sandy base and little vegetation. It was tough going at first; the catch consisted of gobies, barbs, and loaches. Then, I suddenly caught a beautiful brown-and-blue fish in my net. It was a male B. kuehnei—it resembled my old friend B. taeniata, which I found in Sarawak many years ago with Dennis and
Parosphromenus nagyi is a small-growing species that requires exceptional water quality to thrive.
ventured into the water where I found
pipefish, a couple of B. kuehnei, and some
C. gachua. Then we traveled to Gerick via
Lake Temenggor to stay for the night.
Dennis took us to a habitat in Baling
where we found a slim brown form of B.
pugnax amid masses of dark Cryptocoryne.
We met some friends of Dennis while we
were at dinner in a Chinese restaurant that
evening. They advised us to check out an
old man who apparently had a collection of
bettas in Taiping.
The author encountered not only fish but a
variety of interesting plant life, such as the
broad, verdant leaves of Alocasia.
David. And it was apparent that he was
mouthbrooding. Dennis caught two more,
and we had a trio of fish from this location.
Betta kuehnei Success
We found a park and decided to fish in
the clear stream flowing outside of it. It
was tricky, but we did manage to collect
a few pairs and fry of B. kuehnei. We also
found gobies, loaches, and a few Channa
gachua. We then traveled to the Sungai
Golok area close to the Thai border to look
at prospective sites around Pasir Mas. Here
we collected barbs, pipefish, and a few
more B. kuehnei.
An Open Sandy Stream
Fishing in the Forest
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