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September 27, 2013

Good afternoon, folks! With the subjects of our last few newsletters, I started to think about Vietnam’s native ornamental fish. Anthony covered basic hillstream tank inhabitants with Tanichthys micagemmae “Vietnam White Cloud” and Sewellia sp. SEW01 “Spotted Hillstream Loach” at the start of the month and I mentioned another Vietnam native fish, Trichopodus microlepis “Moonlight Gourami” the week after. With a week of catfish between, I decided we should head back to Vietnam to look at some of their other beautiful fish.

I’m sure you’re familiar with many of the fish from this country, including Ba lantiocheilus melanopterus “Bala Shark” and the common Poecilia reticulata “Guppy”, whether or not you have been aware of their native waters. Now that we have five Vietnam natives on our list, let’s add some more.

Micronemacheilus cruciatus

Micronemacheilus cruciatus “Multi Stripe Loach” top out at only 1.4” in length and are silver or slightly brown with 14-18 vertical black stripes along their body.  This pattern is punctuated by a black dot at the base of the caudal fin.  These Micronemacheilus loaches are found only in a small region of Central Vietnam in slow-moving and well vegetated waters.  M. cruciatus has a plump, rounded belly.   They will occasionally hover at the midwater level but spend most of their time foraging across the substrate; providing an open sandy area in the front center of your display tank will allow your customers to watch their foraging behavior.  Again, these fish should be kept with other small, peaceful species.  Their striped, monotone pattern would be an excellent contrast to a brightly colored fish such as Rasbora borapetensis “Brilliant Rasbora”

Rasbora borapetensis 

R. borapetensis is one of our especially lovely cyprinids: a silver fish whose scales flash beautifully in the light.  Their lateral line is marked with a dual stripe of rich gold over black and the base of their caudal fin is bright cherry red.  This is an incredibly easy and unfussy fish and therefore a great option for new hobbyists.  Only two inches when full grown, this fish is peaceful and sedate enough to be paired with many popular small centerpiece fish.  Sympatrically occurring wild Betta and Trichopodus species could be a fascinating biotope project, perhaps with a large group of Pangio oblonga “Black Kuhlii Loach” or a school of Puntius barbs. The Brilliant Rasbora prefers soft, somewhat acidic water in nature, with a temperature across the 70s Fahrenheit range.  Maintain this striking little fish with dense planting and a dark substrate to encourage them to show their best colors.

I love our gobies. Every time I see a new species, or even one I’ve seen before, I can’t help but marvel at how adorable they are. Rhinogobius duospilus “Flame Cheek Goby” is, of course, no exception.  The males of the species are amazingly patterned with irregular crimson to black stripes down the sides of their cylindrical blue-white bodies and deep white cheeks and chins patterned with fine red pinstripes.  Their dorsal fins rise high in cherry and white brilliance and this coloration is likewise echoed in their rounded tails and anal fins.  The slightly territorial Flame Cheek Goby can be housed with others of its species for the chance at amazing displays, provided enough space is allowed for each individual.  A male goby will prop himself on his ventral and pectoral fins, lifting his face toward a rival male or attractive female and open his broad mouth, displaying with bright blue coloration of the chin and lips.  These amazingly attractive fish are fond of hillstream habitats with reasonably high currents, cooler water in the low to mid seventies, and appreciate a substrate of rounded gravel or river rock.  The Flame Cheek Goby rarely reaches over an inch and a half in length.

Rhinogobius duospilus

Another fascinating species of loach, we have available, is the Traccatichthys taeniatus “Vietnam Peppermint Loach”.  This species occurs in northern and central Vietnam, Laos, and China.  They prefer high currents and oxygenation levels and are not as picky about the size of their substrate as other loaches. If gravel is used, they would do best with it being rounded, as well as some areas of sand for digging.  This is a five inch, stunningly colorful loach:  Its body is divided by a greenish stripe running from the back of its gill plates to the base of their tail.  The region above this stripe is silvery blue and below has lovely pink shading.  Its dorsal fin is brilliant red punctuated by intermittent black markings.  They are jumpers, so be sure to keep a tight lid on their tank.  

Traccatichthys taeniatus

These loaches would be well-complimented by another Vietnam native fish, Puntius pentazona “Five Banded Barb” – These fish look quite similar to the ever-popular Puntius tetrazona “Tiger Barb”, but are completely peaceful.  They are a great alternative for those of us who fall in love with the look of the Tiger Barb but aren’t pleased with their aggressive and nippy nature.

'Puntius pentazona

Thank you all so much for reading once again. Next week, we should be back to your regularly scheduled Anthony. Have a great weekend; I’m off to do some water changes at home!

Jessica Supalla