Elephant ear gourami, Osphronemus exodon

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The Elephant ear gourami, Osphronemus exodon, is just like an O. goramy with teeth, says Matt Clarke.

Common name: Elephant ear gourami.

Scientific name: Osphronemus exodon, Roberts, 1994.

Origin: Recorded only from the Mekong basin in Cambodia and Laos.

Size: Up to 60 cm/24 or so.

Diet: Plants, fruits and insects, but readily accepts pelleted foods once it is adapted to aquarium life.

Water: Unfussy, like most Osphronemus.

Aquarium: This giant species demands an enormous aquarium (and the budget to house it comfortably), so it s really a fish for the big fish specialist or public aquarium, not your average fishkeeper. As an absolute minimum, I d recommend going for something in the region of a 3 m x 1.2 m x 1.2 m/10 x 4 x 4 tank with a very powerful filtration system.

There are lots of medium to large cyprinids available in the trade that would make suitable tankmates for this species. Furnish the tank with large boulders or pieces of bogwood.

Identification: This is unlikely to be confused with anything else (particularly the common Osphronemus goramy) because of its rarity, the dark spot just above the rear of the anal fin, and its prominent external teeth. These become very noticeable in adults and are unique within the genus, and among the entire anabantoid group.

Large specimens seen in markets by Tyson Roberts, who described this and two other Osphronemus species, O. laticlavius and O. septemfasciatus, also sometimes have large red patches on their flanks.

Availability: This species is very rare in the trade. The odd specimen has been sporadically available in the UK for a few years (Tom Halvorsen imported some back in 2004), but this is the first time we ve photographed this species on a shop visit. We spotted these during a visit to Wildwoods in Middlesex in early 2007.

Price: Expect to pay around 120- 150 for one of these.

This article was first published in the August 2007 issue of Practical Fishkeeping. Picture by Neil Hepworth.