Hemirhamphodon kapuasensis

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Neale Monks on the Red-striped halfbeak, Hemirhamphodon kapuasensis.

Common name: Hemirhamphodon kapuasensis Collette in Anderson and Collette, 1991

Scientific name: Red-stripe halfbeak

Origin: Indonesia

Size: Around 5 cm/2"

Diet: Small live and frozen foods will be taken at once. Bloodworms are a favourite, and if they sink too quickly, they can be hand-fed by holding frozen bloodworms using a pair of long-nose forceps. Once settled-in, other foods may be taken, including small pellets and good quality flake food.

Aquarium: This small halfbeak is best suited to either a single-species or aquarium or one with very peaceful tankmates, such as Neons or small rasboras. It is not as easy to keep as the more commonly sold halfbeaks, and can be especially delicate for the first few days after introduction to a new aquarium. The main risk is that the fish should get startled and throw itself out of the tank or against the glass. Injuries to the snout, in particular, can lead to opportunistic fungal and bacterial infections. Floating plants, such as duckweed or hornwort, will help the fish settle in more quickly. Water chemistry is not critical, and these fish will adapt to either freshwater or slightly brackish (specific gravity 1.005 or less).

Identification: Similar in shape to the better-known Bearded halfbeak, Hemirhamphodon pogonognathus, this species is smaller and distinguished by the irregular series of red stripes forming a band along the flanks from behind the eyes to the base of the tail. Though small, these are among the most beautiful of all the freshwater halfbeaks.

Availability: Hemirhamphodon species generally are infrequently imported, and this species, seen at Wildwoods Water Gardens, Middlesex (0208 366 0243), are the first of their kind in the UK.

Price: Around 5 each.