The Humphead perchlet, Parambassis pulcinella


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Matt Clarke looks at an unusual new Asian fish which a rather funny looking head.

Common name: Humphead glass perchlet

Scientific name: Parambassis pulcinella

Origin: The original description of P. pulcinella looked at fish found in the Ataran River basin, Myanmar (formerly Burma). The exporter says these fish, which he believes differ from P. pulcinella, were collected from the lower Salaween River between Thailand and the Myanmar border. However, the taxonomists we checked with think they are probably the same as the fish in the original description, and their origin is not far from the known range for this species.

Size: Fully grown at 8cm/3". Females are said to be smaller.

Water: Little is known about the water conditions in the natural habitat, but the fish is found in fresh water. Neutral or slightly alkaline water is the safest option.

Aquarium: This species is found in large, clear freshwater streams, near rapids and riffles.

Notes: The pre-dorsal hump lacks scales and is formed by a greatly extended suppraoccipital spine. This hump is said to be smaller in females.

Availability: This fish was seen at Wildwoods, Enfield, which imported it directly from Myanmar. German wholesalers, including Aquarium Glaser and Transfish, currently have this species on their availability lists, but we suspect these will be hard to get hold of in general.

Rarity rating: Dr Maurice Kottelat described Parambassis pulcinella in March 2003 in the journal Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, so it's new as well as very odd-looking.

Price: Around £20 each.

This item was first published in Practical Fishkeeping magazine in 2004. It may not be reproduced without written permission.