Neale Monks on Buffon's river garfish, Zenarchopterus buffonis.
Common name: Zenarchopterus buffonis
Scientific name: Buffon's River-garfish
Origin: Indo-Pacific coastline from India to Northern Australia
Size: Up to 22 cm/8.5"
Diet: These fish will only take food from the surface of the water. Live mosquito larvae and bloodworms are a favourite, as are wingless fruit flies. Daphnia and brine shrimp will also be taken if these swim close enough to the surface. Once settled in, frozen foods will certainly be accepted, but flake food might not.
Aquarium: Though referred to as garfish, these are in fact fairly large halfbeaks. They are only temporary residents of fresh water, and should be kept in either a brackish water aquarium or a marine one. The specific gravity will need to be at least 1.005 for long-term health, and ideally around 1.010. These fish are extremely nervous immediately after import, and even when settled in, will dart about frantically if disturbed. They should be kept alone or with very peaceful, bottom-living tankmates, such as gobies or flatfish. Do not combine with aggressive or greedy fish like monos or scats. Little is known about their reproductive biology; while they practise internal fertilisation, it is not known if they lay eggs or produce live young.
Identification: Compared with the more common halfbeaks, these species has a very long, narrow beak bearing a distinctive black band from tip to base along each side. A second black band runs from behind the gill covers to the base of the rather small tail fin.
Availability: Extremely rare in the hobby, these fish were seen at Wildwoods Water Gardens, Middlesex (0208 366 0243).
Price: Around 10 each.