Tuesday, July 05, 2011

SIngapore Connections II: Enter the dragon.

Having "breathed fire" after eating the chilli sauce which accompanies Hainanese Chicken Rice, we come to one of the world's most spectacular fish - this is a dragon fish aka asian arrowana aka (probably) Scleropages formosus. Depending on who you listen to there are either 3 species in the genus (of which this is the only non-australian one) or 6 species because the Asian arrowana is split. The two aussie species live in the top-end and are revered sporting fish beloved of anglers because these are specialist surface feeders which will explode out of the water to engulf dry flies or surface lures (check out this video of one knocking off a rubber frog). The Asian species by contrast is just revered.

This is one of only 8 fish species listed on CITES appendix I due to its rarity and trade value (a million E,W&W points to anyone who can name the other 7). It is a beloved aquarium fish often kept in enormous and carefully maintained pools. Arrowana farms in places like Singapore (I visited one with no camera one time - absolutely amazing) produce carefully selected captive bred specimens worth massive values which are microchipped and get their own birth certificates. Plus just look at it, it's bloody amazing looking. This shot shows that highly evolved surface feeding apparatus, an upturned jaw which is rather extendable for engulfing purposes.
dragonfish2 These are highly adapted but ancient fish (they have bony tongues which is pretty primitive and very unique) and it seems likely the different species and forms evolved before Gondwanaland split up. As if all that wasn't enough this insane looking beast is a paternal mouthbrooder. What an epic animal....and people say fish are boring.

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