New ‘bony-tongue’ fish discovered in Myanmar
May 18, 2012
A new species of arowana, a highly valued aquarium fish, has been described from southern Myanmar (Burma). The description is published in last month’s issue of the journal Aqua.
The arowana, which is named Scleropages inscriptus, comes from the Tenasserim or Tananthayi River basin on the Indian Ocean coast of peninsular Myanmar. According to Tyson Roberts, the ichthyologist who described the species, Scleropages inscriptus is distinguished from the closely-related Asian arowana (Scleropages formosus) by the maze-like markings on its scales and facial bones. Like zebra, each fish is believed to have a unique pattern.
Scleropages inscriptus is the first awowana recorded in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), but according to Practical Fishkeeping, the fish has been known to fish hobbyists in Thailand for roughly a decade.
Despite their large size and aggressive demeanor, arowana are popular aquarium fish. Asian species with distinctive coloration are particularly prized as “feng shui” fish believed to bring good luck. Some arowana may fetch tens of thousands of dollars at auction.
Their popularity has lead to some species being overexploited. This, together with ongoing destruction of their rainforest habitat, has led conservationists to restrict the trade in some arowana species.