Anabas testudineus
By: Hussain Mat Din

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Wednesday, 21-Sep-2005 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark

Climbing perch
Anabas testudineus

Climbing perch are declared noxious in Queensland. It is illegal to possess, rear, sell or buy climbing perch. Offenders face penalties up to $150,000. Climbing catfish have not established in Australia.

Climbing perch are pale brown-orange in colour to dark greenish-brown with occasional dark blotches over their body. Their pectoral fins become dark orange at the base. These fish are commonly seen at between 10 and 23cm, but can grow up to 25cm in length. Climbing perch possess an accessory air-breathing organ which enables them to survive in waterways that have low oxygen levels.

Climbing perch are native to Asia. They are a tropical fish and inhabit fresh and brackish waters throughout the world. Climbing perch are commercially fished throughout Asia as an important food fish and are considered a delicacy in some areas. They are not present in the wild in Australia.
These fish are most often found in canals, lakes, ponds and swamps. They are a hardy species and can tolerate extremely unfavourable water conditions (ie. low oxygen, extreme temperatures).

Climbing perch feed primarily on fish but also on macrophytic vegetation, shrimps and insects.
Climbing perch reach sexual maturity at around 15cm. Females lay approximately 50 to 100 eggs which float freely at the surface and are often laid in shallow, oxygen-depleted waters. The eggs are guarded until they hatch.

Environmental impacts
Climbing perch possess an accessory air-breathing organ allowing them to survive for extended periods out of water. In moist conditions they can survive out of water for several days or weeks, providing that their air-breathing organ is be kept moist. In drier times, they dig into the mud to survive. Climbing perch travel across land on their pectoral fins and, as their name suggests, may even climb trees. These abilities, as well as their highly developed predatory nature, indicate that this species presents a high risk for survival, dispersal and adverse environmental impact in Queensland waters. Northern Australia is particularly susceptible to this species establishing, as Papua New Guinea has had reports of climbing perch.
Climbing perch have not established in Australia, however if these fish are found in the wild or kept in aquariums, they should be destroyed immediately and reported to the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

Further information
Eschmeyer, W.N., (1998). Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.
FishBase - A Global Information System on Fishes (website).
Fisheries Act 1994 and Fisheries Regulation 1995. Copies of legislation can be downloaded directly at the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel website
Exotic pest fish - includes general information on noxious and non-indigenous species, educational modules, DPI&F's polices and fact sheets.

SOURCE: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/fishweb/2389.html

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