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by Tom Sarac
The shores of Southern Asia border the South Pacific Ocean and represent an important area with respect to the tropical fish hobby.
Countries such as India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and others are rich with tropical biotopes that support many interesting aquarium fish.
The large population density of Southern Asia has had an enormous impact on key freshwater habitats. The elimination of many wetlands for agriculture has altered important habitats for fish, plants and animals.
Fortunately, the ideal climate and resource base is conducive to economic activities with respect to the breeding of many species of tropical fish. This has allowed Asian fish breeders the opportunity to successfully produce many non-native species as well.
Most areas are categorized by high temperature and humidity conditions. The substrate is rich in organic content and many bodies of water are influenced by this fact. The result of this phenomenon is water that is low in pH and KH (buffering capacity).
‘Plant-rich’ probably best describes the typical structure of many habitats, both within and outside of the aquatic environment.
The rich, often dense aquatic plant life grows in abundance, fueled by a strong nutrient base. The active growth rates of plants combined with the soft acidic water and high nutrient content has a major impact on water conditions. Consequently, fish have evolved to adapt to warmer temperatures, low pH and oxygen values.
The group of fish commonly referred to as labyrinth fish are capable of obtaining their oxygen requirements from atmospheric air, allowing them to inhabit warm oxygen-deficient bodies of water. These types of aquatic environments usually consist of slow moving streams, shallow ponds, irrigation ditches, rivers and swamps.
Many Asian aquatic habitats are without doubt home to some very interesting species of anabantids, rasboras and barbs, which are key fish in the development of aquarium keeping and enjoyment.
Anabantoids (or labyrinth fish) are endemic to freshwater areas of Asia and Africa with the vast majority of species occurring in Asia.
Providing these easy-to-care-for species of tropical fish with proper water conditions is not difficult as they adjust nicely to a variety of tap water conditions. Many of the dwarf anabantids, danios and the majority of rasboras are excellent additions to planted aquariums.
Without a doubt, this part of the world certainly has brought us many easy to care for and very appreciated species of fish.
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