Contrary to a popular belief that all anabantoids are bubble nesters, B. ibanorum and B. taeniata are mouthbrooders. It is justified because these fishes mostly live in fast flowing water where it is very difficult to build and maintain the bubble nest. B. brownorum, on the other hand are termed “switch hitters”, they build bubblenest and often mouthbrood as the situation arises..
3 main species of betta are found near Kuching; B. brownorum, B. ibanorum and B. taeniata. Brownorum is peat swamp inhabitant whereas taeniata prefers fast flowing freshwater streams. B. ibanorum has been caught from both peat swamps and freshwater waterfalls. This fish got its name from the local Iban tribe of Sarawak. Presence of taeniata in tannin rich water has also been recorded.
Our first catch was some Puntius sealei, Rasbora borapatensis and Rasbora sarawakensis, abundant in those pools. Swee brought some worms and he was trying to lure the taeniata. Steven and me were looking around the corners. Johnson and Chung were collecting the Bucephalandra growing immersed on the rocks, while Ong went inside the forest in search for Orchids and reptiles. After few hours of trying, we only managed to catch Nemacheilus saravacensis, halfbeaks Dermogenys pusilla and few shrimps. We saw a group of big barbs and a particular barb whose lower body looked orangish, but they were too fast to catch. I caught a glimpse of an eel, perhaps Macrognathus maculatus but it hid inside the rocks.
suddenly shouted “Sucker! Sucker!” and pointed his finger to a submerged rock. And all of us pounced upon instantly to find the beautiful tiny Borneo sucker grazing on algae
We could feel literally hundreds of flying fox swimming through our feet, if only these were in our to-catch list
Eating Bamboo Rice with the Vidayu Tribe
As we hiked back to our cars we saw some native people, cooking rice inside bamboo. We were told that they had some ceremony that day, and this was the rituals special food. They offered us few sticks, so generous of them. The rice was sticky type, we had to peel the skin of bamboo to eat the rice inside, somewhat like how we eat a banana. This is prepared by putting rice grains inside hollow bamboo trunk covering the openings with leaves then putting the assortment near a fire, thereby slowly cooking the rice and incorporating an array of exotic essences and flavors . This felt heavenly to our empty stomachs after the long arduous day; we thanked them repeatedly before leaving the place.
and we understood these fishes were everywhere on the wet path we just crossed.
I was inspecting the canal; it looked like some tiny red fishes were swimming inside the deep brown water. I promptly took out the net and the scoop produced few Paedocypris species, world’s smallest freshwater fish yet discovered. Sarawak continued to amaze us.
As I draft the last few lines of this article one of the male is mouthbrooding. Hopefully we can release back some of the brood back to its natural habitat. Long live the brown beauty of Matang.
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