Below is a photo of one of my absolute favorite exhibits here at the Academy, our 400-gallon southeast Asia community display:
Hundreds of small, colorful and peaceful fishes call this tank home, including a brand new and quite rare species of ricefish, Daisy’s ricefish Oryzias woworae. The ricefishes are a family (Adrianichthyidae) of small fish that are found in fresh and brackish waters from India to Japan and out into the Indo-Australian Archipelago, most notably Sulawesi. The fact that many species are found in Japanese rice paddies gives this group of fishes its common name.
Named after Indonesian crustacean expert Daisy Wowor (who collected the fish), Daisy’s ricefish was collected from a freshwater stream on Muna Island, off the southeastern coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia in 2007 and was just described last year!
The Academy currently has about 30 of these rare fish on display in the rainforest. These beauties are about an inch long and can usually be seen schooling together. They can be identified by their remarkable color pattern of a steel blue body (in males), highlighted with brilliant red stripes on its abdomen, pectoral fins and caudal fins. They also have striking, iridescent blue eyes which are very visible against the slightly murky, sediment-laden water of the exhibit. Our specimens are doing wonderfully and, if you’re lucky, you might see a female carrying eggs attached to her body between the pelvic fins. This unusual method of spawning is thought by some to be an evolutionary precursor to internal fertilization and, even, livebearing.
Sulawesi is a unique center of global biodiversity that has very high numbers of species found nowhere else in the world. This is in part because it is tropical and made up of many islands and, in part, because of a complex geological history. In addition to countless endemic species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and marine fishes there are over 50 species of endemic freshwater fishes, including this one. It is a very poorly documented and understood ecosystem that remains critically threatened. Ricefishes as a group, and in particular this stunning new species, are fantastic icons to generate interest in and encourage conservation of the endemic freshwater biota of Sulawesi.
Come by the Academy and check them out!