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Love at first sight!

Posted By: Faizal <sil_chleo@yahoo.com>
Date: Wednesday, 8 March 2000, at 4:14 a.m.

THE FIRST TRIP.

First of all I would like to thank you guys ( and girls ) for enjoying my postings. I've got some spare time, so I guess I'll share the details of some of my earlier trips.

Well our first trip was last December, I'll tell you how the crazy idea of our "weekly fish collecting trips" started. That day, we've just finished the Walk for Malaysia program. Literally, a couple hundreds of people gather in parks and other place, nationwide and walked some distance together. It was held simultaneously, nationwide. I came up with these crazy idea of painting our faces ( it was three of us ) with our national flag color combined with our college symbols. People stared, and we've managed to scare the sh*t out of some small children ( they cried- we succeded to make ourselves look scary, I guess finaly, I can feel for myself the concept of Halloween in Malaysia, wink!).

Afterwards, as I was having the trouble of getting rid off the poster colors on my face ( I cant go back home, my mother would freak out, knowing her son have his face painted in public!), so we planned of going out picnicking. So we drove off back to our college and pick up some friends, still having our faces painted red, blue, yellow and white and drove off to a favorite picnicking and fish collecting site at a place called "Tupah"- a stream flowing from a hill.

It was just after the rainy seasons and the water level was higher than usual, there are no water plant growing in Tupah because of it's moderately fast flowing water, the substrate at the calmer banks are of very fine sands gradually mixing with larger pebbles where the water was faster flowing. Our favorite picnicking site was flooded with water so we parked the car by the roadside and just to be out of the ordinary, instead of having waterside picnicking, we did the carside- open the car doors, take out every food brought, and pretend we're sitting by the riverbank, picnicking.

Soon, I cant help hitting the cool water with a handnet, and the temptation was from shoals of Giant Danios , Danio Aequipinnatus or formerly known as D. Malabaricus. I've seen these guys grow to about less than 3 inches in the wild and caught a glimpse of bigger ones but the sight of a shoal of 4 incher plus was too much for me. They swim fighting against the current, each was fat and filled with roe ( I guess its breeding season ). I only managed to catch one or two 4"+ specimens and found them are not as colorful as the 2.5-3" specimens, so these means that the larger ones are females which are not as colorful as the males.

I caught the sight off small loaches ( 1-2" ). Caught four specimens of those to find that they are similar in shape and markings to Dwarf Chained Loach ( Botia Sidthimunki ), but differs in coloration. Botia Sidthimunki, in my reference book, was depicted as a small, golden loach with dark chain-like markings, but the ones I caught has lighter almost white chain-marking with golden yellow body color. It could be just a color variety, could be a new species, anyhow I knew right from the moment when i saw the loaches, that this is the type of fish I would love to keep, in other words, it is love at first sight!.

You see, here in Malaysia, similar fishes, like Botias and the Gastromyzons for example, are called with a single local name. The name "Ikan Pasir" which literally means "Sand Fish" was applied to half a dozen or so Botia species including to the Horse-Faced Loach, and the name "Kapok Batu" or "Stone Hugger" was applied to the Lizard Loach and some other species with the similarly shaped pectoral and ventral fins.

This particular Botia species is active. When approached, they will swim active from one stone to another, hiding, and then suddenly darting out off hiding. They prefer shallow banks with water depth of 6-12 inches which are not shaded and can only be found during the day preferring to "bask" on a stone during the hot afternoon.

The largest I've caught was less than 2 inches and are very attractive. When I showed the specimens to my visiting friends, they suspected me of buying the fishes from some petshop, and all are quite surprised to know that the fishes was collected locally.

All in all I've managed to collect 20 or so Giant Danio specimen ( less than 1/2 inch-4+inches but mostly at 2.5-3", because they are very colorful at this size ), four specimens ( 1.5-less than 2" ) of the "unidentified loach", 3 small ( 3-4" ) specimens of Mastacembelus Armatus ( spiny eels ) and some cyprinids ( of which I did not know the scientific names. All of these specimens are common from Tupah except for the loaches.

Only one of the larger Giant Danio survived the trip home, all smaller ones did survive. The loaches are living happily as we spe