Anjungan  Kalimantan, Borneo

The Kepayang is a small blackwater stream near the small town of Anjungan. It can be reached easily from Pontianak by car. My negotiations for a taxi from airport to downtown Pontianak ended up so that we went straight on my arrival from airport the 50km or so drive to this beautiful river. Why wait, I saved a day and the fare to downtown!

The riverbed was soft peat and leaf litter and it was covered with tree branches of all sizes. I moved with dip nets to fish among the shore vegetation. It was impossible to see any fish because the reddish water turned black so soon. The visibility was less than 30cm. The pH value in these black waters is somewhere between 3,5 and 5.
With my first attempt I caught some Rasbora pauciperforata. These elegant rasboras have bright red stripe in their sides. They are common fishes in SE-Asian blackwater biotopes. Soon I caught Osteochilus spilurus barbs. They were schooling with the rasboras. After that I managed to catch a Betta species. The lightbrown fish was Betta anabatoides, a mouthbrooder which attains a fairly large size. 

Rasbora pauciperforata

A view to the black acidic waters of Anjungan

Betta anabatoides

In some places the river got narrower and thus the current got stronger. In a place like this when I was going through the riverbank with my nets I got a orangebrown small loach. It was Neohomaloptera johorensis. This blackwater liking species belongs to the smallest of all loaches. It is fully grown at less than 3cm! The orange color on it was really strong and it had nice darker markings also. Later I found larger quantities of this fish in submerged weeds growing in a swiftly moving water.

Neohomaloptera johorensis

The land on the shores of the river was so full of dense vegetation that I walked upriver in the waist deep water. On the bottom was a lot of bigger pieces of wood and even fallen trees. It made the walking slow and slippery. A couple of meters in front of me half beaks fled from my way. I caught a few: they were Hemirhamphodon pogonognathus. It was a bit of a surprise because I was used to seeing this species in swift clear waters. I moved to the shallower waters where a lot of dry bullrushes and some bushes were in the water.

I drew along the bottom full nets of leaflitter and bullrushes. Soon I had a chocolate gourami (S. osphromenoides) in my net. Their brown coloration with some pale bands made suddenly so much sense: the light bands of the bullrushes and shape and color of the leaves in the bottom...

There was more fighting fish coming to my net and i noticed later some of them were Betta cf. taeniata, a species close to B. edithae also. Actually most of them were this species.


Sphaerichthys osphromenoides

Betta cf. taeniata

Rasbora pauciperforata was most often in my net but after a while I caught a fish I was waiting for: Parosphromenus anjunganensis. It's typical Parosphromenus, a small striped labyrinth fish.  Later I started finding more and more small specimens among the leaf litter.

The fish in the picture is a male and they will get very nice coloration on their fins. In aquarium this fish is surprisingly hardy but needs soft water with pH on the acidic side.

I also catched the peculiar Luciocephalus pulcher. It is a predatory fish with long pike-like jaws which are highly protrusible. It attains a length of 30-40cm. The most surprising thing about this fish is that it is a labyrinth fish.


Parosphromenus anjunganensis

I met some aquarium fish collectors in Anjungan. I asked them about the red Betta rutilans which has been found in Anjungan. I showed the picture and they got excited: "rutilan, rutilan!". From their excitement i guessed that this was the most sought after species. But the fishermen said rutilans vanishes in the dry season. In the rainy season they are easily found from the small pools in the forest. Apparently i would not catch this species. The fishermen had caught chocolate gouramies, Parosphromenus and Puntius rhombocellatus. I learned from the fishermen that neon rasboras Sundadanio axelrodi would be very hard to find at the moment. Probably heavy fishing had temporarily cut down the numbers of this small beautiful species. Breed them if you have some!


Luciocephalus pulcher

Other fishes I found were Rasbora dorsiocellata, Rasbora gracilis and Kryptopterus macrocephalus. I also found some Cryptocoryne pallidinervia when I was walking upstream. From the blackwater ditches in the area I found Macrognathus circumcinctus and Belontia hasselti. One fish i could have catched but didn't is the other Parosphromenus found in Anjungan, P. ornaticauda. Well, I was very happy with the fishes I had and headed towards Mandor..


Big thanks to Michael Schlueter for his help!

Puntius rhombocellatus

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