Macropods were among the first to appear in European aquariums – perhaps only goldfish were able to get ahead of them. Like many other inhabitants of Asian and African reservoirs, P. Carbonnier, a well-known aquarist, bred macropods. We must give him credit – it was this person who first unraveled the secret of labyrinth fish that capture air from the surface!
Origin of the species and description
A wild macropod looks very colorful – it is a relatively large fish (about 10 cm in length are males and 7 cm females), involuntarily attracting the attention of aquarists with its very specific color – the back is a rich olive hue, and the body is covered with stripes of bright red and blue (with an admixture of greenery). ) colors. Lush single fins, continuing with turquoise threads, have a red tint with a blue trim.
The fins located on the side of the belly are usually dark red, the pectoral fins are transparent, the gill cover has a gleaming blue eye and a red spot around it. But contrary to the prevailing stereotype of female attractiveness, female macropods are painted much more modestly. And their fins are shorter, so it is not difficult to distinguish a female from a male.
The problem is that if mistakes are made in keeping and breeding, bright colors are lost very soon, blue becomes somehow dull, pale blue, red turns into dirty orange, the fish become smaller, the fins no longer look so magnificent. And such changes can occur in just 3-4 generations, which is confirmed by personal example by illiterate breeders. At the same time, they are trying to pass off frank defects of the breed as a variant of the norm!
The main problems in breeding macropods are inbreeding and lack of natural light. Although, in the case of the right approach, inbreeding can help restore the long-lost traits of the macropod. Also, we should not forget about the need for proper, balanced feeding and competent selection of pairs.
Appearance and features
Females are 100% smaller than males: 6 cm and 8 cm, respectively (although in many fish, even those that also belong to labyrinths, everything is exactly the opposite). But there are also similarities with other representatives of this — males have a much more pronounced contrasting coloration and pointed, somewhat elongated single fins.
An interesting fact: A directly proportional relationship has been noted between the intensity of the color of the macropod scales, the warming of the water and the excitement of the macropod.
Regarding the features of color and pattern: the male of macropods is almost always gold -brown. On the body of the fish there are stripes located transversely (they go from the back down, but do not reach the abdomen). The fins located on the back and near the anal fin are painted light blue. There is a red dot on their tips. Females are paler in appearance, have shortened fins and a full abdomen.
All of the above is only related to the original form of macropods, but now there are already artificially selected semi-albinos with a body that has a pinkish tint. The fish are covered only with red stripes and have bright red fins. Another variation of — black macropods. The body of these fish is covered with dark scales, there are no stripes, but this disadvantage is more than compensated by long luxurious fins.
Now you know how to keep and feed macropod fish. Let's find out how they survive in their natural environment.
Where does the macropod live?
Representatives of this species live in fresh water bodies, mainly with a weak current or stagnant water). Habitat – mainly in the Far East. The macropod is distributed in the Yangtze River basin. In addition, these fish have been successfully introduced into the water bodies of Korean and Japanese rivers. The only mention of fishing these fish out of the waters of the Russian Amur River is explained by the incorrect identification of a macropod specimen. It is also a popular aquarium fish native to China. In the Celestial Empire, a fish inhabits the grooves of rice fields. Ocellated macropods (their aquarium version) were bred by crossing ordinary macropods and needles.
Macropods in aquariums show almost the same endurance as in natural conditions. These fish easily tolerate short-term heating of the reservoir up to 35 ° C, feel normal even in stale water, do not impose special requirements for water filtration and aeration. In the natural environment, these fish intensively eat plankton and prevent too intensive reproduction of arthropods, worms and other invertebrate organisms.
Interesting fact: Often the unpretentiousness of macropods plays against breeders. The thing is that these fish can breed under the minimum suitable conditions, even under conditions of unsatisfactory maintenance and feeding. No other fish (perhaps, except for gourami) in such conditions would begin to think about offspring, but this is definitely not about macropods. But the result of all this looks disappointing – instead of bright beauties, gray, nondescript fish appear, which in most pet stores are “proudly called” macropods.
Photo: Macropod Fish
Feeding plays a significant role in the life of a macropod – one can say that it determines its decorative effect. To ensure its harmonious development, one must always remember that the macropod is a predator. Yes, in principle, macropods are omnivorous, and after a long hunger strike they will eat almost anything. In the conditions that they inhabit in nature, any food is a delicacy. Therefore, your macropod, if hungry, will gladly eat even bread crumbs, but it’s still more correct for the inhabitants of the aquarium to feed them in a variety of ways. The ideal food base is bloodworm and coretra – this food should (optimally) be half the diet, no less. In addition, it makes sense to add frozen cyclops crustacean to the diet.
Other “fish delicacies” will also not be superfluous:
- frozen bloodworm;
- black mosquito larvae.
It is good to add shredded seafood to the feed. Shrimps, mussels, octopuses – all this is very respected by the macropod. You can add dry food to the menu – it is worth using mixtures enriched with carotenoids to improve the color. Macropods never eat or spoil plants, under any circumstances, however, a small herbal supplement to the diet will benefit the fish.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Many male macropods show rather pronounced aggression towards each other. They often demonstrate similar behavior not only in relation to each other, but also to other fish that inhabit the aquarium and do not even really compete with them for food. It is for these reasons that it makes sense to keep macropods in an aquarium in one pair, and if you plant them, then only large fish.
But there is another opinion – many aquarists, moreover, from those who work with macropods, note that there are countless myths about these fish (especially about classic macropods).
And the stories that the handsome macropods are exorbitantly pugnacious, bully all the fish indiscriminately, and also constantly fight among themselves and even kill their own females. Aquarists who breed macropods claim that this is not at all the case – at least the last two “accusations” are completely false. Why can you say this with such confidence?
Yes, if only because if all these things were true, then macropods simply would not have survived in nature, under natural conditions. Yes, sometimes there are quite vicious, aggressive individuals among them, who are easily able to kill both the female after the joint spawning, and even their own fry. But this happens quite rarely, and such fish are immediately visible – even before they start spawning. Therefore, it is definitely not worth letting such individuals into breeding.
But there is a great option to exclude any possibility of aggression from these fish – it is enough to settle them in spacious aquariums along with other proportionate and non-aggressive fish. The abundance of shelters and living plants is another necessary condition. Yes, macropods consider it their duty to bite smaller fish and half-asleep veil fish, or even eat them instead of breakfast – but many other breeds also sin with this. What to do, such is the law of nature – the strongest survive!
Social structure and reproduction
For spawning, the male builds a nest of air bubbles near the plants, right near the water surface. During spawning, the male squeezes the female, having previously wrapped her body around her, like a boa constrictor. Thus, he squeezes caviar out of her. The eggs of macropods are much lighter than water, so they always float, and the male immediately collects them and fiercely protects them – until the moment the babies appear.
And even during the next 10 days, the male is engaged in the protection and preparation for adult life of the fry. He also periodically renews the nest. The macropod moves the eggs, collecting offspring and throwing them back. In some cases, the female helps the male with the care of the offspring, but this happens quite rarely.
In order to grow healthy macropods, you need to correctly select pairs and prepare them for spawning. It is very important that future parents comply with the established species standard.
Fun fact: Macropods are true centenarians — among all labyrinth fish, they live the longest. And when they are provided with favorable conditions, they live in an artificial environment even up to 8-10 years. At the same time, no more than half of the specified period retains the ability to reproduce their own kind.
Anyway, the macropod is inherently a predator, so cockiness is a completely logical trait of its character. But in the vast majority of cases, the macropod is a bold, moderately cocky, lively fish. Passivity and shyness are unfamiliar to the common macropod. Moreover, macropods with a classic and blue hue show the greatest activity. Relatively calm – albinos, white and orange. The latter are not recommended to be placed in the same aquarium, even together with classic macropods.
Natural enemies of macropods
Even the smart and brave macropods have their enemies, and they can't “find a common language » both in the natural habitat and in the aquarium. What do you think, with whom is he so at enmity (and at the same time he is seriously afraid of macropods), who himself will gladly damage the fins and tail of a larger fish?
So, the main enemy of the macropod is … the Sumatran barb! This fish is incredibly lively and nimble, so nothing will stop a bully from depriving macropods of their whiskers. If 3-4 barbs oppose one macropod, then the first will definitely not be good. A similar situation takes place in nature, only there macropods have even less chances – flocks of Sumatran barbs do not leave them the slightest chance! So the macropods are forced to develop for themselves such places where the aggressive robber – the Sumatran barb – simply will not survive. Not to say that this is an ideal option to defend your place under the sun, but nevertheless …
The only way to reconcile these enemies is to grow fry in the same aquarium from the age of fry. Then there is still a minimal chance that they will get along and coexist in harmony. Although this principle does not always work. Probably because these fish have hostility at the genetic level. There can be no other explanation!
Population and species status
The range of macropods captures vast areas of Southeast Asia. It can be seen in reservoirs in southern China, and even in Malaysia. The fish was successfully introduced into Japanese, Korean, American reservoirs, as well as on the island of Madagascar.
As mentioned above, this type of fish is characterized by tremendous survival – they are unpretentious, hardy and “can stand up for themselves”, and also have a labyrinth apparatus that performs the function of a respiratory organ (oxygen is accumulated there).
But even with such an impressive survival potential behind it, the macropod species is currently listed in the International Red Book, but as a species whose extinction causes the least concern.
The phenomenon of a decrease in the population of these fish is associated, first of all, with the development by man and his economic activities in places that are the natural habitat of the macropod and pollution of the natural environment with chemical compounds.
But despite all these moments, even the release pesticides and the development of land for agricultural land, do not put this species at risk of complete extinction. And this is only in natural conditions – thanks to the efforts of aquarists, the number of macropods is steadily growing!
Inclusion in the International Red Book is in itself a full-fledged measure for the protection of a species, because after such measures, a strict restriction is imposed on its catch and/or resettlement. In addition, systematic measures are taken to reduce environmental pollution.
At the same time, the predatory management of economic activities by some industrial giants and the ill-conceived legislation of Asian countries lead to the fact that macropods are forced to leave their usual habitats .
And yet, aquarists play the “first violin” in restoring the number of macropod populations – it is they who select the most healthy individuals and cross them, obtaining offspring, the lion's share of which survives (due to the absence of external enemies). Accordingly, the population of macropods is growing, and the area is undergoing some changes.
Interesting fact: Unlike other labyrinth fish (the same gourami), macropods very often show aggression first, and without visible reasons for this. It is strongly not recommended to keep telescopes, angelfish and discus together with macropods, as well as representatives of all other small fish species – neon, zebrafish and others.
Macropod is unpretentious aquarium fish, characterized by a cheerful and cocky character. When it is kept, the aquarium should always be open (ideally covered with a protective glass). This will provide the fish with a better supply of oxygen from the air, which they will be able to assimilate with their labyrinth, and will protect overly active individuals from falling out of the aquarium at the time of the jump.