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Belontia signata, Günther, 1861

Origin:Sri Lanka, according to Ford and Singer in mountainstreams with strong current and few plants where they inhabit the quieter parts in meanders. Here they breed under the dense riverbank vegetation. Several varieties have been described, and recently a subspecies has been defined as B. signata jonklaasi. This may explain the conflicting reports on the natural occurrence, since the fish have also been decribed from the lowlands(Hoedemann, 1969) and from the forest(Bader,?).

Etymology: signata=marked.

Synonyms:Polyacanthus signatus

Description: Reddish brown slender fish, round tail. Red caudal, dorsal and anal fin, with some blue iridescent stripes.

Care: Larger tank with many hideouts like stone or wood formations, and plants. Not suitable for a community tank, the fish are aggressiv when kept normally, but if they (want) to start to breed, all hell breaks loose(really!), and you may find several dead fish floating around. Some floating plants increase the well being of the fish, sinc they can be shy. Keeping them together with other hardy and larger fish can also reduce the shyness, smaller fish should not be added to the tank, since they may be regarded as food by Belontia signata. The water in the tank should not be too hard, below 15 dGH, and around neutral or slightly acidic. Temperature 24 degrees or higher.

Feeding: Will eat all food.

Size: up to 13 cm is reported in many recent books, but Artis Zoo in Amsterdam has a few specimen swimming that are 15-16 cm like it is reported in Werner(1939) and by Hoedemann(1954).Belontia signata male next to a nest.

pH: 6.0-7.5

Breeding: Bubblenester, easy to breed in soft acidic water. Temperature should be increased to 27 degrees or higher. Male will build a hardly noticable nest with very few large bubbles at the surface or under floating plantleaves. Sometimes no nest is present prior to breeding at all. Up to 200 small floating eggs are laid which will hatch in 24-48 hours. Both parents collect and protect the eggs and the fry, sometimes for a period of up to 6 weeks.The fry can be fed with infusoria and artemia nauplii when they are free swimming after 5-6 days. Parents will eat the fry, so to raise large nests it's recommended to remove the parents after spawning.

Sexual dimorphism: Male has more intense colors, and the caudal finrays are a bit longer in males. Baensch & Riehl report that the dorsal fin in males is more elongated.


Belontia signataAdditional: The fish is known as Ceylon fighting fish, and older fish are best kept in species tanks, since they will terrorise the other tank inhabitants. If a couple starts to breed they may kill all the other fish in the tank. A subspecies has been described as Belontia signata jonklaasi. Werner describes this fish as first imported in the Netherlands in 1933, but doesn't report by whom. Baensch and Riehl also only report 1933.
Benl and Terofal(1974) described three forms of B. signata:

1) Günther type: No blue, no spot on the operculum, high body.(See pictures).
2) Less high, more colorfull, blue iridescence on the body, and a spot on the operculum(=Jonklaasi?)
3) Intermediate form.

Picture: All pictures: E. Naus

References: Baensch, H. A., Riehl, R.(1982): Aquarien Atlas I. Mergus Verlag, Melle, Germany.(click on the link to buy this book) Mills & Vevers (1985): Het tropisch aquarium boek. Ford(1980) Natuurwijzer aquariumvissen.Werner, K.(1939): Kamer-Aquaria. N. V. Kosmos, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.Richter, H. J. (1979): Das Buch der Labyrinthfische. Verlag Neumann-Neudamm, Melsungen, Germany.Benl, G., and Terofal, F. (1974): Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Belontiinae (Pisces, Perciformes, Anabantoidei, Belontiidae). Publ. Zool. Staatssamml. München 17, p.p. 139 - 165.

Linke, H.(1980): Labyrinthfische - Farbe im Aquarium. Tetra Verlag, Melle, Germany.

Hoedeman, J. J.(1969): Aquariumvissen encyclopedie 5. Elsevier Nederland B. V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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