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LEXICON

 

 

Climbing Perch

Common name for a species of freshwater fish, with the scientific designation Anabas testudineus, of the genus Anabas, which consists of only two recognized species, the other one being the Gangetic Koi (Anabas cobojius - fig.). Both are a kind of climbing gourami and occur in South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia, where they are important as food. The possession of a so-called labyrinth organ, an extension of the gill plates, i.e. the bone that anchors the gills and which consists of multiple folds covered with tiny blood vessels that take oxygen from the air, allow this species to breathe atmospheric oxygen. Hence, it has the ability to survive out of water for extended periods of time, i.e. up to 8 hours if kept moist, which improves its marketability as fresh fish, especially on markets. Climbing Perches are known to inhabit both fresh and brackish water, and are found abundantly in the Mekhong Delta in Vietnam, for one. Climbing Perches are carnivorous and feed on water invertebrates and their larvae. These sturdy-looking fish can grow to a length of 25 centimeters and have a greyish-brown colour, which is darker above and paler on the sides, which have blurred vertical bars in grey and an overall yellowish-golden shine. In the centre, just before the tail fin, as well as right behind the gill, there is a small –yet distinctive– black spot. Another trait of Climbing Perches is that they guard their eggs. In Thai, this fish is known as pla moh (ปลาหมอ) and  pla moh thai (ปลาหมอไทย), to distinct it form Gangetic Koi, which is also known as pla moh (ปลาหมอ). The climbing gourami occurs in the Thai proverb: pla moh taai pro pahk, i.e. climbing gourami die because of their mouths, which means to be hung by the tongue’. See also POSTAGE STAMP.