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Akysis prashadi HORA, 1936

Indawgyi Stream Catfish

Classification

Order: Siluriformes Family: Akysidae

Distribution

Described from the southern shore of Lake Indawgyi and surrounding waters close to the town of Kamaing, Kachin State, northern Myanmar, all of which fall within the upper Irrawaddy/Ayeyarwady river drainage. Indawgyi is the largest inland lake in Southeast Asia and since 1999 has been under national protection, forming the Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Kachin itself is one of the world’s great biodiversity hotspots and contains many endemic species although sadly large portions of the area have already been decimated due to illegal logging by companies deriving from both Myanmar and neighbouring China.

Vishwanath et al. (2007) report that the species also occurs in the state of Manipur, northeastern India where it was recorded in the Lokchao river, an upper affluent of the Chindwin river system which is itself a tributary of the Ayeyarwady.

Habitat

Members of this genus are near-exclusive inhabitants of swiftly-flowing streams and rivers with substrates generally consisting of any combination of sand, gravel and rocks. Water is normally transparent to slightly turbid, though overall volume, flow, and thus the amount of suspended material tend to increase significantly during rainy periods.

Aquatic plants are not normally present though there may be patches of leaf litter or underwater structures such as fallen branches or roots protruding from banks.

The Indawgyi area supports a rich ichthyofauna including representatives of Acanthocobitis, Lepidocephalichthys, Schistura, Pseudambassis, Laubuca, Opsarius, Danio, ‘Puntius‘, Rasbora, Psilorhynchus, Pillaia, Indostomus, Microphis, Mastacembelus, Notopterus, Ompok, Channa, Badis, Dario and Monotrete.

Maximum Standard Length

The largest officially-recorded specimen measured 62 mm, placing this species among the largest in the genus.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

A tank with base dimensions of 45 ∗ 30 cm is more than sufficient, even for a group.

Maintenance

Not difficult to keep but should really be provided with a soft, sandy substrate since some of its time is spent completely buried, or with only eyes protruding. It also appears to enjoy squeezing into crevices between rockwork and other solid surfaces so additional décor could include some water-worn rocks of various sizes, plus perhaps some driftwood roots and branches.

Although aquatic plants are unlikely to be a feature of its natural habitat some can be added if you wish with those that can be grown attached to rocks and wood, such as Microsorum, Anubias or various moss species particularly useful since they will not be disturbed by the fishes’ burrowing activity. Leaf litter can also be used.

Like many fishes that naturally inhabit running water it’s intolerant to accumulation of organic pollutants and requires spotless water in order to thrive. It also does best if there is a relatively high proportion of dissolved oxygen and decent water movement in the tank. Weekly water changes of 30-50% tank volume should be considered routine.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 16.5 – 24 °C

pH: 6.0 – 7.2

Hardness: 36 – 215 ppm

Diet

Akysis species are primarily nocturnal micropredators feeding on small aquatic crustaceans, worms, insect larvae and other zooplankton. They can be a little picky in the aquarium and may not accept dried foods although in some cases they will learn to take them over time.

At any rate they should always be offered regular meals of small live or frozen fare such as Artemia, Daphnia, bloodworm or glassworm, ideally after dark in order that they can demonstrate natural behaviour, though once settled most specimens will emerge at feeding times. If the specimens are very small you may need to chop the food accordingly.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Not especially competitive and should not be kept with much larger or more aggressive fishes. Miniature schooling cyprinids such as Boraras, Microdevario or smaller Danio/Rasbora species make good tankmates and if geography isn’t an issue many similarly-sized characins and livebearers should also work.

Other similarly-sized akysid catfishes plus smaller sisorids such as Erithistes, Erethistoides, Hara, Pseudolaguvia and many Glyptothorax spp. are recommended for the lower levels.

In addition, many balitorid loaches from genera such as Gastromyzon, Pseudogastromyzon and Homaloptera are also suitable. Some members of the families Botiidae, Cobitidae and Nemacheilidae are ok but proper research is essential as some can be excessively aggressive/territorial or simply grow too large, and it’s also proven to co-exist peacefully with freshwater shrimp.

It’s nonaggressive towards conspecifics and can be kept singly or in a group as preferred.

Sexual Dimorphism

According to Vishwanath et al. (2007) males possess a short, conical genital papilla immediately posterior to the anus while females have a flattened papilla with radial grooves at the pore. Sexual dimorphism has also been reported in A. alfredi (Ng and Kottelat, 1998), A. fuscus (Ng, 1996) and A. microps (Ng and Tan, 1999).

In the former two species the anus is located anterior to a genital papilla in males, this structure having a genital opening covered by a fleshy flap at its tip and situated immediately posterior to the base of the pelkvic fins.

In females the anus is located more posteriorly and the genital papilla is formed by a short appendage with an opening at the tip, this structure being situated approximately level with the poterior end of the inner pelvic fin ray.

In A. alfredi the distance between the origin of the first pelvic fin ray and the first anal fin ray is less than in females (13.8-17.5% of standard length (SL) vs. 17.7-18.4%) but in A. fuscus the opposite is true. The pelvic fins in males are also shorter than in females (12.9-14.2% SL vs. 14.1-15.5%), closer together (distance between pelvic fins 4.0-4.9% SL vs. 4.8-5.5%), usually overlapping posteriorly (vs. spread laterally) nand often curved to forma bowl-like shape (vs. straight).

In A. microps the genital papilla in males has a bulbous base with the genital opening at the tip not covered by a fleshy flap, while in females the genital opening is only partially covered by an appendage and there are no obvious differences in pelvic fin morphology between the two genders.

Reproduction

Unreported, though a short report was published in the description of A. vespa (Ng and Kottelat, 2004), in which a successful spawning event was apparently triggered by a significant decrease in temperature of around 44.6°F/7°C.

Several males were observed in pursuit of a gravid female, and the successful individual was allowed to wrap its body around that of the female at which point eggs and milt were released. The eggs hatched 4 days post-spawn with the yolk sac fully-absorbed after 10 days. Adult patterning was fully-developed after just 23 days.

NotesTop ↑

This species is among the few members of the family to be exported for the aquarium hobby though is by no means common. It can be differentiated from all other Akysis species by the following combination of characters: head length 20.6-23.8% of standard length (SL); head width 21.4-25.1% SL; caudal peduncle depth 7.7-9.8% SL; interorbital distance 35.0-37.0% of head length (HL); nasal barbel length 63.0-86.0% HL; absence of serrations on posterior margin of pectoral fin spine; caudal fin deeply emarginate with lower lobe slightly longer than upper.

Members of the family Akysidae are often referred to collectively as ‘Asian stream catfishes’ since the majority are exclusive inhabitants of such environments. All have four pairs of barbels, and within this larger grouping Akysis species are diagnosable by possession of tuberculate skin and cryptic colour patterning typically comprising yellowish bands or blotches on a brownish background.

Based on various morphological aspects the genus as originally considered was split into the A. variegatus and A. pseudobagarius species groups by Ng and Kottelat (1998), but all species of the latter group were reassigned to the genus Pseudobagarius by Ferraris (2007) on the basis of the following shared characters: tip of snout extends anterior to margin of lower jaw; mouth subterminal; narial openings (anterior and posterior nostrils) relatively large and closely-set; caudal fin deeply forked.

Pseudobagarius spp. also tend to have a relatively extended body shape compared with Akysis, while in the latter the snout tip extends only slightly beyond the margin of the lower jaw, mouth orientation terminal to slightly subterminal, narial openings relatively small and widely-spaced and caudal fin truncate or emarginate.

In recent phylogenetic analyses the family Akysidae has been grouped into an assemblage informally referred to as ‘Big Asia’ where it occupies a basal position and is most closely related to the families Amblycipitidae, Sisoridae and Erethistidae, these apparently forming a monophyletic group alongside the Bagridae and Horabagridae.

The South American family Aspredinidae has often been affiliated with Akysidae in earlier studies, but is now considered more closely associated with the Doradidae and Auchenipteridae.

All akysids possess venom apparatus at the base of the dorsal and pectoral spines and though not dangerous to a healthy human can inflict a painful sting, so should be handled with care when being removed from the water for any reason or during aquarium maintenance.

References

  1. Ferraris, C. J., Jr., 2007 - Zootaxa 1418: 1-628
    Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types.
  2. Ng, H. H., 2008 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 91(3): 255-262
    Akysis vespertinus, a new species of catfish from Myanmar (Siluriformes: Akysidae).
  3. Ng, H. H., 2007 - Zootaxa 1608: 51-58
    Akysis pulvinatus, a new species of catfish (Siluriformes: Akysidae) from southern Thailand.
  4. Ng, H. H., 2009 - Journal of Threatened Taxa 1(1): 2-8
    Akysis portellus sp. nov., a new species of catfish (Teleostei: Akysidae) from the Sittang River drainage, Myanmar.
  5. Ng, H. H., 1999 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 47(2): 541-548
    The Akysis of Myanmar: a review (Teleostei: Akysidae).
  6. Ng, H. H., 1999 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 47(2): 541-548
    The Akysis of Myanmar: a review (Teleostei: Akysidae).
  7. Ng, H. H., 2006 - Zootaxa 1150: 19-30
    Akysis longifilis, a new species of catfish (Teleostei: Akysidae) from Myanmar.
  8. Ng, H. H. and D. J. Siebert, 2004 - Zootaxa 733: 1-8
    A new species of the catfish genus Akysis (Siluriformes: Akysidae) from southern Borneo.
  9. Ng, H. H. and M. Kottelat, 1998 - Journal of Natural History 32(7): 1057-1097
    The catfish genus Akysis Bleeker (Teleostei: Akysidae) in Indochina, with descriptions of six new species.
  10. Ng, H. H. and W. J. Rainboth, 2005 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 13: 33-42
    Four new species of Akysis (Teleostei: Siluriformes: Akysidae) from mainland southeast Asia, with comments on A. similis.
  11. Page, L. M., R. K. Hadiaty, J. A. López, I. Rachmatika and R. H. Robins, 2007 - Copeia 2007 (2): 292-303
    Two new species of the Akysis variegatus species group (Siluriformes: Akysidae) from southern Sumatra and a redescription of Akysis variegatus Beeker, 1846.
  12. Sullivan, J. P., J. G. Lundberg and M. Hardman, 2006 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 41(3): 636–662
    A phylogenetic analysis of the major groups of catfishes (Teleostei: Siluriformes) using rag1 and rag2 nuclear gene sequences.
  13. Vishwanath, W., I. Linthoingambi and L. Juliana, 2007 - Zoos' Print Journal 22(5): 2675-2678
    Fishes of the genus Akysis Bleeker from India (Teleostei: Akysidae).

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