The Little – Known, Perfect Aquarium Fish – Sarcocheilichthys parvus
Text and Photos by Stan Sung
Generally speaking, what would be considered a perfect fish species for the home aquarium? The selection of candidates is many and far – ranging. I would like to introduce a little – known species of fish that I believe hits on all points to become a perfect aquarium resident.
The Dwarf Gudgeon or Red Flash Sarcocheilichthys parvus (Nichols 1930) is native to the Yangtze River Basin in China as well as Vietnam. It has been collected in Vietnam in the Pearl River drainage, within the Northeastern regions. In China, Red Flash samples have occurred in the Yuan Jiang drainage in Chenxi County Town, Hunan province as well as Guangzhou province and in other provinces of Eastern Asia. It is rarely seen in the hobby as wild imports from these regions are few and far between.
Their native habitats are slightly turbid streams and rivers. The bottom sediment usually consists of dark river stones. Most importantly is that the site must contain a healthy population of freshwater mussels as S. parvus use these mollusks to breed in much the same fashion as the well – known bitterlings. Eggs are laid inside the bivalves where they develop and the fry are eventually expelled.
IN THE AQUARIUM
Maximum size of S. parvus is about 2.5 inches long. This nice size makes Red Flash small enough for most home aquariums – yet large enough and with enough bulk and strength to where they are not delicate and can consume a wide – variety of different foods offered. Newly imported S. parvus may be listless and unhealthy ones will sit on the bottom substrate and move around very little. This is completely out of character for this active, playful species. Red Flash are always out front, cavorting and begging for food. Though active, their antics are never frenzied and they are a joy to observe. These droll fish have a unique “hovering” manner of swimming and seem to glide then hover like a hummingbird extracting nectar from a blossom. This is a bold and fearless species. My captive population will eat from my hands and will even swim through my submerged fingers! In fishes, this kind of bold behavior is usually associated with an aggressive personality – but with S. parvus, this is never the case. These fishes are eternally playful. I have never noted any aggression whatsoever among populations of Red Flash. S. parvus truly enjoys the company of their own and keeping single specimens can be considered rather cruel.
Red Flash is not choosy regarding their diet. All foods including flake food is eagerly consumed. They do have fast metabolisms and should be fed on a daily basis. This is a subtropical species and room temperature aquaria suit them perfectly.
So I believe that Sarcocheilichthys parvus is that perfect aquarium fish. They are hardy, peaceful, bold in personality, posses interesting breeding behavior and magnificent coloration. During half of the year both male and female S. parvus are a golden – yellow coloration with a bold, thick black band which runs the length of the body. During the spring and summer breeding seasons males become extra colorful when their fins and faces become tomato – red. This is a highly recommended, gem of a fish that should be an aquarium staple for all to enjoy.
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