by Chuck Nishihira
When I was young and Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine was small in size (pre 1981 🙂 ) There were many fascinating fish that I thought I could only dream about. Malpulutta kretseri was one of them. A rarity in the wilds of Sri Lanka and no commercial collectors in the area meant that up until 2000, I had never even seen one alive. But with time comes opportunities and in the last decade and a half this species has been offered occasionally. They are protected in the wild in Sri Lanka, so I assume what we see being offered are captive bred fish. Even though the beauty of this anabantoid can’t be compared to to others, I think it’s shy disposition will always keep it solely in the hands of serious hobbyists. It is not difficult at all to keep and breeding is very straight forward. The males choosing caves to construct their bubble nest under and females seem easily enticed. A small tank with soft water and a clay pot to act as the cave is all that is required. Even the fry are not difficult to raise at all. While they are a bit small upon hatching to take standard foods, within a week they are gorging themselves on brine shrimp nauplii. Their bright orange bellies letting you know that they are feeding well.
But this elegant fish with it’s long flowing fins and marbled colors will probably never been seen alive by most hobbyist. They will go on shyly hiding their beauty in the tanks of the dedicated.