The climbing perch (Anabas testudineus), a fish native to Asia (but established in Papua New Guinea) that is known for its capability to move from a body of water, over land, to another body of water, is on the move and officials in Australia are concerned. The fish, which can live out of water for up to 24 hours and can breath air, can also tolerate exposure to saltwater, making it a double threat to the country. The fish has already found its way to Australia’s Torres Strait islands of Boigu and Saibai, which is just four and six kilometers from the PNG mainland.
According to a news release put out by James Cook University, the climbing perch can crawl from water hole to water hole, easily outcompeting native species as it becomes established. It is also known to hibernate under mud in dried up creek beds for up to six months and also has the capability to swell its body up when swallowed by larger predators, effectively blocking their throats.
Dr. Nathan Waltham of JCU says that the chances the perch arrives to Australia by swimming is probably quite low, and says that there is more of a chance that the perch arrives in the bottom of a fishing boat, or perhaps by a fisherman who discards it as live-bait.
Currently, the scientists are determining the fish’s salinity tolerances and temperature tolerances, as well as its capability to crawl across varied terrains.
John B. Virata has been keeping fish since he was 10 years old. He currently keeps an 80 gallon cichlid tank, a 20 gallon freshwater community tank and a 29 gallon BioCube with a Percula clown, a huge blue green chromis, and a firefish all in his kitchen, and a 55 gallon FOWLR tank with a pair of Ocellaris clowns, two blue green chromis, a six line wrasse, a peppermint shrimp, assorted algae and a few aiptasia anemones in his living room. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata