Aquarium Bible

Labyrinth Fish

Gouramies, Anabantids, call them what you will, labyrinth fishes provide may aquarists with a great deal of pleasure watching these fish breed.

For those of you who are unaware, a labyrinth fish, is a fish that posses a very special breathing organ called a labyrinth, which allows the fish to breathe oxygen out of the air. This very special adaptation is a part of the fish's evolution to survive while living in shallow, stagnant pools of water often with very little oxygen content. This organ is evident in all members of the Anabantid family, which comprises of the Gouramies, Betta's (Siamese Fighting Fish) and the Paradise fish. It is with this special organ that allows male Betta's to survive in the small separators without the need for filtration or extra aeration.

Not only do these fish have a special way of breathing, they also have a special and fascinating method of breeding, which has amazed aquarists for decades. The male fish, will inhale oxygen from the water's surface, and blow bubbles until he has made a bubble nest, he will then entice a female to come and lay her eggs, he will then gather these eggs and place them into his newly constructed bubble nest. The female plays no more part in the breeding cycle, as the male tends to the nest and will chase the female away, often severely mutilating or even killing her.

It is this breeding behavior that has brought these fish to the attention of the aquarium world, who have been studied by many for their interesting display of behavior and colors. These fish are highly recommended to those wishing to learn more about fish behavior.

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