Paradise fish — a small freshwater fish once commonly found in rivers and creeks around Taiwan — may be nearly extinct in the wild, but one fish breeding station has been successfully breeding the species in captivity.
Lin Hung-kuei (林鴻桂), director of Hualien County’s Fish Breeding Propagation Station, said that pollution and competitive non-indigenous fish had driven the paradise fish from its natural breeding places and made it almost impossible to reintroduce it into the wild to replenish stocks.
After the fish was designated by the government as a protected species in August 1990, the station began studying ways to help revive the species and has successfully bred the fish in a controlled environment and preserved the species, which is endemic to Taiwan.
The breeding technique is now being shared with schools for use as a tool in experimental ponds, Lin said.
Paradise fish, also known as Macropodus opercularis, are approximately 6cm long and live in shallow freshwater environments where water flow is gentle.
The fish breeding station said that although they are rarely seen in the wild, with their green-blue and light red stripes, paradise fish are popular in private fish tanks.
Lin said that most paradise fish traded in the market were bred artificially, while some are imported from Malaysia.
Aside from being appreciated for its appearance, the fish can also be used to eradicate mosquitoes as it eats their larva.