The greatest walking fish

Have you ever seen a fish walk? Stranger still, climb a tree? Well, there is such a fish, right here in Asia, which can walk a long distance overland and survive for outside water. It is the climbing perch (Anabas testudineus), native to South Asia, that has special gills which allow it to absorb oxygen in the air and thus survive outside water for a short period. But if its breathing organs remain moist by a lot of humidity in the air, wet ground or occasional dips in water, it can survive outside for a longer period. And this is how it manages to move from one water body to another, usually lakes and ponds, while looking for a new home to live in. This mostly freshwater fish walks with the help and support of its strong pectoral (chest) fins. To move forward, it extends the gill plates and rocks its body, thus pushing itself forward and the serrated fills help it to grip while moving or climbing out of water. The climbing perch is rich brownish green in colour, with the fins generally being a bit more brown. It can grow up to 10 inches. It has an African cousin, the spotted climbing perch that has a black spot (ctenopoma acutirostre) at the end of its tail and is smaller in size, at about six inches. It lays tiny eggs that float free on the surface of water, without being cared by the parent fish and hatch very fast within a day!

— Compiled by Aamnah Kamal

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